The image of an ancient Egyptian sculpture appeared on my Facebook page and caused a bit of controversy.
Of course this led to many retaliatory comments accusing the person of racism and ignorance.
In reality, there are many ways to meditate and many suitable positions depending on the individual meditator.
Once a person gains some facility with the process and has direct experience of the meditative state, it becomes possible to meditate in almost any situation or position – sitting, standing, walking, and even swinging from a trapeze. How a person begins the training process depends very much on the person’s background and previous experiences. If you look at images of a region such as India, the place where yogic meditation flowered, from thousands of years ago, you rarely find a picture of anyone sitting on a bench or chair – even when the person is on an elevated platform they still sit on the floor. Whereas images from Europe from the same time period rarely show anyone sitting on the ground. In Egypt, where the controversial image originated, chairs were used more for formal, ritual events.
In the 21st century, of course, chairs are found everywhere; yet, most people in the hotter, dryer regions of the world will still prefer to sit close to the ground.
Now suppose someone like me, who spent my whole life sitting in a chair, decided to learn to meditate. Now, of course, certain biomechanical processes influence the choice of meditation positions – especially during the initial learning phase.
A sincere desire and willingness to make contact with your deeper self and with the greater cosmic reality is key – it is this particular internal position or point of view that is truly the proper way to meditate.
Yup yup, just be aware of what's happening with the knees in those wider standing postures as well. I'll point out that these wide stance horse-type postures are unique to the martial arts tradition and are not typical of standing meditation posture in the zendo.In the zendo during meditation, one simply stands comfortably with the hands in front in shashu, as one would do in kinhin walking meditation. Just wanted to add to this thread that last week I spent 6 days at a YiQuan school in the countryside just North of Beijing doing standing meditation for 70 minutes a time twice a day, and for me, it kicked the butt off zazen. Simple standing meditation is very good and the traditional method of Yi Quan (The art of physical intention, transl. There are many ways to meditate while standing and many energy cultivating disciplines that utilize standing postures, such as  Zhan Zhuang, Neigong and Wuji.   While the specific stance might be different, most standing exercises emphasize (1) Posture, (2) Softness, and (4) Breathing.
Over the years, various taijiquan and qigong masters have created many postures for standing still meditation.
I will now introduce two of the postures most commonly practiced by taijiquan martial artists.
The Posture: Stand with one leg rooted on the ground and the other in front of it with only the toes touching the ground.
When you stand in this posture for about three minutes, your arms and one side of your back should feel sore and warm. After the six minutes, face forward, put both feet flat on the floor, shoulder width apart, and slowly lower your arms. Naturally, when you hold your arms out, you are also slowing the blood circulation, and when you lower your arms, the blood will rush down into them. Therefore, it is possible for you to test whether the exercise has brought extra qi to your hands. This exercise is one of the most common practices for leading the beginner to experience the flow of qi, and some taijiquan styles place great emphasis on it.
To hold up the heaven, stand with your feet shoulder distance apart and your arms slightly bent with the palms facing downward.
Stand still, regulate your mind until it is calm and concentrated, and regulate your breathing until it is natural and smooth. Then lower your body with your palms pressing downward until both of your thighs are horizontal.
Next while inhaling, move your arms upward in front of you until the palms are facing the heavens. Keep your arms in position as you inhale and slowly lower your body until both thighs are horizontal. Next inhale and raise your body until you are standing upright, and at the same time lift your arms up to shoulder height with palms facing each other. As you raise your hands to the final posture, imagine you are lifting up the heavens, and then stand there as if you were holding up the entire sky. In conclusion, I would like to remind you that nei dan sitting small circulation practice is dangerous for beginners, and you should not start it until you have reached an advanced level. The standing set of the Eight Pieces of Brocade Qigong is more popular than the sitting set, so there are more versions of it. Five weaknesses refer to illnesses of the five yin organs: heart, liver, spleen, lungs, and kidneys.
The kidneys, which are beneath the two major back muscles, are the residence of original jing (yuan jing). Benefits: Standing Backbend opens the front of the body, and strengthens the respiratory, cardiovascular and endocrine systems.
Use one or more of the following postures to build a sequence leading up to this pose: Mountain. Use one or more of the following postures to build a sequence ending after this pose: Mountain, Standing Forward Fold, Standing Yoga Mudra, Half Forward Fold, Crescent Moon. Our SponsorsWe offer heartfelt thanks to all of our sponsors who help offset the cost of running our website. Subscribe to our Yoga Newsletter and receive updates on yoga news, articles, inspiration and more. Our premium members have access to deluxe features, detailed yogic information and downloadable MP3s. Our free Basics membership will autofill the comments form and grants access to our blog and article archives. Our Yoga BooksCheck out our yoga books: Yoga for Beginners takes you through all the basics of practicing yoga and then teaches you the poses in the context of a yoga practice sequence. Please consult your health care practitioner before starting a yoga, pranayama or other exercise program. Can you see the holiness in those things you take for granted--a paved road or a washing machine?
The is one of the many standing still positions used in the internal martial arts of Yiquan, which develops internal strength and vitality.
The person tried to defend himself and revealed that he was a student of a school that taught “the best way” to meditate. True meditation is not simply relaxation or deep thinking, it is almost a restructuring of the nervous system to allow for direct contact with absolute reality or the Divine Spirit – whatever you perceive divinity to be.


And this has much to do with culture and even climate – certainly more to do with these than with race or ethnicity. Important people used chairs while less important people (such as scribes and writers) sat on the ground. Really good stuff.I stand for 30 minutes, but when I have endured enough thigh burn, I rise in to Wu chi posture for a breather:I then focus on relaxing (I try to go to sleep! Make sure there is no unnecessary torque and that the knees are generally facing the same direction as the toes. At first my knees quite hurt a bit as my body readjusted it's tendons and muscles slightly, but now I do it every day early in the morning in a park here in Beijing, and I feel no pain at all even after 70 minutes. Is the tip of your tongue touching lightly the roof of your mouth?  Think about everything you have learned about your posture, leaving nothing out. Generally speaking, they are safer to practice than the small circulation exercises because they build up the qi locally in parts of the body, rather than directly in the qi vessels.
Both arms are held in front of the chest, forming a horizontal circle with the fingertips almost touching. This is because there is a large intestine channel (hand yangming, ?????) that runs over the top of the shoulder to the upper lip.
In addition to building up qi in the shoulders, they also train using the mind to lead the qi in coordination with the breathing to complete two qi circuits. Instead, work with easier and more relaxed moving qigong exercises until someday you feel strong enough to practice this one. Keeping this idea in your mind will lead qi from your lower dan tian upward to your hands and also downward to the bottom of your feet.
The first wai dan standing meditation presented here is generally safer for beginners, and holding up the heaven is generally safe for those who are strong enough and in good health.
You should not worry about which version is better or more accurate, because the basic principles are the same. The seven injuries refer to injuries caused by the seven emotions: happiness, anger, sorrow, joy, love, hate, and desire. To release: keep the legs, buttocks and arms strong as you slowly inhale back up, letting the head and neck be the last to come vertical. B) Inhale the arms over the head with the fingers interlaces and the index fingers pointing up. Yoga Class guides you through eight lessons to learn 30 of the most commonly used poses while incorporating yogic philosophy and principles of alignment.
To get the most out of our site, we suggest you take some time to explore before jumping into the practice.
Respect your body's limitations and inner wisdom, if something feels wrong or dangerous, please do not do it.
If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul. He was highly influenced by Xingyiquan but was also greatly inspired by baguazhang, taijiquan, baihequan (white crane kung-fu) and western boxing. The picture is split to show what the sculpture looks like today and what it might have looked like thousands of years ago when it was first carved. In parts of the world with hotter, dryer climates it is quite acceptable and comfortable to sit directly on the ground or on a mat or pillow.
Once I got to the 1st grade, I was issued a chair and a desk and sat in a chair ever after.
The same position that, for example, a person who grew up in a country such as India has spent his whole life practicing? Air flow is particularly essential, thus a position that allows the lungs and diaphragm maximum opportunity to function is ideal.
Before I injured my body, when I was young I would practise standing meditation for up to two hours, not moving from the same spot. I was advised that is the wider stances, it is a good idea to turn the feet slightly outward (45 degrees) to stay in line with the kneees. Personally, for the most 'still' standing meditation, I prefer the Dhyana 'cosmic flame' mudra. They are supposed to be good for you but most students find them difficult to understand, boring and painful. I learnt the basic exercises which can lead on to the martial side, but the fighting part is not necessary - the movements open and relax the body more. The ultimate goal of this training is to combine the qi built up by this wai dan practice with the qi built up in the lower dan tian through the nei dan practice. It is like a dam, which, after accumulating a large amount of water, releases it and lets it flow. However, the qi feeling is usually stronger in the palms and fingers than in the lip because there are six qi channels that pass through the shoulder to end in the hand, but there is only one channel connecting the lip and shoulder.
As you stand in this position, breathe regularly and keep your body as relaxed as possible. This exercise gradually strengthens your ankles, knees, and hips, as well as the muscles of your trunk and neck. Born in Taiwan, he has trained and taught Taijiquan, Qigong and Chinese martial arts for over forty-five years.
Only when your kidneys are strong will they be able to generate original qi (yuan qi) and enliven your body.
Browse our yoga 101 section for general info on the history and types of yoga, then start exploring asanas the physical postures used in hatha yoga. He traveled all over China meeting with many masters, comparing skills with them and exchanging experiences. It illustrates the flaw in the common practice of adhering too strictly to one school, method or teacher of meditation – forgetting that we live in a big world with lots of valid and effective traditions and systems for spiritual growth.  The people who sought to “correct” this person’s “error” actually stood on a weaker platform. And once the first direct experience takes place, it may require much more practice and effort to maintain the contact for more than a few moments at a time.
The normal state of things in countries like Canada is that older people sit in chairs and young kids sit on the ground.
In this case sitting with the spine erect and the chest area free of hindrance is important. Many people at the YiQuan school practice just for health, and of course mental health is included in that. Also, because one leg carries all the weight, the muscles and nerves in that leg and in one side of the back will be tense and will thereby build up qi. At this time, concentrate and calm the mind and look for the feeling of qi flowing from the shoulders to the palms and fingertips. Once you experience qi flowing in your arms and shoulders during this exercise, you may also find you can sense it in your back.


On the exhalation you lead the qi to the fingertips of both hands, and then across the gap from each hand to the other. He is the author of over thirty books, and was elected by Inside Kung Fu magazine as one of the 10 people who has "made the greatest impact on martial arts in the past 100 years." Dr.
Remember to breathe and always start your yoga practice with a brief meditation. After a lifetime of practice and research into many different kinds of martial arts, Wang became one of the first Chinese masters to teach openly to benefit the public. While he was asserting that “white people” should sit in chairs to meditate while “brown people” should assume the lotus position – the others were arguing that the cross legged poses were the only valid way to meditate for everyone. However, even the slightest contact generates positive results in a person’s life and some of us believe that this is a state worth attaining. I used to fall asleep in zazen if I relaxed too much, so I am hoping that once my hips have opened sufficiently from standing meditation (with wider and lower stances), then I'll be able to carry that alertness in to my sitting.
However, as a beginner you should just do the wai dan training, keeping your mind calm and letting the qi build up naturally through the postures. Beginners can usually sense this qi flow, which is typically felt as warmth or a slight numbness.
Thus, when you relax after the arcing hands practice, both blood and qi will come down to the hands.
In addition to a slight feeling of warmth, you may also sense a kind of electric charge that may make the hairs on your arm move.
With such poor practice, how could I hope to be able to help my friend at the time of his final crossing over to his next life? I wish more zennists would delve a bit deeper in to that world because I have seen people hobbling along in to kinhin as if they considered themselves worthy of self-torture. Movement and posture place different demands on our muscles and so it is not surprising that our muscles reflect this. In order to keep the qi buildup and the flow in the back balanced, after three minutes change your legs without moving your arms and stand this way for another three minutes.
Second, since blood is material and qi is energy, qi can flow beyond your body, but your blood cannot. Consequently I decided to fight my drowsiness by meditating in the standing posture with palms together in front of me (hapchang). I didn't believe him at first, but when my knees and ankles started playing up in weird ways from zazen, and seiza using a bench made me slump forward and fall asleep, I decided to become a true beginner and follow my qigong teacher's advice. For example, those muscles used mainly for posture have a high content of slow-twitch fibres whereas the muscles used mainly for movement have a high content of fast twitch fibres. On the inhalation you take in qi from nature through your baihui on the top of your head and lead the qi downward to the lower dan tian. But really, you can learn meditation in any position if you apply enough desire to attain results: this include lying in a hospital bed, sitting in a wheelchair, or being in any kind of restrictive circumstance. In the same body position as shown above, except the arms are at the sides; armpits slightly open2.
But not only are muscles different from each other, one muscle can be quite different in different functions.
On the exhalation you lead the qi further downward and out of your body through the bubbling well (K-1, yongquan, ??) cavities. Remaining alone, I decided that I wouldn't give up under any pretext, even if I were about to die - such was my determination to continue. For example a muscle when used in a postural (stabilising or tonic) function will act differently from the same muscle when used for movement (mobilising or phasic function).
With the palms resting flat (right on top of left for men, vice versa for women) on the lower abdomen, feet two fist widths apartThe further apart the legs are, the easier it is on the back and the harder it is on the legs. So for ease of explanation, let me pretend that each muscle is really two muscles - a postural one and a phasic one (sometimes called stabilisers and mobilisers). In any case, knees should be slightly bent and sacrum hanging neutrally down, not forcing anything.
As a further simplification, when I say a muscle, what I will mean is the muscle with all the various sensors associated with it plus its controlling mechanism within the Central Nervous System.
If you persevere, however, you will be able to use this exercise as part of your advanced practice. Whether sitting, reclining, or standing, it is finally all the same as the body settles into samadhi. Consequently, although seven full days had passed since I had begun this nonsleeping practice, I felt neither tiredness nor pain in my legs. Our intent is not to fall down but we do not consciously control their operation in the way we can control voluntary movement. Again, your eyes are open and you stand in this position for 5 minutes.Next you raise your arms above your head as if you are lifting a barbell. As it drew near to 9 pm on the last day before the ceremony, the clock on the wall made a click just before striking the hour. This is in fact what happens when we start learning to ride a bicycle - we start by using phasic muscles and through trial and error the postural muscles take over and we 'find our balance'. You stand in this position for 5 minutes.You then move to a position where you lower your arms and hands, almost as if you are standing in still, calm water level with your belly button. When I use postural muscles to absorb or neutralise a push, I don't feel any effort and my body reacts automatically to produce a balanced outcome for me. And when you start using postural muscles, you develop a feedback through subtle sensations such as heat, ache, flow and others. This position harmonizes yourself to the earthly Qi.You stay in the "floating water position" for 5 minutes and then transition to the stance where it looks like you are holding a ball at the same level as your belly button. In this position you are gathering all the Qi around you and holding it within your abdomen. More than 95% of all musculo-skeletal problems can be attributed to the imbalance between postural and phasic muscles.
You stay in this position for 2 minutes.You can increase or even decrease the time spent in each of these positions based on the amount of time you have available and also based on your desired end results. As the research in this area is still fairly new, I'm sure the importance of postural re-education will grow steadily. According to Qigong theory, a standing meditation is the most difficult of the meditations and also the most potent.You may decide to explore this alternative type of meditation and see what happens to you, too. I turned to standing meditation after advice from a tai chi teacher about damaging my knees in sitting postures, and finding I could not relax properly without becoming drowsy with such a stable base as when sitting.



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