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Basic Standing Meditation

Don't just do something... stand there! A traditional practice in qigong, standing meditation is also common in many other traditions. It is great for those who get too drowsy when sitting or lying down to meditate. It is also an easy form to learn, as you'll see here. First we're going to describe a somewhat generic version that is more traditional, and then we'll look at a couple other ways you can stand while meditating.

Start by choosing a quiet place where there are not many potential distractions. This might be a basement, or any room that isn't used much. You might even set up a space in a shed or garage. Try to make it pleasant, and not too hot or cold. If you have a quiet spot where you can face a window, and if the view is of a natural setting, that can be a great place to do this.

Stand with your feet pointing forward and about a foot apart (find a comfortable stance). Loosen up your body by shrugging your shoulders, bending your knees, and letting the tension drain out of your muscles. Then stand erect and look straight forward. If you are standing correctly you should be able to relax your neck and face and shoulders. Let your arms fall to your sides and close your eyes gently.

Take a deep breath or two through your nose, and then allow your breathing to fall into a comfortable pattern that you can maintain effortlessly. Pay attention to the air moving in and out through your nose. When your mind wanders, don't fight it, but just bring attention back to your breathing. That's really all there is to this simplest form of standing meditation. Continue for at least ten minutes, and preferably twenty minutes. If you are not sure you can judge the time passing, a small alarm can be used, but make it one that has a gentle chime (perhaps a watch placed nearby under a towel).

Other Ways

You may have noticed that the practice described above is just like any traditional breath-watching session, but standing instead of sitting. There are also other ways to use the upright posture. For example, some techniques involve leaving the eyes open and putting your hands out in front of you with fingertips touching, as though you are encircling something. Your palms should be facing the area below your navel. You might start by doing this for ten minutes and extend the sessions after a week of daily practice.

This technique is said to facilitate the flow of qi (life energy) through the body. Some practitioners of qigong say that it can take thirty minutes for our qi to cycle completely. Your goal, then, is to work up to sessions that last at least thirty minutes.

Another way to stand and meditate is to use the first method outlined above, but have your sessions in different stimulating environments. You do not want distractions, but standing above a beautiful valley and meditating provides a unique experience. When you open your eyes after ten or twenty minutes you will probably feel that things look different; clearer and more beautiful. Other locations to try could include lakes, rivers, woods, flower gardens, and anyplace that can inspire feelings of awe.

The Easiest Way

If you have trouble maintaining concentration for ten or twenty (or thirty) minutes, there are some techniques you can learn and practice, like labeling distractions or focusing on an object. These are better explained elsewhere. The easiest way to improve your meditation sessions is to use brainwave entrainment recordings. The preferred way to do that is with an MP3 player, because you can easily use it anywhere. You can download a good meditation recording that uses "binaural beats" or brainwave entrainment and be ready to listen to it in minutes. If you decide to try this, here is a link to some good brainwave entrainment CDs.

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