Meditation is often practiced when sitting, and whenever the practice is mentioned, many people get the idea of a person sitting somewhere in stillness and wakefulness.
However, there are many ways to do the exercise. And for the people who have problems with sitting down for long hours, standing meditation makes a good alternative, which comes with a wide variety of benefits.
It goes a long way in the life of the meditator as it is linked to building mental and physical relaxation, awareness, peacefulness, power, increasing the quality of sleep and boosting energy levels, among many other benefits.
Let’s take a deeper look at standing meditation.
What is Standing Meditation
Standing meditation, just as the name suggests, is a form of meditation that is practiced with the meditator in a standing position.
It is not a common type of meditation and it is not known to many people except people who are well versed with Qigong and Tai Chi, and a few other exercises.
It is a key method of training for practitioners in Chinese martial arts for awareness, tranquility and mental relaxation, as well as power.
The practice is used in many areas of life to help with strengthening the mind and body, and it paves way for the one using it to become strong yet relaxed and peaceful.
As Kenneth. S. Cohen says in his book, The Way of Qigong, “Standing Meditation is the single most important and widely practiced form of qigong, integrating all the elements of posture, relaxation and breathing previously described. It is a way of developing better alignment and balance, stronger legs and waist, deeper respiration, accurate body awareness, and a tranquil mind.”
Some techniques used in standing meditation include mental imagery, relaxed natural breathing and both inner and outer awareness.
It seeks to unify the body and mind that helps release the tension and build strength so that the meditator is involved in the art with their whole being and spill it over to all the activities they do on a daily basis which allows for full enjoyment of the activities and a sense of perfection.
How Standing Meditation Works
When it comes to this meditation, there are many styles of doing the practice. Some of the most common types of standing meditation include:
* Yiquan standing meditation
* Wu Ji standing meditation
* Qigong standing meditation
* Tadasana (or the mountain pose) standing meditation
* Zhan Zhuang standing meditation
There may be other styles of standing meditation out there as the practice keeps growing in diversity as it gets popular in new regions.
Each type of standing meditation has its own set of doctrines that are used to do the practice so as to experience the range of benefits that each comes with.
Standing meditation is aimed at helping the meditator to reduce the tension in the body and connect with their mind in order to allow energy to naturally flow which in turn increases inner strength and power. (1)
It is believed that we all have a nature within us that has natural and unlimited flow of energy. By aligning ourselves to this energy, we are able to get into a state of relaxation that enables us to remain in a standing position for a long time without getting tired.
It keeps us relaxed, focused, strong and aware.
However, due to the various imbalances in our body, we tend to feel exhausted, pain and tingling sensations once we spend a few minutes practicing standing meditation.
But through training ourselves in meditation, we are able to connect our mind and body to the natural flow that allows us to relax and have plenty of energy to remain standing for a long time.
Standing meditation helps you discover your inner strength and get to utilize it properly. As you put in the effort of practicing it on a frequent basis, you are able to allow your mind to be calm, relaxed and at peace while strength and energy levels in your body increase.
It also allows your body to do away with the pain and discomfort and have the ability to function better due to the smooth blood and energy flow.
Difference Between Standing Meditation and Sitting Meditation
Standing Meditation is considered to work with a more honest posture for the meditator in terms of identifying the parts of the body that are all tensed up.
When doing this meditation, you are naturally expected to remain in a standing position without feeling any form of pain or tiredness throughout the session.
Doing this indicates a well-balanced, peaceful and sturdy mind and body. However, if you feel any kind of discomfort, it shows that you need some alignment.
The areas you feel discomfort are where you need to direct your attention and focus to relax them.
On the other hand, many forms of sitting meditation such as Mindfulness meditation, Vipassana meditation and transcendental meditation requires that you sit down and focus your inner world, so to speak.
They aim at making your more mindful and aware, not to mention improving other desirable aspects of life within you.
Standing meditation is seen as a technique that makes your much stronger physically and mentally, compared to sitting meditation, as it keeps you in check and builds the mind and body connection that you need to remain in proper balance.
Benefits of Standing Meditation
Here are the benefits associated with standing meditation:
1. Increases physical energy – When you practice Zhan Zhuang, you are able to correct your body posture. Having a not so good posture is known to contribute to tiredness and feelings of weakness. But as you do the practice, you are able to open up the energy pathways through correcting your posture that allows for proper energy flow that improves your overall physical energy. (2)
2. Increases strength – By practicing regularly, you get to increase physical energy that makes you grow stronger in different areas of your body such as the knees, ankles and thighs. It also boosts inner strength as you open the energy pathways in your body that help increase blood flow to the areas that are deficient, thus nourishing them with nutrients.
3. Reduces pain – Pain and discomfort, as earlier mentioned, is brought about by blockages. Standing meditation helps you know where exactly the pain is coming from and also through frequent exercising, get to clear the blockages and make free flow of blood and energy possible that helps with handling pain and uneasiness.
4. Reduces stress and anxiety – As with all forms of meditation, standing meditation goes a long way in bringing down high levels of stress and anxiety. Through the relaxation and alertness that comes with the meditative state, you get the chance to reduce negative feelings and emotions significantly.
5. Helps meditator to feel more in control of their life – People who do standing meditation often, find it easy to identify the areas of tension in their bodies and have no hassles with releasing it. This not only brings peace and harmony, but also confidence that makes the meditator feel more in control of their life.
6. Helps handle some health disorders – Studies have shown that various standing meditation techniques such as qigong standing meditation helps to improve various biological processes such as metabolism, blood circulation and nervous system that helps to handle the disorders that are associated to those poor functioning of these processes (3).
7. Improves quality of sleep – Some of the factors that improve the quality of sleep are relaxation and reduced stress and anxiety. Standing meditation helps you to relax and bring down the negative feelings and emotions that helps you to sleep better and longer.
How to do Standing Meditation
As standing meditation comes in a variety, you first need to narrow down on the specific form of it that you feel is your best fit.
To do this, you should first know what you want to achieve and the kind of benefits you wish to get out of the practice. After that, you should select the specific form of standing meditation that goes well with your desires.
Now that you know what style you should be working with, you should aim to know as much as you can about it and learn how to do it as best as possible.
We strongly encourage beginners to get professional guidance on the practice so that they are taught the basics the right way and are given a strong foundation on it that will help them practice it without help later on and do it smoothly and get to enjoy its full benefits.
You should look for a standing meditation studio or center that offers the kind of meditation you look to get involved in and register for a class. You can search for the nearest center on the internet and you will discover plenty of schools and centers.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) on Standing Meditation
Question: How long should you stand when meditating?
Answer: It all depends on the type of standing meditation you are doing. Most styles have a recommended time period of standing. You should try to follow the prescribed time frame. Ideally, if you are a beginner, you should first start with a few minutes and slowly increase as you feel comfortable and easy to do.
Question: What tips can you offer for making the most of standing meditation?
Answer: Here are some tips you can work with:
– As you start out, you can try practicing the standing postures in front of a mirror, if the type of meditation has fairly difficult postures.
– Try to stand in the postures whenever you are standing, outside of meditation. If possible, do it whenever you stand somewhere, maybe in a line waiting to be served or when taking a breeze alone. Any place you can.
– Do the practice often, as the more you do it, the sooner you’ll make it your second nature.
Korean zen master on meditation, Kushan Sunim, says, “There is no one who can undertake this task for you. The student’s hunger can never be satisfied by his teacher’s eating a meal for him.”
“It is like competing in a marathon. The winner will only be the person who is either the fittest or the most determined. It is solely up to the individual to win the race. Likewise, to achieve the aim of your practice, don’t be distracted by the things that are not related to this task. For the time being, just let everything else remain as it is and out it out of your mind. Only when you are awakened will you be able to truly benefit others.”
In essence, getting the standing meditation posture right and being able to remain in that posture for a long time is the foundation of the practice. Once you have known how to stand and then get to blend that with a state of relaxation, focused attention and natural breathing, the exercise is going to be more fulfilling for you and will offer you the said benefits.
You should keep in mind that building these values requires time and a lot of practice, that is why you are encouraged to meditate as often as you can. Just like you take time, patience and practice to build muscle or learn a new skill, you should invest into doing this form of meditation.
It will help you learn to do it right and have an easy time getting into the meditative state and remaining there throughout the meditation session to allow you to enjoy the experience of the practice and the goodies it has to offer.