You may have heard the latest catchphrase that says that sitting is the new smoking. This refers to the sedentary lifestyle that many people have today due to more and more of our work and relaxation being in the form of sitting without a lot of movement. In fact, study after study shows that sitting most of the day leads to many health issues like obesity and heart disease. What these studies also show is that exercise is a great way to lower risks for disease, however, they never take the most obvious way to do this...through simply standing up more.
Many of the health issues that are causing people so much harm, pain and discomfort are avoidable with an exercise like standing. The best way to visual this is to think of a tree. It has its roots, trunk, branches and leaves. Its purpose in life is to root itself and grow higher and higher towards the sky, thereby becoming a conduit between the two areas of Earth and Sky (or the Heavens). In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the Earth is yin (feminine), which we call Mother Earth. It is the nurturing and nourishing energy of our home here on this planet. The Sky is yang (masculine), which our ancestors called Father Sky. It is the energy of manifestation and divine influence in our lives. This is personified by all the heaven bodies with a special reference to the sun. So, each part of the tree is responsible for a part of this relationship between Earth and Sky, yin and yang. The roots stabilize the tree and create a strong connect with the Earth. The trunk is the "heart" of the tree, solid though flexible to allow movement with the elements of wind, rain and heat. A rigid tree wouldn't last long in the forest. It needs to bend with the elements...go with the flow it so to speak. The branches and leaves of the collectors of energy and the extenders reaching ever higher towards the sky that it will never touch. And that doesn't matter, since it is only meant to create the connection with the energy of Sky through the effort of directing it growth upward. We are this metaphor when we stand up and invite the Earth and Sky energies to flow through us and support our healing journeys. There are many ways to do just that. Here is an example:
One of the simplest versions is from the healing modalities of Qigong and TCM and is a posture called Wuji (pronounced Wuu-gee). This means "ultimate emptiness" and invites the participant to open up to the flows of energy (aka Qi-"Chee") that are all around us like our friends the trees do. When you stand in the flow, you allow the healing nature of your body to do its job much easier so that you can maintain a vibrant sense of health and well-being. Here’s how to do it:
To begin find a calm place to stand either in a quiet room (you can have soft instrumental music playing if you would like to) or outside by a tree (best option). If outdoors, be sure to face the tree and let the sun (if any) shine on your back to warm you.
NOTE: Never do a healing standing practice outside in the wind, rain, fog or extreme heat as these conditions can cause you to create an imbalance within your body that could lead to a serious disruption of your Qi over time.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and parallel with each other.
Let your knees be slightly bent to keep flow moving through the body (locked joints, block Qi).
Imagine that you have a grounding cord coming down from the tip of your tailbone into the Earth.
Then, imagine you are being suspended like a puppet on a string from the crown of your head. This will elongate the spine and open it as a conduit.
Let your shoulders relax as your arms and hands simply hang at your sides.
Breath in a long, slow and deep pattern through the nose, which will allow your system to calm and the nervous system to settle.
Let your eyes be soft with a gentle gaze out in front of you about two or three metres.
Continue to check in with these different areas of the body inviting in relaxation with your breath and awareness. See if you can stand as still as possible. Even though you aren’t moving much on the outside, lots is happening within you. You are having thoughts, sensations, emotions and feelings. Can you simple stand and breath, making as subtle physical changes as possible while allowing the experience to simple be? Know that as you start this, it will feel quite foreign to you. Even a short version of this can be so helpful. Start with a couple of minutes. As you get more comfortable, add more time to this standing meditation. If you can do this for 5 minutes daily, you can begin to access energy that you didn’t know you had. Many practitioners over time do this for 10, 20 or 30 minutes daily to create an even greater sense of calmness, tranquility and vibrancy in the physical, mental and emotional well being. Give it a try!
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.