The Best Way to Practice Standing Meditation

Simple Instructions for a Powerful Qigong Practice

Serene women practicing standing meditation.

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Among the thousands of forms of qigong, Inner Alchemy, and Taoist meditation, standing meditation is one of the most simple and, at least potentially, most powerful. With your physical body aligned in a particular way and held mostly still, qi (chi), or life-force energy, is encouraged to find its natural rhythm as it flows through the meridian system. This gently dissolves any blockages that may have been preventing this natural rhythm. This meditation should typically take ten to 30 minutes, but you can meditate for longer if desired.

Practice Standing Meditation

Find a quiet, pleasant place to practice meditating. Initially, it's best to practice this inside, though facing a window to see inspiring natural beauty is good.

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and parallel (toes pointing straight forward). Soften the backs of your knees just enough to feel your pelvis relax downward, and feel the weight come into your feet. It should feel as though you just mounted a horse.

Gaze straight forward, with your head aligned right on top of your spine so the muscles of your face, head, neck, and throat can be relaxed. Smile gently, and float the tip of your tongue up toward the roof of your mouth, just behind your upper front teeth. Your tongue can be touching your teeth or just hovering really close.

Now, float your hands up eight to ten inches in front of your lower abdomen, palms facing your lower dantian (a couple of inches below your navel), and the fingertips of your two hands pointing toward (but not touching) each other. You should be positioned almost as though you were hugging a small tree. Let your fingers be extended, with space between them, and your elbows slightly lifted so your armpits feel hollow.

Take a couple of deep inhales and complete exhalations. As you do this, make whatever small adjustments you need to your stance so that it feels comfortable. Imagine that you are a mountain or an ancient redwood — something profoundly stable and serene.

Now let your breath return to its natural rhythm, and come to a place of stillness in your physical body. Focus your soft gaze gently in front of you while maintaining a light awareness of your dantian. Settle into doing nothing.

Hold this position for ten minutes or longer. Increase the amount of time over the weeks, months, or years that you practice.

Tips for Meditating

As you hold your physical body still, become aware of more subtle aspects of your being. For instance, the flow of qi through the meridians, or a kind of spaciousness which extends far beyond the physical. As you practice, simply let your attention notice what it notices, with a child-like curiosity, without necessarily trying to make sense of it conceptually.

If you experience physical discomfort in a particular place in your body, send the energy of a smile into that place. You can also create very tiny (barely visible) circling or spiraling movements in that place to relax muscle tension.

As the qi finds and moves through blockages in the meridians, you may experience spontaneous movements. If this happens, know that it is a natural part of the process, and simply come back to the basic stance after the movement has completed itself. Please note: this doesn't happen for everyone, and such movements should in no way be induced.

It takes the qi about thirty minutes to complete a single cycle through the body. Make it an aspiration to work up to meditating at least this long as you practice this technique.