I learned the standing meditation in Qigong when I trained in the Five Immortals Temple, on top of a mountain, in China. It helped me on so many levels, to have more energy in my daily life, feel stronger and to be a better healer!
So, are you curious to learn how to do the standing meditation? Keep on reading!
What is the standing meditation?
The standing meditation which is called zhan zhuang in Chinese, also means the standing pillar.
This ancient practice greatly enhances your vital energy level, also known as your qi. It is a meditation that permits you to heal your body and to strengthen it at the same time. Not only is it amazing to cultivate your internal energy, but it also promotes longevity!
How does it work? It uses breath work, awareness of your body, visualization and Qi work.
Benefits of practicing the standing meditation
With Qigong, you learn to move your Qi and it helps to have a more fluid flow of energy throughout your whole body. But what other benefits can you get from practicing the standing meditation?
- Increase overall physical energy
- Increase your mental clarity and focus
- Boost your immune system
- Reduce stress
- Increase and cultivate your internal qi
- Enhance your strength and endurance
- Activate self-repair and health recovery
- Improve sleep
- And so much more…
When to practice the standing meditation?
It is best to practice this meditation in the morning. Even better, if you can do it right after waking up. But don’t use this as an excuse not to try it. If you can’t do this practice even for five minutes in the morning, then doing it later on is still ok. But in the evening, it’s not the best time, because it’s a practice that gives you a lot of energy.
The standing meditation position
It’s important to have a proper alignment and a good position or not you won’t be able to charge up correctly your energy “battery”. By being in the right posture, you will have a good “connection” which will help you heal and charge up your body with lots energy!
Think about this in your daily life. If you spend hours crouching over your computer, don’t you feel more tired than usual? It’s probably because your energy isn’t able to circulate correctly. If you practice this meditation and remind yourself throughout the day to have a better posture, you might see a lot of changes!
Don’t worry in the beginning though! Read up on all the position advice that I will be giving you, check your posture right before you begin and focus on your breath. Then, every time, before you start, check the list again to make sure that they are all fresh in your mind.
If you prefer seeing how to do the standing meditation with a video, watch this!
Feet and legs position
Keep your feet shoulder width apart. They are parallel to each other. Your toes are pointing in a forward position. It’s common for your feet to start shifting outwards during your practice. It’s ok, just bring them back in the right position when you notice the shift 😉
Bend your knees slightly. Keep them aligned and going over your toes. Try to not let your knees rotate on the inside.
Lower body position
Now that your feet and knees are in the right posture, we are going to focus on the rest of your lower body.
Relax your pelvis and tuck it under. By putting your hips slightly forward, it will straighten your spine.
This was a difficult one for me. By habit, I didn’t notice that I was always sticking my butt out. So, I had to check quite often that I was tucking in my tailbone.
If you aren’t sure about the position, you can pretend that you are about to sit down on a chair while keeping in mind to tuck in your tailbone.
Some people don’t like to go down too low and others can go lower easily. No matter at which level you are at, just remember that it’s very important to keep your pelvis forward.
On another note, if you start feeling your lower back filling up with Qi, this is very good!
Hands and arms position
Raise your arms to your chest level. You are going to make a circle with them. So, you don’t want to be too close to your chest or too far out. Pretend that you are putting your arms around a beach ball.
Now, imagine that you have a tiny ball underneath each armpit, in order to create a small space. So that your arms are kind of floating on a cloud. But, at the same time, you want your elbows to sink down.
Your fingers are facing each other. Relax your fingers and especially your thumbs. If your fingers start pointing downwards, bring them back to facing each other forwards. You can even slightly rotate your forearms upwards to keep your fingers straight and your hands facing your body.
If staying at your chest level feels good to you, that’s great, because it’s beneficial to your heart and blood circulation. But, if you have any issues with your upper body or if you start getting tired and you need a break during your practice, bring your arms down in front of your lower dantian (= the center of your energy). The lower dantian is basically about three fingers underneath your belly button. When, you feel more energetic again, you can bring them back up to your heart chakra.
Upper body position
Tuck your chin in. Next, you can imagine a string pulling at the top of your head upwards. But at the same time, you want your head to be slightly back so that it’s on top of your spine.
Roll back your shoulders and open up your chest. You can do this, while still relaxing your shoulders and arms.
Put your tongue up to the roof of your mouth. Your lips are closed.
Breathe and relaxation
You are going to breathe in and out through the nose. Relax while doing slow and even breaths. Feel your body relax every time you breathe out. It’s important to relax the body as much as possible so that your Qi may circulate correctly. You can even check your different body parts and when you feel tension, focus on relaxing those muscles.
Keypoints of your posture
Here is the list for when you need to check really fast each position right before starting:
- Feet shoulder width apart
- Toes pointing forward
- Knees slightly bent
- Arms at chest level or in front of the dantian
- Fingers facing each other
- Relax the thumbs
- Hands facing your body
- Tuck your chin in
- Head slightly back and being pulled upwards
- Roll back your shoulders
- Tongue on the roof of the mouth
- Breathe in and out through the nose
Start by sinking your energy into the ground, deep into the earth. When you feel truly grounded, you will notice energy coming up from the earth and fill you up with energy. Your lower dantian will then fill up with Qi. You can imagine a ball of energy in your lower belly just recieving all this energy.
Simply relax, focus on your breath and your dantian.
How much time should I practice the standing meditation?
Your body needs time to recharge and restore itself. Start between 5 and 10 minutes a day. Then, you can try to do it a couple minutes longer, little by little. When you will have given it time to do the restorative process, you will see great transformation in your body and internal qi. After a while, you can even try to go up to 30 minutes and see how your body responds 😉
The closing of the standing meditation
When your session is finished, bring your arms slowly down to your lower dantian. You will place your right hand on your stomach, on your dantian, so, remember approximately 3 fingers under your belly button. Then, put your left hand over your right.
You are going to make a circle movement with your hands on your stomach around your dantian. Make a circle where you go up on the left and down on the right. You will do this move 9 times. Start with a small circle, then make it bigger and bigger. Then, you go in the opposite direction. Do this 6 times and make your circle smaller and smaller, until your hands rest on your dantian. Once you are still, you will store your internal Qi into your lower dantian.
Now, you can warm up your hands by rubbing them together. You are going to pass over your face, from the bottom to the top, as if you were washing it. Then, go down the back of your head, by going around the back of the ears. You will do this move 3 times. Breathe in when you “wash” your face and breathe out when you go back down.
In addition, you will make little taps on your face and on your head. You can do bigger taps over your arms and legs.
“Washing” the face and the taps will not only help to bring your qi back to the surface, to make it easier to reenter your daily life, but also to nourish yourself.
Tips for beginners
Shake it off
Just so you know, it’s normal that your legs and arms shake a little, especially in the beginning. It can be physical, when your body is not used to using these muscles. It can also be energetic, when your body heals itself.
How to release the tension
It’s normal to feel your body tense up with this position. I didn’t feel the energy circulate the first few days, because I tensed up too much from being uncomfortable. The trick is to balance between finding the right position, while relaxing your muscles at the same time.
I especially noticed that sometimes my whole thigh was super tense. But all I needed to do was use my muscles to stand like I was used to, while relaxing the rest of the leg.
My tip is when you scan your body and notice that tension, breathe deeply and slowly and focus on relaxing the muscle. You will notice that you can hold this position much longer and your energy flows much more freely!
How to focus your mind
It’s so easy to get distracted from the present moment, or not, everyone would think meditation is a breeze.
When your thoughts start going all over the place, bring back your awareness to your breath and your qi. If you think about your grocery list and you notice that you got distracted, don’t continue thinking about the chores you have left to do. Take a breath while letting go of that thought as if it was a cloud in the sky. Recenter yourself.
In the beginning, if being present feels to difficult, that’s ok. Count your breaths. Little by little, you will see that it’s easier to be here in the now.
Feeling your Qi
To feel your Qi, it might take time. Depending on your state of mind, previous practices or how you feel, it might take several weeks or months. You need patience and to practice on a regular basis! Don’t focus on trying to feel something, that will most likely create a tension and block even more your sensations. Simply be present in your standing meditation and the benefits will come.
Who can practice this meditation?
Anyone can practice the standing meditation. If you have a knee injury or a physical disability, you can practice this meditation while sitting on a chair. The upper body will still be the same for everyone. Remember that your arms can come down to be in front of your lower belly.
Who can benefit from doing the standing meditation?
Everyone can benefit from practicing zhan Zhuang. For example, if you work a lot at a desk on your computer such as businessmen, entrepreneurs, secretaries, authors, ok a lot of people 😉, than you spend hours each day hunched over. Often, in this situation, you can have back pain, neck or shoulder tension. This method will help to teach your body to have a correct posture, which will help with the pain.
If you feel stressed or anxious, or you are tired all the time, you can benefit from this meditation.
However, it’s not only for people who are unhealthy or in pain. If you want to cultivate your qi and learn more about meditation and Qigong, this is an amazing method to practice!
My experience with this meditation
Connecting to qi!
A few years before I came to temple, I had actually lost the connection I had with my energy, my qi. Qi gong and more specifically while practicing the standing meditation, I reconnected to my vital energy! One morning, during this exercise, my eyes were closed, but I thought it was strange that I felt my fingers touch. So, I opened my eyes to check, but they weren’t close to each other at all and I felt that warmth in my skin. I was thrilled that I could feel my qi again!!!
At one point, when I was practicing, I started feeling a tingling but also a pins and needles sensation in my arms and hands. Don’t worry if this happens to you, this is normal if you feel the same. It is just your energy filling up into your arms and it will calm down with your practice.
Also, with this energy flowing so much in my arms, sometimes, my arms just naturally start to push further away from each other. Once again, that is totally fine it happens to you.
Pain in the legs and arms
The first few times I tried zhan Zhuang, I actually had tears in my eyes from the pain in my legs and arms. I was just tensing up my body so much and I tried to do it too long. I also tried to go too low from the very beginning.
Don’t make the same mistake, take small steps one at a time. Start with just a few minutes, focus on relaxing your muscles as much as you can while taking long, deep breaths and try listening to a nice soothing music maybe the first couple of times.
Find a wall
The part that is the most difficult for me is remembering to keep tailbone tucked in! I try really, but it seems that after a while, I always end up having that S shape in my back again… Through my meditation, when I start feeling if I need to correct my position, I know I have to start with this part.
What I did a few times to help me out with this little issue is that I put my back against the wall, while having a mirror beside me. I did my practice this way while really focusing on keeping the pelvis tucked in. I know that this part is still difficult for me, but this exercise definitely made a difference, trust me it’s better 😊
How is standing meditation different from sitting meditation?
You probably have seen someone or a picture of a person sitting with their hands on their knees, meditating and looking so serene. This practice is more common. But most people don’t know how useful it is to also practice standing meditation.
When I was in the temple, we practiced every morning standing meditation and every night sitting meditation. You can read more about the sitting meditation that I practiced here. So, what is actually the difference between them?
With sitting meditation, I find it much easier to get stuck in my thoughts or even go into a type of sleeping state. Well for thinking too much, it’s especially the case in the first 20 minutes. After that, my body does remind me that it’s not always comfortable.
While with standing meditation, I felt more present in my body immediately. If my posture wasn’t good or I was tensing up sometimes because of stress, like clenching my jaw too much, it showed me directly where was the issue. I could instantly focus on relaxing the body.
For me this is very useful to use in our lives because we forget our bodies so much. I feel that that’s why we get really sick a lot, because we don’t pay attention to the signals our body gives us to tell us that something is wrong. If we listened more to these signals, we would know how to adjust our lives right from the start.
I believe that a combination of both of these meditations are useful because they do have common benefits of course, but they also have their differences that combine each other so well to heal and have a happier life.
Start training your Qi
Now that you have seen how incredible the standing meditation is for your health, your mental wellbeing, your focus, your posture, your energy and even strength, start training your Qi!
If you have tried the standing meditation, share in the comments your experience and how it felt!