Seated cross-legged isn’t the only good posture for meditation. Buddhist teacher B. Alan Wallace, for example, is a supporter, in certain circumstances, of the supine position. Equally, standing upright can be perfectly appropriate. This short article outlines two different “standing meditations” with some videos at the end.
If you’re in a rush jump to the Kim Eng video at the bottom. The first method given here is based on traditional Tai Chi standing practices.
Whatever the circumstances, whether you’re outside, have trouble sitting with your legs crossed or even if you simply enjoy standing, I hope you’ll find a suitable practice.
Full Body Breathing
- Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart, feet parallel.
- Let your arms hang at your sides, relax your neck and shoulders. You may also want to loosen your knees and any other parts of your body where there is tension.
- Let your attention rest for a few moments on the sensations at the base of your feet (at the point of contact with the ground) and on the crown of your head. You might prefer to focus specifically on what is called the “bubbling spring” point of your foot.
- On the inhalation, sense your breath rising into your feet, through your body, and out through the crown of your head.
- On the exhalation, sense your breath moving from your head, down through your body and out through your feet into the ground.
- Keep the sensations along your spine in mind. You may notice a soft straightening on the in-breath.
- You can visualize the breath in any way that you want, as a ray of light or stream of water, or simply just experience the sensations. If you are having a great deal of trouble, simple focus on the point where you want the breath to go, either the feet or the crown of your head.
- Repeat this as many times as you want. It can be done discretely if you are waiting in a queue or in a public place.
Shoulder and Head Rolls
Not a meditation per se, but a relaxing practice that can be done anywhere. It’s especially useful to combat the tension that’s caused by sitting down all day.
- Standing with legs shoulder-width apart, softly straighten your spine (I recall the analogy of adopting the posture of a lord or lady). Be loose and relaxed.
- Let your head tilt forward so that it is almost touching your chest.
- On your next inhalation roll it slowly halfway around, so that you are almost facing the ceiling.
- On the exhalation roll it forward to the starting point.
- Do this as many times as you like. Remember: slowly and gently.
- Repeat this process with your shoulders, bringing them forwards and up on the in-breath, and backwards and down on the out-breath. Feel free to reverse this process (backwards and up) several times.
- This can be used as a preliminary practice to the one above.
Resources & Videos
An interesting video about standing meditation from a Buddhist monk. “Somewhere between sitting and walking meditation.”
A short video that’s worth a watch.
The Healing Power of the Breath by Richard P. Brown and Patricia L. Gerbarg.
The TAO of Natural Breathing by Dennis Lewis.
Image credit: The Opening Lotus by Edwin Lee