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I was born and raised a hedonist; to do what I wanted when I wanted. So – when I first tried to establish a daily practice of a standing meditation close to ten years ago – my mind fought back. I can remember throwing tantrums on the bed trying to get out of a commitment I had made to doing 100 days of practice in a row.
‘I was tired of feeling shackled by the anxiety’
But I had grown weary of feeling shackled – shackled by the anxiety, the paralysing self-doubt, the physical effects of these emotional states and the unhealthy habits I had developed to deal with them. I drank to suppress the anxiety, I lay awake at night riddled with night sweats from the booze and a busy mind filled with self-doubt, and then kept myself going through the work day with coffee – all of which fed my anxiety and sent me right back into the cycle.
What is standing meditation vs normal seated meditation?
Standing meditations are an integral part of traditional Qigong practice, with their teachings having been handed down from Master to student for generations in China. They are used to gather and circulate Qi (or energy) through the whole body, to strengthen the body and the mind, and to build a connection with the internal – in a very externally-focused world.
So – when my teacher, who had learned these ancient practices from his teachers in China, said if there was only one practice he could do it would be Di Yuan link to Kelly vid (the standing meditation within Yuan Qigong) – I committed to making this my main practice.
I threw my tantrums, I tried many excuses, I found reasons to be distracted – but eventually I managed to do 100 days in a row. This is a traditional method to help establish a regular practice – and for me it worked. Despite little to no natural discipline I managed to build up a discipline until I had made enough progress with the practice itself, that its benefits became the driver rather than a belief that ‘I should’.
The benefits were more than I had imagined
Soon I was experiencing falling asleep easily and staying asleep through the night, increased mental clarity and focus, a level of emotional stability I hadn’t experienced before – over time the anxiety receded and any that remained I could manage through my practice. I also gave up drinking and other unhealthy habits I had built up over the years to cope with life.
But most of all I had re-discovered what it is to feel human. Each night before going to bed I would do my Di Yuan and it was like pressing the reset button. All the stress from the day that had built up – creating pressure in my chest and tension throughout my body – would dissolve away and all I’d be left with was a deep sense of well-being and contentment as I drifted off to sleep. This is how we’re supposed to feel – and I wanted more.
The wider change – looking at my heart and consciousness
So – I started to look at all the things that drove me to feel so knotted up in the first place. To question how the way I was viewing the world was affecting my experience of it. To honestly and compassionately look at myself. To do so with a willingness to change how I view myself and others. To do all of this in order to develop and maintain a better state throughout the day – so that my practice wasn’t just about mopping up the mess but building and exploring all the possibilities of where it could take me.
This is work I continue to do – and some days I do well and others I still find myself knotted up. But I see progress – progress that makes life easier, more enjoyable, more meaningful. And no matter what – at the end of the day I do my practice, and all is ok with the world again – as I drift gently off to sleep.
Trina King lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She is a qualified Yuan Qigong teacher and dedicated REN XUE practitioner. She believes in the potential of human-kind to grow and develop into something amazing – and has committed herself to working both personally and collectively to help make that happen.