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Diagram of the Human Body for prop

Standing Meditation

Emblem for the Earth Method of Internal Martial Art Practice

Standing Meditation as a Mindfulness Practice

Before you begin any physical exercise, you must stand in Wuji Posture and clear your mind of other thoughts. This is similar to the attention practice, except in your standing practice, you will develop an awareness of your body.

Remember the story of the egg where “there was nothing but a formless chaos.” This is the state of Wuji. Before creation there was nothing, no form, no substance, just void and nothingness. All of existence was present at the beginning of time, and this sum-total of existence was aware of itself in its entirety.

While standing in Wuji Posture, your mind will probably fit the formless chaos definition of wuji; racing from thought to thought, but your body will be still; standing upright without moving. You want to stand until your mind is aware of your body, and clear from other thoughts.

Some teachers stress low or wide standing postures to develop strong legs. This creates a condition they call rootedness. Being firmly rooted means it will be more difficult to push you over, and you will have more power to push others away.

Awareness and Rootedness in Standing Meditation

Awareness and rootedness are the same thing. Rootedness implies that you are firmly fixed to the ground, like a tree, or a plant with roots seeking deeply into the soil for nourishment. Standing firm, however, is not the way of mindfulness martial arts. It is with a calm heart and mind that you create your roots. The nourishment you seek in standing practice is both the practice of strong mental focus and physical awareness of your body’s place in space and time.

Standing practice is boring, but it will improve the function of your martial postures. Standing for short periods of time develops attention to your structural alignment and you will use this knowledge in subsequent practice.

There are different versions of the Wuji Posture demonstrated by different martial styles, and different teachers have different interpretations. There are Wuji postures with the feet placed next to each other, and postures with the feet placed at shoulder width. Some have the toes angled outward and others point the toes straight ahead.

Illustration showing the bilateral function of the human body while standing
Bilateral function of the human body.

You should accept the various Wuji postures as being correct for that system or style of practice. But also regard the Wuji posture of one system, or even one teacher, as a clue to that system’s, or teacher’s, overall veracity. Bad functional posture (slouched shoulders, hanging head, toes pointed outward, knees rotated inward) is a sign that a teacher, or a system, does not have, or is not practicing, the fundamentals needed to maintain overall health.

Today, we know that the human body is bilateral in all of its joints because anything else would not work. There are two of everything you need to move in an upright posture. Two ankles are supported by two knees that leverage the force of a step and produce the ability to walk. The knees are attached to your torso by two hips that give you the flexibility to reach the ground from above and to change directions at will. Above the hips, two shoulders are attached to two elbows that multiply force and extend your agility into new angles. The two elbows are attached to two wrists that provide you with the finest dexterity. Finally, you have two hands filled with equal numbers of fingers that can act in opposition to each other, or in complete harmony.

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