Welcome back to another week following Kevin Schoeninger’s messages from Spiritual Growth Monthly. Throughout August Kevin has been taking us on a journey of exploration to uncover our own personal patterns of events and behavior, which have built layers of accumulated stress in our bodies and our lives. He ends the month by showing us how certain kinds of meditation can actually help us regain some of the energy we have lost.
No matter how it happens, stress weakens us. It beats down our immune system, breaks down cell walls, and pulls us down with fatigue. Over our lifetime we continue to carry that accumulated stress, perhaps without even knowing it is there.
Good habits like proper nutrition and exercise can help restore our energy levels. And, surprise, so can meditation.
Most of us probably think of meditation as a mind-only form of activity. We go through steps to relax our bodies, but our focus is generally on what our thoughts are up to, and whether or not we can keep them from getting wrapped around our stress again.
Kevin’s guided meditation for this month is based on elements he teaches of Qigong, and is done standing up. Now doing meditation standing doesn’t seem like it would make that much difference, but for me at least, it certainly did.
Standing up keeps your mind busy…keeping you from falling over.
That sounds like an oversimplification, so I’ll describe how it felt to me. When we are seated and meditating, about the only thing we think about regarding our bodies is our breathing, and possibly conscious relaxation.
During the standing meditation, Kevin asks us to bend our knees, just slightly, and feel the weight of our bodies connecting with the ground. (Try this and see what happens.) Most of the time, when we stand up, we sort of lock our knees, like the bolts on a folding table, and when we’re “locked”, our heads pitch a tiny bit forward, our shoulders may bow just a bit, and we’re stuck in place. We can stand like that for quite a while before we get tired. But when we’re tired, we’re really tired.
When we are standing and bend our knees, even a little, our legs have to work a bit harder for us to balance. We do need to feel our heels connected to the ground, almost pushing downward, so we feel stable and grounded. We become very aware of this grounded feeling, to the point that we might even forget our usual racing thoughts.
When we tuck our chins slightly, as Kevin suggests, it straightens our posture and lengthens the back of our necks. In turn, our shoulders can truly relax because they are not slumped forward anymore. And once again, our energy can begin to circulate as it should.
Who would have thought just standing could give our minds so much to do?
By standing this way, when we begin to breathe deeply we can focus our attention on the flow of energy from what is called “the lower dantian” of the body, a sort of energy center in your abdomen, just below the naval. Part of Kevin’s standing meditation includes imagining energy flowing from this center down into the ground, and also up to the top of your head.
I won’t try and walk you through the meditation itself. It is far better to listen to Kevin’s soothing voice guiding you along. He also incorporates a second Qigong element, which shifts the energy flow into high gear.
What I found is that this feeling of moving energy is an actual, physical experience. Like when you’ve been sitting too long, and the blood starts to flow again. Nothing tingly, just warm and in sync again.
Even five to ten minutes a day, Kevin suggests, is enough to begin regaining the vital energy we feel is missing in our lives. Standing doesn’t require anything special. If you are alone in an elevator, and have shoes you can easily slip off and on, you could even try it for a minute here and there. In our busy lives, it may be easier to find five minutes alone to stand and reenergize, than the time we think we need for a classic sitting meditation.
Who can’t find five minutes to shed years of accumulated stress?
For Kevin’s entire article, visit www.spiritualgrowthmonthly.com.
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