On Being Well-Rooted
Beneath our feet is the earth that sustains us. It is our foundation and our provider. At any given moment we have its support.
The most simple acts of standing and sitting can help us recognize and benefit from the earth. The contact our feet have with the earth makes a wonderful object of concentration. Standing meditation brings an awareness of the way our bodies align themselves with the gravity of the earth. It quiets the mind and demonstrates to us the ways in which the different parts of the feet (the toes, the ball of the foot, the arch under the ankle/leg bones articulation, and the heel) work in unison to balance us as we stand upright or walk forward. This quiet demonstration is important, because in our busy lives and our multi-tasked modes of thinking we generally take our footwork for granted. Thus we never develop an appreciation or a set of skills that permit us to get the most out of our feet as we maneuver through a world that, in both concrete and metaphorical ways, puts a lot of moving obstacles in our paths. When you spend a little time in standing meditation, the adage "Thinking on one's feet" takes on a new and useful meaning.
There are postures in qi gong that have names such as horse stance or post standing. The footwork is the same for most of the positions. The feet are parallel and shoulder width and the knees are slightly bent. The tailbone is rotated forward very slightly in a way that straightens the spine. The forearms can be either held parallel to the ground or roughly at a 45 degree angle so that they would cover the shoulders in a mirror's image.
The simplicity of these exercises hide the power of their insight and utility. They also invite constant and non-intrusive practice. At this very moment you can begin to investigate what standing meditation can do for you. Simply stand up with your feet parallel and shoulder width. You can continue reading if you wish, but do direct your attention and awareness to your feet, then your ankles, up to your knees and then your lower back. You can either repeat this path of awareness or alternate going up or down the legs. The main point is to become aware of how you are connected to the earth.
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