Standing and rooting like a tree, or standing qigong (zhan zhuang) has been used for centuries for developing grounding in the practice of Chinese martial arts. It also has a corresponding application in the healing arts as well. The following practice will help you do that by improving your ability to work with energy in treatment sessions.
Standing Qigong Posture
The first thing that you do is you place your feet at shoulder’s width apart, with booth feet parallel. (If you have lower back pain or blockages, pointing the toes inward a little will help open it up.) Don’t lock your knees, that is, keep them bent a little but don’t let the knee caps extend any further forward than your toes. Relax the muscles in feet, ankles, knees and hips. Allow the arms to rest comfortably at your sides and allow your armpits to relax and open. One of the ways to open the armpits is to turn the palms so they are facing backward.
Relaxation is Essential for Grounding
Qi doesn’t flow through tense muscles, so follow this muscle relaxation sequence to help release tension. Relax the chest and belly, and place the tip of the tongue on the upper palate behind the teeth. The tongue placement connects the central channel extraordinary meridian (Du Mai) that goes up the back and over the top of the head with the meridian (Ren Mai) that goes down the front of the body and back down to the point between the genitals and the anus.
Breathe naturally, allowing the belly to expand outward on the inbreath and move inward on the exhale. Allow the hips to sink and move the coccyx (tailbone) forward a little. Some recommend using the imagery of having a weight hanging from the coccyx to help it relax downward and gain a feeling of sinking. (Relaxing it downward is better than forcing it into the down position.) Another image to use is the imagining that you are sitting on an imaginary balloon and that it is providing all of the support that is needed to maintain this posture.
Imagine that your head is gently suspended up by a string that attaches to the bai hui, or the top of the head. Your eyes should be open and relaxed. Look forward and out at a point on the horizon, or if you are indoors, choose a point that would keep your head in a position that is not cocked upwards. Some recommend looking at a point that is on the floor about 10-15 feet away. This helps in helping keep the occipital area on the back of the head open, which is important to help energy move up and over the head in the microcosmic orbit. You should not focus on anything in particular. Practitioners call this “fuzzy awareness.”
Relax the body, bit by bit, from the top of the head to the tip of the toes. If you encounter any areas that do not want to relax much, let them be and move on to the next area. You can come back to difficult areas later, or you may find that they will release in tandem with relaxation of other parts of the body. It is important to relax all the way downward to the feet. If you can follow the relaxation all the way into the floor. As you relax, let you body sink and feel the feet open up as they connect with the earth’s energy. (For more pointers on opening the feet and yongquan (K1) point, see the blog entry for Dec. 2010 for a method of doing that.)
All during the process of relaxation, maintain the breathing centered in the lower dantien (lower abdomen). Since you are using the balloon to help support your waist, imagine also that the floor is lifting and holding your up. Trust that connection and let it support your body. This exercise can last from 10-20 minutes. Do this at least once a day if you are a healer and you will notice that your body becomes a more clear conduit for movement of the energy for facilitating healing. Healers from all traditions, Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, Bio Energy Healing, etc., will benefit from this qigong practice.
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