Standing up for your Mind
As a way to gain an immediate experience of living and abiding in the moment, I have started to introduce the practice of Mindful standing in the live Meditation classes that I teach.
Mindfulness practice is sometimes seen as having to focus exclusively on mind training exercises that we engage in, when we’re sitting down. Of course this is an important element, however it can be more far reaching than this.
If we are creative we can introduce Mindfulness training to all elements of our life, so our practice starts to become holistic and integrated. One formal practice that can help us to start this process is Mindful Standing. Learning this technique gives us an appreciation that Mindfulness is much more that sitting down and closing our eyes.
If we check our everyday life, much of the time we are standing. Standing up can sometimes seem like a bit of a chore, something that we have to do when we are waiting, or there is no seat available. With this skillful, standing practice we can learn to transform the times that we stand into a Mindfulness training. No longer will we feel the need to immediately look at our mobile phone when we are waiting for a train or bus, no longer will standing and waiting be frustrating or tiring.
The importance of this practice became apparent recently, when I arrived at Manchester train station and stood up from my seat awaiting to leave the train. There was a delay of around three minutes with the opening of the door. I couldn’t go back to my seat and I couldn’t move forward. I just had to stand there. It dawned on me that now is the time to practice Mindful standing. Rather than thinking about what I need to be doing in the future or getting frustrated with the situation, just simply take the opportunity to abide in the present moment.
So how did I practice Mindful Standing and how can we practice?
Follow these tips to get started:
- Stand up in a posture with both legs parallel to your shoulders and your feet pointing straight in front of you.
- Bend your legs very slightly.
- Feel the sensation of your feet against the floor.
- Experience the sensation of being rooted like a tree in the floor.
- Allow your back to straighten and your shoulders to relax.
- Put your right hand in your left and place them on your navel (if you have something in one of your hands then simply place one hand on your navel.)
- Spend a few moments, checking in with your body and noticing any sensations.
- Draw your attention fully into your body.
- Enjoy the experience and joy of being a human being, abiding in a human body.
- Notice the movement of your hands – they arise and dissolve in time with your breath.
- Follow this experience for a short time.
- Allow your breath to bring you into the present moment.
- For as long as you feel comfortable abide with this experience.
For me after doing this practice for a few minutes in Manchester while I was waiting for the train door to open, I was left with a feeling of presence, renewed energy and focus. With my mind and body having a recharge in this way, the shape of the rest of my day was altered and improved.
If I am guiding this practice formally then I will usually have the entire session lasting five minutes. However with creative thinking this practice can be shortened to three seconds. Use it, if you have a few moments to wait in a queue. It’s like we’re taking a quick check-in to the present moment.
One brief Mindful standing practice could alter the course of our day, week, month, year, or even life. Those moments when we get really frustrated or angry with someone, which can affect a relationship, position at work, someone’s faith of confidence in us, can be pacified with a few moments of Mindfulness.
So rather than the times in our life when we are waiting, just being dead time that we fill with nervous energy, they become Mindful moments that bring peace, calm and focus into our world.
Also standing has a very beneficial effect on our physical health, in today’s world where much of the time we are sitting, companies and business are now encouraging their staff to stand, sometimes when working. With an growing increase in desks available that allow us to stand in the office.
So next time we hop on a bus, tram or train, let’s think twice before jumping for that seat or being distracted by our mobile phone, stand up for our mind and try a Mindfulness practice!
Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com