Posture of Meditation, Part 2:
Posture of Meditation Series:
Posture of Meditation, Part 3: Eyes
Considering that standing posture is one of the four main postures of buddhist meditation, it has not been widely practiced as main method of it's own in other buddhist countries than China. It comes as a bit of a surprise when you think of it. Why not? In China both taoists and buddhists have practiced it throughout the centuries, and still today, although often from purely secular point of view, separated from larger philosophical context which may or may not be a good thing. In China standing meditation, often in connection with inner martial arts and self-healing, is known by many different names. Here, I'll refer to it simply by ”standing meditation”.
Meditation is a multilayered practice. Considering all the things that happen in the mind space, it is comparable to juggling. A beginning juggler is able to juggle for a brief moment until due to limited skills, balls fall to the ground. To manage all the different elements of the mind, such as thoughts, ideas, emotions and energies together with sensory information of the physical body, including the possibility of becoming distracted or subconscious, is not that easy and simple.
When meditation is practiced in a standing position or positions, it is an art of it's own. It is different from sitting meditation for the obvious reason that the body is an active element of the meditation. In sitting meditation, body is also central but in this case body has a more passive role in the meditative process.
Personally I think that standing meditation can be a great help in one's meditation when one has 1. recognised open awareness and has become familiar with it, 2. when one wishes to put more emphasis on how open awareness is embodied and 3. how the abstract mind-awareness functions relate to the structure of the physical body.
Of course standing practices can be done to begin with, without nondualistic insights and without any physical preparation such as rushen, but pursuing standing meditation as a primary method from the beginning, is hindered by many problems. I don't recommend it.
Perhaps this is the reason why the yogic traditions of India or Tibet never dove deep in standing meditation, although their traditions of sitting meditation have been exemplary. Perhaps masters and yogis didn't see it that important after advancing in their sitting practice.
The view from the top of the mountain
What is essential in all forms of meditation, is to recognise knowing awareness (first gear). By knowing awareness I refer to open awareness. It is our mind without dualistic content, without the sense of separation. Please refer to many texts on awakening and purification of the mind found from this blog, if you are not familiar with what this means.
So, whatever type of meditation we are talking about, it is the recognition of knowing awareness what makes the practice a ”meditation”. Concentration practice where intention is cultivated to attend the body-space, or the movement of the breath or made to act according to a mental image, is not really meditation.
So, the principle of open awareness should be clearly understood.
Training of standing meditation
When the recognition of open awareness is effortless and common, it is possible for the practitioner to put more emphasis on the embodying aspect of meditation. This is the meeting point of the third and fourth gears of ”Four Gears of Open Awareness”.
In sitting posture, the third gear, where open awareness (related to the primary sense organ) is met with the heart-space and the whole body, can already be thoroughly studied. However, when this is applied in standing posture, it takes on a different, physically more concretical spin. The connection of awareness in relation to action (based on intention/focus) can be studied and realised in a ”fleshy” way. Mind and awareness becomes flesh and bones. It becomes concretic because our physical bodies made of physical elements, are more actively looked as a central theme of our meditation. Here the dualism between non-physical absolute, open awareness, and physical relative body evaporates. ”Form is emptiness, emptiness is form”, as the Heart sutra says.
I find that it is absolutely crucial to stick with the panorama that opens from ”the top of the mountain”, referring to the first gear, because it is that open mind space, also termed as attention, bare attention or naked awareness which puts the whole practice and the method in a context that it actually is.
Nearly all inner martial artists have deficiency regarding this essential requirement. Without the first gear, and nonduality, standing meditation cannot and does not result in thorough understanding, traditionally called as wisdom and compassion.
- Kim Katami, 26.6.2016