In my clinical practice, I’ve found a common thread among both the athletes and the sedentary people who come to see me. Both are overworked and lack vital energy— what I call life-force or chi.
Today, people need exercise more than ever. Why? Because they are more sedentary and unhealthy than ever and exercise is as vital to the health of the body as rest, food, water or any form of medicine one could imagine.
But not working out is a bad a working out too much. When we workout too much relative to our ability to regenerate our internal energy reserves, we become worn-out! The over trained athlete suffers from working-out.
Working-out is a term that describes expending more energy to perform a given exercise or exercise session than the exercise or session cultivates. This is like spending more money than you earn.
While you may have some nice things to show for it, they often don’t create long-term satisfaction because the bills outlast the gratification of the purchase.
Sedentary people become so energy depleted that even walking a block or two taxes them to the same degree an athlete would be taxed by completing a hard workout. Both the tired athlete and the tired sedentary person need the same medicine—they need to work-in.
Sadly, very few people create the time to work-in. Our society predominantly sees exercise as something athletes do to prepare for sports rather than as a means of health and healing.
Many avoid exercise because of the no pain – no gain attitude toward exercise cultivated by our culture, and they don’t realize the necessity of exercise for their own health and wellbeing. In this article I’ll share with you one of my favorite work-in exercises: Standing Like a Tree.
Standing Like A Tree
Standing Like A Tree is a very simple exercise I learned from Master Fong Ha (visit www.fongha.com). I love this exercise because anyone can do it. To perform this exercise, one should wear loose fitting clothing and it is best performed in natural setting.
Performing the exercise near a tree helps a lot because by observing the nature of a tree, one learns easily how to stand like a tree. This work-in exercise, like all work-in exercises will give the greatest return if performed during the first hour of sunrise or in the hour leading to sunset.
These are times when the chi field (life~force) of the earth is most concentrated, as expressed by dew formation on grass and other plants.
Begin the exercise by taking a comfortable, natural stance. Bend the knees slightly and align the spine vertically so that it is as straight as possible, yet, you are not straining to hold a vertical, upright spinal posture.
Your head should be positioned such that your cheekbones are directly above your collarbones. Your neck and shoulders should be relaxed and your arms and hands should be positioned such that you look as though you are holding a giant bubble in your hands.
The bubble should be half in your body and the other half imagined to be in your hands. Hold the bubble gently as though you were holding a lovely, huge soap bubble. Your hands should rest in front of your navel and the giant chi bubble should fill your lower abdomen and pelvic basin.
Place your tongue on the roof of the mouth just behind the front teeth. To find that position, simply swallow and your tongue will naturally go there.
Eyes closed, allow your breathing to settle and your mind to relax naturally. If thoughts seem to be flooding your consciousness, don’t try to stop them. Simply watch the thoughts as though you were watching fish swim by in a river – don’t attach to them.
You will find that as you detach from your thoughts and simply observe them, they naturally diminish. Soon enough, you will begin having periods of mindlessness.
Even for a moment or two, you will find that in the state referred to as no-mind, your entire being will become filled with an essence, an energy that is permeating and peaceful.
If your legs begin to ache, simply increase or decrease the bend of the knee slightly to allow the muscles to pump blood. If your arms become tired, it is usually because you are trying to hold them up.
If need be, simply move them such that your hands are slightly higher or lower than the original position in front of the navel.
In the beginning, you are likely to find your postural muscles fatiguing quickly. If you can only go for one minute, take a rest for a minute or two and go again.
In time, your postural muscles will strengthen as your mind becomes more capable of relaxing—letting go. I recommend building up to at least 20 minutes per session – more is good but 20 minutes offers a good chi harvest.
This exercise is very simple, yet, profoundly effective! Anyone who can stand can do it. Standing like a tree is a great way to get back in touch with nature, restore natural breathing, cultivate life~force, and gift yourself with healing self-love.
This is a gift that not only brings you health and vitality; it allows you to have the gift of health and vitality to share with everyone you love!