September 14, 2011

Meditators: Stand Up!

When people think of meditation, they most commonly think of a person sitting cross-legged on the floor or a cushion. Many might be surprised to learn that in the Buddha's instructions to his disciples, he actually placed equal emphasis on "sitting, standing, walking, and lying down" (a phrase that appears throughout the Pali Canon).

This came to mind when I watched the first talk of Gaylon Ferguson's Tricycle Retreat, Natural Bravery, when the very first practice that Gaylon recommended for the retreatants was standing meditation.

In this week's talk Gaylon explains,

The fact the we are willing to not only experience our fear, but to explore our fear in this step by step way, is itself an expression of Natural Bravery, of an innate courage.

We explored last week how this bravery can be cultivated and strengthened by synchronizing our mind and body. The word synchronize is from the Greek "chronos" which means "time," and "syn" which means "same." The time that the body and mind can be in the same time is the time of "nowness." It's only in nowness that mind and body can be synchronized. If mind is in next week and body is here, today, then they are unsynchronized, not in the same time. It's said that all kinds of fearful activities—expansions of anxiety and doubt about our fundamental goodness—come out of this unsynchronized body and mind. Mind is "tripping out" so to speak, it's off thinking about something else, and body is here.

So, the standing meditation I suggested we work with through the course of the week, being present in the body while standing, is a way of synchronizing the attention, the mind, the awareness, and the standing body.

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