The Squatting and Standing Meditation

To use this meditation you need a space to easily move around in, or lie full length if necessary. Stand in this space, preferably on a carpet or mat. Create a condition in yourself of relaxed ease, like a keyboard ready to be played. The keyboard in this case is your body’s ability to move, your feelings, imagination, sexuality and memory. When ready take an in-breath and slightly open the head and shoulders backwards. Then on the outbreath drop down into the squatting position, relaxing as much as possible. If the squat is difficult use a block of wood or a book to put your heels on. If it is still difficult use a low chair or stool. Repeat the movement a few times to familiarise yourself with it. When you have done this, take time to become aware of the different way you feel in the up position and the down.

The down and up are opposite poles of how we express ourselves not only physically but psychologically. The down expresses sleep, rest, withdrawal and non-involvement.

The up expresses activity, involvement and confrontation. When we emerge from the womb, our being is confronted by a different world. In the womb there was little change. There was no otherness such as other objects or people to deal with. There was no need to reach out for your needs because food came automatically. In life outside the womb, food does not come automatically, certainly not as we mature. There are other people and objects to deal with. Change is occurring all the time. If as a baby we found no comfort or love when we were born, it could be that we did easily adapt to this new life. Perhaps we did not want to be involved in its change, its opposites, its necessity to find our own needs and to cope with other people. We may have wished to stay in the womb condition because there was no reward in emerging from it. So although our body matured, we might not have developed into an outgoing explorative person. This might lead us to be quiet and unexpressive, not wishing to be involved in what is going on around us.

The squat posture is expressive of this type of non involvement with the exterior world. But of course there is another side to withdrawal – it is also an aspect of a healthy life. If we do not honour our healthy need to sleep, to have times of privacy or cycles of lessened outer expression, then we suffer stress. So the squat also represents our ability to rest and to allow ourselves the attainment of relaxed, non-active pleasurable feelings. This could be called our warm comfortable place.

The standing position expresses our involvement in the exterior world of change, opposites, and needs which require expenditure of effort.

It would be ideal if each of us could move easily between these antipodes of our being. But we tend to have a greater ease in one or the other, and this is expressed in our feeling sense of each posture. It is because of this the postures can be used as a meditation. Through the postures we can be led to awareness of the feeling sense telling us how we react to squatting or standing. From that you can learn to allow your inner awareness to express what relationship you have with being down or up.

So, from becoming aware of the difference you it is helpful for you either to write down or describe to yourself what the difference is.

Feeling Low – Feeling High

Now, if I were leading you in this meditation, I would say to you:

Okay, we are now going to continue the exercise a little further. When I suggested you do the movement, you were going up and down because you were willing to follow my instructions. Having accepted what I asked you, the movements you made were partly automatic. What I want you to do now is to discover how your feelings respond to the movement. Some of you probably described feeling more comfortable while down, and some of you preferred to be up. These preferences are part of the way your feelings react to everyday life, often unconsciously. What we are going to do is to honour those feelings and find out what they are telling you. So start from the standing posture, go down into the squat, and this time, if you feel no impulse to get up, stay down. Follow the impulse with your body. In other words, if you feel like going right down onto the floor, do so. It might be that during the time of the exercise, to which we are going to give ten/twenty minutes, you will not feel any feelings to get up at all, in which case stay with whatever position or movement your impulse leads you to. It might be that your feeling changes, and after a while you have an urge to stand. Or perhaps you do not have a nice feeling about being down, and have an impulse to stand right away. Therefore, think of what we are doing as an exercise in being aware of, and expressing your subtle feelings. This is helpful because often we automatically do things without having the full backing of our feelings, and this causes some degree of tension or conflict. In listening to our feelings and giving them an opportunity to express themselves we are reducing the tension, and also learning what our feeling-needs are. Give yourself time now, to explore what you feel about standing and going down.

Everybody has their own personal reaction to this exercise. In general there are three basics: [A] Not wanting to stand. [B] Not wanting to go down. [C] Moving reasonably well between the opposites.

Now take time to clarify or write down your feelings again. Here is a mans feelings about the exercise.

I started with the first warm-up exercise suggested in Liberating the Body, but I do not experience relaxation when down in the squat.  I feel energized and alive when standing, but collapsed, tired, weak, closed-up, isolated and “down” when in the squat, particularly when I drop my head.  It is uncomfortable and I feel like I’m dying.  Try as I may, even spending more time in the squat while meditating, there is no improvement.  It is a position I do not find relaxing at all.  My body extremely dislikes a squat.

It may be that I drop too quickly, but the drop is like a massive letting go and my body likes the feeling of dropping quickly and exhaling strongly.  It also likes rising a little slower and relishing in the feeling of being energised – like its batteries are being quick-charged.  When standing awhile longer to relish the feeling, the power increases.  I feel strong.

The meditation afterwards had exactly the same effect.  The feelings seem to be stronger though.  It is as if the feelings are more pronounced when the body is stationary. It is almost like the feelings express themselves better or have more energy.  I found my body involuntarily responding during the meditation.  Shoulders sag forward and down when I relive the drop and straighten up and backwards when I relive the rise.  Even if I concentrate on keeping them still, when I get to the rise, I realise my shoulders had dropped because I feel my shoulders and head moving up and backwards.

I do not wish to get stuck at the warm-up exercises, but I also do not want to by-pass what my body is trying to say.  Shall I try exercise 2 or stay with the squat until it is cleared of the strong feelings?

To me there is something very primitive – almost pre-historic – about the squat.  It fits in well with the authenticity-thing.  The exercise feels meaningful and I hope to do it early every morning while A. and my son are fast asleep.

Okay, I’m back after another session.  This time I did it more slowly, deliberately and with more awareness.  Both the exercise and the meditation work well.  It is as if the slower drop causes less of a shock to the system.  The body lets go gradually and more completely too.  There is a sense of relaxation too.  But I’d like to get behind the feelings aroused by the fast drop.

Phew, it seems that the simple warm-up exercises get one’s being going.

Whatever it is, it will almost certainly be relevant to you own life situation. This is important, so do not think this is merely a loosening up exercise. The meditation is an expression of an inner process that expresses through this method very capably, and although it is gentle, what you meet is a part of your own healing and self-regulatory activity.

At a recent workshop one man found his feelings led him to a rather tense standing position. It seemed to express an attempt to avoid going down. It turned out that he had experienced a loss of self confidence which he had only recently moved out of, and he was anxious that he might drop back into it. The exercise showed, however, that his anxiety was causing tension, which he needed to move beyond.

A woman in the workshop felt loath to get up. It felt to her as if standing would require a great deal of strength, even aggression. This expressed her sense of difficulty in expressing herself as a woman, and her feeling of being in competition with men.

Just these two examples show that the person was facing important issues in their life. This approach to unfolding the best in you can be an available avenue for many people to meet and resolve such difficult feeling areas and aspects of their growth, and allow more of their potential. It does not need high intellectual attainment to be of real service in helping them toward such resolution. But it does need the strength of the teacher’s support and their skill in creating an environment where such healing can take place. If you are using this meditation in a group, people should be given an opportunity to discuss the connection between what they experienced during the exercise and its link with their everyday life. The aim is not to find answers to the person’s life situation but to bring greater awareness to it. See Listening Skills

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