Rodney Owen, 2

Interview with Rodney Owen

Rodney:

Standing Meditation is a Tai Chi Qigong practice. It is both Qigong and meditation. The essence of the practice is centered on posture, breath, and calming the mind– emptying the cup. In the Taiji world we call it Wuji meditation. Wuji is the void, that that is beyond or before definition, before movement; stillness. Once we move, Wuji the void becomes Taiji, Yin Yang Movement. So in Wuji meditation, which actually encompasses standing, sitting, and lying, we focus on the void very much the same as in Zen.

Additionally we are concerned with breathing, not only as a mantra typical of meditation, but also Qigong breathing. Specifically Qigong focuses on pre-natal or reverse breathing. As the meditation process evolves, as we settle more into the void, our breathing may become tortoise breathing– or very shallow and slow, also typical of Zen. Out of those three types of Wuji, I prefer standing. Standing meditation has a specific focus on posture that is in keeping with Tai Chi and Qigong.

Our intention is to straighten out the spine. One does that by tucking in the backside, sucking in the gut, and stretching the neck up as if one had a string attached to the top of one's head. This fills in the hollow in the back and allows for easier flow of Qi through the body. This posture is the natural, but not the normal, posture for humans. Maintaining it is difficult at first, but very rewarding in the long run.

MP:

Is the breathing something you allow and simply watch or are you controlling it? I guess my question is about whether or not one evolves or in this case returns to deeper more primal states by just allowing or by striving?

Rodney:

Unfortunately the answer to that question is yes. There are two schools of thought on this. One is that we "do" reverse breathing through intention. The other is that by holding the posture I described and relaxing, reverse breathing comes naturally. It is my experience that I have to focus on my posture and breathing to make it happen and then it takes over on its own. And it's kind of like stopping the internal dialog, If you put too much of your mind into it, you're not doing it anymore. So for me, eventually, reverse breathing happens without so much intention. But it has taken a bit of intentional practice to get to that point.

MP:

I am interested in hearing a description of the most heightened or advanced state you find yourself in due to these practices. In short, what is it that has you going back for more– bliss, enlightenment? Also, do you ever get to the point where you feel more as if you are being breathed rather than you doing the breathing?

Rodney:

That may be a hard one to answer. I'm not sure if I know the right words. Bliss may be a good word here. There are two different states that I can personally identify. I would call them the meditative state and the Qigong state. The meditative state is what we achieve in meditation once we have settled down, stopped (or significantly slowed) the internal dialog, and the breathing has all but stopped.

At this point we feel existentially satisfied, at peace. In this moment we are not engaged with the wheel of Samsara. Some would say we are in the presence of God. I'm not really sure what bliss is, but it sounds like an apt word for this state. The Qigong state is similar, except that we also feel energized. There is a slight tension in the body. Tension is not really the word, but we are not so relaxed that we collapse. And we are not really tense. In Tai Chi we call it Sung.

Anyway, we are very aware of our bodies at this point, and aware of the energy, or Qi, that is flowing through our bodies. Because of the practice, we have the benefit of endorphins. So there is a sense of elation, much like a runner's high. I find the combination of these two states, meditative and Qigong, in standing meditation. I don't ever feel as if I'm being breathed. Rather, much like Zazen, I feel as if I'm not breathing at all.

MP:

You say that you feel that you are not breathing at all. Are you yet aware that there is breathing going on– that something is breathing– or is breath or any form of cyclic movement out of the picture entirely? I am also interested in, being that these states are achieved through posture and concentration, what part of this experience is retained and what other benefits do you experience when you are not in the midst of these practices?

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