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Tension Release: Standing Meditation, Fascia & the Future of Fitness + Physical Therapy

Uncategorized Sep 07, 2015

Wow, that’s a big title, and a big claim. A few years ago I might have thought this sounded too good to be true, until I experienced this …

There was a time when I felt like my mind and body were in a dysfunctional relationship. My mind wanted to go left and my body wanted to go right.

It was affecting every area of my life, not just my physical practice. I was frustrated to say the least.

I would imagine moving in certain ways or having specific experiences with my body, but it didn’t want to cooperate.



Are you having some similar experiences?

  • If you’re feeling there’s more inside your body waiting to be accessed,
  • You’re feeling restricted with those constant injuries and niggles in your body that don’t seem to pass,
  • Or you’re interested in learning how to connect your mind and body, so they begin to hold hands and skip merrily into the sunset …

… you’ll gain valuable insights with today’s article, where I share my journey from mind+body disconnection to unification.

A quick hint ... It’s about consciously connecting with your fascia system.

Let’s start from the top.



Stuck in One or the Other

When I first began my journey to physical awesomeness (that’s what I called it back then):

  • My training was all about my body,
  • And my motto was 'stronger, leaner, better, faster' - anything with an ‘er’ at the end.

I wanted more performance and I wanted it yesterday!

Here’s me back in those days … I was getting stronger, but I was also losing a lot in the process.

I would lift heavy, eat big, rinse and repeat. And this was a powerful part of my learning and development.

But this approach had its shortcomings and I kept hitting a big snag.

I’d go through periods of big improvement in my training, then something would happen, and I’d crash in a heap. I’d get injured, tired, or distracted on the next big thing.

It was like living inside a yo-yo. The ups were high and the lows, well ... let’s not get into that.



Yo-Yo No-No!!!

To put a stop to this yo-yo effect I began to wonder if it was my mind creating these experiences, so I dived deep into meditation practices.

Ahhh it was like a breath of fresh air; but while my mind was becoming clearer, my body was suffering.

I just couldn’t seem to find a balance.

Every time I separated my mind practice from my body practice and vice versa, something went backwards.

So if separation wasn’t the answer, it felt only natural to learn how to connect the two and develop them at the same time.

And so my mind+body practice began with learning to stand.

Sounds weird, right?



Merging Mind + Body with Standing Meditation

I’ve always been fascinated by eastern culture. The martial arts, the zen, the Shaolin, the dao.

However, as much as it was something that appealed to me, it was all too mystical for my western mind to understand.

So I remained an observer, until …

I was introduced to Baguazhang and Taijiquan, some powerful forms of martial arts that had very clear meditative and movement components.

I discovered the foundation that lay behind both of these arts were different forms of standing meditation practice, also known as Zhan Zhuang, or pole standing - which involves standing for prolonged periods.

The focus of standing practice is to unify body+mind, and gravity, to improve the movements in each respective martial art.

It was the missing link I was looking for.

So I began the practice of standing, which I thought would be easy and painless, but oh how I was mistaken.



The Beginnings Were Ugly

This is basically what I felt like when I began standing meditation - my body felt separated and disconnected, a bit like Frankenstein.

At this point you may be wondering …

  • Why would anyone waste their time practicing standing around?
  • Standing is something I can already do, so why do I need to practice more?

I thought it would be easy too, but in the beginning, after only ten short minutes my body was screaming! My hips, my knees, my back, my shoulders, my brain!!!

It really sucked, and I almost stopped as it didn’t seem to be worth the pain.

But then I became curious …

  • How can something as simple as standing bring up so much pain and tightness?
  • Why haven’t I noticed it before?
  • And what is my body really telling me?

So I kept practicing, in an endeavour to answer these questions. And I found out what was holding my body back.



The Ninja Appeared From the Shadows

Each time I practiced my standing it revealed new experiences, some challenging, some enlightening (although I found it’s best to not attach a label).

With daily practice my body began to learn and find more ease in the stand, as it became more aligned and balanced.

I also realised why my standing meditation practice was so hard in the beginning.

I was holding a lot of tension in my mind and body that I wasn’t even aware of.

And I’ve noticed this is something every one of my students are facing when I begin working with them.

I now refer to this as ninja tension, as it can be an elusive phenomenon, hidden from our conscious awareness.



Over the Hill of Tension, I Made a Friend Called Fascia

After many months of relaxing deeper into my daily standing meditation practice, and releasing layer upon layer of stored tension, a powerful moment transpired …

The bones of my feet felt like they melted into the floor and I discovered something about the human body I never realised.

It felt like I’d accessed something in my body that previously laid dormant, out of my awareness.

A deeper level of connection to my whole physiological system.

I felt movements beginning to reverberate from my feet all the way up my spine and through my arms.

All of my movements felt more connected, from walking, to running, to doing handstands.

After much research and continued experiences, I realised I was learning to more consciously connect to my fascia system.

Once my major muscles were able to relax I was able to more easily feel and consciously engage the tissue that connected my whole body together … Fascia.




Learn About Fascia, Dead or Alive

Fascia is definitely becoming a topic of increasing interest in the fitness and movement worlds, but in my perspective, there’s a lot of people talking about it from an intellectual perspective, not an experiential one.

When we look at fascia on a cadaver (deceased body used for dissection and study), we can see how extensive the fascial system is.

While it’s great to understand how fascia works, and to study it on dead bodies, in my experience it can lead to more confusion than understanding.

Western science is only just realising the power of the fascial system, that internal martial arts and Taoist practices have known experientially for thousands of years.

In my perspective, the full picture isn’t revealed without studying the way fascia behaves in ‘living bodies.’



What the Fascia?!?

Antranik Kinartna asked: "What is fascia? And give concrete examples of why it’s so important."

You might be wondering the same thing.

On an anatomical diagram fascia appears to be connective tissue that sheaths, structures and interconnects our circulatory system, nervous system, muscular-skeletal system, digestive track, organs and cells.

It’s a structural tissue system that connects your whole body, from your little finger to your big toe.

Tom Myers refers to it as a Tensegrity structure.

Fascia is involved in everything you do with your body; when you’re moving, and when you’re still.

Yep, fascia’s pretty important, not to mention awesome!

While understanding 'what fascia is' can be useful information, it’s of no comparison to actually experiencing it.

So that’s what I’ll share with you next.



My Experiences of Fascia

The way I experience fascia is a honey comb like, electromagnetic, energetic communication system.

It has a very elastic nature, and this elastic property can be dramatically enhanced. The best way I can describe this is feeling like steel wire (engaged fascia) wrapped in cotton (relaxed muscles).

I’ve reached this conclusion after years of practicing specific types of stretching and through daily standing meditation.

Working with people to heal injuries and develop mind+body potential for many years, has also helped me gain some interesting insights about the fascia system.

I’ve found the key to improving the health and performance of the fascia system is; to ensure energy is able to move freely around and through the fascia.

To do this, it’s very important to release blocked tension, stored consciously or unconsciously in the body.

Standing meditation practice, as I mentioned above, is an integral part of the release process.



Standing Meditation and Connecting to Your Fascia

So we arrive back to standing practice once again.

Through correct standing practices, you learn to unify your body and mind, and dissolve / release excessive tension from your physical, mental and energetic structures.

Once you learn to dissolve systemic and specific tension, the body begins to naturally re-balance itself. You just have to allow it – that’s the hardest bit for most people.

That’s why standing practice is so effective. It addresses your whole system, not just where you feel the pain and tension.



Why I Believe Connecting to Your Internal Systems is the Future of Longevity Fitness and Physical Therapy

I’ve worked with many people who have been told the physical challenge(s) they’re facing can’t be helped and that an operation is the only answer.

While in some cases this may be true, there’s a lot of cases (in my experiences) where it’s not.

Nine times out of ten, conditions like long term joint pain, muscle injury, and postural challenges, can be corrected.

In my perspective, the future of physical therapy and fitness is about bringing the empowerment of internal awareness to the people.
  • Your body doesn’t need more cutting edge techniques,
  • Your body doesn’t need more fancy fitness gadgets,
  • Your body doesn’t need constant cracking and manipulation,
  • Your body doesn’t need to be told how to move from an intellectual perspective,
Your body simply needs you to give it a nourishing daily movement practice, to:
  • Unlock and help you listen to the wisdom within,
  • Enhance your ability to feel how to move, and to adapt in the moment,
  • Release past and daily congestion, stresses and tension, that can build up in your body’s cellular memory,
  • Give it more opportunities for it to do what it wants to do naturally … Stay in harmony and balance.

That’s where the practice of releasing tension, standing meditation and connecting to your fascia comes in. And that’s why I believe it’s the future of fitness and physical therapy.



Connect to Your Body More Deeply Here …

If you’re like I was – feeling like your mind and body aren’t as connected as they could be, you’re going to love this …

Inside the Physical Freedom Challenge, you'll discover a process to:

  • Upgrade your mind-body perception
  • Uncover why your body is stuck (beyond common diagnoses)
  • Get clarity on how to get un-stuck
  • Build a personalised mind-body freedom practice
  • Kickstart your physical freedom journey 

Get more info about the Physical Freedom Challenge


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