This Qigong form is based on the standing meditation positions and guided meditations found in the book The Way of Energy – Mastering the Chinese Art of Internal Strength with Chi Kung Exercise by Master Lam Kam Chuen. The Tuesday night Baduanji class on Staten Island spent a year working through this book. We also developed this qigong form along the way. This form may be done standing, seated, or chair-supported. This form may be used as a standing/breathing meditation, without the guided meditations. Or, it may be used along with the guided meditation. If utilized with the guided meditations, one would stand in each position and continue dan tien breathing while listening to the mediation in each position.

Listed here are the each of the postures and the meditation associated with them:

Position 0 (Neutral) – feet together, weight evenly distributed on both feet. Knees slightly bent. Hips over heels, shoulders over hips. Shoulders relaxed. Arms off body. Spine elongated as if string is pulling from tip of tailbone through crown of the head.

Standing Like a Tree

You are standing like a tree. You are like an elm growing. You feel everything happening within your entire body, from your roots deep in the soil, to the tiniest lead reaching out into the air. You can hear yourself moving inside. You are growing, listening silently to your entire body inhaling and exhaling.

A living tree breathes with its entire body. Every cell of every leaf is breathing. Deep in the earth, the roots are breathing too. As you stand, you do the same. Open every pore of your body – along your arms, down your back and legs, from the soles of your feet to the top of your head. Feel the lovely breeze entering inside you at every conceivable point of your being. And as you exhale, let the warm current ride out again from every extremity.

You stand surrounded like a tree, by sound. All noise within is stilled. Sounds come to you, as if from miles around. Birds call from distant tree tops. An engine starts up somewhere far away. Here and there you hear the early morning drone of an insect. The air around you is alive. Can you hear the dew drops falling in the grass?

You stand, seeing a tree in the distance. There is nothing but empty space between the tree and you. You are silent. Your eyes are completely at peace and a faint smile is all you sense. Your body is asleep. Your mind is alert.

A distant wind is stirring in the air. It starts to play across your body like a flag unfurling in a breeze. The driving air is irresistible; the flag is flying with it. All seems to be in motion, but neither sky nor flag is moved.

The wind is rising and the storm clouds threaten rain. You stand among the trees, like them, unmoved. They all have stood in sun and shade. Their roots have been both dry and wet. Now rain and wind will fill the sky; the trees, like you, have no wish to escape. Like you, they stand prepared to feel the deepest movements of the earth.

Position 1 (Wu Chi) – From position 0 separate your feet shoulder width apart, toes pointed forward, either parallel or slightly outward. Hands hang loosely by your sides and relax shoulders. Image a string holds your head from a point at the top of the skull, directly in line with the tips of your ears. Sink down slightly.

The Tree In Winter

This is the time of hidden regeneration. Mist bangs above the ground. Frost forms on open fields.

The tree is still. It stands alone and quiet. In the darkness of the early morning, nature is asleep. There is no movement in the air, no hint of trembling in the branches. The tree is silent in the darkness like a stone – a pillar in the courtyard of an empty temple.

A distant sound breaks through the stillness. The day’s first light advances on the earth. The shadow of the tree moves with the dawn, but the tree is motionless.

The ground beneath the tree is frozen hard. Above the ground, the bark is cold, the limbs are stiff. A passer-by might wonder if the tree will live in spring.

But underneath the ground the earth is warm. The weight of all the tree sinks to its roots. They are indifferent to the frozen soil, they grow toward the centre of the earth.

The tree is not afraid. It was a seed: it knows the earth is holding it. Within its core, a vital ring is being formed. Around its spine, new life is rising from the earth, while flakes of snow are settling on the silent and unmoving tree.

Position 2 (Holding the Balloon) – From Position 1, sink down slightly. Your knees bend as you sink. Your head, torso, and pelvic girdle remain gently aligned. Slowly bring both arms upward and forward to form an open circle in front of your chest at shoulder level. Your open palms face your chest.

The Tree In Blossom

The season changes imperceptibly. The early morning light is pale. Clouds drift on the horizon. In the distance nothing moves. The dawn is still.

The tree remains unmoving, but is changed.

The morning air is warm, the grass is moist. The tiny creatures of the soil are moving in the ground.

The tree’s roots stretch their new growth in the earth – alive to countless changes in their dark and humid world. Their slender filaments draw in the silent dew that glistens in the soil.

The earth is rising through the tree. Inside its mighty trunk, life trembles and awakens.

Immense, alone, the tree is giving birth. New shoots are opening in the air. Circled leaves emerge in miniature – the work of winter’s still and solitary months.

The tree is utterly consumed in growth. Its bark is stretched. Innumerable cells are giving birth.

The morning winds sweep through the spreading tree. On every branch the buds and blossoms tremble in the breeze. The growing leaves reach out to every sunbeam. The leaves’ open pores are breathing and their veins are full.

The tree is wreathed in silence like a waterfall. It stands transfixed: poised motionless between the mighty pull of all its tiny root hairs and the fragrant, evanescent petals on its boughs.

Position 3 (Holding Your Belly) – From Position 2, slowly bring your forearms around in front of your abdomen. Open your hands slightly.

The Tree In The Harvest

The autumn sun is hot, the air is still. Long lines of sunlight filter through the orchards and across the golden fields. Small insects dart and hover in the warmth.

This is the time of bearing fruit. The tree has been transformed. It bore the patient work of summer’s long, slow days. Now it is calm. Each leaf and living cell is rich.

The harvest has begun. The sound of labour drones across the land. The earth is yielding up its produce, like an offering.

Unmoved, the tree has stood in solitude, surrounded only by the universe. It did its work in silence. Now all its sinews store the essence it so soundlessly distilled from sunlight and from air.

Its spreading boughs are full, like woven baskets overfilled with fruit. The tree is heavy with its growth. The seeds of future forests lie in countless numbers in its arms.

Position 4 (Standing in Stream) – From Position 3, imagine that you are standing in a stream, with the current flowing toward you. Slide your hands out to either side at waist height. Your palms facing down, and outstretched fingers rest parallel to the surface of the running stream.

The Tree In The Stream

The summer rain has washed the landscape. All the colours of the countryside are deeper than before. Dark, silent bushes glisten in the fields; the soil is black and wet.

The tree rises by the winding stream. It stands with arms outstretched as it at rest, while all that moves around it is in motion, like the mist.

The little stream is swelling in the flood. The rising currents in its depths are strong; the circles spinning on its surface are the work of countless raindrops.

The tree gives shelter to the rising stream. It stands alone as if it were a creature lost in thought. Its swaying boughs are balancing between the currents of the moving water and the wind.

A fish is turning in the stream. The tree’s weight is in the water; the fish itself is still. The tree rests inside the current. Its body curves a little and it sways. It does not matter that the wind has made the surface rough.

The storm that drenched its bark is slowly passing and the distant sunlight slants between the clouds. The atmosphere is charged with countless particles. The tree is waiting, silently.

A boat is in the water. The tide is strong; it pulls and twists the boat from side to side. The tree stands within it, riding the surge. The tree trembles for a moment, but stands unmoved. The water knows its way.

Just as the broad-winged falcon floats far above the valley, motionless, the tree is resting in the air. Its leafy branches hover in the light like flying creatures rising from the stream. It floats in place like driftwood on the waves.

Position 5 (Holding the Balloon in Front of Your Face) – From Position 4, raise your hands so that the backs of your hands are level with your cheeks.

The Tree In The Wind

Dark birds burst into flight. They dive and scatter in the wind. High distant clouds trail long pale shadows on the earth – the daylight changes with the moving sky.

The tree stands open to the heavens, touched by every movement of air. The driving wind curls round its leaves. Its branches shake against the sky.

Gusts trace their flying patterns in the grass. The woody stems of saplings sway and twist. Small bushes wave like slender wands in children’s hands.

The tree stands guard, its mighty limbs outstretched toward the wind. Its roots are firm within the earth, its trunk is calm. It is a place of shelter and its stands its ground.

Look! The silent tree has gathered up the current of the wind.

Position 6 (Weight on One Leg/ Shifting Weight) – From Position 5, drop arms to each side, keeping them off your body. Shift your weight from left foot to right foot, then from balls of the feet to heels of the feet, then do figure-8 from heel to opposite ball /same heel / opposite ball. Then reverse the figure-8.

The Bamboo Bears The Weight

(Side to side) The temple junipers have stood for many years and countless travelers have rested in their shade. Now they are ageing. Their ponderous boughs begin to drop and break.

Nearby, a mighty oak lies fallen in the woods: a century of growth uprooted in a sudden moment, like a twig.

(Ball of foot to heel) Beyond the trees rise the tall bamboos. Like flying cranes, they stand at rest. One slender leg sustains them imperturbably between the grasses and the open sky.

In early spring the sun streams through their thin green leaves. Young shoots stretch up toward the brightness overhead. Their parents wave in sunlight far above.

(Figure-8) The sound of wind comes from the woods. As if they were a thousand swaying hands, the leaves on all the shafts turn slowly in the air.

Beneath it sloping shoots, the bamboo’s stem is gently curved. It takes the force of all the elements – enduring, rooted, calm. Unlike the trees that break and falls, its stem is just as hollow, nothing more. Its strength is in its emptiness.

Position 7 (Extending One Foot Forward) – Come back to center, with arms in Holding Balloon position. Shift weight to right foot. Turn 45 degrees to left with empty left foot. Place left hand in position of Standing in Stream and right hand in position of Holding Balloon in front of Face. Shift weight slightly to left foot (10/90). Shift back to neutral and repeat on right side.

The Tree Sends Out Its Roots

(Left side) The tree is growing in a courtyard. Early morning sunlight glances off the stones and porcelain tiles. The shrubs among the rocks are wet with dew.

Stone walls surround the courtyard on all sides. The tree and all that grows within the confines are unmoving, held like stately prisoners in their places. Small birds move out along the branches and are gone.

The silence and the stillness mask the tree’s persistent work. It stands beside the stonework, motionless, but underneath the ground its roots are seeking out new soil.

(Right side) The work is hidden, delicate. The tiny root hairs reach into the dark. The tender tip of every filament is inching outward in the earth.

Soon gardeners will come to tend the jasmine and the hyacinth. The day will bring the sounds of many visitors. Now, in the precious hours of the dawn, the little garden stands alone.

The spreading tree is breaking through the wall. Like little raindrops seeping through the rocks, its patient roots are boring through the stone. The layered mortar splits apart and cracks, while overhead a thousand leaves breathe, silent in the light. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.

Position 8 (Holding Ball on One Side) – Come back to center. Raise hands to Holding Balloon position. Shift weight to right foot. Turn torso and hips to face 45 degree to left. Allow left heel to come off ground in empty foot. Then turn to face front, shift weight to left foot, turn to 45 degrees to right, allow right heel to come off ground with empty foot.

The Tree Grows to The Side

(Left side) It is late autumn in the mountains. The broad-leaved trees are bare. Pale mosses grow beside the rocks. On distant peaks, the winds are raising plumes of snow.

Among the weathered rocks a solitary pine is standing in the wind. Its back is to the mountain side. Its branches turn towards the valley, like arms around the streams of rising air.

(Right side) The pine knows that the frost is coming as the frost has come before. Where tiny pine flowers bloomed in spring, now cones have formed around the seeds.

It will take years before the pine seeds ripen. There is nothing to be done. The tree is growing like a forest. It gazes outward from the mountain side, a parent waiting for a birth.

Position 9 (Rising Up on One Leg) – Come back to neutral. Shift weight to right leg. Lift left leg and left arm together, as if an invisible string were stretched between them. Lift left knee level with waist, with left palm facing downward above knee, and right palm facing downward at waist. Turn head and look to right. Come to neutral. Repeat on right side.

The Tree Grows Out From The Cliff

(Left side) The night is slowly giving way to day. The mist is lifting from the mountain side. The woods are silent, waiting for the dawn.

Above them is the rock face, rising overhead. High up the cliff, a mighty tree is growing on the stone. Its roots, like giant coils of rope, stretch out across the mountain ledge and down the veins of rock.

The day’s first light begins to warm the morning air. The summer’s heat will soon be full.

(Right side) All day the tree must bear the sun’s force, its branches arching outward in the sky.

Far below it stretch the woodlands and the mountain river beds. For miles, the hillsides rise in rows and then the valleys rich with villages and fields.

As if its boughs protected all the creatures of the hills, the tree stands like a sentinel, serene and fearless on the rock. The sun’s first rays have reached its topmost boughs. Its spreading arms reach out toward the light. It is a hawk that draws its strength from secret springs and rests upon the stone.

Position 10 (Yoga Tree Posture) – Come back to neutral. Shift weight to right leg. Lift left leg and place left foot on shin/calf, totally below the knee; or on the upper thigh, totally above the knee. Keep hands at side, the raise palms together at heart center, then raise palms together above the head, the lower arms to side palms up just below shoulder height. Repeat on right side.

Balanced Meditation – (Silent Meditation)

Position 0 (Neutral) – feet together, weight evenly distributed on both feet. Knees slightly bent. Hips over heels, shoulders over hips. Shoulders relaxed. Arms off body. Spine elongated as if string is pulling from tip of tailbone through crown of the head.

Becoming the Tree

If you want to learn the real thing, you should stand still without moving. Action originates in inaction and stillness is the mother of movement.

Non-action is the real action. One hundred acts are not as good as one moment of silence. One hundred exercises are not as good as one moment of standing still. Big action is not as good as small action. Small action is not as good as non-action.

Standing alone and unchanging, one can observe every mystery. Present at every moment and ceaselessly continuing – this is the gateway to indescribable marvels. You are standing like a tree, alone and unmoving. You come to understand everything that happens within you – all the internal changes that take place in your organs and muscles. You feel the reactions taking place. The feeling never stops. It goes on and on, over and over again. This is the way: no matter how far you go you will never come to the end of all the wondrous things there are to discover. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything.

Propelled by natural strength, you are as strong as a dragon. Inhaling and exhaling naturally and quietly, you perceive the mechanism of all movement. Avail yourself of the force of the Universe, and bring your instinctive ability into full play. In motion you are like the angry tiger, in quietness you are like the hibernating dragon.

Standing like a tree, you learn the Way of Energy, by becoming the tree.

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