Last Updated on December 1, 2023
Growth without forcing
A lot of people who think we grow by forcing ourselves to do things.
Especially doing painful things that we don’t want to do.
But there’s a far easier way.
Standing Like a Tree
I’ve recently taken up an esoteric meditation practice again.
The practice is called zhan zhuang (sounds like “jan jong”).
This translates to “standing like a tree.”
You basically just stand there and don’t move, for 5 to 20 minutes or more.
At first you practice with your arms by your side.
Later you work on holding your arms in front of you, as if you are holding a large beach ball.
Standing with your arms up for 20 minutes sounds like it would be torture.
But the goal isn’t to force this, but to do it effortlessly.
In fact, when doing it right, it feels blissful!
Some people even do this for an hour straight.
This would be impossible if it was done with pure muscular effort, with the conscious mind.
What happens is the muscles go into what we call “muscle catalepsy” in hypnosis.
The arms float there, all on their own, with no effort whatsoever.
Basically you go into a trance!
And that feels amazing, and effortless.
After practicing standing meditation, the whole body feels coordinated and graceful.
It is challenging to stand like a tree.
But it’s also not about forcing anything.
It’s not about unnaturally making things happen before they are ready.
It’s about tapping into a natural way of doing “the impossible.”
This takes patience, in fact the whole practice is patience!
Trees don’t struggle to stand upright.
They just rest there comfortably.
Trees also don’t look like they are doing anything.
But a lot of growth is happening on the inside.
In Taoism there is a concept called wu wei (sounds like “woo way”).
It means effortless action, doing things without stress or strain.
Doing things in a way that it doesn’t feel like any effort whatsoever.
You can practice this by standing like a tree.
Or you can practice this by finding ways to do anything that feels effortless.
This could be by learning to trust (and test) your intuition.
Or making the process easy and enjoyable.
Or making things automatic with hypnosis or NLP.
The key here is that life doesn’t have to be a struggle.
We can make the difficult easy.
We can practice the paradoxical art of effortless action.
On the outside it doesn’t look like “hard work.”
But on the inside we are experiencing tremendous growth.
Until next time,
p.s. Want to learn The Joy of Doing in 2024? I have a weekly coaching group that teaches these things.
We meet Sundays at 11am Denver time for an hour.
If you’re curious about joining, sign up for a free 30 minute consultation here.