Zhanzhuang is a standing qigong for daily practice.  It is a sustaining and complete lifelong activity in its own right.

Chen XiaoWang's words give a clear picture :
"Standing like a mountain

- as he puts it - not soft, not flowing;  not flowing, not strong.

Zhanzhuang, starting with ten minutes' practice a day, slowly increased over time to say an hour daily, will draw together the body's disparate parts and establish one's centre in dantian.

Before one is familiar with the practice it may feel alarming : what is one to do for ten whole minutes?  All the restlessness that we continually cover over with this and that can surface in panic.  Some people tremble and feel faint : I have been struck by this happening more often to those with an overdeveloped muscular structure than to those who appear frail. 

The hardened body as it begins to soften and flow can feel disorientated.  Master Chen describes it like this : if the tension holds tight, the body simply stays put rigidly.  But if there are the beginnings of a letting go, you may slightly shake, like a plant in a stream buffeted by the current; holding on, you may break like the plant that cannot yield. 

If there is no fighting within you and the flow takes over, you go with the current and then you are standing like a mountain : earth, sky, your body...together.

In the time that you have set for Zhanzhuang, there is work to be done!  First, how is one to stand with the arms up without getting tired?  Zhanzhuang as taught by Chen XiaoWang is not an endurance test, it is not about standing as long, as low in as huge a stance as possible. You stand with your feet at the width of your shoulders, relaxed at the knee joints but the legs not sharply bent.  You let go of your breathing.  With shoulders relaxed, the hands come up to rest at a height of your choice, anywhere between waist and chest height.  Then you elect to stay like this for a while.  If you have misjudged and find that hands at chest height is a strain, you lower them a little.  You stay. 

So what needs to happen for you to feel this is worth doing?

It may take many sessions, it may take you the whole hour, or it happens easily from the beginning : you find yourself sinking into peace and stillness.  As the heart calms down, your awareness is absorbed within the bodily frame. A particular tone of alertness permeates you.

The work you are doing while not-doing :
1. the weight to drop plumb down the centre
2. all parts of the body to relax and flow towards dantian

For the weight to drop perpendicular from the crown of the head to the ground, all the various bits holding away from centre need to relax.  I was puzzled the first time I heard Master Chen say : "shoulders looking for hips, elbows looking for knees, hands looking for feet."  Then I got the idea, but how on earth was this to happen?  I still remember a lesson with him the second winter in Australia, him looking very cross saying, "Shoulders looking for hips! you understand?"

The relaxing is through your whole being.  Master Chen's directions at the start of a session : mind balanced; weight balanced; inside, your qi balanced : given time and perserverance, you find equilibrium and your standing stance comes to be filled from inside out, from dantian along the limbs through your entire frame.  And then you naturally stand in a deep stance, arms buoyant, heart of joy.