Spiritual Buddhist Wisdom

A Broader World—Meditation with Dr. Verhoeven

Written by Abigail Gong, Hillary Tran (Class of 2023), and the DVGS Editorial Team
Photos by Erica Lai (Class of 2024)

Meditation is generally viewed as a practice in which one is seated in mindful silence. However, in the month of March, the DVGS meditation class explored a new and less common practice of stillness—standing meditation. As easy as it sounds, it actually requires a great deal of focus and technique to maintain the right posture and mindfulness.

After two weeks of following an informative video by Dr. Verhoeven, the Professor of Buddhist Classics at Dharma Realm Buddhist University, the students were excited to find out that he would be coming in person to teach them.

To prepare for meditation, Dr. Verhoeven taught the class several martial arts exercises, including punching the five directions, “weaving silk,” “pushing up on a countertop,” and other chi-centering and chi-dropping practices. These exercises utilized power from the dantian, or energy center, which is located about two fingers below the navel.

Gradually, the students felt their blood beginning to circulate and their bodies loosening up. As their hand-eye coordination improved, the students really enjoyed working through these exercises, especially the one where they circled their arms in opposite directions— “Drop your brain!” Dr. Verhoeven had instructed.

All warmed up, Dr. Verhoeven led the students in the standing meditation practice. After correcting everyone’s standing posture, he told them to look at a distant mountain and concentrate on a single spot. Dr. Verhoeven explained the way to focus one’s mind and energy on that focal point and compared it to shooting laser beams from one’s eyes, hands, and dantian, all of which come together at that one point.

In response to questions about shoulder and arm pain, since the standing meditation posture included holding up one’s arms, Dr. Verhoeven encouraged the students to persist and said that the pain would subside when they were truly focused.

Although it was around forty degrees Fahrenheit, some girls reported feeling warm after class! They were all very grateful and felt that they had learned a lot from this opportunity to meet Dr. Verhoeven in person. Veronica Tee (Class of 2023) remarked, “After meeting him, I managed to focus more and gain more tips in meditation.” Another student, Shine Yuan (Class of 2024), represented the class when she expressed, “Dr. Verhoeven was so cool! He was so funny! I want him to visit us again!”