Here is a recipe/model for engaging your breath. The Yogis, Taoists, Buddhist, Tibetian Buddhists, Chan Buddhists, Confucianists and just about all old wisdom threads engage specific breathing techniques to engage the body/mind in a vast number of ways. Mechanics of Breath , if you are new to breathing techniques, is where you should start, and should be the home base of breathing techniques. Breathing happens naturally, it should not be forced to be this way or that, though overlaying imagery over the breath can dramatically change your relationship to breathing and the effects of breath on your body/mind . This activity should be held lightly, almost as if you were watching it happen to yourself, the light touch is the right touch.
For the purposes of this exercise let’s pick a posture, remembering this can be done seated, moving, laying down, or any other activity. To practice, we will simplify and stand in one posture. The Wu Chi Posture.
Wu Chi Posture.
- Feet are shoulder width, and parallel
- Knees are bent slightly not locked there should be a little roundness between the knees
- pelvis is tucked under, your butt drops and doesn’t poke out, this straightens your spine.
- your chest is relaxed sometimes you can imagine a warm and comforting hand on your chest.
- Shoulders relaxed
- A little space under your armpits, kind of like you have a Kiwi fruits under your armpits you don’t want to squish with your arms. This opens up the circulation in your arms.
- You pull up lightly at the crown of your head and generate a light and sensitive energy at the crown of your head this should cause your chin to tuck in slightly.
- You touch your tongue lightly to the top of your mouth just behind your teeth. Breathing through your nose with your mouth closed if sinuses will allow.
- Your weight should be slightly towards your heals, not forward, not all the way back on your heals. Just slightly past the center of your feet towards your heals.
- You lightly suggest to your body/mind that you relax, just the right amount of strength to keep you standing in the posture but no more than that.
- Your hands can either hang to your sides palms towards the rear, or for Mechanics of Breath, it can be helpful to place your hands below your navel. If you are female right hand over the left, if you are male left hand is on top of the right hand.
Mechanics of Breath recipe. When playing with these 3 images focus on one for a while , then focus on the next image. At some point, you can play with all 3 images at the same time however it is helpful to build each image.
- 3 1/2 inches below your belly button and inward you imagine a balloon about the size of a ruby red grapefruit. As you inhale the balloon expands in all directions. As you exhale the balloon collapses. Notice I say collapses as opposed to contracts it is a passive image that you watch, you do not force the image.*** Note : If you happen to have a stomach ache or if you are in your menstrual cycle or if you have a headache bring your hands and the image of the balloon to just behind your breastbone.
- Imagine a glass tube that goes down the central core of your body towards the balloon. Suggest that the breath starts behind your nose in the center of your head. Your nose holes are just convenient openings. When you inhale and exhale you feel the air traveling down the glass tube and then it goes back up the glass tube. Kind of like an upside down eye dropper with a wide opening. This is the pathway of the breath.
- Imagine that the air is alive. Suggest to yourself that the air is breathing you. It is comprised of millions of finely spun silver and gold threads that go down the opening in the glass tube fill up the balloon, then when there is no more room they go right back up the tube. Then they go back down the tube as you inhale. and continue breathing you. This is the spirit of the breath.
The goal of Mechanics of breath is to reintroduce yourself to the unencumbered breath of a child. By engaging the image of the balloon, it helps to relax your stomach and the diaphragm in a very relaxed way. Remember you don’t want to force your breath in any way or try and exert control . By engaging the 3 images your body/mind reorganizes the way it interacts with the natural process of breathing. The light touch is the right touch. This is a fundamental exercise in meditation and mindfulness. Learning to engage natural breathing has many health benefits, including relaxation and better oxygenation of your blood stream. All you need to do is to lightly engage the images. Have fun!