This will begin by sounding a bit esoteric but stay with me and you will soon see the simple genius behind this ancient practice.
Breath… Breathe! The same word, pronounced differently with one extra vowel on the end, changes from a thing to an action. A noun to a verb.
Let’s begin here with our breath.
However, I’m going to show you a way to breathe that comes from the ancient Taoist wizards of China, over 8,000 years ago. A practice that was kept in secret for thousands of years, known as “Whole Body Breathing”. This diagram is the quickest way to explain and understand the concept of whole body breathing.
The idea is actually pretty simple. I’ve searched around on the internet about the subject and although there is much information, I couldn’t find anything that quite does it justice. I’ll do my best here. Please add your suggestions and/or knowledge in the comments below.
Imagine that each individual cell in your body is actually breathing in and out. You can literally feel this once you begin to learn how to activate “Whole Body Breathing”. There’s a bit more to it, but this is the goal. The legends have it that if you can master this technique, you can breath underwater, or even in outer space!
I know I said this was going to be quick and easy. And it is! Like most things of value in life… once you understand and have the fundamentals.
Let’s keep going. I promise you’ll thank me one day if you learn and practice this technique.
So, now we have our goal in mind… “To activate our breathing from the individual cells within our body.” The idea is to be able to absorb energy on a cellular level. This is how the yogis can suspend breath and heart rate for extended periods of time.
Think of the “Hydrostatic Equilibrium” diagram below as a three-dimensional sphere. However imagine your cells expanding and contracting in search of this equilibrium. The arrows penetrating the sphere. Visualize each cell expanding outward as the breath and energy draws inward. And each cell contracting as you exhale and release your energy back to the universe. Now hold the reverse/mirror image in mind. This is perhaps the tricky part. It’s a bit paradoxical. But allow your imagination to set this idea free in your mind and body.
Now, take this model and apply it to your lower abdomen, breathing from just below your belly button. Imagine your torso is a large vase and you are filling it with water. It fills from the bottom upward and pours out with force from the bottom when turned over. We want to mimic this mechanically with the air as we breath. While maintaining the expanding and contracting sphere visualization both with your individual cells and like a balloon or energy ball that you are in the center of.
Mouth relaxed, with tongue tip resting easy behind the top teeth on upper palate. I usually do this exercise twice a day lying in bed as I wake up and before I go to sleep. But it can be done sitting and standing as well, any time of day.
Close your eyes and imagine a bright light in your third eye. This is the first star of the “Big Dipper”, known in ancient times as the “Seven Stars”. More on that subject in a future story. For now, I try not to digress.
Begin to breathe slowly and intentionally, yet naturally as you start the visualization. With each breath let your mind and thoughts calm and slow your respiratory rate slightly. It should be roughly 3-5 count breaths with 1-2 in between each inhale and exhale. But stay natural, just slightly slower, deeper and more intentional with the visualization.
After several breaths you should begin to feel your cells activate. It may take some practice, but once you have it down you can really feel a “cellular tingle”, (as many have described it), within just a few breaths.
This is the start. Once you sense this cellular activation you want to complete at least 8 fairly deep whole body breaths, preferably 3 sets for a total of 24 very intentional repetitions. This is to pay homage to the “Eight Immortals”, (but that’s also for another story…)
Finally just let your breathing return to several natural breaths and enjoy the feeling.
Again, it will take some practice but stick with it for a while and you will soon be on your way. Don’t forget to share your experience and knowledge on the subject in the comments below.