Monday, April 19, 2010

Awareness of Breathing

[Path to Mastery 4/19/10 – Wk32 D1 (Str 9.12.09)(Ph2 11.15.09)]

Continuing our Tai-Chi Journey:

Breathing is the most important part of Tai-Chi.  I would say that Breathing is the most important thing period especially considering the amount of time it takes to have an immediate impact in your life.  You don’t need a formal education to figure out that it doesn’t take long at all from the time you stopped breathing until it has a deep and profound impact in your life.

I often tell people that breath is the most important diet in their lives.  Energy has different states.  At its lowest vibration level, it is solid.  You heat it up a little, it becomes liquid.  Yet, you heat it a little more, it becomes gas.  Then it becomes plasma, and I am totally blanking out on the other stages, but with my limited scientific understanding at some point it becomes light.  Sunlight.  I have often read that all food we eat is a variation on sunlight.  Sunlight gets stored in the plants, and then animals eat so that they can get the sunlight through the plants. 

Besides light, air, a gaseous state, is one of the purest forms of the elements that you can ingest that is always readily available.  How significant of a diet air is I feel is grossly underestimated.  I also think people don’t understand how much of an immediate difference breathing can make to your physical and psychological state.  I think one way of looking at things is from the perspective of impact to life.  If you stop eating food, on average you have about 3 weeks before you die.  If you stop drinking, you have about 1 week.  If you stop breathing, you have about a few minutes.  There is brain damage when it is oxygen deprived for more than 1 minute.  Brain damage with just one minute!!!! 

A lot of people are not aware of this, but when oxygen gets scarce, the priority is the brain.  The brain is an oxygen hog.  It weighs about 2~3lb but it consumes about 20% of your oxygen.  This means that during stressful times when your brain is working overtime and is consumed with negative thoughts, and is running very inefficiently, it is draining you of much more oxygen than usual, and that oxygen has to come from somewhere.  Most of the time stress causes shallow breathing.  So, less air coming in, a lot of oxygen being consumed very inefficiently, and less oxygen going to the rest of the body.  No wonder we feel sapped and tired when we are stressed. 

Another interesting fact about breathing is that it is the gateway to your unconscious.  This is very interesting, at least to me.  Most organs are autonomic.   That means that without your awareness, they run by themselves.  You don’t have to consciously do anything.  All except your lungs.  Your lungs are semi autonomic.  They run by themselves, but you can control them as well.  You can consciously hold your breath or change their rate and their depth.  Not only that, through breathing you can consciously and effectively change the rate of your heart.  Your heart by itself is autonomic.  You cannot control your heart directly.  But your heart rate is directly connected to your way of breathing.  So, through your breathing, your heart can be controlled.  Thus, your breathing is the gateway to your autonomic system, the part of you that is unconscious.  The state of your body is the expression of your unconscious mind.  So, by learning how to breathe can help you change your state of mind.  For instance, they have found that the ideal rate of breath rate is about 5~6 breathe per minute.  Interestingly, when this happens, you hit a clear state of mind and euphoria that you can experience during meditation.  Interestingly, it is also the only known physical action you can take that effectively allows you to control the effects of fear such as tunnel vision, freezing, complex motor skills, and conscious thinking just by reducing your heart rate.                         

For today, let us start with Awareness.  You cannot change that which you are not aware that you are doing.  Observe your breath through your day.  Notice when you hold your breath.  Notice where you hold your breath.  Notice how that makes you feel, and how it affects your energy level.  Then notice the rate of your breathing.  Notice these things especially during stressful situations.  You will have a fascinating day. 

More tomorrow.  

History of Tai-Chi Journey up to this point:
Before the blog opened to the public, we covered the single person part of the system.
1. Chi-Gong (Taoist Longevity, White Crane Chi-Gong); 2. Standing Meditation
3. Stepping Mediation; 4. 7 Basics; 5. Basic Form; 6. 30 Form; 7. 108 Form
8. 4 Type Pushing Hands

Interactive training after we went public with the blog. 
1. 8 Type Pushing Hands (Covered from 2/2 ~ 2/11); 2. San-Shou (Covered from 2/12 ~ 2/15)
3. Ba-Gua.(Covering from 2/16 ~ 2/19); 4. Weapons (Covered on 2/23)
5. Healing System (Covered on 2/24)

Non-Structured System:
1.Introduction (Covered 2/25); 2. Free moving – conditioning (Covered 2/26); 3.Free hand pushing hand (Covered 3/1); 4.Free hand (2 person drills and multiple person drills) (Covered 3/2); 5.Free hand weapon (2 person drills and multiple person drills) (Covered 3/3)

Detailed Instructions:
1.Principles (Covered 3/4)
2.Principle of Principles (Covered 3/5)
3.Principles of Upper Body #1~5 (Covered 3/8 – 3/15)
4.Principles Governing Lower Body #1~5 (Covered 3/16 – 3/22)
5. Principle Governing the Whole Body: (Covered 3/23)
6. Principles Governing Movement #1~5 (Covered 3/24 – 3/31)
7. Principles Governing Relaxation – General Concept (Covered 4/1 – 4/14)
8. Principles Governing Breathing
    1. Awareness of Breath (Covered 4/19)
    2. Breathe Naturally
    3. No Sound Breath
    4. Crow Bridge
    5. Dan-Tien Breathing
    6. Directed Breathing
    7. Small Heavenly Circle
    8. Great Heavenly Circle
    9. Reverse Breathing
    10. Whole Body Breathing

1 comment:

  1. One quick thought, I do believe that the four phases you described are a part of matter not energy. I will make it a point to meditate (be more somatically aware in terms of breath) tomorrow.