Breath, Spirit, Qi as One
"Controlling the breath and thus calming the nerves, is a prerequisite to controlling the mind and the body" Rama et el, Science of Breath
Our conscious mind and our breath are intrinsically connected. With our mind we have the ability to stop our breath, make it go faster or make it go slower. It is perhaps the only physiological process that can be voluntary or involuntary. At an unconscious level our breath effects our state of health. Response patterns that have become part of our cellular structure are triggered unconsciously evoking unhealthy emotional responses wreaking havoc with the rhythms of the breath. When breathing is not conscious it goes back to " the unconscious realms of the mind where emotions, thoughts and feelings (of which we may have little or no awareness) become involved " Rama et el, Science of Breath..
Looked at from an Eastern or Western Perspective Qi, Breath, Life Force, Spirit are one and the same. The character for "Energy" in Chinese translates as breath or breathing, air or Life Force, they are interchangeable/inseparable. Eerily similar in the English language, breath, spirit, respiration, inspiration, the animating or vital principle in man and animals, are etymologically connected through the Latin Spiritus/ Spirare.
The importance of breath and the role of oxygen are often forgotten in Western Medical Systems of health and healing. In order to lead a long and healthy life it is of the utmost importance that your breathing pattern is correct. This is directly related to oxygen intake and blood cell support and is integral to the proper functioning of the body's chemistry. We can go 3 weeks without food, 3 days without water but only 3 minutes without oxygen. It is through our breath, as part of the respiratory system that takes in oxygen and allows our cells to survive.
Western science says that diaphragmatic breathing is physiologically the most efficient way to breath with blood being exposed to more air - Hymes, A., et al. This also holds true in the in the practice of the Ancient Chinese Internal Energetic practices but is known as Dantian breathing. This style of breathing improves oxygen transfer throughout the body, assisting in healing, servicing internal organs thus increasing the life span of the organs and therefor the whole body. Breathing into the Dantian also known as (Baby Breathing), requires one to relax the muscles of the chest and shoulders in what is termed as "Empty Chest". This is very similar to diaphragmatic breathing whereby the diaphragm moves downwards creating a vacuum, opening-up the lungs and allowing more oxygen in.
The Lower Dan Tian is the residence of your Qi. The movement of the Dan Tian coupled with the movement of the diaphragm, consciously sets in motion the flow of Qi throughout the body. During a state of active relaxation and the mind being present with the breath, more oxygen is being circulated around the body. Conscious relaxation of the body takes one on the first step to connecting Body and Mind. This Oxygen Bounty in the blood helps breaks-up blood cells that have clumped together helping with cell separation.
Breathing correctly also activates the Para-sympathetic Nervous System (PNS) lessening anxiety and quieting the mind. It is well known that stress, anxiety and tension all have an effect on our physiology. As world renowned trauma expert Professor Van Der Kolk, B., says "Suppressing our inner cries for help does not stop our stress hormones from mobilising the body". When we are stressed our breathing patterns change as we unconsciously hold/shorten our breath. Shortening the breath creates tension or a sense of contracting in the body that has a direct affect upon our cells causing them to clump together. When we experience the release of tension physical, mental and emotional it brings about a feeling of spaciousness. Relaxed we have a sense of spaciousness tensed our body contracts inwards.
Replacing tension with a sense of harmony and feeling of calmness brings with it a change in the flow of energy through the organs and throughout the body. It harmonises the principles of Yin/Yang mutually opposing forces that when out of balance create illness and disease. "... breathing can be the main cause of changing the bodies Yin/Yang. But they should be balanced so the body functions harmoniously." Dr Yang, J.M. The breath is the life-giving force, the spirit that connects Body/Mind. It is through the Breath Connection that a state of harmony and balance are obtained.
Each organ has its own metabolism energy/Qi/organisational energy - with every cell in each organ working together towards maintaining the status of that particular organ. When the organisational energy or Qi of an organ is disorganised, ie when the cells are not working together there is a disharmony/ill-health, the Yin/Yang balance is disrupted caused by an excess or depletion of Qi flow.
As well, each organ works in cooperation with every other organ in creating a much greater energy field helping to keeping the body alive and functioning well. When the energy of one player or organ in the organisation is disorganised / unbalanced it will affect the working potential of the next organ and the next organ in the energy cycle or chain of command. Depending upon the degree of organ imbalance in the energetic flow there is the very real potential for disease creation. The beauty of this energetic organisational system is the very real potential for one to bring the body back into a state balance and harmony.
Calligraphy Health system literally works on resuscitating the body by breathing new life/Qi/Energy into it. Organs that have excessive energy (Yang) can be helped by diverting excessive flow away from the organ. Whereas an organ that is too Yin or is energy deficient, stimulation allows new energy (Qi) to flow into the organ. Breathing correctly (and with the help of Mind and Movement) activates these natural self-healing capacities of the body.
Looked at from an Eastern or Western perspective Qi, Breath, Life Force, Spirit are one and the same thing - a field of energy that connects everything. Energy consciousness is directly related to your thoughts, to your life, your health, your illnesses, feelings and life experiences. The relationship between breath and our physiology is filled with potential but first we must discard the outdated biomechanical thinking that the body is a bag of muscles, bone and blood and recognise the influence energy fields have on our health, merging the two into the Art of Healing.
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