Without breathing, we would all immediately die, – and yet we somehow so often take this basic biological function completely for granted while living. The way we breathe is intrinsically connected with the way we think. Rapid breathing is usually accompanied by quick, unfocused and often angry or fearful thoughts. Slow, deep breathing is associated with serenity of thought.
How to Breathe Properly?
Fortunately, simply learning to breathe deeply, through the nose, can do wonders for one’s overall mental and physical well-being in any given moment. I notice how people often hold in their stomachs when inhaling, which is just normal in our culture that prizes a flat stomach. This indicates why so many of us, in the western world in particular, hold in and repress so many emotions in daily life.
However, the proper way of breathing is to expand the stomach when inhaling and let it naturally fall when exhaling. Tan-tien, also called dantien, is a point that, the Taoists say, exists almost ½ inch below your navel and it is a power point in your body that affects your natural health and well being.
The tan tien cleansing breath is a powerful, natural breathing exercise for both healthy living and self-healing, as well as for enhancing your vital energy. Based on the natural, diaphragmatic breathing, this Taoist practice involves inhaling through your nose and directing the breath energy down into your tan tien, the area just beneath the navel, and then exhaling waste products along with your breath up and out through the nose while simultaneously condensing the breath energy into the cells of the lower abdomen.
How to Breathe when You are Agitated?
Your breath can calm yourself down when you are angry. I’ve often taught my students this technique to calm them down when they are agitated for some reason or another. When you are angry, tense or anxious, first remove yourself from the situation, if possible. At least select a place to be where you’ll be alone, undisturbed. Then, start breathing though your nose deeply. Take several slow, deep breaths. For the first ten breaths or so, inhale deeply and exhale through your mouth. You should breathe out through your mouth for rapid expulsion of the waste or negative energy, that would otherwise harm your body.
The Practice of Tan-tien Cleansing Breath
The tan tien cleansing breath requires a long, slow exhalation. By intentionally prolonging the exhalation, you not only promote the removal of toxins from your body, but it helps turn on your parasympathetic nervous system, thus furthering inner deep relaxation and healing.
Inhale gently all the way down into the tan tien area, an inch or two below your navel. As you inhale, put your attention on the lower tan tien and sense your breath energy filling your lower abdomen. Feel how your abdomen naturally expands. If you like, you can put your hands on your belly to feel your breath there. As you exhale, sense any tensions and toxins going out with the breath as your abdomen naturally contracts, but you must exhale slowly. Do not exhale forcefully.
It is important to become mindful of your abdomen while you exhale, guarding the vital energy or warmth remaining stored in your abdomen as you exhale. Feel it being absorbed deep into your cells as you exhale waste products upward and out through your nose or mouth. Never use any force or effort in doing this practice. Use only your awareness and intention.
Become patient and gentle as you undertake this exercise. The key is to work with your relaxed awareness, and to sense the energy in your abdomen as you breathe naturally and effortlessly.
Benefits of Tan tien Breathing:
If you can work in this way for several minutes each day for a few weeks, you will be free from negative energy and it will gradually impart a radiant health, well being and a clearer and focused mind. You will feel naturally peaceful, calm and serene. You will be better equipped to face the challenges of life. Happy tan tien breathing! Please share with us your experience of tan-tien breathing.