We breathe in through our nose and breathe out though our mouth. Normal breathing is done through the lungs. Whereas in Chinese meditation and Kung Fu (martial arts) it usually involves some basic breath control where breath is made to sink down to the lower dantien (a point about two fingers width or one and half inches below the navel).
The Chinese consider the lower dantien the centre of a human body. Therefore when breath (Qi) is stored there it helps weigh down the martial arts exponent’s centre of gravity, which allows for a lower stance and a firmer footing. And the meditation practitioner derives more health benefits from a meditation where such breath control is involved as compared to no breath control at all.
The reason one links up the martial arts practice with the meditation practice is because quite a number of students of meditation often are unable to sink their Qi down to the lower dantien, even after a few years of practice under ‘masters’ of meditation. Not only are the students wasting their time and money, they may end up frustrated or get ill because of incorrect meditation practice.
One has corrected such students before – who happen to be some friends and relatives – and it only took a few minutes of explanation and practice and they could sink the Qi down to the lower dantien. A martial arts exponent can perhaps tell you how to do it too. It is easy and simple yet many including the ‘masters’ in this day and age seem to make heavy weather of it.
For those feeling a bit adventurous or those who are doing breath control exercises (through meditation or martial arts like qigong or taijiquan) they can try this basic breath control meditation.
You can use the sitting posture described in the simple sitting meditation (March 31 2006) entry. The steps are the same except for #11. This time the breathing will be like this:
1) Slowly draw in a deep breath to your stomach through your nose
(You would be able to feel your stomach extending)
2) Keep the breath in the stomach for about ten seconds
(Mentally count one to twelve until you get used to the timing)
3) Then slowly exhale through your nose
(You would be able to feel your stomach retracting)
4) Repeat the breathing as above for the duration of the meditation
(Minimum 15 minutes duration)
If you follow and regularly practise the breathing technique as described here and the other steps in the March 31 entry correctly, remnants of the Qi will reach and stay in your lower dantien for the duration of the meditation. But heed this warning: if you feel dizzy or your heart beat very fast because of the breath control, please stop the meditation immediately.
Back in 1997, after my father in his mid seventies had a major heart bypass and was unable to fully recover from a mild stroke even with acupuncture, one taught him this basic breath control and the simple sitting meditation. Together with the application of ‘thermal healing’ (refer July 27 entry) he regained full usage of his right arm and leg a few weeks later and was able to stay up and play mahjong for 72 hours non stop. You cannot really fault him; he had been stuck in bed in the hospital for the operation and in the house for months. Obviously my mum was annoyed with him and had blamed me for his quick and full recovery.
You see, it is never easy to remain blameless.
Take note that I do not recommend those below the age of 26 to learn this basic breath control without proper guidance.
Meanwhile if you find the basic breath control helpful continue the meditation practice. It could prove good for your health and your mind. How much further you can or want to go after that is up to you.