We are often unnecessarily living in the “flight or fight” mode. This action filled, stress igniting, hormone dump, that has become a way of life, had it’s moorings in a very appropriate time and place; back when we were more vulnerable to being preyed upon by other animals. Still it now comes in handy when we find a bear or cougar in the yard or a burglar breaking into the house. There are still times when our survival is dependent on our bodies shunting oxygenated blood away from our minds and other vital organs and to our extremities, allowing for more physical strength and speed, while simultaneously lowering our rational thinking. Unfortunately, this biological action also shocks, drains us for hours and weakens our immune system.
Are you breathing into the top portion of your chest? Are your taking small, stunted breaths? This is “fight or flight” breathing. Most of us live in ‘flight or fight’ all day long (for years) without an awareness that its going on, let alone why. The problem is that most of us are very busy carving out a life that meets requirements of social expectation. These requirements include how, when and where to work, what to wear, how to interact with others, what constitutes success – basically, who to be and how to become that person. Why is this a problem? Because these requirements don’t fit any one person’s life. Often people are busy shoving themselves into this mold and finding they don’t fit it very well, but continuing to shove anyways.
An array of problems arises when we are conscripted into believing in the authenticity of these requirements. These social requirements are not representative of “normal” life. There is no “normal”, no one-size-fits-all ideal for life and living.
Listening to our bodies can help us determine the conditions/expectations/requirements we are living with or under that are not working for us. If we are not at peace with our world – with ourselves, others, the planet, then we are at war. This war is going to continue until we become aware of who we are, and begin to live from an authentic place – regardless of the pressure around us to conform.
There are indicators of a stress-filled life. Illness is one indicator, so is confusion, tiredness, clenched jaw and tightened muscles, frustration, depression and anger. Blaming other’s for an unfulfilling life is another indicator that we are seriously stressed. Blaming also shows an inability take responsibly. It is a powerless position that serves only to increase our fear of what others might do that will adversely affect our lives.
Controlled breathing can be very meditative. It allows for the opening of a quiet space within each of. With this space we make room for awareness. Through meditation we can connect with our sense of self through a connection with the universe. Connecting with the universe puts us in contact with the source of everything. It allows us to ask any question and get all the answers. Do you want to know what to do with your life? Would you like to know how to deal with a pressing problem? Connecting with the source is the way to find answers.
The objective of this simple Tai Chi Qigong technique is to focus on breathing. Beath into your whole body and not just into the upper lungs. Masters have talked about the body breathing. By this they mean that each pore – the entire body – takes in a breath and the entire body breaths it out.
Try to practice this technique at least three times per day.
1. Hands in front of your body level with the lower dan dien (the store house for your healing energy located about navel height, but at the centre of the body);, resting on your lap, fingers tips touching each other. This position forces your elbows out as well. Palms are facing up
2. Breathe in deeply; filling your entire body (not just the chest), raise your hands up along the front of your body to about chest height.
Once at chest height, rotate palms over to face outward
Push palms out from the chest and breathe out. Up, over, out.
3. From this outward palm position (your palms are facing away now as though you are pushing on someone’s chest and pushing them away), turn both palms back in towards the chest. Fingers should be pointing toward each other again. It will appear as though you are holding a huge ball.
4. Extend arms out to the side, expanding the chest with a deep breath in. Once your arms are extended out to the sides (level with the shoulders), turn palms downward and bring them back to the first position in front of the lower dan dien while breathing out.
5. Bring palms up again to chest height as in the first movement, breathing in and hold the breath for several comfortable seconds. This helps in the expansion of the lungs and allows oxygen to penetrate to the blood.
6. Rotate palms over and into an upward position and push palms upward toward the sky (still holding the inward breath).
7. Exhale as you lower your arms out to the side circling them back into the initial position in front of the lower dan dien.
Repeat this movement a minimum of three times. Increase repetitions as time and life permit. In Tai Chi Qigong, more is always better, and making room in life to practice endeavors like this meditation produces healing results. I have also found mediation to create a deep appreciation and authentic love for others, for the planet and all life forms, for the source of all things, and for myself. Everyone who practices meditation has his or her own unique experience. Every person has their own unique questions to ask so, set an agenda for your breathing meditation and ask for answers. They will come.
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