This is a form of mindfulness meditation guided imagery/visualization chi kung.
Herein, this guided imagery will be set forth for a standing position, but it can also be done in a sitting position – sitting on a chair/stool, or in a lotus sitting posture.
Ancillary preparatory exercise: titled as a question – How Much Gratitude Does One Need to be Healthy?
Stand with one’s feet almost together (called a ‘humble stance’), and bend one’s knees comfortably. Put one’s tongue against the roof of one’s mouth (connecting the Governing and Central Vessels – congruent with acupuncture theory). Relax one’s face, shoulders, hands, and feet – it’s said, “if they’re relaxed, you’re relaxed.”
Realize that relaxation is a true skill – there is always room for improvement. Realize, we ALWAYS have some stress, no matter how relaxed we are. Be so relaxed that one is barely standing – in what we coin as a Swaying Willow demeanor. Gently roll the spine above the waist, forward and backward. This demeanor is much like a willow tree swaying in a gentle wind. Breathe in, all the way forward and backward, and breathe out in between.
Constantly adjust one’s vision so that one is looking just slightly above straight ahead, without focusing or staring: herein, one is endeavoring to play the part of a less and less blemished witness to one’s external environment – ideally without expectations…as if all is new to you, you know nothing (it isn’t genuinely possible to do this, but it is important to try). After a bit of time (as one chooses – but try not to hurry), continue with one’s eyes closed. Keep one’s eyes in their sockets as if one’s eyes are open and looking just slightly above straight ahead (don’t let one’s eyes droop or drop): herein, one is endeavoring to play the part of a less and less blemished witness to one’s internal environment, without fear or discomfort.
Unlike most of the gratitude-based ancillary preparatory guided imagery in this tradition, when the ancillary preparatory exercise is preparing one for Small Cycle Breathing guided imagery, one gets the ‘engine’ of the diaphragmatic/abdominal breathing going with ‘reverse’ abdominal breathing, vs. advance abdominal breathing: Breathe in, pull one’s abdomen in, breathe out, push one’s abdomen out. Make certain one’s shoulders don’t rise, especially with the inhalation.
Be in a spirit of gratitude and true appreciation. Be all in the moment. A true appreciation of the miracle of the moment. Ask oneself, “How much gratitude does one need to be healthy?”
Try not to think, just witness one’s breathing, relaxation, and subtle movement. Again, endeavor to play the part of a less and less blemished witness. If a thought comes to one’s mind, embrace it, see it for what it is, try not to hang on to it, just let it go – put all of one’s attention in just what one is doing.
Mindfulness meditation is putting ALL of one’s attention into just one, two, or three aspects of what one is doing at any given time. It is next to impossible to be upset, anxious, worried, depressed, sad, or frustrated, if one is not thinking such thoughts. This is a primary purpose of mindfulness meditation – it is the sword that cuts out internal dialogue and/or cyclical thinking – ideally all thought…BEING ‘light’. Thoughts are often ‘heavy’.
*Per tradition, the primary diaphragmatic breathing type utilized when performing Small Cycle Breathing guided imagery is reverse breathing. Small Cycle Breathing guided imagery is meant to complement the power/benefits of reverse breathing. It is also one of the types of guided imagery utilized during the practice of tai chi chuan.
**Taking into account the overall stress-laden and anxiety-provoking mien/demeanor or way of life within modern societies, it is believed that, through the eye of this tradition, that a majority of people benefit more from advance abdominal breathing than they do with reverse abdominal breathing. Albeit, it is up to each practitioner to decide which works best for them. Reverse breathing works better for people who tend towards lethargy, low energy, or feeling cold a lot – hence it can be also coined as ‘winter breathing’. Advance abdominal breathing works better for people who tend towards being more on the ‘hyper’ side, anxious or stressed, and for those who are often more warm/hot vs. cold – hence it can also be coined as summer breathing. That said, many people can be ‘on the fence’ in this regard.
It may be important/beneficial for such on-the-fence-type-people to learn and gather greater and greater insight into this premise, and act accordingly – sometimes utilizing one, and sometimes utilizing the other. Having said that, it is traditionally believed that almost all people can benefit from Small Cycle Breathing guided imagery, no matter which side of the fence they tend towards, and even if they most commonly practice advance breathing.
***Whichever type of breathing one prefers or finds more natural, one of the greatest gifts one can allow oneself, is all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing – there is nothing more healthful. In practicing this breathing for five minutes twice daily, within 30 to 60 days most people will realize all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing. It greatly enhances circulation, and promotes the secretion of relaxing, pain killing hormones (empirically substantiated).
Small Cycle Breathing Guided Imagery…
According to the ages-old traditions that I teach, coach, and endeavor to follow – inclusive of acupuncture theory, this type of guided imagery was engineered to enhance the connection of, and the circulation within the Governing Vessel/Du Mai and Central/Conception Vessel/Ren Mai. These two ‘vessels’ are thought to rule all the bioelectric meridians and other six vessels. This means that this type of guided imagery will significantly invigorate the practitioner, in its own fashion promoting a greater holistic connection within, and healing of/for the whole self. This is inclusive of splendid homeostasis – a healthful balance in the central nervous system. All guided imagery is meant to do this in somewhat different ways, though this type does it through connecting these two primary vessels and enhancing the quality of the movement of the energy thereof.
Continue in the humble stance with the gentle Swaying Willow chi kung. In all forms of chi kung, be as relaxed as one can be while still standing (or like earlier, this can be done sitting, but without the Swaying Willow mien). Keep one’s tongue against the roof of one’s mouth. Keep the engine of the reverse diaphragmatic breathing going.
Bring all of one’s attention to ever-so-slightly just below the tip of one’s tailbone (which is Governing Vessel Acupoint #1/Chang Chiang/Long Strong). As one inhales, imagine a warmth, a light, a sparkling cursor moving up one’s spine (just beneath the surface of one’s skin – moving steadily/fluidly) and over the top of the head along the centerline, and down the centerline of the face to the top of one’s tongue by the end of the breath out.
Then, in time with the breath breathing out, bring all of one’s attention to the bottom of one’s tongue, and imagine the warmth, light, sparkling cursor moving down the the centerline, all the way to the midpoint underneath, between the top of one’s legs (which is Central Vessel Acupoint #1/Huiyin/Meeting of Yin). This cursor moves down the centerline, and reaches Governing Vessel Acupoint #1 by the end of the breath out. Ideally once again, the cursor moves steadily/fluidly.
Repeat the cycle 10 or more times, or at least until one feels a significant level of benefit. It can be done as often as one likes. Please realize that the practice of guided imagery is a true skill, AND always room for greater skill/benefit.
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