How Much Energy Do You Want?

Yin-Yang Cyclic Guided Imagery Chi Kung

(also known as Macrocosmic Cyclic Guided Imagery Chi Kung)

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.

This ancillary preparatory exercise is commonly utilized as a warm-up modality to prepare one for the more complicated guided imagery exercises, in this case Yin-Yang Cyclic Guided Imagery: The name of this ancillary exercise is titled as a question – How Much Gratitude Does One Need to be Healthy? That said, it can also be utilized as a guided imagery unto itself.

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 the Yin-Yang Cyclic Guided Imagery or Small Cycle 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’.

*As pointed out and per tradition, the diaphragmatic breathing type utilized when performing Yin-Yang Cyclic Guided Imagery is reverse breathing. Yin-Yang Cyclic 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 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 these premises, 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 Yin-Yang Cyclic Guided Imagery and Small Cycle 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).

Yin-Yang Cyclic Guided Imagery

The fundamental goal of this guided imagery is to increase the extent of the mindful cyclic meditative movement of the bioelectric (chi/ki/pranha) energy – nurturing the chi beyond that of the state of the Small Cycle Guided Imagery (as set forth in previous writings – though one type of guided imagery is not in any fashion superior to or more important than the other). Yin-Yang Cyclic Guided Imagery also has an association with Five Gates Guided Imagery (also set forth in previous writings). Small Cycle Guided Imagery and the Yin-Yang Cyclic Guided Imagery both utilize ‘reverse’ diaphragmatic breathing, versus ‘advance’ diaphragmatic breathing – as previously set forth herein under the ancillary preparatory guided imagery, reverse breathing is when one breathes in while pulling one’s abdomen in, and breathes out while pushing one’s abdomen out.

During inhalation, imagine you can move the chi (the bioelectric cursor) upward, beginning at both kidney acupoints #1, e.g., on the bottoms of one’s feet, just behind the balls of the feet on their centerlines, coined Bubbling Wells/Yong Chuan. The cursors move up through the lower legs and thighs, moving through CV #1 acupoint – coined Meeting of Yin/Hui Yin acupoint (about two inches forward from the anus as one pulls that point/tissue upward) and continuing to draw the chi/cursor up the spine to acupoint governing vessel #14 – coined Great Hammer/Da Zhui (near the top of the thoracic spine). Thereupon separating out through the shoulders and elbows and to the ends of the middle fingers – making a ‘u-turn’ it is drawn up the palms, wrists, and armpits and back to GV #14. From there moving upward through the occiput/base area of the rear of the skull, separating again to be led through the ears and up to GV #20 – coined as Hundred Convergences/Bai Hui (the depression just behind the crown of the head on the centerline). Thereupon over the crown and down the centerline of the forehead and widening each way through the cheeks to the tip of the tongue, by the end of the inhalation.

Beginning the exhalation, move the chi/cursor down the centerline through the tan tien furnace (behind the navel/CV #8 acupoint – coined Sea of Chi/Chi Hai) and down through the circulatory tan tien (two and one-half inches beneath the navel at CV #5 – coined Stone Gate/Shi Men) and continue to sink the chi through the Hui Yin point (again at CV #1). Then it separates and is led down each leg through the knees and through the large toes to the Bubbling Wells points (again at KD #1 on the bottoms of each foot), by the end of the exhalation.

Traditionally, it is believed that the passing of the five gates (kidney acupoint #1 on each foot, the centers of the palms, and GV #20) with visualization as such, is a most difficult endeavor, albeit it can assist one in realizing true health and inner adeptness, e.g., a true status of nei kung/internal effort. AND as stated above, efficient and effective meditative guided imagery/visualization is a skill or high skill. Also traditionally, it is believed that these meditative breathing exercises can be of profound, substantive significance in one’s life.

*The bioelectric (chi) cursor is also described as the ‘sparkling cursor’ or energy elixir, and as a splendid goal, one works to mindfully feel and also move the sparkling energy cursor, eventually feeling it all of the time, as it is rooted in the tan tien furnace (again, behind the navel). This particular chi energy is traditionally considered to be the ‘original chi’, e.g., the energy that brings us into this world, and resides first in the kidneys. Learning to ‘fan the furnace’ so-to-speak, is believed to be a foundation of both kidney health and true health. One can learn to better and better use the sparkling energy for healing and strength-building, especially within the context of meditative guided imagery. It is said that the fanning of the furnace, combined with diaphragmatic breathing and meditative witnessing (versus thinking) can be of profound benefit and that there is nothing more healthful.

**This guided imagery, at a skilled level, is said to enhance one’s energy and fortitude beyond measure. AND all types of meditation, inclusive of meditative guided imagery, are traditionally viewed as important aspects of true health – congruent with notions of true health through true responsibility.

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Brightest blessings…

The notion of ‘brightest blessings’ is an ages-old aspect of the traditions that I teach, coach, and humbly endeavor to follow, e.g., Ming Chia (the Bright Beautiful School of Thought, a facet of the broader Tao-Chan or better known as Zen).

Congruent therein, it is common to wish “brightest blessings” to others, much like wishing someone good tidings, a good day, or any such. It is meant to be a serious wishing of the most splendid of blessings, in a genuinely heartfelt fashion.

That said – yin to yang/yang to yin, with what we might construe as on a deeper level in said tradition, the notion of bright or brightest blessings can go further in its appreciation, outlook and application: It is the concept that brightest blessings are congruent not as much with the blessings themselves, but that the truly brightest of blessings are consistent with TRUE APPRECIATION of blessings, blessings which are manifest in measure beyond what we so often appreciate or choose to wrap our heads around, so-to-speak. This SO genuinely healthful outlook is congruent with that which may lead one to sweet and innocent mindful meditative sparkling spine-tingling/shivering levels of appreciation – healthful beyond what words can describe: Such can only be witnessed, not figured or construed in thought.

Allowing oneself such a level of true appreciation is likely to be among the most difficult of things in life – learning to more and more and more appreciate the boundless blessings in our lives. To further clarify, this is where the notion comes even more specifically into focus: That which is genuinely witnessed as a blessing – REALLY TRULY appreciated, and not just for a fleeting moment, is again in a deeper sense a bright or brightest blessing. AND such a level of true appreciation connects to a type of pattern literacy, e.g., makes it easier and easier to connect our appreciation to more and more and more of the boundless blessings in our lives. In this tradition, it is viewed as a true responsibility, a facet of the broader notion of true health and our responsibility of making the world a better place. This versus being stuck on stagnant plateaus and tearing the world down. In short, it is true health through true responsibility.

In our daily lives we are often so hurried, harried, and distracted – therein it is quite normal to take things for granted and not appreciate the blessings in our lives. It isn’t even socially or culturally normal to be very aware of the notion, the truth of being so blessed, or to take the time to appreciate said blessings. It can be QUITE difficult to even seriously consider. Things like the air that we breathe or the natural world that makes life even possible, may not even seem like blessings, being that these things as such are SO common and easy to take for granted. Albeit, in truth, this in no way makes such things less of a true blessing. On a fundamental level, this is inarguable. AND such blessings in our lives go on and on and on…

It is quite a simple matter to get lost in our priorities, even what are often unhealthful and misguided priorities. We live as if we know a lot, when in fact, if we are living lives that aren’t full of significant appreciation, then on many levels, it is a lie: What could be more important than feeling deep and abiding appreciation for the most fundamental of blessings…even life itself. It is SO easy, yet SO wrong to not appreciate things as such. And once again, the blessings go on and on and on. EACH moment is a blessing…a miracle unto itself. At the deepest levels, we can only FEEL such amounts of appreciation, WITNESS it, not rationalize or construe. What could be more important? Is it likely that it would be much more difficult to be upset, anxious, worried, depressed, sad, angry, or frustrated, if we aren’t thinking such thoughts, e.g., just appreciating? Would it be consistent with true honesty, promoting of true happiness and true freedom…nothing to hide behind?

The following verse from the last chapter of my book relates to these concepts in a succinct AND appreciative fashion:

“The Lotus Flower Blossoms

There is a place where, wherever you are there, whatever you are doing…no matter what, in any given moment, there should be nowhere you would rather be. It is where you are right now – and you have the ability to so deeply and artfully appreciate your life and its living…to connect one healthful insight to the next, and make them all one…learning to witness this already-existing truth.

In the wilderness of our existence…a place of budding flowers about, about to unwrap in a showing of perfect appreciation for all to thrive upon, we are the flowers which can blossom again and again in each season of our deeper and deeper insights…all connected…each better and more healthful than before.

It is not unlike Heaven and it can become Heaven, with enough insight and appreciation. It takes quite a few sparks, glimpses – spine-tingling moments as a way-of-life which becomes more and more purposeful, more and more without time or space or distance. More and more there is less and less to hide behind.” (Copyright 2011)

*In a proverbial nutshell – life is good, we are blessed, we just need to appreciate it. SO simple. SO difficult. We’ll never perfect it on this earth, but we can work at it, and catch some of those sparkling glimpses of Heaven, working at it over our entire lives, always taking to heart and remembering that the greatest of blessings/gifts are found in a loving spirit of true appreciation…knowing (and feeling additional appreciation(!) that there is always room for improvement. There IS magic all around us and inside of us ALL of the time, in each moment AND each moment is a miracle. — Dr. Glen Hepker

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Do you like to sing?

The Ming Chia Chi Kung Resonant Healing and Assertive Sounds

How good do you want to feel? Oh come on, take a shot! Is it possible that something truly wonderful might happen? With some work, could you learn to ‘be’ the sound…SO healthful. What would it be like to hear, feel your heart sing – ‘be’ that sound, the resonance, so light, so free, so strong, and again, SO healthful…maybe a glimpse of Heaven? 

Utilization of resonant healing/assertive sounds is an important traditional practice in these arts. The sounds can be utilized for treatment purposes and for preventative care, specific to traditional protocols/exercises, as one sees fit. That said, they were developed to succinctly and holistically complement diaphragmatic/abdominal breathing, inclusive of during the practice of tai chi chuan, chi kung, kung fu, yoga, meditation/mindfulness exercises/guided imagery. The competent use of these resonant sounds is truly a skill unto itself, and traditionally they are viewed as quite important with regard to said purposes/benefits. The practice can obviously seem at least a bit odd and eccentric at first, but the more one practices them, the more that they grow on you.

The sounds are part of many variations of traditional Chinese health arts/medicine, as are tai chi chuan and chi kung (also acupuncture arts, herbal and nutritional arts, tui na arts, and vast congruent philosophy). This and all facets of these arts go back many hundreds of years, and the paradigm has been fine-tuned throughout that time. The sounds or similar sounds and logic are also utilized in various oriental traditions, beyond the scope of the aforementioned.

In this specific tradition, the following are inclusive of those that are made up of a single syllable (the less commonly utilized multisyllabic sounds will be set forth later in this writing). The two general Universal Sounds (which under this heading and context are used for general overall health-promoting/balancing purposes – this being in contrast with the larger number of sounds which have succinctly-specific health purposes):

HEN is the sole sound which is made during inhalation, and is done with the mouth closed (to be clear – is ideally performed with ALL inhalations in this practice). Therefore this sound is obviously different than all the others because all of the other sounds are only performed during exhalation. The HEN’s resonance is present and healthful, though it is generally not as great as that of any of the sounds which are performed during exhalation, even though it is drawn out much like the exhalation sounds. Additionally, and as strange as the logic may seem, one should make the HEN sound so that one will hear it as HEN in one’s own ears, e.g., if someone else would listen to the sound one makes, this particular sound may sound different to them. To one’s own ears, it it can be easily said that the sound can sound a bit whinny. Again, this explanation may appear a bit strange and eccentric, but it is important to do it correctly as such. (To further clarify, some who practice this inhalation sound can hear it as more of a drawn out ‘EN’ or ‘E’ sound, with the type of e that is normally sounded out in the word hen.)

HA is the second Universal Sound and it is made during exhalation with the mouth slightly open. If it can be done comfortably, all of the various sounds made during exhalation ideally should be done with one’s tongue gently against the roof of one’s mouth. This in and of itself is not among the most important aspects of this practice – but consistent with acupuncture theory, the tongue in that position is believed to enhance the balance/homeostasis of one’s central nervous system and make one’s mouth less dry.

Not to be confusing, albeit in addition to being a universal (health) sound, the HA sound is also a specific healing sound for the heart. In the traditional Chinese health arts, the heart is seen as more than just being the central part of the cardiovascular system – it is also viewed as the place where one’s spirit resides (most especially in a healthy person). In this case by ‘spirit’ we mean the “spirit by which one goes about doing what they do”, one’s demeanor or mien, NOT referring to the soul or soul matter (though that is not to say that we are in any fashion denying the existence of souls). This outlook/hypothesis regarding the heart and ‘spirit’ as such, has been empirically researched in latter years, even here in the Western hemisphere.

Five Element Sounds (those listed immediately below are the single syllabic variations of five element sounds, versus the dual syllable sounds set forth later herein): All six of these sounds should also be performed with the mouth slightly open during exhalation, and if comfortable, with one’s tongue gently against the roof of one’s mouth (though as set forth above, this latter point is not of the greatest importance). For broader insight into these practices, it can be helpful to know that Five Element/Five Phases theory has an intrinsic association with acupuncture/TCM philosophy/theory, inclusive of being a type of algebraic theory therein – though its scope is much broader than just those applications:

#1 Fire Elemental Sound – HA: in addition to being the universal exhalation sound, it is also specifically healthful for the heart, cardiovascular system – inclusive of the pulse, sense of taste, tongue, throat, endocrine system, sweat glands, color/complexion, expansive energy, willpower, demeanor/spirit, and is a trigger/spark for heart mu acupoint CV14 

#2 Fire Elemental Sound – SHI: is specifically healthful for the pericardium tissue/aka master of the heart tissue, solar plexus area, sense of taste, tongue, throat, expansive energy, willpower, demeanor/spirit, and is a trigger/spark for pericardium mu acupoint CV17

Earth Elemental Sound – HU: is specifically healthful for the spleen/pancreas, lips, mouth, senses of touch and taste, saliva, flesh, fat, connective tissue, muscles, digestion, lymph, stabilizing energy, clarity, insight, and is a trigger/spark for spleen mu acupoint LV13

Metal/Air Elemental Sound – SZ: is specifically healthful for the lungs and respiration quality, nose, body hair, mucus, skin, contracting energy, intuition, courage, stamina, and is a trigger/spark for lung mu acupoint LU1

Water Elemental Sound – FU: is specifically healthful for the kidneys, ears/hearing, balance, head hair, spontaneity, bones, joints, reproductive system, urine and urinary system, conserving energy, willpower, outlook, calmness, and is a trigger/spark for kidney mu acupoint GB25

Wood Elemental Sound – SHU: is specifically healthful for the liver, eyes and vision, tear duct system, nails, sinew, muscles, tendons, nervous system, generative  energy, emotional stability, and is a trigger/spark for liver mu acupoint LV 14

Resonant healing/assertive sounds are most properly performed with holding onto the consonant in one’s voice even after one moves into pronunciation of the consecutive vowel…one never should stop pronouncing the initial consonant – thus holding onto each part in harmonization. This harmonic congruity is what creates the healing reverberation/resonance/vibration. This logic also holds true with the two ‘sounds’ that have two consonants and one vowel: With SHU and SHI (SHEE) – one holds onto the SH sound while combining it with the consecutive vowel, pronouncing them in harmonization. AND this logic also holds true with the one sound without a vowel: The SZ sound is pronounced beginning with the S and holding onto it while combining it with the consecutive Z, pronouncing them in harmonization. In this practice, one should realize that, in almost indecipherable amounts, one will fluctuate back and forth, forward/backward between the parts of each sound, and this fluctuation is an aspect of the resonance/vibration, yin to yang and yang to yin.

Ideally, when one makes any of these single syllabic sounds, the length of a given sound is most generally congruent with both long slow breaths in (the HEN sound only) and with long slow breaths out. All-the-while as stated earlier, this is consistent with keeping the initial consonant part going while adding in the consecutive vowel and/or consonant.

One’s inhalations are naturally shorter in length than one’s exhalations. As mentioned earlier, all breathing is ideally performed in an abdominal/diaphragmatic fashion – either as advance diaphragmatic or reverse diaphragmatic type breathing (also known as Buddhist versus Taoist breathing or Summer versus Winter breathing). In advance breathing, one inhales while pushing one’s abdomen out, and exhales while pulling one’s abdomen in (as if one’s lungs are in one’s abdomen). Reverse breathing is exactly the opposite – with inhalation one draws one’s abdomen in, with exhalation the abdomen is pushed out. The former is meant to sedate excess heat, anxiety/stress, and enhance relaxation and circulation. The latter can abbreviate lethargy, promote warmth, and prompt a greater sense of energy, also enhancing circulation quality. An important traditional goal is to realize all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing, e.g., not only just doing it intentionally, but training one’s central nervous system to accept it as such: For most people, they will realize this skill by practicing it for at least five to 10 minutes, twice per day, when practiced for 30 to 60 days.

These sounds are meant to be practiced strategically, e.g., as a form of preventative care and also for specific treatment purposes. For instance if one has a cold or some sort of lung problem, then one would use the metal/air lung sound. If one is feeling cold, tired, or lethargic, then one would foremost utilize the fire and wood sounds, though all of the sounds can assist in this fashion. When practiced as a form of preventative care, it is believed that the sounds are not only healthful for their associated internal organs, but promote health and well-being in a more general sense, inclusive of enhanced homeostasis: This practice is what is coined, in the contemporary sense, a mind/body/spirit health technique. According to tradition, the benefits can be quite profound.

People who become aware of and/or embrace this practice but live in Western societies, may often feel the practice to seem quite odd and eccentric and may then prefer to practice these sounds in private, if they choose to embrace them at all. Even those who practice them consistent with tai chi chuan, chi kung, and yoga, may not feel comfortable making these sounds publicly. OR many will not feel it comfortable or natural to do them at all, because they may feel embarrassed or silly (though traditionally speaking, these sounds are considered very important in said arts).

Initially as one works to learn to perform them properly, it is beneficial to do so a bit louder (albeit not extremely loud), versus after one becomes skilled at it as such. When one becomes skilled, one can make the sounds subtly enough that people ten feet away may not hear them. That said, the sounds can be viewed as even more odd and eccentric when they are performed in an assertive martial/self-defense purpose/demeanor. Then as such, they are done very quickly/forcefully and are meant to discombobulate or frighten a foe, much like, as silly as it may sound, a battle cry (consistently in time with aggressive forceful movement). In the self-defense arts which I also teach, these sounds, when done assertively, are quite effective in promoting possible fright/stress/shock – a lack of balance and homeostasis in a foe or perpetrator. The sounds are performed quite loudly when done for ‘assertive’ purposes. Most Asian martial arts traditionally employ some version of these assertive sounds. The sounds were quite seriously/strategically engineered for both health/wellness and martial/self-defense purposes, yin to yang and yang to yin.

The HA and HU sounds can often be the most difficult, being that the H sound is less distinctive than the other consonants, e.g., like F, S, SZ, and SH. Remember, the resonance comes from keeping each part (consonants and vowels) intact within the nature of each total sound. Traditionally, these sounds are viewed as of little or no value if these concepts aren’t thoroughly embraced and respected in their practical applications. This is an art and like any art, it takes practice. AND there is ALWAYS room for improvement – greater skill, no matter the skill level or how ‘masterful’ one becomes. In the traditions of this art, this concept/awareness is the philosophical definition of ‘true mastery’.

As the notion has been handed-down, it is said that these resonant sounds can be a significant key to unlock the door in realizing the truly splendid skill of enjoying the extremely healthful ‘feelings’ or energy we speak of in other writings/teachings in said tradition – meaning those sweet an innocent sparkling spine-tingling/shivering bioelectric feelings, AND learning to have these feelings AT WILL. Accordingly, there is nothing more healthful, combined with diaphragmatic breathing and meditative witnessing/guided imagery. Through significant practice, one learns to focus this feeling or energy behind one’s navel, which according to acupuncture/TCM theory, is like a furnace: One can learn to fan the ‘furnace’ stronger and stronger and stronger until one can quite healthfully learn to feel the sparkling furnace at will – once again, consistent with diaphragmatic breathing (which fans it) and meditative witnessing/guided imagery. The so-called feeling is the electric-type feeling that many people experience in special sweet and innocent moments – often sentimental or quite benevolent moments. Not to be coarse, but many people also experience this feeling occasionally when urinating. The energy I am speaking of, once again according to this tradition, is what is coined as the ‘original chi’ (chi also known as qi, ki/ pranha) that one is born with, and which in a healthy individual, resides foremost in the kidneys. Once one gathers this furnace and skill as such, one can learn to use/move the energy like a sparkling cursor/elixir in traditional or non-traditional meditative guided imagery for health/well-being/healing purposes. Acupoint CV5 – which is two and one-half of one’s thumb widths (‘cun’) beneath one’s navel on the centerline, has a harmonic relationship with CV8 (again, where the furnace resides behind one’s navel), and one can learn to utilize CV5 in order to mindfully circulate the furnace’s energy like a cursor, as stated.

As set forth earlier herein, each sound has an algebraic elemental application. This concept can be taken in varying directions – wherein on some levels it aligns with oriental astrology, general feng shui, and body feng shui. We don’t deny that all this has some level of verity: This connection isn’t denied in these traditions, albeit we don’t overtly focus on it. Mostly we focus on the body (health) feng shui facet, for associated insight/practical purposes. Hence, one can look up one’s birth date as associated with its congruent element and animal personality in the oriental (60 year cyclical) lunar calendar, by way of a book as such, or easily online. This will enable one to know what element one’s birth date falls into alignment with: It is set forth that one’s algebraic-defined element which brought one into the world (is born with), is the one that may take one back out of this world (with regard to the element’s congruent internal organ, e.g., yin organs of the heart, spleen/pancreas, lungs, kidneys, and liver). Additionally, there is some connection as such with the yang organs of the small intestine, stomach, large intestine, bladder, and gall bladder (in the same element associated order).

The algebraic elemental theory can go onto further steps, e.g., as diagnostic and treatment triads on the Five Element/Five Phases graph. The triads can shift over time, especially with regard to different periods in one’s lifetime. However, on the most basic level, the element and thus elemental sound which is consistent with one’s year of birth can be viewed as the sound that one first and foremost utilizes. That said, all of the sounds are important to each individual, as set forth earlier herein.

The dual syllable sounds are not considered as significant in this tradition. That is not to say that they don’t have their place, yet the single syllable sounds are considered most important by far, and it is likely that few ever realize a significant skill level with the dual syllable sounds.

The dual syllable sounds and single syllable sounds do have a significant association with Asian chanting/singing musical mantra traditions – inclusive of those from Tibet. They strategically make a musical art of this logic and its sounds. In the tradition herein, even though it is not our primary strategic emphasis, seeing the sounds as music can be a truly splendid, lovely, and benevolent side effect, so-to-speak: Our primary strategic objective in utilizing the sounds is for health/wellness purposes. That said, we practice the sounds both individually and also one after the other: The sounds/tones become music of sorts, but it is MOST important to do them correctly, never deviating from the correct way of expressing/utilizing them. Again to clarify – the sounds can become music, albeit that is not our primary strategic purpose, but a truly splendid sparkling spine-tingling/shivering side effect so-to-speak: Most importantly, we benevolently work to become the sounds, become the resonance, the music, to ‘be’ it. The power in becoming the sounds has much to do with learning to do them in a fashion of meditative witnessing, not thinking, but objectively witnessing oneself in the doing, the being. Yin to yang, yang to yin, the goal is to become the sounds, and the sounds become you…I cannot stress this point enough. It is SO much about a true appreciation, gratitude for the miracle of the moment, more and more each moment. The sounds are believed to reflect the nature/sounds of the universe, and back, both ways, again yin to yang and yang to yin.

In utilizing the below sounds, we do not try to hold the syllables together in order to harmonize them at the same time – at least not to the level that we do with the consonants and vowels in the single syllable sounds. Herein, we endeavor to learn to deftly fluctuate between each syllable, sounding out back and forth:

Fire Elemental Dual Syllable Sound – ChiHer (‘i’ is a proper i sound – like “I am”): is specifically healthful for the heart, and additional areas as stated with the single syllable sounds

Earth Elemental Dual Syllable Sound – KaUng (the ‘k’ sound can be much like a ‘g’): is specifically healthful for the spleen/pancreas, and additional areas as stated with the single syllable sounds

Metal/Air Elemental Dual Syllable Sound – ShaAng: is specifically healthful for the lungs, and additional areas as stated with the single syllable sounds

Water Elemental Dual Syllable Sound – ChaWay: is specifically healthful for the kidneys, and additional areas as stated with the single syllable sounds

Wood Elemental Dual Syllable Sound – ChiO (CheeO): is specifically healthful for the liver, and additional areas as stated with the single syllable sounds

*Unlike the single syllable sounds, we do not have dual syllable sounds most specific to the pericardium/master of the heart tissue and solar plexus area, etc. However, it is believed that the Fire Elemental Dual Syllable Sound is additionally healthful for the pericardium/master of the heart tissue and solar plexus area, etc. — Dr. Glen Hepker

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Do ya have a furnace that needs fanning?

‘Fanning the Furnace’ Guided Imagery Meditation Chi Kung

Tan Tien Breathing is also known as Fanning the Furnace Breathing, Lower Heaven Breathing, or Field of Elixir Breathing. These names refer to a type of ages-old guided imagery chi kung (chi kung/qigong means breathing in congruence with effort or in time with movement). The most common title that I’ve come to utilize is Fanning the (sparkling) Furnace.

In this tradition (Tao Chan/Ming Chia), it is said that there are two tan tien points/portals. With regard to the ‘real’ tan tien, it is located just behind the navel/CV-8 acupoint (also known as the sea of chi). This point is approximately two and one-half inches (two and one-half cun – e.g., personal thumb-widths – per one’s own body mapping) above the ‘circulatory’ tan tien/CV-5 acupoint (CV is the common abbreviation for the central vessel in acupressure/TCM/traditional Chinese medicine theory).

The real tan tien is viewed as the body’s central bio-electric energy (chi/qi) point or ‘furnace’ and the circulatory tan tien is as per its namesake, for circulating the bio-electric energy stored in the real tan tien: This so-coined energy is viewed as our ‘original energy’ which has an intrinsic association with our kidneys, where, in an healthy person, it additionally resides. It is also said that this is the energy which one is born with – and/or brought us into this existence – once again, all in congruence with traditional acupuncture/TCM theory).

The real tan tien is viewed as the place where our corporeal bio-electric energy is generally centered. Though through true effort, pertinent insight, and meditative witnessing/guided imagery, one can better and better learn to (QUITE healthfully) enhance this centering or storage of bio-electric energy/chi/ki/pranha – not unlike a ‘furnace’ or ‘field of elixir’ or ‘sea of chi’. Traditionally speaking, when one focuses one’s mind/attention/yi at this point & performs competent abdominal/diaphragmatic breathing, it is believed to substantively enhance the quality of one’s health and well-being (which is such that words do not adequately describe – it can only be better and better witnessed).

Such breathing, relaxation, and guided imagery congruent with the execution of competent ‘witnessing’ (versus thinking) during any activity or level of ‘being’ is the centerpiece of true meditation. Such is traditionally and particularly performed with the practice of chi kung, tai chi chuan, kung fu, and yoga – albeit it can be embraced and practiced with almost all activity (sedate or moving through life’s general activities).

This practice is viewed as a potent means by which to promote health/wellness/greater longevity, e.g., centering/lowering/sinking/concentrating one’s bio-electric energy – enhancing one’s furnace or field of elixir – building the strength of one’s energy so that one can learn to feel the sparkling energy at will (AND all-of-the-time). It can only be realized when combined with skilled diaphragmatic breathing: such skilled breathing is what can be coined as fanning the furnace.

Once one becomes quite skilled in this practice, one can learn to use/move it in fashions congruent with various traditional and more complicated types of guided imagery/meditation/witnessing – consistent with succinct manipulation for health/wellness/treatment purposes (inclusive of stimulation of acupoints for self-treatment and using one’s hands to stimulate/treat the acupoints using one’s fingers and hands – coined traditionally as chi kung an mo): Theretofore, as one learns to fan the furnace competently, one learns to employ the circulatory tan tien in order to move the energy in one’s various guided imagery/visualization practices. Please realize that these skills, are just that – skills. It should be quite obvious that these practices cannot be learned ‘overnight’.

This basic guided imagery utilizes either the advance or reverse breathing methods (as described below). Even though this type of meditative breathing guided imagery is considered a most basic technique, it does not mean that it is easy or of lesser importance, e.g., most students of the art will not go further along (to even more difficult techniques), which makes this technique all the more important. AND this technique is the foundation of all other types of traditional guided imagery visualization.

It can be misunderstood that the real tan tien can be so much more important than the circulatory tan tien. Albeit, like the real tan tien point, the circulatory tan tien is viewed as a very important point also – each complement the other, yin to yang – yang to yin. As stated, the latter’s purpose is to circulate chi but not store it (e.g., IT cannot store chi). By practicing pertinent guided imagery, one can ‘fan the furnace’ so-to-speak AND healthfully promote the circulation of chi. Through time and effort, one learns to practice both types of tan tien breathing – which as stated are meant to intrinsically complement one another. Therein, one can attain a nearer and nearer to impeccable state of stillness. In working toward this, remarkable levels of relaxation and lightness can be realized/embraced. All of this must be complemented by what is coined as ‘witnessing’ – learning to play the part of a less and less blemished witness in one’s guided imagery meditation. These practices cannot be entirely rationally understood – but at best being a witness without thought or expectations (thoughts which most often serve to get in the way).

These practices are coined as true skills, e.g., all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing consistent fanning the furnace through guided imagery meditation/witnessing, and true relaxation – altogether congruent with working toward true mastery thereof. The meaning of this ‘true mastery’ is enjoying such objective insight that one witnesses the truth – inclusive of, that the greatest blessing of all is that no matter how skilled one becomes, there is always room for improvement (most particularly on this Earth). Accordingly, it is learning to better and better play the part of an healthy conduit/diplomat between Heaven (OR just the heavens – whichever one prefers) and Earth…in harmony with better and better realization of true health.

Below find a most basic form of Fanning the Furnace guided imagery:

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. At more and more skilled levels, it can be performed in most any setting in one’s daily life – which is a primary goal. It is traditionally set forth that there may be nothing more healthful.

This exercise is engineered to be practiced in a spirit congruent with the following question – How Much Gratitude Does One Need to be Healthy? (it is additionally practiced as a so-titled ancillary guided imagery which is a preparation exercise for most other types of guided imagery meditation in this tradition)

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 – promoting of greater and greater homeostasis). 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 eyes so that one is always looking slightly above straight ahead, without focusing or staring – a ‘visual meditative demeanor’ (though it is done both with the eyes open and closed – begin with the eyes open).

Fan the furnace by getting the ‘engine’ of the (advance vs. reverse) diaphragmatic/abdominal breathing going. Breathe in, push one’s abdomen out, breathe out, pull one’s abdomen in. Pretend that one’s lungs are in one’s abdomen.

One of the greatest gifts one can allow oneself, is all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing – there is nothing more healthful. If one practices this breathing for five minutes twice daily, in 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).

A minority of people benefit more from reverse breathing – breathing in pulling one’s abdomen in, and breathing out pushing one’s abdomen out. Unlike the former advance-style breathing, this breathing is more for people who tend to be more so lethargic/cold/less active, versus those who tend to be more so stressed/anxious/very active/warm. Advance breathing is also coined summer breathing, and reverse breathing is also coined winter breathing. The former cools one, the latter warms one. Both can be utilized for fanning the furnace guided imagery.

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?” Don’t continue to work toward thinking about the question, but endeavor to be in that splendid spirit.

Try not to think, just witness one’s breathing, relaxation, and subtle movement. 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, don’t 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 (h’uo t’uo) that cuts out internal dialogue and/or cyclical thinking – ideally all thought…BEING ‘light’. Thoughts are often ‘heavy’.

Using the above-stated criteria, move onto this variation of the Fanning the Furnace exercise: As one breathes in, imagine that one brings fresh energy in which strengthens the furnace behind one’s navel – not unlike a gentle fire or sparkling warmth. As one breathes out, imagine that the breath out fans the furnace…stronger and stronger, until one learns to feel the furnace. Learn to relax and witness this, versus think about it. Over time, one can learn to feel/witness the furnace at will, all-of-the-time. It is said that nothing is more healthful, combined with the proper breathing and relaxation.

*Remember, this is all congruent with learning all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing and witnessing AND learning to truly relax. The diaphragmatic breathing complements witnessing and relaxation and vice-versa. These facets are intrinsically connected. They are initially learned separately, but are one or in harmony when realized at a skilled level.

**When one learns to feel the sparkling furnace at will, one moves onto moving the energy around the body in order to heal the body, and for general guided imagery purposes. Many complementary types of traditional guided imagery can be taught and are set forth in student handouts and in my blog posts. There are over a dozen guided imagery practices handed-down in this tradition.

***The ‘sparkling feelings’ have a truly significant association with the spine-tingling/sparkling feelings some experience in special (often sentimental) moments in one’s lifetime. Additionally (and not in any way to be in a spirit of being coarse), many people sometimes experience these types of feelings during urination. These feelings are completely in the realm of ‘sweet and innocent’, and not in any fashion sexual.

****The key is to learn to succinctly center/focus the so-coined energy at the furnace and strengthen it there – stronger and stronger and stronger, and learn to additionally use it, move it, in a splendidly healthful fashion congruent with tradition. This practice is traditionally complemented by the handed-down resonant healing/assertive Five Phases single and multisyllabic sounds.

*****Please know that all of the nomenclature/terminology utilized herein is just that, terminology – never meant to be misleading. It is said that “real truth can only be witnessed, not thought about or logically understood.” It is said that “the Way that can be told is not the eternal Way, the way that can be told is the mother of all things.” It is reflected in the madman screaming, “If the stars are not words, stop calling them stars.” Even so, we as human beings most often, at least in most settings, begin learning things by way of words. It can be a beginning, but at best not the whole or the end. – Dr Glen Hepker

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How important is it to learn to alleviate our addiction to cyclical (ruminative) thinking?

The Sword Guided Imagery

In analogy, we can use a ‘sword’ as a form of guided imagery, e.g., in order to assist one in clearing one’s mind of internal dialogue, e.g., the next-best thing to actually emptying one’s mind. Being that many people find it fairly unviable to truly empty their mind of thought, the H’ou T’ou was invented…the Sword that works as a visualization/guided imagery technique which makes it a simpler matter to learn these techniques at the most basic level.

This guided imagery can be used in harmony/congruence with one’s exercising – walking, jogging, yoga, tai chi chuan, chi kung, etc., or simply sitting, standing, or laying down.

It is said that many centuries ago, a head monk at a Chinese monastery noticed that the latest monk recruits were not up to par. They had difficulty learning to empty their minds. Hence the warmhearted head monk invented the concept and types of the H’ou T’ou, e.g., the sword that alleviates/cuts out internal dialogue – abbreviation of the ‘weight’ of thought. This more easily allowed practitioners thereafter to be ‘lighter’ and to more easily learn to appreciate true meditation and all of its manifest benefits.

There are many versions of the H’ou T’ou guided imagery – in the traditions that I teach, coach, and endeavor to follow, ALL types of guided imagery fall under this protocol. Albeit this most basic guided imagery promotes a purely psychological and physiological harmony, e.g.:

Simply thinking the word “in” as one breathes in, and the word “out” as one breathes out.

As with all guided imagery, this is meant to keep one’s mind from thinking about anything else, curtailing the cyclical thoughts which most people have difficulty abbreviating. Most correctly, it is practiced in congruence with ‘advance’ diaphragmatic breathing (breathing in, pushing one’s abdomen out, breathing out pulling one’s abdomen in), or ‘reverse’ diaphragmatic breathing (breathing in pulling one’s abdomen in, breathing out, pushing one’s abdomen out).

Herein, each form of 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. Eyes can be open or closed (it is recommended to practice it both ways).

A second most basic form of using this Sword is to again –

Breathe in and think “in” but count with each breath out, e.g., “one” through “10” and then start from one again.

This is especially important with treating insomnia, much like ‘counting sheep’, as they say. A third most basic form of using the Sword is set forth at the bottom of this article – How Much Gratitude Does One Need to be Healthy?

Simply put, one of the primary purposes of guided imagery meditation is to lessen or alleviate sadness, depression, frustration, anger, or any type of stress and anxiety; it is VERY difficult to feel those feelings if one is not thinking such thoughts.

In nurturing this tool, it can be utilized in stressful situations to promote calm clear-headedness. This and all types of guided imagery can lead one to the next step, which is to actually learn to genuinely empty one’s mind. In this tradition, it is working and working and working to play the part of a less and less blemished witness…a true and honest witness. It is said that nothing is more healthful, combined with diaphragmatic breathing AND fanning the sparkling spine-tingling ‘furnace’ behind one’s navel.

QUITE important in these traditions, is the notion that among the greatest gifts on this Earth is that there is ALWAYS room for improvement, greater and greater skill and insight – greater and greater mastery. It is also said that, employing these gifts, is a ‘glimpse of Heaven’ – True Meditation.

A third most basic Sword/H’ou T’ou guided imagery is set forth below:

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 eyes so that one is always looking slightly above straight ahead, without focusing or staring (though it is done both with the eyes open and closed – begin with the eyes open).

Get the ‘engine’ of the (advance vs. reverse) diaphragmatic/abdominal breathing going. Breathe in, push one’s abdomen out, breathe out, pull one’s abdomen in. Pretend that one’s lungs are in one’s abdomen. One of the greatest gifts one can allow oneself, is all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing – there is nothing more healthful. If one practices this breathing for five minutes twice daily, in 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).

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. 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, don’t 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’. — Dr Glen Hepker

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Wholeness: Is it just a concept or can it be more and more real? How important is true appreciation?

In these ages-old traditions, it is said that craving, desire, and fear of change, especially healthful change, are the root of most suffering. When we learn to better and better abbreviate clinging to our fear, desire, and suffering we can catch more and more common glimpses of what it is like to take genuine ownership of deeply healthful views…outlooks which in their practical application QUITE succinctly make the world a better place. It is SO much about learning to witness what it is like to be without our ‘walls of lies’ – to not be lost in the stagnicity of overt concern about the past or future. In learning to witness and take part in the living loving story of our lives (vs. just being a pawn to the story of our lives), we can better and better alleviate ourselves of the three portents (harbingers of all bad tidings) – hate, greed, and ignorance. It is ALL about being mindful and present, in a loving, selfless, altruistic awareness of what is genuinely important, i.e., a quintessentially resplendent light bright spirit of true appreciation of the miracle of the moment: This such splendid way-of-being allows us, enables us to genuinely embrace/deeply witness within ourselves a holistic oneness of the mind, body, and spirit. It allows us to lovingly embrace healthful change.

It is NOT about living for the moment, but living in the moment: If there is a Heaven, a key to the universe, even a sixth sense, they are rooted in true honesty, promoting of true happiness and true freedom…but most importantly, needing less and less to hide behind. It is a loving, selfless, and sweet and innocent sparkling spine-tingling/shivering appreciation – a glimpse of a so-to-speak existence where there is no time, no space, no distance – no yesterday, no today, no tomorrow. It is a glimpse of an existence where all is known – once again, nothing to hide behind.

It is a beautiful key to true health and true responsibility. It is a path of heart – a way of life more and more without unhealthful fear, unhealthful pride, and blind greed. It is SO much about being healthful conduits/diplomats between Heaven and Earth, aka True Appreciation! — Dr. Glen Hepker

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Learning how to breathe…

Sounds silly or crazy – doesn’t everyone know how to breathe? Only on a most basic level they do – and such breathing, e.g, using only the upper part of our lungs to breathe shallowly, genuinely isn’t the most healthful way to breathe. And this is proven empirically. Most people do not breathe in a most healthful fashion.

Shallow breathing can have a negative effect on most of the functions of one’s body – inclusive of one’s sleep, mood, energy levels, and all of our neurovegetative systems, together with the quality of circulation in every cell of our bodies. Shallow breathing abbreviates the amount of oxygen and energy circulated throughout one’s body.

Learning to breathe properly every moment (not just when we are conscious of our breathing), allows us more energy, overall improved health, inclusive of greater homeostasis, relaxation, circulation, less anxiety and fear – better preparing us for the stressors that life throws at us. It can even can have a positive effect regarding our realization of happiness, self-fulfillment, and clear thinking. This breathing paradigm better promotes secretion of relaxing, pain-killing hormones. Our bodies are meant to breathe in this fashion, but in Western culture, this isn’t commonly taught or promoted – people generally aren’t aware of this way of breathing, and/or its importance. Healthful infants breathe this way naturally, but it is believed that, through the stress of life and chronic raising our shoulders, the quality of our breathing devolves and we breathe less deeply – more at our chests. In many cultures, the importance of belly breathing is taught as children move toward adulthood.

1. This all relates to what is coined as diaphragmatic breathing or abdominal breathing. Singers learn this type of breathing, as do many of those who learn ancient arts such as yoga, chi kung, and tai chi chuan. It is set forth in those arts that nothing is more healthful than learning all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing. It is said thereof, that if one practices diaphragmatic breathing at least five minutes twice per day, within 30 to 60 days, most people will have trained their central nervous systems to accept the rhythm of this type of breathing all day, every day.

There are two types of diaphragmatic breathing: Advance abdominal breathing is performed by breathing in and pushing one’s abdomen out, and breathing out and pulling one’s abdomen in – much like pretending that one’s lungs are in one’s abdomen. At first one needs to do this consciously, but with practice over time, one learns to do it unconsciously; the same goes for reverse abdominal breathing, e.g., but it is just the opposite – breathing in, pulling one’s abdomen in, and breathing out, pushing it out. It is up to each person to decide which works better for them. Albeit, it is believed that in these stressful times, more than not, people will benefit more with focusing most on the advance breathing methodology. That said, ‘one size does not fit all’. It is believed that advance breathing releases heat and reverse breathing creates heat (quite generally, the former being for stressed-out people and the latter being for people who are more lethargic in nature).

2. It is significant to breathe in and out through the nose, or in through the nose out through the mouth. We should generally not breathe in through the nose, unless one has congestion, or if one is performing highly aerobic exercise such as running (then one should breathe in through both the nose and mouth, as necessary).

In addition, the nose is designed to filter raw air, warm it if cold, make it less dry if dry, etc. It serves to filter the air, it cleans it of debris, such as viral, bacterial, fungi, and toxic matter – even just dust/dirt. Hence, it is generally more healthful to inhale by way of the nose.

3. With diaphragmatic breathing, each time one inhales, it should feel like the air is going all the way down to one’s stomach. The muscles most succinctly associated with breathing, most especially deep breathing as such and ideally, consist of the diaphragm, abdomen, chest, neck, and shoulders.

It is extremely important to learn to keep one’s shoulders relaxed with regard to this means of breathing – undue raising of the shoulders pulls on and tightens the diaphragmatic muscles, making it much more difficult and less natural to breathe deeply. Raising the shoulders also pertains to the ‘fight or flight’ response, e.g., is very much associated with fear, anxiety, and stress – and these feelings can prompt the adrenal glands to secrete hormones that make one more tense.

Diaphragmatic breathing assists one’s lungs in their function of gas exchange – the quality of which is significantly enhanced when taking place deep into the lower lungs. When breathing at the diaphragm, the diaphragm better massages the liver, stomach, and intestines – promoting an enhanced rhythmical balance/circulation. The lymphatic system has an important function with regard to the immune system – it can do its work much better when congruent with diaphragmatic breathing – most particularly in ridding the body of waste products from the bowels. Diaphragmatic breathing diminishes pressure in the chest and belly – relaxing the heart, making its work easier. It also allows the proper breathing muscles to do their job, versus other muscles having to do unnecessary work when breathing is shallow, e.g., just in the chest: as the chest becomes more relaxed as such, the neck and shoulders will have less tenseness, misalignment, and discomfort/pain.

4. True relaxation is of the upmost importance. We ALWAYS come out further ahead the more relaxed we are. The better we learn all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing, the more relaxed we are, and the more we avoid abbreviated levels of oxygen, which unto itself, makes the body and brain more stressed.

By strategically taking control of one’s breathing and making it more relaxed, it is like a positive domino effect. It is like tuning up one’s mind/body connection, therein and everything in-between. Our bodies respond in kind, prompting overall enhanced functioning. When the body and mind are relaxed, health is good, energy is high, and it becomes a more simple matter to be happy, appreciative, and loving – toward others and within/toward oneself.

5. Everything has a natural rhythm and vibration. This includes everything in our world, our universe – just like a finely-tuned clock: The seasons, earth, oceans, moon, stars, all of nature, etc. Our bodies are just the same…at best. For us, proper breathing promotes this clock to function better – inclusive of homeostasis (a healthful balance of the central nervous system), and the healthful secretion of hormones, on and on. When our bodies are tuned, they function the best – and proper breathing is a significant facet of this rhythm of true health.

— Dr. Glen Hepker

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