Thursday, December 18, 2008

Feet and Crown Breathing

In qi gong the soles of our feet are the main interface or energy gateway between our bodies and the qi of the earth. Conversely, the crowns of our heads are seen as a major gateway between ourselves and the energy of the sky and stars, or ‘heaven’.
In order to encourage the flow and exchange of qi between ourself and the earth we can practice ‘breathing’ through the soles of our feet. In order to do this, simply focus your attention on the soles of your feet. As you inhale, imagine yourself breathing in qi from the earth, like a tree drawing energy up through its roots. As you exhale, imagine and feel yourself breathing energy down into the earth.
In order to encourage the flow of energy between ourself and the sky, visualize a small golf-ball sized ball of light at the crown of your head. As you breathe in, feel yourself inhaling qi and energy from the sky down into your body. As you breathe out, feel energy flowing out of your crown and connecting with the sky.
Once you have a feeling for the flow of qi flowing through the soles of your feet and the crown of your head, you can then go onto practice ‘core body breathing’, or what I call ‘full body breathing’. Whilst practicing these either of these two types of breathing, retain a particular awareness of the energy gateways at the crown of your head and the soles of your feet.
To practice ‘full body breathing’ simply means to feel that, as you breathe in every cell of your body is breathing in and taking in new qi and energy. As you breathe out, every cell of your body is releasing old or stagnant qi, and allowing new qi to flow and expand through itself and our whole body. So, with full body breathing we are breathing with our whole body, and not just with our nose, mouth and lungs!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Core Body Breathing

‘Core body breathing’ is a form of breathing that I find particularly useful when practicing Qi Gong, and also as a method for developing a sense of mind-body synchronization. Like the other forms of breathing mentioned on this blog, it can be practiced on its own as a meditation form in its own right.

What do we mean by the ‘core’ of the body?

In this context, the ‘core’ of the body means the energetic centre-point of any given area of the body.
With regard to the head, neck and torso, you could say that there is a core, centre-line of balance that runs from the crown of our head, down through the centre of our brain, neck, chest and abdomen to the perineum (the mid point between the sexual organs and the anus).
With regard to the arms and hands, their core can be visualized and felt as a line of energy that runs down from the shoulders, through the centre point of the upper arms, elbow joints and forearms. After passing through the wrists, it then splits into five lines of energy that flow down through the hands into the fingers and thumb.
In a similar way with regard to the legs and feet, their core can be seen and felt as two lines flowing down the centre of the legs from the hips, each line splitting into five lines within the feet which pass down though the centre point of each of the toes.

To practice core body breathing: on the inhalation, breathe into the core of your body, feeling qi flow into your body’s energetic core; as you exhale, direct your qi from the core of your body out to the surface/skin. By breathing in this way you encourage qi to flow through all areas of your body and in particular this establishes a communication and exchange between the core qi of your body and its surface qi.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Wave Breathing

Wave breathing is a form of Qi Gong breathing that is similar in some ways to circular breathing. However, whereas circular breathing emphasizes the maintainance of an even flow of breath throughout the inhalation and exhalation, in wave breathing the pace and power if the inhalation and exhalation vary like waves.
If you do this as a form of breathing meditation in itself, it can be pleasant and helpful to imagine yourself to be sitting on your favorite beach, with the waves rolling in and flowing out as you breathe.
As you breathe in, imagine your inhalation is like a wave rising up from the ocean gathering in height and power. As you reach the top of the inbreath, the pace of the breath will naturally slow to an almost still point as your lungs reach a comfortable point of fullness.
Now as you exhale imagine, that your out breath is like a wave breaking on the shore. Initially there is a sustained flow of breath, like the flow of a wave up the shoreline. However, as you move toward the end of the exhalation, the pace of the breath naturally starts to slow, like a wave running out of power as it rises up the beach.
After you have gently emptied the lungs with your out breath, begin your inhalation - allowing the pace of the breath to gather - like the water being drawn back into the ocean and rising again as another wave.
In this way you can establish a gentle and relaxing form of breathing that mimics the energetic ebb and flow of waves in the ocean.
Once you have become familiar with the basic flowing feel of wave breathing, you can feel yourself breathing power, energy and qi into your body as you breathe in. Then, as you breathe out, you can practice feeling this power and energy flowing through your body in a relaxed and even manner. By doing this you will be learning how to energize and empower your body and mind, whilst at the same time retaining as sense of relaxation, awareness and ease.