In The Moment – Meditation & Breathing, Contemplation & Renewal (Part 3)

Dr. Duckworth’s Studies and Practice (Part 3) 

Breathe into Your Belly (Breathing from your tanden) --- Calm Your Mind

Stress, poor posture, snug clothes, and habit are some of the reasons that keep us from breathing properly. We wind up using our chest muscles instead of our abdomen.

Belly breathing, also called diaphragmatic breathing, is a simple deep breathing technique that teaches you how to use your diaphragm, a sheet of muscle at the bottom of our lungs and the most important muscle for breathing.

Tanden breathing is deep abdominal breathing developed through the martial arts.  It is also employed in yoga and operatic singing.  Belly breathing is very good, tanden breathing is much better.

The tanden, “the Sea of Ki,” is located two fingers width below the navel and is considered the ‘Center of Gravity’ in balance and breath.  This is the space that fills with air when a human baby takes its first breath.  Therefore, this is the most natural and the most powerful place to breath in and out of.

It is often used as a complementary therapy for anxiety disorders and may also help to boost energy and stamina.  The goal should be to breathe this way all the time.

Begin

Calm your mind. Forget about what you’re going to make for dinner tonight, the emails you still must respond to, and the birthday gift you still must get for your mother-in-law.  Just let go of thoughts.

Don’t force it, just let go of any thought that pops into your mind.

Improve Your Posture

Proper posture gets air into your lungs and helps energy flow through your body.

Sit up straight, imagining a string lifting your chest. You should feel the area between your chest and your navel lengthen.  Sit in a chair, stand, or lie on your back. You don't have to sit cross-legged but whether sitting on the floor, on a chair, standing or lying on your back, be straight, be aligned.  Although the classic posture is to sit cross-legged, what is more important is finding a position that is comfortable for you.  Instead of sitting on a cushion or on the floor, you can also sit in a chair. Your feet should touch the ground.  If they don't, place a stool under your feet.

As you try to improve your posture, you may find your muscles tensing up, especially around the abdomen. Consciously seek to release any tension from your body.

Breathe In Through Your Nose

Place one hand flat against the lower abdomen. Your thumb should be around/near your navel.

Breathe in through your nose at an even rate.

Allow your abdomen to expand, rather than your upper chest. You should feel the hand on your abdomen being pushed away from your body as your abdomen rises.

Count silently starting from "one".

Breathe Out Through Your Mouth

Breathe out slowly and evenly through your mouth.

Again, count silently. Exhalation should take about twice as long as inhalation. So, if you counted to three when you inhaled, strive to count to six when you exhale, but don't force it.

Repeat

If you feel light-headed at any time, you may be breathing too quickly. If you are standing, try practicing while sitting down.

I usually suggest starting with five to ten-minute meditation sessions in the first week. Although that may seem short, as you may have already discovered, trying to clear the mind of thoughts can be quite difficult! Some people even feel a bit anxious in the beginning. So, start slow and work your way up. 

Try not to set time goals. Concentrate on the quality of your meditation sessions and on meditating consistently. 

Eventually, you will naturally find yourself meditating for 20 or more minutes, a good length of time to calm and quiet the mind. You can also try meditating for ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes in the evening. 

If you must keep track of the time, try an alarm or timer set on the lowest volume, so you don't have to keep looking at your watch or clock. 

Rest your hands palm-down on your thighs or knees.

Energy flows better through the body when you are sitting upright, so it is important to sit up straight. It may help to imagine your body being pulled up from the top of your head so you are upright without being stiff.   Practice this way without any goals, with no attachment to the fruits of your labor.  Just be.  Relax.