The natural form of breathing is Iron Shirt abdominal breathing. This is the principal measure by which to evaluate the body's state of health and capacity for self-healing. To the extent that we practice abdominal breathing, we have retained the ways we used to breathe as a baby and child.
When in the course of life, natural low, deep, long and quiet abdominal breathing is replaced by high short and shallow breathing in the chest, we lose our inner stability. We have lost a major source of vitality and self-healing, as our breathing requires more energy than it generates. Through the loss of internal pressure, we also lose our inner power, as the balance between our inward pressure outwardly and the outward pressure inwardly has been lost.
We can only regain our vitality by recreating this internal power so that the two powers are once again in a dynamic and reciprocal state of interplay. This is the inner meaning of Chi Kung: to restore the inner power by learning to breath naturally again.
The cultivation of this natural form of breathing, which reproduces the process of prenatal embryonic breathing, is essential to Tan Tien Chi Kung. It is through this form of breathing that we recover our original Chi and thereby our internal pressure.
Through this form of breathing, the amount of energy needed for external breathing and the intake of oxygen are reduced. Precisely because of this, the lungs can then take in more oxygen. At the same time, the capacity of the whole body and all its cells as well as the capacity of the lungs to store oxygen is enhanced. Thus with less energy, breathing has improved both qualitatively and quantitatively.
Tan Tien Chi Kung breathing relies less on breathing in Chi from outside, as it basically draws on Original Chi. As a result of this, the abdomen starts to breath by itself and the process of breathing becomes economical, effortless and unintentional. Inner original breath and outer breath have a relationship as the external breath can move the inner breath and vice versa, as Chi pressure from the Lower Tan Tien helps the lungs to breathe. The way the lungs are used also affects the original internal breath in its unfolding. Yet the two forms of breathing are to be clearly distinguished. Genuine inner breathing can only evolve if external breathing gives it space.
At the same time, Chi pressure is kept up and remains high. The more unintentional and natural this process is, the more it enhances the free and full flow of Original Chi throughout the whole body, its reservoirs, pathways, organs, glands, fasciae and all cells.
This kind of breathing may be compared to that in a deep and calm sleep. It is not without reason that when we see children asleep, we are at once struck by the beauty and serenity of their expression and the peaceful energy they radiate. We feel at once the fine and good energies as if the inner quality of the Chi in the child's body becomes transparent. We like to caress and embrace it, not realizing that it mirrors our own potential Chi Kung state which we long for.
In prenatal breathing, a great change takes place in the manner of breathing. It is no more through the nose. The whole body starts to breathe. This is at times called skin breathing, although the whole body is involved. In this natural state of breathing, on the out breath we send the Chi to the tendons, muscles and the skin, while when we breathe in, the Chi flows to the bone marrow and the internal organs.
Skin breathing may be called a high energy form of breathing. It does by itself what we most need to generate and rejuvenate ourselves.
On the in breath, it dislodges the fat accumulated in the bone marrow and it creates and renews in the bone marrow the red and white blood cells; these cells are needed to transport the supply of nutrition, to remove waste and to neutralize germs. Then it replenishes the organs with fresh energy.
On the out breath, it presses out the fat from the fasciae in between the tendons, muscles and the skin and pushes out the waste through the pores of the skin and hair and opens it for fresh Chi to enter.
Thus skin breathing regulates the continuous exchange process between inner and outer energies. Crucial for regulating this exchange is the coordination of the perineum and the anus. It is not surprising, therefore, that this training is at the core of Tan Tien Chi Kung.
In the state of skin breathing, the borders between the inside and outside of the body tend to dissolve and a sense of unity with the universe may arise by itself. One feels at the same time at home within the body and in the universe, which is then experienced as one's own extended body. Skin brushing enhances this natural exchange process.
Natural breathing becomes possible when emotional fixations and entanglements are overcome so that you feel at peace with yourself, relaxed, calm and happy. To induce this process, the practice of the Inner Smile, the Healing Sounds and Fusion are of crucial significance. They help to clear the energy reservoirs and pathways and also enhance the state of receptivity of the organs, glands and cells as well as of the bones, so that the flow of Chi can enter and do its work.
In terms of energy use, Chi Kung as a practice is superior to the external practice of sports and athletics. In a Chi Kung state the body can largely rely on the natural flow of original Chi. This is also more healthy, not only because energy is saved, but also because the body is often tortured or exposed to different forms of rude treatment in sports and athletics and in activities like aerobics and jogging. In a Chi Kung state, the body can do with little oxygen.
This explains why advanced Chi Kung practitioners who have learned to rely on embryonic breathing have acquired a high re generative and rejuvenating capacity. They are known for their longevity, as they chemically and spiritually reproduce the exchange mechanisms which make the child grow.
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