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Page 4 - Why Meditation Is Important in Martial Arts
Embryonic breathing can be practiced in almost any position. At the YMAA Retreat Center, where I live and train, we like to sit on a cushion with crossed legs. This is practical, as we will do further exercises in this position. You may prefer to sit on a chair or even lay down. The first step of embryonic breathing is to calm down your emotional mind. You do this by focusing on your breathing and relaxing your body. In the beginning, you might get distracted and think about other issues instead of paying attention to your breathing. If you get distracted, simply bring your mind back to your breathing. It will take some time until you feel comfortable with focusing inward and pushing external thoughts away.
Finding the Center
The next step is to find the center within your body. To accomplish this task, visualize the area you want to find. First, I will discuss how you can find your upper Dantian. Extend your inhale and shorten the exhale. This will cause the energy to condense into the center line and will make it easier to feel your center. To help yourself find the center, you can also place your hands over the ears which will make sure that the energy doesn’t disperse.
Once you have found the upper center, try to find the lower center. To find the lower Dantian, you have to be comfortable with normal or reverse abdominal breathing. Pay attention to how the front of your abdominal area is expanding, and how it shrinks back. Now pay attention to the back and the front at the same time. After a while, you will find the center without any further problems.
Once you have found both centers, you have to synchronize them. This means they expand and shrink at the same time. It can take a few months or even a year to accomplish, but when you can reach this state, bring the energy down from the upper Dantian to the lower Dantian. As you inhale, you bring the energy down, and as you exhale you remain with your mind there. Repeat several times until you are able to keep your mind completely in the lower Dantian. The key to embryonic breathing is that you remain with your mind in the lower Dantian while you do reverse abdominal breathing. As a result, fat will be converted into energy, which will be stored in the lower Dantian.
Through correct embryonic breathing, you can learn how to manipulate the energy within your body. As you exhale, the energy is manifested. As you inhale the energy is drawn inward to the center. This is illustrated nicely when you watch someone who is sleeping. As the person falls asleep, the inhalation becomes longer than the exhalation. Hence, the energy is drawn inward and allows the person to fall asleep. Since less energy is emitted, the body temperature drops and we need to cover up. If the energy is not drawn inward, the person cannot fall asleep because the mind and body are too energized. You can apply this theory to embryonic breathing. It is recommended to inhale longer than exhale in the spring and summer seasons, as these are times when the body’s energy is strong. This is the Yin version. A longer exhale than inhale is the Yang version, and it should be practiced in the autumn and winter to help the body resist sickness.
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