In the last couple of meditations, I've highlighted the importance of your breath from a Taoist perspective this week and from a Chinese Medicine perspective in the previous week. For obvious reasons, in this time of chaos and questionable advice, I want to make it perfectly clear what the basics are since some people (Yoga teachers, fitness instructors, etc.) and businesses and their owners, don't have this knowledge about the immune system based on 5000-plus years of knowledge and experience gained from Chinese Medicine.
Let's start with what I read from today's meditation:
"Through all that is, the Tao will not be blocked, for if it is blocked, it gasps, and if it gasps, chaos breaks through. Chaos destroys the life in all. Everything that lives does so through breath. However, if breath will not come, this cannot be blamed on Heaven. Heaven seeks to course breath through the body day in and day out without ceasing: it is humanity which impedes this."
[p 241, The Book of Chuang Tzu, Penguin Books, 2006]
From a Chinese Medicine perspective, it is important that your breath flows freely and unrestricted. If it does not, you will experience dire health and autonomic consequences. You must understand the some basics of Chinese Medicine first:
"Chinese Medicine recognizes emotions, climate and lifestyle as the primary sources of pathogenic stress. Sudden changes in weather or prolonged exposure can leave the body vulnerable to attack by wind, heat, dampness, dryness and cold. Intense, persistent or suppressed emotional reactions such as anger, joy, rumination, sorrow or fear can cause a disruption of the circulation of Qi and Blood. Misuse of the body through overwork, overuse of the senses or prolonged sitting, lying or standing wastes the Qi and injures the Blood. Overindulgence in or neglect of dietary and sexual needs depletes Vital Essence."
Furthermore, according to Chinese Medicine:
"In the Lung, the Qi of Heaven (air) joins with the Qi of Earth (nutrition), forming the Qi that vitalizes human life. Like a minister who conducts affairs of state and determines territorial borders, the Lung governs the relationship between the inside and the outside, setting limits and protecting boundaries. With restraint and delicacy, expanding and contracting, the Lung collects, mixes and scatters the Qi, instilling rhythm and order."
***When that rhythm and order is disrupted, it affects your entire five organ network! Read on:
"Taoist adepts developed practical discipline of breath called Qigong to cultivate vitality and prevent disease. As in the alchemical process of transmuting the base metals of lead and mercury into gold, the Lung extracts the Essence from Air, combining it with the Essence from Food sent by the Spleen, distilling it into pure, correct Qi of bodily life. The Lung then guides this refined essence downward from the head into the chest and abdomen and outward toward the muscles, skin and extremities. Through exhalation, the Lung ELIMINATES THE BY-PRODUCTS of its alchemical work by expelling the turbid, used air. If this descending and dispersing cadence is thwarted, an uprising of rebellious Qi causes coarse breathing, headaches, tightness of chest and shoulders, and mental distress.
As mentioned, one must also control their internal Dampness. Restriction in the Lungs contribute to dampness and make you sick:
"If the Lung Qi is prevented from properly descending, Moisture accumulates in the upper body, causing facial edema above and scanty urinary output below. If Lung Qi is severely weakened, Moisture and vitality may leak away from the body through excessive sweating or uncontrolled urination because LUNG YANG NO LONGER VAPORIZE THE QI UPWARD. Since Moisture is generated by the Spleen and transported to the Lung, if there is a Spleen problem, there will be a BUILDUP OF MOISTURE OR DAMPNESS. THIS DAMPNESS IN THE LUNG CAN CONGEAL INTO PHLEGM, which obstructs the bronchi, throat and nose, impairing respiration, causing coughing, asthma and nasal congestion.
The Lung is the upper source that accepts Qi, and the Kidney is the lower source that grasps and anchors the Qi. Shortness of breath can occur when the Kidney cannot store the Qi that the Lung receives."
[p117 to 120, Between Heaven and Earth - A Guide to Chinese Medicine, by Harriet Beinfield, L.Ac. & Efrem Korngold, L.Ac., OMD]
My goal is always to empower people through education. Now that you know the Taoist and Chinese Medicine perspectives about breathing, don't ever let anyone tell you not to breath. And if they challenge you, you can now refer to this blog entry as your reference point. It's your God-given right to breath to keep yourself alive.
In Good Qi.
Be living proof.