Taking a Taiji class with master practitioner Tony Wong, I learned a lot about meditation. In one seminar with a guest teacher, we received a surprising observation about breathing. It took a while to make sense of what we heard. This article records the results.
When visiting master Chen Youze gave a class on the art he teaches in China, he made a suprising statement:
The breath starts in the chest, then travels to the abdomen.
He was being translated, so we had to double-check what we heard! We all understood that, when breathing abdominally, the breathing starts in the abdominals and travels upward, to the chest.
After we checked, we found out that we had heard him right. It was just hard to believe. But given that Chen Youze was especially accomplished, and had been doing this all his life, it was not possible to completely discount the statement. It had to be taken seriously. But how to make sense of it?
The other day, practicing a meditation I learned in my Ipsalu Tantra practice, I simply watched my breath, and the answer immediately became apparent: Everyone is right!
If I am totally relaxed and just watching my breath then, even though I am breathing abdominally, here's what happens:
If I chose to take a deeper breath on the inhale, still keeping the abdominals relaxed on the inhale, then sequence #1 occurs, followed by this sequence:
If I contract the abdominals during the exhale, then only sequence #2 occurs. The lungs fill from bottom to top, without sequence #1, as far as I have been able to tell.
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