Your Breath as A Carrier – Part II – MCM Structured Breathing

Your Breath as A Carrier – Part II – MCM Structured Breathing

I’m glad that many people liked the post on ‘your breath as a carrier’, so I thought you might like some additional tools.The WHM is based on a number of key tenants, of which gaining control over the autonomic nervous system is key.

I have also noticed that the WHM uses a 3 phase approach to breathing in: 1) abdomen, 2) chest, 3) head. And Wim also emphasises that the focus is on breathing in and expanding the lung area as much as possible but that breathing-out is just letting go.

Just as focusing on your breath as a carrier allows you to visualize and harness your breath, using structured breathing allows you to get better control of the breathing/ mindfulness process. And the structured breathing is not separate from the breath visualization, it is just another layer, another tool in your tool-kit.

Reading the previous comments, this point is worth emphasizing: there is a difference between training and practice that is evident in most things we do. When training the focus is on big, slow movements – in practice and once these movements have been ingrained, you can make them both smaller and faster – with just as much, if not more, effect! In other words, this stuff takes some effort and focus to learn, but then becomes relatively automatic.

Breathing and movement go hand in hand, but maybe not as you know it. Most people focus on the ribs and diaphragm for breathing, but there is a trigger (trigger action) that brings both of these nicely into action – flexing your spine. And there is a trigger to get your spine flexing – tilting your pelvis.

Practicing structured breathing requires a little bit of set up to get you going:1) Stand gently upright with your knees slightly bent and soft (this allows you to flex your pelvis/ hips better) and let your arms hang loosely at your side. 2) Purse your lips, open your mouth and widen your throat – you are just going to let air flow in and out as it needs to.

Pelvis Tilt

Now without moving your head too much, tilt your pelvis top forwards and up (45 degrees) and pelvis bottom back and down (45 degrees). It will cause your back and abdomen to stretch and curve. You should also feel an intake of breath as your lower diaphragm drops. As you continue slowly to tilt your pelvis, you should also feel air being drawn into your chest area as the middle diaphragm drops. As you continue further, let your head go with the flexing of your spine and let it tilt back slightly (at 45 degrees up).

If you practice this slowly you should feel a distinct 1-2-3 phasing to the breath. Abdomen, chest, head. You can add to this feeling by dropping your jaw slightly as you start the flexing and expand your ribs as the flex reaches your chest. As you get to your head you should feel a distinct feeling of your head getting slightly lighter, or as Wim describes it – breathing into your head. At this point just let the breath as a carrier visualization take over the exchange of oxygen and Co2.

Letting Go

I find this next part lovely and relaxing. By tilting your hips, flexing your spine and expanding your rib cage you have nicely built in some elastic, bow power into your breathing cycle. As you feel you need to let your breath flow out, just tilt your pelvis the other way – let your pelvis bottom go forward, your pelvis top go back, and your spine flex the other way (to a forward facing U). Release the air in your lungs and encourage your head to tilt forward (45 degrees). That’s it.

Try this in a slow methodical way a few times and your body should map onto it fairly quickly – it is a natural way of moving and breathing. What you may also notice is the effect on your head and mental feeling. That’s because a few extra treats come with this way of breathing: toning the vagus nerve, pumping your sacrospinal fluid, releasing your ‘front line’, ‘charging your bows’, and of course using your breath as a energy carrier!

I hope you find that this makes a big difference to the control and depth of your WHM breathing and brings the relaxation and mindfulness aspects of it into clearer focus. It might also engender the concept of moving energy at will around your body.

Enjoy!
Julian.

(picture relevance: you might be playing all the right notes … but not necessarily in the right order!)

Wim Hof Method – Addin #2

WHM Addin #2

Following on my from my post on Mindfully Connected structured breathing, here is another simple trick to help with the breathing.

Out-Breath Hold

My out-breath hold length varies depending on whether I am in the shower or lying down. Lying down I can hold my out-breath after the 3 x 40 structured breathing for around 1.5 minutes – standing up for around 1 minute. The addin is on the in-breath hold.

In-Breath Hold

When breathing in, I keep my abdomen flat (i.e. I don’t let my abdomen expand). Then when I have taken the in-breath, I hold it and distribute the air around my body. The way I do this is, what I call, a 5 star mind-model. Imagine that your body is a star shape with it’s centre around your abdomen (dantien) and each part of the star pointing into your feet, your hands and your head. When I distribute the air in my body I push it along the points of the star, going around the star 2 times slowly (i.e. to a long count of ten). This gives a wonderful feeling of moving energy along your limbs and up your torso into your head and a mindful sensation of inflating the fascia around your body.

Enjoy!

Julian.

The next post in this series is Moving Mindfulness.

 

Wim Hof Method and Energy Shifting Addins for You to Try

WHM

I think the Wim Hof Method (WHM) is a great new way of spreading the word about some very old principles that had faded into relative obscurity. Personally, I really like the newfound discipline of combining structured breathing and better oxygenation with the system shock management of cold water showers. Many people get it and can just apply Wim’s approach, but others can’t or they want to try different nuances on his method. Here I will share a couple of ‘addins’ from the work I do on moving energy and explain why.

Structured Breathing

Breath Holding

Moving Mindfulness

Structured Breathing

I’ve read a number of discussion posts from people that find the breathing exercises difficult to master. I’ve outlined this before but here’s a more comprehensive description of, what I call, structured breathing: think of your body as having three ‘organic’ balloons centered 1) in your lower abdomen 2) in your chest (mid sternum level) and 3) in the middle of your head (mid-way between your ears).

Breathing In

When you breathe in, 1) tip the top of your pelvis forward and allow air to ‘inflate’ your lower abdomen, and as this fills-up, 2) allow the next batch of air to inflate your chest ‘balloon’ in 3 dimensions – not just raising your rib-cage. Then, even though you may have taken in most of the air you can, continue to feel that your body is expanding, but this time, 3) focused on your head, allow the sensation of expanding to give you the feeling or air going into and inflating your head. As you do this, let your head tip slightly backwards. Together with the pelvis tilt, this will give you a noticeable arched back and neck – try and keep your eyes horizontal as you do this.

Breathing Out

Now, the breathing-out is essentially the opposite of the breathing-in pattern.  Sigh and relax slowly, then let the balloon in your head contract and your head tip slightly forwards (eyes level). Let the air in the top of your lungs start to come out , followed by the mid-chest balloon contracting and releasing air, and then contract your abdomen as you let the pelvis top tilt backwards. You can practice the pelvis and head movement as being big movements, but after time even small movement will help trigger the movement pattern.

Structured Breathing is an integral part of the Mindfully Connected Method of mind-body energy management.

The next post is this series is: Breath Holding

Systema Reflections

 

Systema Reflections

Systema is one of those Martial Arts that is very different from most peoples’ perceptions of it. Having practiced it regularly for over 6 years now, I can truly say that it is the discipline that has taught me most about myself. It’s been tremendously useful.

Reading online discussions, most people’s perception of Systema is from videos, and opinions voiced about those videos. My view of it and what I take away from it is far from the aggressive fight system that many people think it is or fails to look like.

I have zero interest in Systema as a fighting art, but I have huge interest in Systema as a healthful practice giving intrinsic capability.

There is a widespread belief these days that having a little physical stress regularly is important, because when a stressful event happens you can handle it in a much better way. An important aspect of this is that the ability to handle physical stress transfers directly to your ability to handle mental stress.

My main practice is Qigong – Mindfully Connected Method. Again, most people’s perception of this is an art that is slightly more interesting than watching paint dry!

The reality is very, very different. The reason that Qigong is practiced slowly is that your body learns the whole movement much better when done slowly – this builds in powerful, supple body structures. If you charge through an exercise your body learns how to get from the start points to the end points, but not much else in between.

What is fascinating for me is that I see Systema as an application of Qigong. Many principles I know from Qigong are in Systema. There are strong indications that Qigong used to have far more Systema like elements in it in the past, but these have been progressively dropped out to gentrify the art. I think there are large benefits to training in Qigong for Systema practitioners – as there are some useful elements in it that I haven’t seen in Systema.

Systema, on first sight, seems to be a very straightforward discipline. It has four pillars: press-ups; sit-ups; squats; leg raises. And it has four main principles: breathing, structure, movement and relaxation. Simples! But the nuances are the real skill and they are also the real benefit.

Personally, I have been both amazed and surprised at the nuances. I like the analogy of climbing a tall mountain. From the bottom you can only see what’s immediately above you – but at each level there is yet another level to climb!

The latest nuance for me has been deep relaxation combined with an autonomous response. This is beyond letting go of tension, beyond re-training your muscle structures, beyond acceptance. The best way I can describe it, is letting go of intention – transferring from seeing and thinking what to do, to observing and letting your body do what it needs to do – at an autonomous level.

I’ve understood the concept for many years – even thought I was doing it – but when your body actually responds without your conscious input it is a very different feeling – a Eureka feeling! And your thinking brain is not involved – so you stay absolutely calm.

Anything you practice is going to have some good parts and it’s going to have some bad parts. Systema does have some concepts that I’m not totally happy with, but the positive aspects way exceed any of the negatives I see and experience.

If you want to not only get back in touch with yourself, but marvel at what you can actually achieve, do come along to a Systema class.

Class times are 8:00pm Mondays, in Guildford.

If you’d like to practice some Qigong, Body Centered Mindfulness or Whole Body Power training, please contact Glen (glen.robertson@rocketmail.com www.fusion4health.com) or me (julianj@threnergy.com www.mindfully-connected.com) for details on classes and workshops.

All the best for some inspiring, meaningful and healthful practice.

Julian.

It’s All About Me!

It’s All About Me!

How many times have you been training, listened to a podcast, watched a video or read an article and the material is interesting but it’s not about you. It’s about the author or the trainer. The purpose of the the article or the training session seems to be more about enhancing their feel good factor, kudos or something else, for them, but not you! That may well be because of the way in which the material is communicated. If the material is all about how the move should look – then it tends to dictate that you need to follow visually and prescriptively what is being demonstrated and articulated.

Beauty and Flow

Very often the way something looks when it is demonstrated belies what is, or should be, going on underneath the surface. Some training videos I’ve seen recently epitomise this. When something is demonstrated well – it looks beautiful, it flows and has that feel about it that says, “that’s good”. When it doesn’t look beautiful and doesn’t flow it can look false, jittery and impractical.

So what is the “secret” to making it all about you, and at the same time making the training relevant and the videos look good?

Feeling

The answer is – feeling. If it feels good, it probably is, with one big caveat – the feelings must be based of meaningful reference levels for how the move should feel. Now that may sound a little like gobbledygook, but the reality is we have all the parts we need to benefit from feeling and feelings based reference levels.

Body Patterns

Our bodies are actually very well organised and have developed from simple biological patterns. These patterns repeat themselves throughout our bodies.

Once you understand the way one segment of your body feels and works, and how it makes use of reference levels, you can apply the same, or at least very similar, methods to all the other segments of your body. Sound far fetched? Well there is plenty of documented evidence – ranging from how your body is structured (Anatomy Trains), through how your body detects whats going on with biosensors (proprioception), to how your body and mind are intimately linked through neuroplasticity.

Benefits

Apart from looking better and more beautiful, what are the advantages of feelings based training:

– a better structured, connected body

– better breathing

– enhanced mind body connection

– an increased awareness of spirt

– enhanced, connected power

– better balance

– better, more efficient movement

– a more relaxed body and mind

– enhanced body pumping (circulation and blood pressure)

– empowerment – feeling in-control

Who can benefit?

Anyone with an open mind. This is different!

I have taught professional instructors with decades of practise and witnessed some lovely “eureka” moments when the penny drops for them, and I have taught lay people that have literally jumped for joy when they have discovered what they are truly capable of.

If you want to seriously up your game physically, mentally or spiritually, or if you have any questions, do contact me mailto:julianj@threnergy.com

I can do one-on-one sessions or group workshops to suit what you need. Instructors and non-instructors welcome.