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