The Tao of Natural Breathing

BOOK: The Tao of Natural Breathing
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Table of Contents

 

Title Page

Dedication

Foreword

Preface

Introduction

 

Chapter 1 - THE MECHANICS OF BREATHING

SOME PERSONAL HISTORY
THE NEED FOR CLARITY AND MINDFULNESS
THE ANATOMY OF BREATHING
THE PHASES OF BREATHING
THE INNER BREATH
THE RESPIRATORY CENTER
THE RESPIRATORY MUSCLES
THE HARMFUL EFFECTS OF BAD BREATHING HABITS

 

Chapter 2 - BREATH, EMOTIONS, AND THE ART OF SELF-SENSING

THE WORK OF SENSORY AWARENESS
THE WORLD IN THE BODY
PERCEPTUAL REEDUCATION AND WHOLENESS
THE IMPORTANCE OF FOLLOWING THE BREATH
LISTENING TO THE BODY
SELF-SENSING—THE BEGINNING OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE AND SELF-TRANSFORMATION
THE THREE KINDS OF BREATH
THE QUALITY OF OUR BREATHING
“EVERY STATE OF MIND IS A STATE OF OUR IMMUNE SYSTEM”
EMOTIONS AND THE AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM
THE IMPORTANCE OF “EFFORTLESS EFFORT”
THE POWER OF PERCEPTUAL FREEDOM
AWAKENING ORGANIC SELF-AWARENESS

 

Chapter 3 - THE TAOIST VISION OF ENERGY AND BREATH

THE REMARKABLE ENERGY OF CHI
THE “THREE TREASURES”
“ORIGINAL CHI”
“ACQUIRED CHI”
SHEN

 

Chapter 4 - THE WHOLE-BODY BREATH

A SIMPLE DEFINITION OF NATURAL BREATHING
DISTINGUISHING THE OUTER AND INNER MOVEMENTS OF BREATH
THE POLARITY OF HEAVEN AND EARTH
THE BENEFITS OF WHOLE-BODY BREATHING

 

Chapter 5 - THE SPACIOUS BREATH

LEVELS OF SENSATION
THE THREE BREATHING SPACES
PSYCHOLOGICAL OBSTACLES TO AUTHENTIC BREATHING

 

Chapter 6 - THE SMILING BREATH

THE CHEMISTRY OF A SMILE
COMBINING THE INNER SMILE WITH SPACIOUS BREATHING

 

Chapter 7 - CIRCULATING THE VITAL BREATH

THE NEED FOR NEW IMPRESSIONS
MOVING OUR VITAL BREATH THROUGH THE MICROCOSMIC ORBIT
HEALING AND BALANCE

 

APPENDIX 1 - Specialized Breathing Practices

APPENDIX 2 - The Psychological Dimensions of the Microcosmic Orbit

NOTES

PERMISSIONS

INDEX

Copyright Page

Also by Dennis Lewis
Free Your Breath, Free Your Life
(book)
Natural Breathing
(audio)

D
edicated to my son, Benoit, who, from the moment of his birth, has inspired me to always attempt to keep learning and growing.

 

 

 

And with my most profound gratitude to Lord John Pentland, my primary teacher, who was an outstanding leader of the Gurdjieff Work in America until his death in 1984, and who taught me how to think from the perspective and sensation of wholeness; Jean Klein, the Advaita Vedanta master who helped me understand that love and consciousness are at the very heart of being; and Mantak Chia, the Taoist master who brought the Healing Tao to America, and who, along with Chi Nei Tsang practitioner Gilles Marin, showed me that healing is a power we all have—the creative power of life itself.

E
mpty yourself of everything.

Let the mind become still.

The ten thousand things rise and fall while the Self watches their return.

They grow and flourish and then return to the source.

Returning to the source is stillness, which is the way of nature....

 

Lao Tsu,
Tao Te Ching

FOREWORD

There is a growing interest today in the relationship of breathing to health and spiritual development. Unfortunately, few people who experiment with their breath understand the importance of “natural breathing.” This is the kind of spontaneous, whole-body breathing that one can observe in an infant or a young child. Instead of trying to learn to breathe naturally, many people impose complicated breathing techniques on top of their already bad breathing habits. These habits are not in harmony with the psychological and physiological laws of the mind and body. They are not in harmony with the Tao.

Natural breathing is an integral part of the Tao. For thousands of years Taoist masters have taught natural breathing to their students through chi kung, tai chi, and various other meditative and healing arts and sciences. Through natural breathing we are able to support our overall health. We are able to improve the functioning and efficiency of our heart, lungs, and other internal organs and systems. We are able to help balance our emotions. We are able to transform our stress and negativity into the energy that we can use for self-healing and self-development. And we are better able to extract and absorb the energy we need for spiritual growth and independence.

Many books on breathing have been published over the past several years. None of them, however, has gone as deeply into the meaning, practice, and benefits of natural breathing as this important new work by Dennis Lewis. Based on his own long study and research in various traditions and disciplines, including the Healing Tao, Lewis brings together in one book the psychosomatic vision, the scientific knowledge, and the vital practices that can help us discover the power of natural breathing to rejuvenate and transform our lives.

The Tao of Natural Breathing
makes a big contribution to our understanding of how the way we breathe influences our lives. Whatever their level of experience, readers will gain new insights into their own specific breathing habits and how these habits often undermine their health and well-being. They will understand that natural, authentic breathing depends less on learning new breathing techniques than it does on what Lewis calls the “reeducation” of our inner perception. This reeducation, which involves learning how to sense the inner structures and energies of the mind and body, lies at the heart of the Taoist approach to healing and spiritual development.

 

MASTER MANTAK CHIA
The International Healing Tao
Chiang Mai, Thailand

PREFACE

William Blake wrote: “There is a crack in everything that God has made.” For me, this crack—this place where something new and more meaningful can enter our lives—became especially visible in 1990, when I found myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted, with a constant, sharp pain on the right side of my rib cage. I had just gone through the enormous stress of selling my public relations agency to a well-known English firm, and had worked to maximize the sale price of the company for two years under the direction of the new owners. Though I had had chronic abdominal discomfort for many years, and indeed had been diagnosed with “colitis” some years before, this pain was different. I went to doctors, massage therapists, and various body-work practitioners to put an end to it, but to no avail. It was during this period that I met Gilles Marin, a student of Taoist master Mantak Chia, and a teacher and practitioner of Chi Nei Tsang (CNT), a Taoist healing practice using internal-organ chi massage and work with breathing to clear unhealthy tensions and energies from our bodies.

When Gilles first put his hands into my belly and began to massage my inner organs and tissues, and when he began to ask me to breathe into parts of myself that I had never experienced through my breath, I had no idea of the incredible journey of discovery that I was beginning. Though Gilles told me that CNT was part of a larger system of healing and spiritual practices called the “Healing Tao,” founded by Master Chia, my immediate concern was simply to get rid of the pain. I had my own spiritual practices; what I needed was healing.

Healing. ... A word I had not pondered very deeply in my life. But as Gilles began to work more intensively with me, and as it became increasingly clear that the healing process depended in large part on my own inner awareness, I began to understand why the expressions “to heal” and “to make whole” have the same roots. Though the physical pain disappeared after several sessions, and though I began to feel more alive, a deeper, psychic pain began to emerge—the pain of recognizing that in spite of all my efforts over many years toward self-knowledge and self-transformation, I had managed to open myself to only a small portion of the vast scale of the physical, emotional, and spiritual energies available to us at every moment. As Gilles continued working on me, and as my breath began to penetrate deeper into myself, I began to sense layer after layer of tension, anger, fear, and sadness resonating in my abdomen below the level of my so-called waking consciousness, and consuming the energies I needed not only for health, but also for a real engagement with life. And this deepening sensation at the very center of my being, painful as it was, brought with it an opening not only in the tissues of my belly, but also in my most intimate attitudes toward myself, a welcoming of hitherto unconscious fragments of myself into a new sense of discovery, wholeness, and inner growth.

I quickly realized that Chi Nei Tsang—with its penetration into my physical and emotional energies through touch and breathwork—provided a direct, healing pathway into myself, and as I learned more about it through its action on me I soon found myself taking classes from Gilles and even beginning to work on my friends. I also found myself taking classes in healing practices and chi kung, many of which involved special breathing practices, from various Healing Tao teachers, including Master Chia. After more than a year of CNT classes and many hours of clinical practice, I was tested by Master Chia and certified by him to do CNT professionally. And after many Healing Tao classes and retreats, as well as intensive work on myself, I also became certified by Master Chia to teach some of the Healing Tao practices. Since then I have done CNT work both on my own clients and at a Chinese medicine clinic in San Francisco, and have taught ongoing Healing Tao classes and workshops, with a large emphasis on breathing.

As a result of my work with the Healing Tao, as well as with other teachings, such as the Gurdjieff Work and Advaita Vedanta, two facts have become clear to me with regard to the relationship of breath to health and inner growth. First, that our poor breathing habits have arisen not only out of our psychosomatic “ig-norance,” our lack of organic awareness, but also out of our unconscious need for a buffering mechanism to keep us from sensing and feeling the reality of our own deep-rooted fears and contradictions. There is absolutely no doubt that
superficial breathing ensures a superficial experience of ourselves.
Second, that if we were able to breathe “naturally” for even a small percentage of the more than 15,000 breaths we take during each waking day we would be taking a huge step not only toward preventing many of the physical and psychological problems that have become endemic to modern life, but also toward supporting our own inner growth—the growth of awareness of who and what we really are, of our own essential being. It is my hope that the ideas and practices explored in this book will help make this possible.

BOOK: The Tao of Natural Breathing
2.22Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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