Have you ever caught yourself holding your breath while concentrating, focusing or just in your day to day activities?
It is really amazing that in this day and age we are so busy that we forget the life-saving miracle of breathing.
Yes, Breathing. I know that we tend to think; ‘if wasn’t breathing, I would be dead’ how true that is!
However, The quality of breath can make the difference between having a heart attack, High Blood Pressure, alleviating unexpected sharp pains, releasing tension and stress and it can also be used to help you assess if your pain needs emergency attention or not.
A quote I like states:
“focusing on the act of breathing clears the mind of all daily distractions and clears our energy enabling us to better connect with the spirit within.” Unknown Author.
The type of breath taken makes a difference when we’re talking about pain, discomfort or stress alleviation. In our modern hustle and bustle, dead-lined, rush to do’s, to complete or to maintain mostly causes us to sustain our lives with shallow breathing or intermittent breathing. I propose at the minimum we take 3 deep intentional breaths every hour. Know that, these breaths require you to breathe in through your nostrils and exhale a Hawww releasing Sound out of your mouth. (not a Whoo, shoo or light controlled release; just a Hawww releasing sound 3 times consecutively per hour. Yes, other sounds can be adapted for varying focuses.
In Chinese medicine, we have elementals/meridian/organ sounds. The meridians are associated and or resonate with each organ sound. On the meridians are Points that when stimulated can produce specific and desired outcomes based on the goal or reason they are utilized. There are varying ways to utilize sound and or elemental sounds.
In Chinese medicine when in good health one practice is cycle breathing of the sounds in the order of the 5 elements, 5 Transformations or 5 generation cycle in the element rotation to maintain good health: these sounds are She/(Xū) associates with (Wood/Liver/or springtime)→ Hawww/(Hē) sound associates with (Fire/Heart/summer time)→ Whoo/(Hū) sound associates with (Earth/SP/St/or all seasons)→ sssss/(Sī) sound associates with (Metal/Lungs/Autumn time)→ shu/(Chuī) sound associates with (Water/Kidneys/Winter time) and the → Sheee/(Xī) sound more pronounced than the 1st time we used (Wood/Liver/spring time). These sounds are so-pose to help with maintaining good health when you are in good relative health producing an energetic, physical and organ balanced.
Along the same lines if trying to promote healing and or rebalancing imbalances another practice using those same sound in a different order is called the Ko or controlling cycle of breath those sounds are Hawww/(Hē)sound associates with (Fire/heart/ summer time) → Ssss/(Sī)sound associates with (Metal/Lung/autumn time) → Shee/(Xū) sound associates with (Wood/Liver/spring) → Whoo/(Hū) sound associates with (Earth/St/Sp or all seasons) → Shu/(Chuī) sound associates with (Water/Kidney/winter) → Sheee/(Xī) sound associates with (Wood/Liver/spring time) again.
Both of these techniques do work and are also used in the 5 element treatment of imbalance of which I may get into another time. Even though in Chinese medicine the Whooo sound as the anytime sound. In my practice, I have found that the Hawww (he) sound worked best at alleviating constriction, tension, pain, discomfort and has a calming effect on the mind and body at any time.
In the physiological function of breath in many practices, express inhalation of air in lungs through the use of the diaphragm which is located under the lungs and exhalation through the nostrils is often used in meditative practices. Where instead of Breathing into the diaphragm ones inhales down to their Dan Tian (area below the umbilicus [navel]) and releases a relaxed exhalation out of the nostrils while maintaining either an open light non-specific gaze or relaxed closed eyes.
Our focus is inhalation through the nostrils which helps build energy than doing a releasing Hawww sound to then releases constrictions & tension or incorporating visualization of the breath breathing in positive energy and expelling negative energy. Breathing in light, health, and harmony and breathing out negativity, disease and disharmony… there are many forms of breath exercises that can be done.
However, in my experience, It’s very important to maintain this particular Breath practice when trying to alleviate natural tension or restore better function (Breathing in through the nose and exhaling a releasing Hawww sound out of the mouth) In an effort to resolve spontaneous dysfunction, pains, headaches or tensions. Releasing Hawww sound especially, when you are experiencing palpitations, anxiety or worry as well; slow and steady but exaggerated breaths. Immediately followed by holding water in your mouth for 10sec or more (b4 & after breath) remember this practice is to be done 3x’s/hr. In my next blog, I’ll express the importance of hydration “the second neglected need”. Speak with you again soon.
J Emanuel Hodge MSAOM, HHP
Integrative Medicine Physician