Subtle Energy Tuning
Foundation Breathing for Energy Work
What follows are some pointers on how to begin working with subtle energies, both in yourself and in the Universe at large.
“Working with” involves becoming aware of your subtle energies, cultivating those energies by accumulating and strengthening your personal reservoir, then using that stored energy for various purposes: supporting mental and physical activities and health; enhancing esoteric practices like martial arts, meditation and such, and healing yourself and others.
I’ve trained in several different approaches to this work, and I’ve done my own personal experimentation and research. I believe that the concepts and techniques I’ll be discussing exist and have existed, in one form or another, in many – if not all – cultures and times.
But perhaps the best known at this time are the Chinese traditions that deal with the cultivation of chi. I will, as always, try to keep my terminology generic and universal, but occasionally I will borrow from my training in Kung-Fu, Tai Chi and Qi Gong.
I encourage beginners to do breath work while standing. It allows the most freedom of respiration. Sitting can collapse the abdomen slightly, and encourage bad posture. Lying down inhibits the lungs from expanding to the rear, and can be hard on your lower back.
To prepare, stand tall, with shoulders and hips in line.
Keep yours knees soft.
Be aware of your feet as tripods, with the heel and the inner and outer edges of the ball taking the majority of the weight. We tend to think of the bottoms of our feet as flat, but they are quite complex. Once you become aware of “tripod foot”, you’ll never forget it.
Be aware of your head on your neck, and the muscles and skeletal structures that support it.
Look straight ahead, then lower your chin a little, lengthening the back of your neck.
Let any tension in your lips, jaw, cheeks, eyes and forehead ease and melt away.
Lengthen your body every so slightly upward, pushing up gently with the crown of your head.
Let your body settle back again, and be aware as your muscles receive the weight and structures of your body, the muscles, bones and connecting tissues collaborating so you can stand relaxed.
Maintaining good head posture, let your arms hang from your shoulders as if they were suspended from a clothes hanger.
Take the slack out of your lower abdominal muscles, and tuck your hips under, so that your lower back flattens a bit.
Be aware of raising your ribcage and sternum, so your lungs can inflate easily, and your other organs are not crowded together.
Remain like this for 2 or 3 minutes. Pay attention to your body as it adapts to the posture. Breathe normally.
After a bit, bring your attention to your Center Point, your Personal Singularity. In Kung-Fu we call this the dan tien. It is a primary nexus in the channels that suffuse your energy body.
Traditionally, the dan tien is found approximately 2 inches below the naval, and in the center of your body.
Practically, I’ve found that contracting the lower abdominals slightly, will give you a sense of where your dan tien is.
Briefly review your posture, make any necessary adjustments, then exhale completely.
Rather than inhaling in the ordinary sense, by sucking in air, let your lungs refill as they relax. Let the air flow down your throat and chest, into your stomach, abdomen and dan tien. Let your abdomen expand gently, and your lower ab muscles relax.
Inhale fully – and perhaps just a little more as you get used to the practice – but never strain or struggle to take in more air.
Now slowly and gently take the slack out of your lower abs again, contracting them as if you were going to touch your spine with them. Keep the rest of your torso relaxed, and let the air expel fully.
This particular exercise is deliberately exaggerated. One might compare it to lifting weights at the gym, so that lifting normal loads around the house is easier. We are training here in centering, anchoring and breathing, accustoming our mind and body to the feeling of stabilizing ourselves so it can return to that place of stability when we fall – or are knocked – off our mental, physical, energetic and spiritual centers.
Also, we are beginning to consciously exercise the physical mechanism by which the body takes in chi. Upon this physical model, we build our inner, energetic mechanism.
In other words, taking in chi will come to resemble this method of breathing, and the two processes will ultimately merge into one.
Practice this for several days, at least 5. Center, anchor, and breathe 3 sets of 10 breaths each. Between each set, shake yourself gently, then resume your stance for the next set. Do this in the morning, after waking; at lunch, if possible and at night before bed.
In addition, begin training yourself to center, anchor and breathe “on demand”, by doing so at intervals throughout the day – standing in line at the store, waiting for a bus, during coffee break. Any time you find yourself standing idly, assume your stance, center yourself and inhale/exhale at least one breath.
Don’t be unduly concerned about the scrutiny of others – you can do this with very little outward sign that you are doing anything out of the ordinary.
Do not rush. You can spend a lifetime just being aware of how your body responds to this posture and breathing, and you can always return to it.
Returning periodically to the basics is a good practice.
But be sure to continue on with the next chapter as soon as you feel comfortable.