What does it mean to be ‘grounded’ and ‘centered’ in our body?
In the study of Oriental Medicine, we focus on one’s breath; the feeling of circulating our Qi ( life force ) and the connection to our inhalations and exhalations.
If you practice Qigong or T’ai Chi, part of the exercise -- along with the movements -- is the use your abdominal breath as a powerful source of Qi revitalization and movement. Using your breath is another excellent way to calm your mind and reach down into the reservoir of inner strength that you always have available within your own body.
Acupuncture is another way to access this state of equilibrium. The circulation of blood, oxygen and Qi throughout the body and mind during a treatment is often described as “deeply relaxing and transcendent”.
In Oriental Medicine, our center known as the Dan Tian is located approximately two finger breaths below the navel above the pubic bone. We think of the Dan Tian as a holder for our body’s powerful Qi, which is the life force within us all.
If one’s Dan Tian power is strong and vital, chances are the functions of digestion, elimination, and fertility will be as well. You feel vital, yet calm and balanced, throughout the day. It becomes easier to make positive empowering choices when the Qi is flowing smoothly. With this sense of balance comes the feeling of emotional stability and connection to our healthiest self.
On the flip side, if stress, addictions, fear, anxiety, lack of sleep and regular exercise, along with unhealthy eating, has become a bigger part of your everyday lifestyle, you may feel as if your nervous system is ready for a reboot.
Your mind can take you anywhere you let it, as can your nervous system. When we quiet the mind with meditative breath, a deep relaxation and reprograming process occurs throughout our entire body. As controlled breath deepens, the power of the Dan Tian can begin its revitalization and circulation process.
Try this simple breathing exercise:
- Get comfortable, sitting or lying on your back with your neck supported.
(Soft relaxing music is lovely, but not necessary)
- Gently close your eyes. Relax the muscles around your eyes, in your face, in your jaw, and neck. Relax your stomach, arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet and toes. This feeling is akin to floating on a raft in the water.
- Slightly open your jaw and relax your lips as you begin to slowly breathe through your nose.
- Feel your breath rise and fall through your body. Imagine that you are filling up a warm golden orb of light into your lower belly. As your lungs empty try pushing out a bit more breath. As your lungs fill try to take in a bit more breath. Every inhalation is calmness and vitality filling you up from your head to your toes, while every exhalation is tension leaving you from your head to your toes.
If you find your body drifting off, don’t fight it. Allow yourself to relax into where the moment takes you. If your mind starts to wander into everyday thoughts, bring your thoughts back to the vision of light in your lower abdomen, filling you with every exhalation and inhalation.
Practice every day… starting with five minute breathing sessions, working your way up to 10-25 minutes each time.
As you become more and more comfortable with using revitalizing breath in your every day life, you will notice that in stressful situations your ability to relax and use your breath becomes easier. Most of us breathe with shallow, short breaths into our chest, rather than reaching down with long languid breaths into The Dan Tian.
Using your breath is an uncanny, yet powerful way, to take a private moment, calm your emotions and collect your thoughts. This technique can become another important tool which you can easily access at any time to stay in touch with your inner wisdom, calmness, and empowered vitality.