Ki Breathing Meditation
When I was teaching, one or two out-to-kill students inevitably distracted me with tapping and crinkling paper sounds. My focus was narrow, and tapping and crinkling were water torture. A whisper competed with my own attempt to communicate to the the class. Were I not saturated with diazepam, I could not focus on what I was saying.
Much education encourages narrow focused attention. “Pay attention,” is a phrase most of us have heard, at least I have, through grade school, meaning “focus narrowly on what I am saying or on what you are doing.” But constant narrow focus in managing experiences leads to a gradual accumulation of physical and mental stress, distress, even burnout–as it did for me, long before I discovered Attention Training, Metacognitive Therapy, and Ki Breathing Meditation.
Being a wimp, I’m so proud I hold a black belt in Aikido. But at 80, I practice only Ki Breathing Meditation, a part of our Aikido training in Japan. We sat on hard tatami mats, windows open wide, mid winter, practicing Ki Meditation. Now I am thankful, because Ki Breathing Meditation replaces diazapam and underlies other Attention Therapies.
Ki as defined by Koichi Tohei, founder of the Ki Society and Aikido with Mind and Body, is “the infinite gatherings of infinitely small particles.” Everything in the universe is born of Ki.
Combining Attention Training Therapy with Ki Breathing calms the mind, strengthens the effectiveness of Attention Training Therapy, and leaves no space for ruminating about negative issues. The focus of Attention Training Therapy is mental fitness. The focus of Ki Breathing is mind and body coordination. They work together seamlessly.
The basic principles of Ki Breathing apply equally to Attention Training Therapy.
Four Basic Principals of Ki Breathing and Attention Training Therapy
Relax completely – The way to approach this is to relax your shoulders.
Keep One Point – Let your weight fall naturally to a point low in your abdomen.
Let weight fall underside – Weight falls, for example, to the underside of your arms. If you are sitting, weight falls under your thighs and feet. It is another way of relaxing completely.
Extend Ki – Rather than narrowly focusing inside your mind, breathe out, extending Ki infinitely.
Ki Breathing Instruction
In the Japanese dojo – seems like a lifetime ago when my wife and I were practicing aikido — we sat seiza, the kneeling position in the images below. But you can Ki Breathe while you are sitting in a chair, standing, walking, or lying in bed.
Sit up straight, stretching your back muscles upward. The weight of your body falls low in your abdomen. Relax your shoulders and be at ease. In the dojo we kept our eyes closed from the start to the finish of the exercise. I don’t often close my eyes while practicing now, because I am usually doing some other activity.
FIG. 1 SIT UP STRAIGHT FIG. 2 FORM MOUTH IN POSITION OF “HA". BEGIN EXHALING LONG BREATH FIG. 3 FORCE OUT A LITTLE MORE AIR
Breathe out through the mouth making the whispering sound of “haaaaa” throughout the entire exhale. This will help keep your focus on your breath and let you know whether your breath is strong and even. Tohei recommends thirty seconds on the out-breath once you become conditioned to ki breathing. But he says twenty seconds is adequate for beginners. I don’t recall moving beyond twenty seconds, but I may very well have when Ki Breathing in a group at the dojo in Japan.
At the end of your exhalation, lean forward from the waist. Though you feel you have breathed all the way out, force out a little more air. Wait a second, then close your mouth.