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Breathing, aromatherapy, neti nasual douch

You can live two months without food and two weeks without water, but you can live only a few minutes without air.                   [Master Hung Yi-hsiang]

According to the Taoist view, the nutrition provided by air through breathing is even more vital to health and longevity than that provided by food and water through digestion. Breathing influences the body's bioelectric balance just as diet influences its biochemical balance.


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In the Orient, breathing is regarded as a science.

China has its chee-gung and India has its pranayama, but the Western world doesn't even have a specific term to denote breath control, nor do Western physicians understand how atmospheric energy serves as a vital nutrient for human health. Ironically, Western science has recently uncovered abundant evidence that clearly verifies Taoist notions about air, breath and energy and their central roles in health and longevity.

There is basically two functional types of breathing: cleansing and energizing.

Though people today take breathing for granted, everyone unconsciously practices both types of breath spontaneously throughout the day, whenever toxins in the bloodstream reach a critical level or energy is running low.

Thus, a sigh is a spontaneous cleansing breath, for it involves a quick inhalatory gulp followed by a long, forceful exhalation.

By contrast, a yawn is a spontaneous energizing breath- a long, slow, deep inhalation, briefly retained in the lungs, followed by a relatively short exhalation.

Chee gung, which means both 'breathing exercise' and 'energy control' has been a formal branch of Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years. Recall that the Chinese word chee means 'breath' and 'energy' as well as 'air'. One of the earliest references to this form of medical therapy appears in an inscription found on 12 jade tablets dating from the mid-sixth century BC:

In breathing, one should proceed as follows: hold the breath down and let it collect together. When it collects, it will expand. When it expands, it sinks down. When it sinks down, it grows quiet. When it grows quiet, it will solidify. When it solidifies, it begins to grow. As it grows it is drawn inward and upward and will reach the crown of the head. Above, it presses against the top of the head. Below, it presses downward. Whoever follows this method will live a long life. Whoever goes against it, will die prematurely.

Like all Taoist health regimens, breathing is based on the balance of Yin and Yang and the harmony of the Three Treasures. Just as correct diet enhances the body's store of nutritional essence, so correct breathing enhances the body's supply of vital energy.

Since breath and energy form a bridge between body and mind, breathing may be controlled either mentally or physically and is the only vital function that straddles the border of voluntary and involuntary control.

Left unattended, breathing occurs as spontaneously and naturally as heartbeat; when controlled by mind, breathing becomes as deliberate as walking and can be made to regulate all other vital functions, including pulse, blood pressure, digestion, metabolism, ejaculation, hormone secretion, and so forth.

Owing to its pivotal role between body and mind, breathing comprises the single most important element in Taoist health and longevity regimens.


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