Controlling the breath and thus calming the nerves, is a prerequisite to controlling the mind and the body

Our conscious mind and our breath are intrinsically connected. With our mind we have the ability to stop our breath, make it go faster or make it go slower. It is perhaps the only physiological process that can be voluntary or involuntary. At an unconscious level our breath effects our state of health. Response patterns that have become part of our cellular structure are triggered unconsciously evoking unhealthy emotional responses that wreak havoc with the rhythms of our breath. When breathing is not conscious it goes back to ” the unconscious realms of the mind where emotions, thoughts and feelings (of which we may have little or no awareness) become involved ” Rama et el, Science of Breath.

Looked at from an Eastern or Western Perspective Qi, Breath, Life Force, Spirit are one and the same. The character for “Energy” in Chinese translates as breath or breathing, air or life force, they are interchangeable/inseparable. Eerily similar in the English language, breath, spirit, respiration, inspiration, the animating or vital principle in man and animals, are etymologically connected through the Latin Spiritus/ Spirare. Yet, although the origin of the words breath, spirit etc are historically connected, the importance of breath and the role of oxygen in health and healing are often forgotten in Western medical systems. Western science says that diaphragmatic breathing is physiologically the most efficient way to breath yet it is uncommon to find a Western doctor prescribing deep breathing exercises to help with the health of a patient. 

One’s breathing pattern is directly related to oxygen intake and blood cell support and is integral to the proper functioning of the body’s chemistry. So in order to lead a long and healthy life it is of the utmost importance that your breathing pattern is correct. Just think we can go 3 weeks without food, 3 days without water but only 3 minutes without oxygen. It is through our breath, as part of the respiratory system that takes in oxygen and allows our cells to survive.

The Ancient Chinese internal energy practices such that Calligraphy Health is founded upon works with a style of breathing known as Dan Tian breath. It is also known as Baby Breath. Breathing into what is know as the lower Dan Tian and what is very similar to diaphragmatic breathing, the diaphragm moves downwards creating a vacuum the openS-up the lungs and allowS more oxygen to enter. But unlike Western diaphragmatic breathing it also requires one to relax the muscles of the chest and shoulders in what is termed as “empty chest”. 

The focus is upon the lower Dan Tian, an area in the lower abdomen where all movement begins. It is like the steering wheel of a car, it moves first the direction of the car follows. In terms of the human body the Dan Tian moves first, usually by way of the breath – the inhalation and exhalation – followed by the body. 

The relationship between breath and our physiology is filled with potential but first we must discard the outdated bio-mechanical thinking that the body is a bag of muscles, bone and blood that can be treated separately and recognise the influence that breath/energy/life force has on our health. When we are stressed our breathing patterns change as we unconsciously hold or shorten our breath. Shortening the breath creates tension or a sense of contracting in the body. When we experience the release of tension it brings with it a feeling of spaciousness. Relaxed we have a sense of openness – tensed our body contracts inwards.

When the mind is present with the breath, it takes one on the first step to connecting body and mind as when we are present with our breath it is impossible to be either in the past or in the future. In a sense it allows us to take back our life as when we are present we are not living ruled by thoughts of the past or the future. It is through this breath connection that a state of harmony and balance in the human body is obtained. Calligraphy Health system literally works on resuscitating the body by breathing new life/Qi/energy into it and harmonising the principles of Yinyang. The breath is the life-giving force, the spirit that connects body and mind.

Pam Hellens for Calligraphy Health