Life As An Energy System

November 21, 2009 at 12:01 pm Leave a comment

It’s instructive to view our life as an energy system. We take energy from the air we breathe and energy from the food we eat. The Chinese call this energy chi and the yogis prana. The Taoists believe we are born with an original energy or a primal energy which we get from our parents and which is sustained and nurtured in the womb through the umbilicus. If we can continue to nurture this original breath through our life we stay healthy, but if it diminishes we get ill, and once it is gone we die.

Breath energy and food energy we get from the environment. The digestive system, from which we extract energy from food is an involuntary system, in that is we do not control its function. All we can control is what we put in our mouths- what we decide to eat. If we choose well, we enhance our bodies. If we eat crap food we allow it to degenerate. Hence the importance of nutrition, eating organic and fresh food and so on.

But with the respiratory system, although it also operates involuntarily, we can exert voluntary control over how we breathe. So we have more say in how we are able to extract energy from the air and also have more control over where to direct the energy.  This takes some practice as it is something that needs to be learned. Except for babies who have had an excessive birth trauma,  most babies breathe down into the belly, and their respiratory system is fully open. But bad parenting, accidents, emotional upsets, bullying and so on – basically life- have the effect of distorting the natural belly breath, and by the time we are adults it is estimated that only 20% of us are belly breathers. The vast majority – 80%- are shallow chest breathers. What this means is that they are taking in less air than they could and should, and therefore the energy intake that they are extracting from the air is insufficient to maintain good health.

When we have an open breath, we are able to feel the air in three distinct areas of the body. We can feel it go into the belly, then the chest and finally below the collar bone and the lower neck.  All of the lungs, from top to bottom, get an air intake. This means that we are getting sufficient energy from the air to power the work of the body.

In Chinese medicine there is a meridian called The Triple Warmer or Triple Burner . This is an energy or chi circuit, and it is related to the respiratory system, in that it indicates three places where the chi from breathing can be felt. The three areas of the the  Triple Warmer are called Tan Tiens, and they are the upper tan tien, the middle tan tien and the lower tan tien. The lower tan tien is the area below the navel, the middle tan tien is at the level of the chest and the upper tan tien is the top of the head. I believe that if you are able to have a full open breath it is possible to feel the chi in these three areas.

If life is an energy system then we all need to become our own energy engineers and consultants to ensure we nurture and sustain our original breath for a long healthy life.

Entry filed under: breathing.

New Year’s Resolution – January 2004- From My Journal The Three Treasures

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