Sunday, October 16, 2005


Breathing is like walking- everyone does it and very few people do it well. It's also one of those subjects where people focus on the minutea to the exclusion of the purpose. The purpose is to get oxygen into your system and carbon dioxide out... and often the expulsion of carbon dioxide is the most important.

It's good to have air in your lungs and let it out when taking a hit to the body.

Some people contend that breathing is the only thing that is both autonomic and voluntary, the only automatic thing that we can consciously control. That's partially true, but it's also been shown that you can control most of the others- heart beat, skin temperature, etc. if you can accurately and easily monitor them. It just takes practice.

Concentrating on breathing out in short, sharp gasps isn't just for lamaze- you can use it to stave off other automatic reactions, too.

Sound travels in air, and breathing requires air. Breath and sound are commingled on many levels. Kiai isn't always audible and people make a big deal about the "spirit shout" but ki means breath just as much as it does 'spirit' and in both senses is cognate with prana and pneuma. Breathing people still have their spirit inside them.

Long, slow breaths in through the mouth, out through the nose help lower the heart rate and ease pain.

The connection of breath and spirit ties breathing to meditation. In through the nose for so many seconds, hold without strain for so many seconds, exhale for so many seconds, hold with empty lungs for so many seconds. As thoughts intrude you acknowledge them and let them go until the world is a cycle of inhale, hold, exhale and hold. Then you get beyond even that.

A short, sharp breath with a sharp, short consonant-rich bark is very useful for triggering explosive speed.

Old style hypnotists would survey their audiences and then change the pattern of their own breathing. After a few minutes they would note which of the potential subjects had subconsciously mimiced the new breathing pattern. These would be the test subjects.

If you are in the middle of a fight and you can smell, you're breathing right and you are triggering your own predator mindset.

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