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April 13, 2021

Breathing and Emotions

The prolonged effects of COVID19 have perhaps made us more irritable. We may get angry over the smallest things, causing conflicts with our family. Many have this problem.

It's difficult to control our emotions when we are irritated. Trying to tell ourselves “not to be irritated” can cause and even greater loss of self-control. So, what can we do about it?

Fortunately, emotions and breathing are closely linked. We may not be able to control our emotions, but we can control our breathing and therefore our emotions.

Most people are usually unaware of their breathing. So, the first step is to pay attention to our breathing:

-What kind of breathing are you doing at the moment? Are you breathing slowly, or are you breathing rapidly?

-If you are breathing slowly, try breathing faster. What does it feel like?

-If you are breathing rapidly, dare to slow down. What sensations does this cause within you?

If you experience a different sensation, now try to remember your normal breathing patterns.

When you are angry, you breathe with “angry breathing”. Try to remember what it feels like to be angry and try to recreate that breathing pattern.

If you are not sure, try observing how you breathe when you are actually angry in your daily life. Interestingly enough, the observation itself should help you to reduce your anger.

In the same way, when you are irritated, you breathe "irritated breathing". When you are tense, you breathe “tense breathing”. When you are feeling anxious, you breathe “anxious breathing”.
Let's try to recreate each of these breaths. You will see that they are all very shallow breaths.

Now try to remember when you are breathing out most comfortably. What is your breath like when you come into contact with something that makes you feel truly wonderful?

If you are a mountaineer, and you are climbing a steep mountain path with no view when suddenly your vision opens up and you see a spectacular view, don’t you say "Wow!” and let out a pleasant exhale?

If you have a sweet tooth, and you have received a gift from someone and open it to find that it is one of your favorite luxury sweets, don’t you say “Wow!” and let out a pleasant exhale?

When you exhale in this way, you are breathing deeply and without tension. This is the most important point when doing Ki breathing.

When trying to do breathing meditation, many people tell themselves to “exhale for a fixed number of seconds” or maybe just to “exhale for a long time.” In other words, their mind is causing pressured breathing.

Children who grow up in tightly controlled households complain that they feel suffocated at home. This is not because of a lung problem, but because of the oppressive environment in which they live. Even this can cause this same “pressured breathing”.

If we allow our bodies to learn to breathe out comfortably in our daily life, the result will be that we are not controlled by our emotions. Let’s try this same comfortable breathing whenever our emotions are disturbed.

When I was younger, I was a very hot tempered and was sensitive to external stimuli, sometimes taking it out on people and things around me. This irritation was amplified many times by my shallow breathing.
Koichi Tohei Sensei was concerned about me, and taught me to do "calm breathing". Thanks to this practice, I was no longer swayed by my emotions. As a result, I appreciate the importance of breathing very deeply.

If you can change your environment, you should change it. But if you can't, as in the case of the COVID19, then it is important to calm your breathing as a way of protecting yourself.

Breathing and emotions are connected. Let's practice this together.

Translate: Moe Mimori
Edited by: C. Curtis
Hawaii Ki Federation


April 03, 2021

Resetting One Point

The spread of COVID19 has kept many of us in our homes for this past year and prevented many from gathering together. As a result, there is a great deal of suffering, both from physical and from mental health problems.
The physical problems may be such complaints as chronic stiff shoulders and back pain. The mental problems, such as irritability and depression, are also widespread.
With the spread of this Corona virus infection still taking time to be resolved, even as worldwide vaccination progresses, there is yet no definite end to these problems. For some, it may feel like there is no way out, and that these physical and mental challenges are becoming even more serious.

There is no "one size fits all" solution, but there are some things we can improve on with a little care in our daily lives.
Let’s set our original position as “Keeping One Point”, although we tend to become “Weight upper side” state in our daily lives.
For example, when you are nervous or in a hurry, how do you feel? You may feel that your mind is not set on One Point, but instead on your upper side, such as in your head and upper body.
And how do you feel when you are straining, and your chest is tight? At such times, you can also feel that your mind is not set on One Point, but is up around your chest.
In fact, the state of mind when weight is upper side exhausts the mind and body.

So, when do you notice yourself experiencing “weight upper side,” in your daily life?

Let's start by looking at the physical aspect:

- When you hold the strap on the train or bus, are your shoulders up?
- When you work on the computer, do your shoulders rise?
- Do your shoulders rise when you cut something hard with a knife?

When your weight is upper side, you are straining, and your posture is disturbed. When you are in this state, if you check your posture with a Ki test, you will find if it is unbalanced. This is where stiff shoulders and back pain can easily arise.

Now let's look at the mental aspect:

- Do you feel flustered or faint when you are nervous?
- When you are working, do you feel the blood rushing to your head?
- When you are frustrated, do you feel like there is pressure in your head?

When you are in a state of weight upper side, sounds can seem harsh to you, and the words can seem hurtful to you. This is because you are more sensitive to external stimuli. It makes you vulnerable to stress and pressure.

It also makes you less able to see what is going on around you and therefore less able to make the right decisions.

The problem is how do we reset the balance of One Point, when we find that we are in a weight upper side state?

One of the best ways to do this is to do “Whole body relaxation exercises (Relax Taiso)”.

You can't calm your weight upper side state by commanding it with your mind. The more you think about it, the worse it becomes. But you can reset the balance of One Point from this weight upper side state by relaxing your whole body.

It's easy to do. First, check your basic standing posture and make sure you are balanced. Next, simply swing your lower arms and shake your fingertips as fast as you can. It's like shaking off water from your fingers.

You will find that you can't shake very fast if you have any tension in your body. But you can shake much faster if you relax your whole body. The vibrations from the swinging and shaking of the hands are naturally transmitted to the whole body.
As a reminder, always check your standing posture first, by first rising on your toes and then gently lowering onto your heels.

We achieve this relaxed state by relaxing our whole body and re-balancing, which helps to reset the One Point away from the weight upper side state. A collapsed state, or state of “dead relaxation,” means relaxing your whole body while being unbalanced, which is like a state of laziness.

In the “Whole body relaxation exercise”, the first thing to do is to make sure you are in the basic posture, with Ki flowing through your toes, and then swing your lower arms and shaking the fingertips of both hands as fast as you can.

When you have relaxed enough, gradually decrease your arm swinging and hand shaking as in “half…, half…, half…,” or “smaller, smaller, smaller,” and so on. Don't stop suddenly. If you do, you cause tension again.

This is all you need to do to reset your One Point away from the weight upper side state. We recommend that you do this in your daily life, for example when you have stiff shoulders, before going to bed at night, or when you feel irritable.

Another way of leaving that weight upper side state behind is to "exhale completely". I will talk about this another time.

translate: Moe Mimori
Edited by: C. Curtis
Hawaii Ki Federation


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