In the past few years, I've noticed a brash and unreal stupidity (for lack of a better word) working its way into the overgrowth of civilization. My observation is based primarily on certain events in recent history. To begin, four of the past five presidents of our nation have had the following traits: one was a peanut farmer from Georgia, one was an actor who sold weaponry to foreign countries, one had an affair with an intern and pardoned a major tax-evading criminal, and one cannot pass a high school English course. Because our government is a republic, the whole of the population decides who becomes president. This proves that, not only is the intelligence of our leaders decreasing, but the country, as a whole, is also spiraling toward the abyss of mindlessness. Though I try not to support this migration, I realize that I, or one of my dearest friends, will eventually be forced to follow humanity's fall. At the current rate of decay, I estimate that in 40 years, while the president will be struggling to attain his G.E.D., the country will lose the knowledge to perform simple motor skills like eating and walking. This digression will continue until, in about 60 years, the greater portion of our country will forget how to breathe. I do not wish this pitiful condition on anybody, but I realize that my generation has a chance of meeting this horrible fate. My concern for the future of our country leads me to write this essay. If, through the simple instructions found in this paper, I save one man from suffocation, the paper will have served its purpose.

How to Breathe

The reason your mind triggers your lungs to breathe is not from a lack of oxygen; rather, it is because your blood has developed an excess of carbon dioxide. If you know that you have a build-up of carbon dioxide, but still cannot breathe, you may skip this paragraph. In order to check to see if you have more carbon dioxide in your blood than oxygen (hence, a need to breathe) you should either have a trained professional extract a portion of your blood and run various medical tests on it, or perform these tests yourself. Because your blood is loaded with iron, oxygen will tend to rust it. Draw a portion of your blood, place it on a white surface for easy color identification, and observe the intensity of the redness of the blood. If the blood is a vibrant shade of red, you do not need to breathe yet, and you may now stop reading. If the color is a very dark red or black, you have an excess of carbon dioxide in your blood stream.

Now you should check to see if your lungs are full of air or not. The easiest way to do this is to immerse yourself in a body of water, preferably a freshwater lake or river. The body tends to float more if the lungs are filled with air (unless you are in a saltwater source, where you will float easily regardless of your lung content). If you find yourself floating very easily, you may skip the next two paragraphs dealing with inhalation and respiration, and move onto the process of exhaling.

If you find yourself at the bottom of a lake or river, you know you must inhale. Be sure to remove yourself from the body of water in which you are presently located before attempting this process. It is a known fact that the human body has a difficult time processing water through the lungs. You will have a much easier time inhaling if you are in a gaseous atmosphere. To begin this process, you must stimulate the nerve fibers in the medulla oblongata responsible for breathing. This process should be automatic in most vertebrates, so your brain should have no trouble performing this vital operation. But in case you cannot force your brain to inhale, you should consider more drastic measures. The first of these is to manually perform the functions the brain would do automatically–this includes opening the trachea and contracting the diaphragm and pectoralis minor muscles. If you do not wish to cut open your chest cavity, you might consider sending an electrical impulse through the medulla oblongata. This section of your brain is located directly on the underside, so a hole in the back of the throat might be the best point of egress. Because the exact nerve fibers responsible for controlling breathing have not yet been identified by scientists, it is advisable to use as powerful an electrical impulse as possible. Consider using a nine-volt battery. If no batteries are available, insert two wires into an electrical outlet nearby and touch the opposite ends to various points on the brain stem.

It this point, if you performed the past few steps properly, you should have a sufficient quantity of oxygen in your lungs to begin respiration. During this time, your heart will pump blood through your lungs, infusing your blood with oxygen. If you chose to directly stimulate your medulla oblongata, make sure to keep the electricity flowing (you will see why later.) After about a minute, check the oxygen level of your blood as described in the first step. You should have a nice hole either in your chest cavity or the back of your throat where you can find plenty of blood to test, so you do not need to make another incision.

If, after checking the color of your blood, you find that your blood a rich, bright red, you might want to consider exhaling. This is not as difficult a process as inhaling, but equally important in the process of breathing. If you chose to contract your diaphragm and pectoralis minor muscles, you can release them now. This will cause them to relax, pushing the air out of your lungs. If you chose to electrically stimulate your brain, remove the stimulus. After the electricity stops flowing, your muscles should relax. If you experience twitching after removing the stimulus, consider the muscle-contraction method. Do not worry about the air you just exhaled–by now, most the oxygen should be replaced with carbon dioxide anyway.

At this time, the breathing cycle is completed. If you begin to experience suffocation, you know it is time to breathe again. In that case, either reread this essay, or seek professional help.


Why We Breathe

Many people take for granted one of the most essential elements for sustaining life... Breathing. We breathe every day of our lives. The human body can last for several days without food, two to three days without water, but the brain can last only about three minutes without air under normal circumstances.

To develop ki it is essential to maintain proper meditation and breathing exercises. This is more challenging than it seems. Since, as a student, one has to learn to remain still in the seated position for long periods of time. The breathing exercises should be done every day. I usually try to take a few minutes in the morning after I awake, before training or teaching a class and before bed time. This helps to get the mind and body synchronized for the task at hand, whether it is getting ready for the day, doing physical work, or sleeping.

Correct Breathing

To begin take a comfortable seated or kneeling position. This can be done directly on the floor or using a meditation mat. Once a comfortable position has been obtained take notice to see that the back is straight and the body is leaning slightly forward of center. This position will help to maximize air flow and keep the body from impinging on itself. Next close your eyes and concentrate on relaxing the body. As you relax, do not make the common mistake of permitting the body to slump over. Be certain that the proper kneeling or sitting position is maintained from beginning until end. Focus your mind on the Dan Tien (the location of the KI repository) located a few inches below the navel. First exhale, with the mouth open to cleanse the body of the current build up of carbon dioxide (the air left over after the body has removed the oxygen). Once the air has been depleted, lean a little more forward (to compress the diaphragm) and exhale a little more, then return to the starting position hold that point for a few seconds (about 5 seconds). Be careful not to make the novice mistake of blowing air out of the mouth as if you are blowing up a balloon. The correct method to exhale is to open the mouth and create a rasping sound. It is sometimes helpful to enunciate the sound "OOOO.....". This will open the mouth naturally and stop the blowing action; Be sure to tighten the throat muscles to control the rate of air release. The slower the air is expelled the better. For the beginner, the exhalation cycle is about 10 - 15 seconds. This will increase upwards to a half minute as the breathing process grows.

Next we must inhale to replenish the body with fresh air. Close your mouth and inhale allowing the air to flow through your nose. Again use your throat muscles to control the rate of your breath. The inhalation cycle, as in the exhalation cycle, should also be done slowly. Once you have inhaled as much as possible from the starting position, lean back slightly to expand the diaphragm and inhale to capacity. Return to the starting position (still holding your breath). Remain at this position for about 5 seconds. To avoid excessive air exhaustion the inhalation cycle should be shorter than the exhalation cycle. The complete cycle should last approximately 2/3 that of the exhalation cycle. In this case that would be 20 to 25 seconds.

Be certain to focus on the Dan Tien through the entire exercise as the purpose is for rejuvenation of the Dan Tien. When the exercise is first approached do not attempt the breathing exercise for a full 20 minutes until the lungs get stronger. Prolonged slow breathing could result in dizziness. Take the process in small steps, increasing the total time by a few minutes every several sessions. Remember it takes years to gain full benefit, if that is even ever possible.

-Breathing for KI, with permission from (Sabunim) Master Michael L. Bird, a dear friend

Close your eyes. Exhale - fully.

Accept the emptiness of your lungs, and the simple clarity which follows this purging. You are out of air, you feel the need for it, you're sinking towards suffocation, yet you feel pure.

When the need becomes imminent, before it becomes uncomfortable, submit to the need to breathe

Feel your environment rush into you, invade your body and fullfill the urge. When you are satisfied, purge yourself again and repeat, being aware of the waves of air which drift through you.

This is not how you breathe.

This is how you make love to your environment.

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