Body and breathing exercises

1
Body Awareness Meditation

The following exercises are given to help develop more body awareness for meditation.

Blindfold Exercise.
This should be done in your home or in a familiar and secure environment. You should allow two hours for this exercise.

Exercise.
Completely blindfold your eyes so there is no visual stimulation. Without removing the blindfold for any reason, go about your normal activity. Do not stay in one spot too long. Establish a number of things to do which will require coordinated body movement. As you move about, visualize the space in which you are moving. See the room with your mind’s eye. Become aware of each move and action of the body. It will be as if you can see inside your whole body and are personally responsible for every effort to move.
This exercise will make you very sensitive and aware of total body action. It will sensitize the mental awareness of your body in motion. After doing this exercise a few times, you will develop a much closer feeling for your body and its function. This will help you when stretching, doing station training or practicing basic technique.

Single Arm Exercise.
This exercise develops independence of single limb action. It expands control and use of the limbs. It is to be done for one complete day from the time you arise until you return to bed at night.

Exercise.
Immediately when rising in the morning, tape, tie or strap your primary arm to your side. If you are right-handed that would be your primary arm. Spend the whole day with this arm strapped to your side. Do not avoid normal activities. When using the free hand, become more aware of its total movement. Appreciate its freedom by trying to use it as much as possible throughout the day.
This type of exercise will allow you to appreciate the uniqueness of the arm’s ability, and to respect the potential of both arms working together but remaining independent. This exercise can also be done with the other arm or one of the legs. You would have to get a pair of crutches or a wheel chair for the leg exercise.

2
Breathing And Meditation

Proper breathing techniques eliminate many of the internal barriers that create tension and restrict movements. Correct breathing feeds fresh oxygen into one’s entire system, keeping it alive, alert and responsive.
Specific meditation techniques clear the mind of distractions and restrictive fears. They stabilize the emotions for harmonious internal flow. They create a firm base for more dynamic expression of technique, power and speed.

Breathing.
The act of proper breathing brings fresh oxygen to one’s lungs and opens a reservoir of energy. Unfortunately, because of improper methods of and attitudes towards walking, standing and sitting, most people breathe with only one‑third of their total lung capacity. The simple, natural act of breathing revitalizes the total body. As we breathe deeply, we increase the supply of oxygen into the bloodstream and hence into the muscles, joints and organs of the body.
To relearn the natural act of deep breathing, it is necessary, first of all, that you are relaxed. In any situation where you are tense or out‑of‑breath, do not attempt to learn correct breathing.

Savasana.
This is a yoga pose for relaxation. Lie on your back, arms a few inches from your body. Place palms up so that your energy is free to flow out into the universe. Spread your legs comfortably apart. Feel that your spine is in line. Drop your shoulders down slightly; keep your chin tucked in. Close your eyes; concentrate inward. Keep your mind and body relaxed. Breathe slowly and regularly.

Complete Breath.
Once you feel relaxed, inhale deeply through the nose. The nose is a natural filter which cleans and warms the incoming air. Let the abdomen relax and balloon out as the diaphragm relaxes and falls against it. Air fills first the lower, then the middle and finally the top of the lungs.
Hold the breath a couple of seconds. Exhale slowly through the nose, drawing the abdomen in and then lifting it up slightly as the last bit of air leaves. At first the inhaling, holding and exhaling should take about 10 seconds. It should be one continuous flowing act. once the move becomes more natural, the time can be lengthened.
It is important that you inhale slowly, completely filling the lower, middle and upper lungs. It is also necessary to exhale completely, driving out all the stale air, the fresh oxygen will be able to fill the lungs, thus sending into the blood stream the oxygen necessary for total revitalization.
Two other breathing exercises are given here. Once you have practiced the basic moves of all three breathing patterns, they may be used singly, mixed (ex. 5 complete breaths, a cleansing breath, 5 complete breaths, etc.) or in conjunction with stretching and other exercises.

Cleansing Breath.
The cleansing breath shows more dramatically the benefits of complete, correct breathing. This breathing technique ventilates and cleanses the lungs, stimulates the cells and gives a general tone to the respiratory organs. It is conducive to general health conditions.
Inhale, as in the complete breath. Retain the breath for a couple of seconds. Pucker the lips as if for a whistle, but do not swell out the cheeks. Exhale, blowing out with considerable pressure until every bit of breath is gone. Simultaneously, suck the stomach in hard, pressing air out from below. Muscles should contract like a tube of toothpaste being rolled neatly from the bottom.

Vitalic Breath.
The vitalic breath strengthens and completely clears out the lungs. Breathe in through the nose in a series of sharp sniffs until your lungs are completely filled. Hold a couple of seconds. Then blow out explosively through the mouth with a sound like a loudly whispered “haaa.”

Do not dwell on the breathing exercises. Relax; concentrate only on your breath; practice the breathing pattern and then move on to something else. After a short time you will notice that during the day you will be taking complete breaths more often.

Meditation ‑ A Pilgrimage Within.
Meditation is a mysterious word that has countless meanings. Yet in spite of these various meanings all meditation has a common purpose: to allow the individual to journey within himself. Meditation is important because it covers the areas where most people have a problem. They get uptight and tense instead of calming and relaxing themselves to tune into what is happening. They get bent out of shape and frazzled.
Meditation is used to center yourself to detach from all personal distractions and things that are unrelated to training. You have the ability to immediately dissolve all tension and stress by centering yourself to make the body ready to train or fight. The following meditation technique is a simple method to create a stable mental‑physical base from which one’s martial arts potential can evolve.

Vase Meditation.
The vase meditation lowers your center of balance and creates a low axis for stable motion. It is used to dissolve physical tension and detach from mental conflicts to create a mind‑body balance. The vase meditation is used to focus internally and become 100% one with your breath. As you learn control of your breath, later on it will have an important significance on how you use and explode with power in your technique.

The vase meditation is going to allow you to tune in to what is about to happen in training. It allows you to totally empty out any tightness and tension or unrelated thoughts of the external world. When you open your eyes, you are ready to train with 100% concentration.
Exercise.
Sit on the floor or on a chair or stand. Keep your back and head erect. Use your key word, relax; dissolve mental‑physical distractions.
Close your eyes. Empty the mind of all personal and surrounding distractions. Imagine there is a long‑necked vase that goes from the top of your throat to your navel area.
Inhale through your nose. Visualize the incoming breath moving down the neck of the vase to the bottom, and then making two small circular actions. See and feel the warm air creating a slight pressure against the bottom of the vase as it circles. When the circular action is complete, exhale. The breath will move back up the neck of the vase and out your mouth through pursed lips. The exhalation will continue until the air is completely out of the vase. Continue this breathing action for 5 minutes. Breath at your own rate.
Your total mental energy should be focused on seeing and feeling the breath in motion. After a while you will actually experience a warm, settled feeling in the pit of your stomach. You will feel a distinct lowered center of gravity as you move through technique. This exercise should be emphasized when doing the closed bi jong exercises. The vase meditation is important to clear the mind and prepare yourself for what you are about to do.

Let Down Breathing.
Let down breathing is done at the end of class or your workout session to dissolve the tension that has accumulated during the exercises. This allows you to leave with a sense of well being when you finish the workout. It is also a time to imprint the information that was taught to the mind for positive reinforcement.
You need to go through a breathing process to let this exercise become effective. Use a gong if one is available. The gong is rung at the third breathing sequence to create the proper atmosphere for mental development. Ultimately, you need to clear the mind by having the vibration of the sound go through your mind to create a sense of relaxation.
The method of the let down breathing is inhale, exhale, slowly inhale and hold it, then exhale; inhale, hold it and then exhale. On the third exhale, ring your gong and let the breathing go naturally. The gong is used to have a symbolic meaning of the end of the training session or class.

Control And Direction Of Your Breathing

Meditation is a refined art of concentration that demands a high degree of inner breath and thought control.

Concentrated Energy Flow Exercise #1.

First, close your eyes. Imagine all the muscular power in your body turning into explosive electrical energy that vibrates and flows throughout your whole system. Feel the muscles twitch as this dynamic current of power pulsates with a building intensity.

Spend as much time as necessary to develop and recognize this awesome force. It is important that you are able to excite this volatile strength as an instinctive response. Once you have changed body power into an active, visual energy source, turn to your breathing.

Concentrated Energy Flow Exercise #2.

Sit or lie with eyes closed. Draw in a slow, complete breath through the nose. As you inhale imagine that your breath is a warm fluid that is drawn down, not only into your lungs, but throughout your body. As this life source spreads into every segment of your being, it begins to blend with the electro‑muscular energy. It acts as a catalyst to magnify your power potential so that you begin to feel an overwhelming sense of strength. Imagine this energy as being so explosive that you could strike through walls, smash bricks and bend steel.

As you exhale, purse your lips together and allow this dynamic force to flow ‑ like molten lava streams out and drains your body, leaving you with an empty, hollow, peaceful feeling. Then repeat this process.

After you become comfortable with this total integration of mind‑body power you will refine it, so it becomes a controlled energy source to direct and explode whenever you wish.

Concentrated Energy Flow Exercise #3.

Instead of allowing the mind‑body power to flow out when you exhale, lock it in. Only residual waste that has been strained of its vital life force will be exhaled. Let your breathing pattern become deep and regular. Focus all your attention on moving this flowing energy into various parts of the body.

As you inhale, see this explosive life force filling your right leg while leaving the rest of the body hollow and empty. Feel the right leg tighten as the power tries to escape from that tight space. Hold the strength in the leg as you exhale. As you inhale move the energy to the left leg. Try at all times to see this energy as a life flowing mass of power that only goes where you direct it.

Do this same exercise directing the energy throughout the rest of the body, even the head.

Concentrated Energy Flow Exercise #4.

When you have learned to channel your mental energies easily and control the movement of the physical energies, then extend your right arm out straight with the hand open and the fingers pointing forward. Bring the energy up into the right arm and as you exhale slowly through pursed lips, imagine that the energy is also streaming out your finger tips in a solid flow of power that could burn holes through steel.

Periodically stop exhaling and force more energy out the finger tips. You should actually be able to feel an increase of power flow. You can move this energy into other parts of the body and let it flow from any chosen source. You may change the position of your fingers so the energy flows at angles or you can also close the hand into a fist and allow the power to rush out the fist like water from a dam that has burst.

Power Meditation.

The power meditation is used to develop internal strength. You must learn to cultivate your internal strength by going inside to develop the dynamic energy flow. Your emotions are better understood when you go internal. The first thing you must do is to cultivate your energy.

Allow the emptiness to flow through your body. Cleanse your breath by taking deep breaths. Meditate on your body sensations then use your breath to fill every part of your body. Feel it in every cell and atom of the body. Take it from a low level energy to a high level energy. Imagine that you are breathing your emotions and feelings in and out.

Develop the ability of being able to flow the energy throughout the whole body. If you have a difficult time at first, just pretend and soon it will become real. All you are doing is getting the mind to play all these games so that you can develop it while playing. Each time you breath in, feel this energy as being a volatile energy source.

Compress all the energy to one point. After you bring all the energy to one point, this one pointedness of energy should be moved to all parts of the body. Let the energy come out from one part of the body (ex. fingertips) and with your breath as you exhale. All you are doing is controlling your mental energy.

Initially you share this flow of energy with the specific body part and your mouth as you exhale. Eventually you want to focus it totally to one point. Bring in the energy and force it out first through the hand and then exhale. Actually feel and imagine it. once you have cultivated this power of concentration, you can now apply it to a physical technique. You build your intensity so that you can apply it to your technique.

Candle Meditation

The candle meditation develops visual focus and internal energy flow. It is a soft stationary meditation.

Equipment Needed.

A candle that will burn for at least 30 minutes, and a candle holder. A room that can be isolated from outside light and drafts. A table to hold the candle.

Beginning Position.

Eliminate any possible drafts (from under doors, windows, etc.). Place the candle holder with candle in the center of the table and light it. The candle should be a little lower than eye level. When lit the flame should stand straight up without wavering.

Exercise.

Sit in a comfortable position. You will need to be at ease for at least 30 minutes. You should be 2 to 3 feet away from the candle with the flame clearly visible at all times. Use your key word and give directive suggestions.

“I will eliminate all mental disturbances and distractions and focus all my thoughts and physical powers out of my eyes and into the base of the candle flame. ‑I will channel all my mind‑body energy with such force that I will be able to make the flame move and dance about at will. The longer I do this the stronger my energy flow will become so at some given point, I could push over the candle with my intensity.”

This is a simple meditation but the results are profound. You will experience a heightened awareness of everything that is about you. You will know without doubt that, at will, you can project the energy from your body and direct it to any specific target.

Paper Meditation

The paper meditation is a soft power exercise which is used for developing sweeping motions and trapping techniques. The use of energy in this exercise will be a subdued form of concentrated energy flow. In this exercise, you will have the same mind‑body energy except that you have tamed it so it will flow like a peaceful river. The river appears gentle on the surface but it is in reality a storehouse of explosive power ready to overcome anything that tries to stop it.

Equipment Needed.

A smooth‑surfaced table that is no higher than the navel area. A straight‑backed chair and sheet of paper, 8.5 by 11 inches. A quiet semi‑lit room with adequate ventilation is best. Wear loose, comfortable clothing.

Ready Position.

Sit upright in the chair, your body about 3 inches from the table. Take the paper and crumple it into a tight ball. Then open the crumpled ball. Lay it flat on the table with the long way to the right and left, and centered to you. The distance of the paper away from you will depend on your reach. You should be able to reach the upper edge without straining or leaning forward. The inner edge should be no closer than 1 inch from the edge of the table closest to you.

Exercise.

The purpose of this exercise is to eliminate in one sitting as many wrinkles in the paper as you can. Use your key word to clear your mind and begin to feel the mind‑body energy moving into both arms. Lean your head slightly forward and concentrate one point 1 inch above the center of the paper. You will maintain that visual point at all times.

Place your hands in a prayer position about 3 inches over the center of the paper. In one continuous motion slowly exhale and let your energy flow through the edge of your hands to the paper; lower your hands to the paper and press down firmly (not hard) with the edge of your hands. Immediately begin to spread the hands apart so as the lower edges move out, the thumbs, staying together will lower side by side until both hands, still pressing firmly, are flat on the paper. Continuing to the right and left, both hands will pull away from one another smoothing the paper as they move outward. As the outer edge of the hands reach the edge of the paper, they will lift slightly as the rest of the hand continues to smooth the paper. As the thumbs reach the edge, both hands will lift slightly and return to the original prayer position.

Exhale as soon as you begin to drop the hands towards the paper. You should finish exhaling as your thumbs lift from the paper. Inhale as the hands raise back into the starting position. See the flow of energy as a sweeping action that pushes away each wrinkle. Maintain a constant speed and pressure. You need patience in order to practice this exercise because it is very boring. The routine of hand motions must be clean.

Very powerful results occur when this exercise is practice properly. The goal is to iron out the paper of every wrinkle. It is done with even pressure throughout the whole meditation. The mental flow of this exercise is coordinated with the breath. Breathe in as you come up and exhale as you go down while you unwrinkled the paper. The sequence and motion are the same.

This simple meditation exercise will develop an unbelievable sweeping energy throughout your upper torso. It is an effortless process where you let your body go and get into the flow of it. This is a soft power exercise with dynamic strength hidden under the cloak of simple movement. A by‑product of this exercise is tremendous patience. If you can straighten every wrinkle out of that paper in one sitting you are a very patient person. As a daily practice, start with five minutes and slowly build up the time for each sitting.

Imagery Meditation

Imagery meditation develops technique, speed and coordination. It is presented here as a general exercise for using your mental potential to accelerate the learning process. Once you have gone through the various techniques, you will find this meditation extremely beneficial in your learning of them. This is a stationary meditation technique which uses your imagination like a TV screen on which you can project specific exercises.

The principle of this exercise is to withdraw into the inner conscious and establish a perfect training area where you can be both participant and observer. It will be necessary to outline specific areas on which you would like to work. The example presented here is only to give you an idea of how the imagery meditation may be applied.

Example Of Imagery Meditation.

Ready Position.

Lie on your back on a bed in a darkened room with no disturbances. Loosen clothing. Eyes are closed and the key word is used to clear your mind of the day’s events and to free the body of distracting tension. Your breathing will settle into a regular pattern.

Place Of Suggestions.

After the key word, give a few simple directive suggestions such as: “I am going to just relax without any disturbances or distractions. I am going to soon fill my mind with thoughts of watching myself practice a series of techniques. I will work out first against a boxer, then in succession against a karateka, a street fighter and a two man attack. I will not use offensive technique at first, only defensive techniques that will allow me to slip my opponent’s attack. I will be loose and move with a calm quickness. I will move on the balls of my feet, keeping my knees slightly bent at all times, so as to insure a springy motion. My footwork will be precise and coordinated well with body action. When I begin to add offensive techniques, they will blend well with my body motion and the offensive moves of my opponent. I will always stress simplicity, efficiency and practicality in all my moves. As I do this mental meditation, my body will learn from this experience as if I was really doing it. In that way I can develop my own natural ability to maintain mind‑body control.”

The above suggestions have been rather precise. This is so you can fully concentrate on your mental images without having to stop and interfere.

Mental Exercise.

Allow yourself at least 15 minutes to fill your mind with all the images you have projected. Focus completely on the principles and techniques that you have outlined. Your exercise will be like a daydream; eliminating all outside disturbances and distractions so that you can concentrate completely on it.

If you do forms or Katas or a particular technique, these may be practiced. You can add speed to your motion once the basic moves and principles are learned. Practice simple techniques at first. Spend time being an observer and then switch to a participant role. More concentration and clarity will be developed as you practice imagery. In time, the body will actually be able to learn the action as if you were physically doing it.

Paper Meditation

The paper meditation is a soft power exercise which is used for developing sweeping motions and trapping techniques. The use of energy in this exercise will be a subdued form of concentrated energy flow. In this exercise, you will have the same mind‑body energy except that you have tamed it so it will flow like a peaceful river. The river appears gentle on the surface but it is in reality a storehouse of explosive power ready to overcome anything that tries to stop it.

Equipment Needed.

A smooth‑surfaced table that is no higher than the navel area. A straight‑backed chair and sheet of paper, 8.5 by 11 inches. A quiet semi‑lit room with adequate ventilation is best. Wear loose, comfortable clothing.

Ready Position.

Sit upright in the chair, your body about 3 inches from the table. Take the paper and crumple it into a tight ball. Then open the crumpled ball. Lay it flat on the table with the long way to the right and left, and centered to you. The distance of the paper away from you will depend on your reach. You should be able to reach the upper edge without straining or leaning forward. The inner edge should be no closer than 1 inch from the edge of the table closest to you.

Exercise.

The purpose of this exercise is to eliminate in one sitting as many wrinkles in the paper as you can. Use your key word to clear your mind and begin to feel the mind‑body energy moving into both arms. Lean your head slightly forward and concentrate one point 1 inch above the center of the paper. You will maintain that visual point at all times.

Place your hands in a prayer position about 3 inches over the center of the paper. In one continuous motion slowly exhale and let your energy flow through the edge of your hands to the paper; lower your hands to the paper and press down firmly (not hard) with the edge of your hands. Immediately begin to spread the hands apart so as the lower edges move out, the thumbs, staying together will lower side by side until both hands, still pressing firmly, are flat on the paper. Continuing to the right and left, both hands will pull away from one another smoothing the paper as they move outward. As the outer edge of the hands reach the edge of the paper, they will lift slightly as the rest of the hand continues to smooth the paper. As the thumbs reach the edge, both hands will lift slightly and return to the original prayer position.

Exhale as soon as you begin to drop the hands towards the paper. You should finish exhaling as your thumbs lift from the paper. Inhale as the hands raise back into the starting position. See the flow of energy as a sweeping action that pushes away each wrinkle. Maintain a constant speed and pressure. You need patience in order to practice this exercise because it is very boring. The routine of hand motions must be clean.

Very powerful results occur when this exercise is practice properly. The goal is to iron out the paper of every wrinkle. It is done with even pressure throughout the whole meditation. The mental flow of this exercise is coordinated with the breath. Breathe in as you come up and exhale as you go down while you unwrinkled the paper. The sequence and motion are the same.

This simple meditation exercise will develop an unbelievable sweeping energy throughout your upper torso. It is an effortless process where you let your body go and get into the flow of it. This is a soft power exercise with dynamic strength hidden under the cloak of simple movement. A by‑product of this exercise is tremendous patience. If you can straighten every wrinkle out of that paper in one sitting you are a very patient person. As a daily practice, start with five minutes and slowly build up the time for each sitting.