The Art of Breathing

Tadao Ogura, M.D.


VIII. Adding Imagery to Breathing: Circular Breathing

This next level of Controlled Breathing exercises involves adding imagery to the breathing. It is extremely important that you have mastered the physical techniques of the previous three exercises before moving to this level, because you will have to "use part of your mind" for the imagery; you will not be able to focus on only the movements. If you "break form" when you add imagery, the effectiveness of the exercises will be eliminated.

Imagery is generated in the right hemisphere of the brain. When imagery is combined with the conscious control of breathing, both the right and left hemisphere of the brain are forced to work together, simultaneously. In this way, a "horizontal connection" is established. As you may recall, Controlled Breathing itself forces a "vertical connection" because the conscious control signals are generated in the Neo-Cortex and extends down through the brain to the Medulla Oblongata near the base of the head. Imagery adds the horizontal connection between the right and left hemispheres, which is needed to become "truly connected."

You may have tried imagery and meditation techniques before and found that "they don't work." This is probably because most imagery techniques involve only the mind. As I have mentioned previously, what is needed is a connection between the various dimensions of the human process: the cognitive, emotional, physical, and even psychic and spiritual dimensions. You cannot just "think" or "imagine" these connections. But most people persist in trying to meditate with only their "heads." This does not work.

By combining imagery techniques with Controlled Breathing, you can naturally establish the connections between the mind and body necessary for the process to "work." This is why Zen priests and Indian Yogi practice breathing along with meditation. In this next exercise, called Circular Breathing, you will use the imagery of circulating "Ki" around your body as you practice Total Breathing. The imagery should help you with the breathing exercise, and also help you to begin to cultivate your own Ki energy.


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