QM Week One: Quieting the Mind

As this course progresses you will be working with different aspects of your energy in the different meditations.  It is important that you learn to clear and quiet your mind so that you are ready to perceive these subtle energies.  A useful way to do this is with the breath.  Concentrating on something so simple helps us to clear other thoughts from our mind and focus on our present experience.  As we slow and deepen our breathing, all the other functions of our body also relax and slow down as well.

Working with slowing and deepening your breathing will be the sole focus of your meditation sessions this week.  As you practice this will become easier and easier and you will be able to clear and quiet your mind quickly and easily by focusing on your breathing.  We will then use this as a way to help prepare ourselves for each of our meditations in the weeks to come.

This Weeks Meditation – Rhythm of the Universe

  • Get into a comfortable position for your meditation (This can be sitting, standing or lying down.  Sitting is recommended if this is comfortable for you)
  • Quietly Observe your breathing
  • Count how long it takes for you to breathe in, and how long it takes for you to breathe out
  • Make the your inhalation and exhalation the same length
  • Breathe at this speed for a few breathes until you are comfortable counting your breaths
  • Lengthen the inhalation and exhalation by one count
  • Again breathe at this speed for a few breathes until you are comfortable
  • Lengthen the inhalation and exhalation by one count
  • Repeat until you reach a length of 8 counts for your inhalation and 8 counts for your exhalation
  • When you are comfortable breathing at this rate pause after your inhalation for one count and after your exhalation for one count
  • Gradually extend these pauses until they are 4 counts long, you should now be breathing in a rhythm of inhale for 8 counts, pause for 4 counts, exhale for 8 counts, pause for 4 counts (8:4:8:4)
  • Breathe like this for as long as you wish before returning to your normal breathing pattern and ending your meditation session

Notes

For some people it will be easy to breathe in this rhythm quite quickly, if this is the case feel free to go straight to this rhythm immediately when you begin your meditation session.  For other people it will take some practice to slow your breathing down in this way.  Do not push yourself to do this too quickly, take your time, it’s ok if it takes several weeks.  If you rush you will create tension within your mind and body – the opposite of the desired effect.

If you have previous experience with breathing exercises from Long White Cloud Qigong’s courses such as Qigong Foundation Practices or Release the Power of Your Breath, the type of breathing you will ideally be doing will be a natural breath, an accentuated breath, or a wave type breath.  If you have not completed these courses already, don’t be concerned, your breath will naturally become fuller and deeper as you slow it down.

You will note that the instructions say to pause after the inhalation and exhalation, not ‘hold’ your breath or ‘stop’ breathing.  Often when we think of holding or stopping we will use tension to do this.  Ideally we want to be very relaxed as we do this.  Pausing should feel a little like that moment off weightlessness as the top of a wave with no real effort involved.  If you find that you are tensing during the pauses, it may be because you have tried to slow your breathing down to quickly.

If you struggle to slow your breathing down to this rhythm after several weeks you may want to try doing some of the exercises in Release the Power of Your Breath to help increase your breathing capacity.

The Rhythm of the Universe

This 8:4:8:4 pattern is sometimes referred to as the rhythm of the universe.  We see this pattern of activity and rest throughout nature.  During a 24 hour day we can think of it as being composed of 8 hours of day, 8 hours of night with 4 hours of transition between them.  This will of course vary according to the season.  Incidentally this was also once a common pattern for work.  Work for eight hours, sleep for eight hours, have four hours transition in between for travelling, eating, recreation, personal chores etc.

We can think of this cycle of smooth transition a bit like a sine wave.

When we breathe in this rhythm our whole body begins to relax into this natural pattern of functioning with smooth orderly balanced transitions between activity and rest, yin and yang, throughout the body.  This is an excellent state to be in to begin meditating.