Breathing: Long Deep Small Smooth
Disciple: Master, how can I possibly move hundreds of kilograms of iron and burning coal-having only the strength of a human with all his weaknesses?
Master: It because you are a human that you can do this… As the softest clay in time becomes the hardest brick…as a fragile leaf in time becomes the earth and eventually a diamond- As a stream of fiery ore freezes into unbending iron…so too can a man or woman ascend to the infinite strength of the self
Master: By slowly forging the chi within yourself; the proper alignment of your body will create a vessel where the forces of heaven and earth flow freely guided by the echo born from the silence between breaths- long, deep, small and smooth. You will feel the bond between the infinite and the finite where the inner essence of your soul embraces with the limitless power of the universe.
You will find the source of your survival, be at peace and be/feel free
This Taoist breathing method that very few people are aware of has been most popularly reputed to create stamina in the Martial Arts, Vital Health, Recovery from illness, Life Longevity and legends claim it is an essential ingredient in the creation of Immortality. Never actually given an official title or name, it has only been referred to as a description of the actual technique: Long Deep Small Smooth.
Long Deep Small Smooth is one of the previously guarded Chinese secrets that was only shared amongst family members who were studying Tai Chi Chuan, Taoist Meditation, Chi and Nei Kung. It was traditionally guarded by family members in case the power derived from its’ use would fall into the awareness of people who would abuse its’ potential power. I have been fortunate enough to learn this technique from my late teacher Master C.K. Chu.
While this article can describe the method, the actual embodiment of the breathing practice is best learned when applied during the practices mentioned above.
Mastering this technique provides the following benefits:
- Immunity from pain and illness
- Deep cleansing through the lungs and pores of the skin
- Regulated temperature and maintenance of homeostasis even in extreme climates- (Excess Cold, Wind, Heat, Moisture, or Dryness)
- The ability to move quickly and never run out of breath
- Build Chi and Blood while maintaining a relaxed yet sharpened alertness
- Create soft pliable skin
- Automatic Breathing- A state where the body breathes very deeply in a sub conscious rhythmic pattern that bypasses conscious mental control of the breath-feels like someone else is breathing for you.
- Internal Shower- a state where the body is being cleansed from the inside similar to the feeling of a shower inside the borders of the body
- Circular energy orbit through the central channel meridians- feeling a pleasant warmth filling and rising up the spine (governing vessel) and down the front (conception vessel)
- Attaining a deep regenerative sleep
- Enhanced oxygenation that lights the fire of digestion making assimilation of food more efficient
- Better ability to eat less or fast and stay energized or to eat more than usual without digestive symptoms
- Enhanced saliva quantity and quality. Called the Dew of Heaven(Yang) and Earth(Yin), saliva, more than simply a digestive aid, according to Chinese Medicine carries an electrical charge that irrigates the whole body.
- Increased sexual appetite at advanced ages. Saliva, mentioned above is a precursor to the manufacture of sexual fluids that motivate the sex drive-specifically, testosterone and oxytocin
- Balanced hormonal levels that are empowered through the increased vitality this breathing method provides
- Enhanced elimination
- Centered focused thinking and freedom from over analyzing
- increased intuition
Ok so here it is:
LONG DEEP SMALL SMOOTH BREATHING
LONG: This means the breath is drawn in and expired out at a distance that is further from the body than just at the nostrils. Look across a room and gently breathe air in from a distance far away from you. Exhale and without forcing, send the air coming out of your nostrils far away from you. This long breathing can be done at any speed fast or slow. When breathing slowly, long also means each inhale and exhale extends for a long period of time. E.g. an inhale could be continuously breathed over 5 – 60 (high level) seconds. Same with an exhale.
DEEP: The long breath above is drawn deeply into the body, ideally into the area 1-2 inches below the navel. The chest barely moves if at all, but the belly gets large on the inhale and small on the exhale almost as if the belly is collapsing. One could also visualize the inhalation going to soles of the feet and back up through the nose on the exhale. The traditional Taoists typically avoided visualizing the pathway of the breath and in the beginning it is a useful tool that assists the establishing of deep breathing.
SMALL: Take in and let out a small stream of air as if breathing from a straw. This will keep both the breath and state of mind quiet and peaceful. This step eventually teaches us to never “Huff and Puff”
SMOOTH:: every breath flows evenly without interruption- like a flowing river
A soft gentle breath
Ah, tis a friendly wind embracing me
Open, I absorb its’ quiet yet powerful presence
moving through every cell
I AM AWAKE AND SO RELAXED
Wisdom and Strength
Are the twin children
of its’ parents’- inhale(yang) and exhale(Yin)
inspired and humble
I am charged
Smiling, I know my path
And what’s more I have the energy to follow it
This breath guides me anywhere, everywhere
Yet I am still
The Breath Circle
Called so many names in so many cultures, what I am calling the Breath Circle is a commonly reported route of energy that is experienced by advanced practitioners of Yogic, Taoist and many other healing traditions. Describing the variations of this energy pathway and the multitude of various names for the vortexes and energy centers it feeds would require a textbook in itself. Suffice it to say that experiencing this pathway of energy is a sign of advanced energy cultivation and circulation that has been equated with a high level of health, spiritual attainment and even an essential tool that may pave the way to immortality.
My teacher Master C.K. Chu continually emphasized that it is best to simply use the Long, Deep Smooth and Small breathing method and eventually this Breath circle would show itself. Chu’s approach is different than the many contrasting schools of thought that insist on visualizing or imagining it to be real.
Disciple: What of the Breath? We are always told to breathe Long, Deep Small and Smooth into the Tan Tien below the navel.
How does our breath regulate the Chi?
How does our breath help us to navigate the Tao leading us to oneness with the universe?
Master: Each inhale provides the potential to receive the entire universe within our consciousness housed in the body. Each exhale provides the potential to empty ourselves of any residue that obscures the vitality of body mind and spirit.
When stress pervades, the balance between inhale/receiving and exhale/letting go….. is off
When the Tao pervades, our breath is without logic operating our every action like a finely tuned instrument
Which is easier for you in this moment – Inhale /receiving or Exhale/letting go?
Achieving this ever-changing balance between inhale and exhale is a reflection of the Tao moving through us. The journey of appropriate breathing in each moment, circumstance and life event, like a magnet attracts the Tao to live within us.
The breath activates the Jing-our material essence that provides the root of our life and longevity
The breath moves the Chi– our active circulation that both nourishes and cleanses every cell
The breath sparks the Shen-our shining flame-like spirit that glitters in our eyes
Disciple: How can we tell if our disciplines of exercise, breathing and focused concentration are enhancing our Jing, Chi and Shen?
Master: The sage who has developed such a state is different than most people who are like mirrors. A mirror only reflects light when light is present.
The sage is more like a diamond who even in the darkest of atmospheres shines the internal light on all who cast their eyes her way
Thus when making choices-
find your breath and let the breath of the Tao find you
From this place equanimity-the enduring centeredness
and discernment –the all- knowing intuitive choosing
bridge the space between the self and the Tao
in these moments there is only one.
In a subsequent article I will describe some accompanying methods that will add great value to the Long Deep Small and Smooth breathing method. This next article will include: important details on how to enhance the cultivation and circulation of Chi through 1) quiet sitting –meditation 2) using sexual energy with a partner to increase the flow of Chi and 3) general postural alignment of the body that are essential in order to get benefit from the Long Deep Small Smooth Breath. These details are often overlooked requirements of Chi Cultivation and Circulation that when practised will lead to a high level of health that includes more energy, freedom from pain, flexible body, hormonal balance, enhanced immunity and the ability to enjoy a healthy sex life at any age. The last benefit is by the way, directly connected to increased creativity and sharpness of mind. Sexuality/Sensuality are sensitive subjects for many and I will do my best to sensitively detail what most of us already know- Sex is the most powerful source of energy expressed in any relationship. We will discuss methods to use it instead of it using us.
In the meantime practice your Long Deep Small Smooth Breath until it becomes a natural habit~~~The Tao follows
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