©2007 Mark B. Anstendig

When one begins observing the breath one should be extremely careful to not influence the breath in any active way that might change what the breathing system is doing naturally in order to fulfill the body’s needs.

When observing the breath, one observes it going in and going out at the chest and in the upper head cavities. (The teacher should already have instructed the candidate in the beginning stages of pressing out the head.)

A very important addition to the watching/observing of the breath is a way of thinking about/viewing the progress of the breath that can help smooth the breathing without directly influencing it. That way of thinking of the breath is to think of/imagine the breath as going in an elongated oval, going in up the center of one’s back and out down the center of one’s front. Essentially that is how the energies of the body flow. And this passive imagining of the breath’s path up the back and down the front subtly links the breathing with the flow of one’s electrical energies and ultimately coaxes/causes the breathing to be smoother and calmer.

An important part of this technique of observation is to imagine that the change from in breath to out breath takes place as the breath going up over the head and then down the front, in a shape that completes the top part of the oval pattern of the breath. And the change from breathing out to breathing in also should be imagined/thought of as taking place circularly down between the legs, around the tush and up the back. The pattern is an elongated oval with straight sides until the changes in direction of the breath occur. One takes pains merely to imagine this and in no way influence the breathing. One just follows the pace of the breathing as it occurs and thinks of it this way, knowing full well that the lung is simply breathing in and out. The completely passive thinking of the breath circularly in this manner will usually have a fortuitous effect in calming and smoothing the breathing, without one’s doing anything to affect or impede the work the breathing needs to do for the body.

It must be emphasized that thinking of the breath going in up the back and out down the front should remain a totally passive thing and that nothing should be done beyond simply imagining it. Any active effort applied to the breathing mechanism’s actual action of simply breathing in and out is to be avoided.