Ensuring a Healthy Body and Mind-Part II


Ensuring a Healthy Body and Mind-Part II

The demands of life can tax our brains and bodies. When we react with strong emotions, whether wild excitement or violent rage, blood vessels constrict, pulse rate quickens, blood pressure increases, and we breathe more rapidly. All of these factors can lead to such conditions as cerebral hemorrhage, insomnia, palpitations, tinnitus, neurosis, and indigestion. When we experience severe emotions, endocrine gland functioning becomes imbalanced, and toxins are produced in the blood.

Chan Meditation Transforms Fluctuating Moods

The endocrine system normally promotes a healthy body. When it loses balance, however, it will signal alarms in the body. The practice of Chan meditation transforms fluctuating moods and nourishes a clear and calm state of mind. Such a clear and stable state of mind is useful in meeting the challenges of life. We will not be overwhelmed by stress and we will not be overly excited when things go well; gain and loss will not cause pride or depression.

Achieve Focus, Insight, and Health

One fundamental method used in Chan to achieve focus, insight, and health is meditation on the breath. Proper, natural breathing allows the sympathetic nervous system to be balanced and healthy. People generally use their lungs and chest to breathe. Chan practitioners shift the center of breathing to the lower abdomen, or what we call dantian or “elixir field.” This method uses abdominal pressure as a medium to control the parasympathetic nervous system..

Shifting the center of breathing from the chest to the lower abdomen cannot be accomplished with just a few days’ practice. Some teachers of yoga and qigong suggest forced abdominal breathing to achieve improved health, but this method is not suitable for everybody. For those who find abdominal breathing physically unsuitable due to congenital or acquired conditions, the practice may result in illness. Using force on the lower abdomen may cause irregular menstrual cycles in some women. Therefore, meditation on breath in Chan must be practiced in a natural way, without focusing on the lower abdomen

Breath at the Nostrils

If the practitioner is unsure whether or not concentrating on the abdomen while breathing is inappropriate, then concentrating on the breath at the nostrils is the safest method. Just focus the attention at the tip of the nose and maintain natural breathing. After a period of time, breathing naturally slows down, reduces in frequency, and extends in depth. Eventually the center of breathing will move down from the chest to the lower abdomen on its own accord.

Abdominal breathing can transport blood stored within the liver and spleen to the heart, thus making more efficient use of the blood. The liver and spleen produce and store blood, holding a third of the body’s supply. Another third is in the heart and in the rest of the body’s muscle tissue. The blood stored within the liver and spleen does not normally enter the circulatory system. Only when necessary is it used to compensate for a deficiency in the heart’s blood supply. Abdominal breathing increases the blood volume so much that it is equivalent to adding an auxiliary heart to your body.

Increasing the amount of blood in the circulatory system enhances its capacity to deliver nourishment, thus revitalizing and restoring atrophied cells or tissues, and enabling blocked and dying cells to gradually revive and regenerate. Because of this, Chan meditation can help cure various medical conditions and chronic diseases.

Stabilize Moods, Reduce Panic and Fear

For someone who contracts an unusual illness that responds poorly to conventional medical treatment, Chan meditation may be of great benefit. Although, it may not cure a medical condition as swiftly as removing appendix cures appendicitis, it can stabilize moods, reduce panic and fear, and ease the suffering caused by the illness. Life span is limited, of course. Meditation cannot keep you young and alive forever, but it certainly can help you live a longer, happier and healthier life.

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