Longevity and Happiness

Longevity and Happiness

Proper breathing bears a lot on relieving the burden on the sympathetic nervous system. Generally, people use their lungs and chest as a central point for breathing. Chan practitioners, however, shift their center of breathing to the lower abdomen, or what we call dantian or qihai.

The idea is to use the abdominal pressure as a medium, and then to employ the will to control the parasympathetic nervous system, so as to dilate blood vessels, lower blood pressure, reduce the sympathetic tone, and increase the secretion of acetylcholine to achieve tranquility, serenity, and detoxification.

To shift the center of breathing from the chest to the lower abdomen cannot be accomplished with just a couple of days' practice. Some teachers of yoga and qigong suggest adopting abdominal breathing to achieve this purpose. But this method is not suitable for everybody. If those for whom abdominal breathing is not physically suitable due to congenital or acquired conditions force themselves to engage in such practice, illness may result.

The safe way is to breathe naturally. Just focus your attention on the breath - don't strive for a quick result - and maintain normal breathing while you practice. After a period of time, your breathing will naturally slow down, reduce in frequency, and extend in depth. One day, you will find that your center of breathing has already moved down from the chest to the lower abdomen.

Abdominal breathing can transport blood stored within the liver and spleen to the heart to put the stored blood into use. The liver and spleen produce and store blood, holding a third of the body's total blood supply. Another third is in the heart and another 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 is equivalent to adding an auxiliary heart to the human body, causing the blood volume in the circulatory system to increase one fold.

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 or tissues to gradually revive and regenerate. Because of this, Chan meditation can help cure various kinds of rare and serious medical conditions and chronic diseases.

If you ever contract an unusual illness that barely responds to treatment, you might as well learn to practice Chan meditation. Although Chan meditation cannot cure medical conditions as swiftly as removing one's appendix would appendicitis, it can nevertheless stabilize your moods, reduce your panic and fear of your illness, and ease the suffering caused from the sickness.

Of course, there is a limit to our life span. Meditation cannot make you stay young and alive forever, but it is certainly within its power to help you live a longer, happier and more interesting life.

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