Tai chi Y2D136: breathing from below

Today during Five Golden Coins, I experienced a tremor in my stomach followed by a breath shift. I don’t know what else to call it. I tend to breathe from my abdomen or stomach; I know I’m supposed to breathe from lower in my abdomen, say my navel or a little higher. But I have difficulty doing so.

Not today. As I say, I experienced this ‘tremor’ in my stomach, and then the center of my breathing switched. It was now generated and sustained not from my diaphragm or from my solar plexus, but from my root — about two inches below my belly button, behind my belt buckle. My whole lower abdomen was pumping like a bellows, but the generative force for the breath was clearly this knot at the front of my waistband.

The breath structure continued through the remainder of the qi gong postures, and through about two thirds of the tai chi form. At that point, this deep breath — which helped my eyes come into incredibly sharp focus — unexpectedly shut off, and rose about six inches in my abdomen, from waistband to just above the belly button.

This is lower in my body than normal, but clearly higher than where I had been breathing from. My muscles that meet there can be reëngaged to do that work, that deep breathing, but it’s obvious that they’re tired from this sudden level of exertion. My flanks, which were also engaged more deeply an usual, are also worn down a bit.

I think of all this as extremely hopeful. Parts of my body that haven’t been engaged in this tai chi project are coming “on-line” even this far into the work, and are prepared to do their part now. They’re not used to the work yet, but they will be. I’ll have to try to engage this breathing pattern consciously tomorrow.

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