Lately I have been listening to Deepak Chopak’s Life After Death: The Burden of Proof on audio. It’s a fascinating read (listen?) and intellectual journey. Chopak describes alternate realities as detailed by the Hindu risha’s and vedics, using modern theories of quantum mechanics and cutting edge physics to back-up the ancient claims.
It it, he briefly discusses karmic law. Early on he talks about the near death experience (NDE: about which he seems to have done quite a bit of research) and the common experience NDE’s describe about the life review. Karmically, the life review goes backward beginning with the most recent event and working back to birth. He mentions an exercise that he preforms as part of his nightly routine whereas one reviews the past days activities and events, working backward from the most recent to waking in the morning. Apparently this exercises helps to release karmas that have been aquired while participating in the day’s events.
I’ve implemented this practice, and have found an added benefit: that it induces a quick and deep slumber. I combine it with a qi gong breathing technique as follows: [I do the qi gong breathing morning and evening upon waking and retiring].
In Chinese medicine (and Qi gong/Tai Qi/martial arts) the torso/abdomen is dividing into 3 regions or jiaos (in Chinese), referred to as upper, middle and lower. The upper jiao is the area above the diaphram, which includes the organs of the lungs and heart. The middle jiao is the area between the diaphram and the navel, which includes all of the digestive organs. The lower jiao is the area from the navel to the public, which incudes the kidneys, reproductive organs and organs of elimination of waste.
In Taoist thought, the Dantian, or Cinnabar Field (so named because of Cinnabar’s red color to denote something precious) is located in the lower jiao, 1.3″ below the navel, or midway btwn the navel and the pubis, approximately 1 1/2″ deep. The dantian is where the precious essence of life, one’s vital jing is store. Jing is a type of Qi (energy), decribed as being thicker and more rarified than qi. It is the primordial energy of life itself.
Actually each of the jiao’s house the dantian: upper, middle and lower dantian, but the lower dantian is emphasized for preserving and cultivating jing qi. The middle dantian is located at the solar plexus, and is important for developing nutritive qi, the vital essence extracted from food. The upper dantian is said to be located in the brain’s pineal gland, located on the intersection of lines drawn inward from the between the eyebrows and traveling deep to between the ears. The upper dantian is the center of spiritual and mental energy.
Mst. Huo describes the middle dantian as the area around the navel and says that it is the main energy storage area. He locates the upper dantian at the spiritual third eye, at the ctr of the forehead, above and btwn the eyes. He further identifies a ‘Shanzhoung’, located in the chest, btwn the nipples/breasts. He advises that when you concentrate on the shanzhoung, to focus on the chest in general, as if it were large and expansive, as the universe. [For more about taoist cultivation activities, reference “Scholar Warrior: An Introduction to the Tao in Everyday Life” by Deng Ming-Dao].
When I do this exercise, I have been beginning in the middle jiao, progressing upward to the upper jiao, and finishing in the lower dantian. I sometimes take a few final breathes into the the middle jiao to complete the circle. However, Mst. Huo teaches the exercise begining in the upper jiao, progressing to the lower jiao, and finishing in the center, or middle jiao. This may be because expanding the upper jiao is the easiest: the lower and middle jiao’s are more challenging to isolate and expand without affecting the other areas. I will give the directions here as i have been doing the exercise of late, beginning in the middle jiao.
Initially, when I began doing the exercise, I liked to visualize the organs in the respective region i directed the breath to, visualizing their functions and bringing zhong qi (chest qi, as the qi of the air mixes with the qi of the body in the region of the lungs) to each of the vital organs. I eventually dropped that visualization practice, and currently focus on the breathing.
- With eyes closed, begin by becoming quiet and noticing the body and breath. Relax the body, and begin noticing the breath coming in and out. Notice the breath becoming slower, more even and rhythmic. Keep the inhalations and the exhalations even as you preform this exercise, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. [This is Mst. Huo’s instruction. When I practice the exercise, I inhale and exhale through the nose]. Mst. Huo cautions not to take big, loud or deep breaths while doing the exercise, and advises to push out the stale energy on the exhalation.
- Direct the attention to the middle jiao, drawing the breath to this region. Working with the inhalations and exhalations, allow this area to expand as fully as possible, without affecting the other areas of the torso (keeping the upper and lower jiao’s flat). Mst. Huo instructs during the exhalation to pull or suck in the middle jiao region as you push out the stale energy with the breath.
- Direct the breathing to the upper jiao/chest region. Begin to fill this area fully and completely with clean, fresh qi, isolating the chest from the other areas of the torso. Expand the chest fully, the stomach may contract and become a bit concave while you do this. Exhale quietly, slowly and steadily, drawing out the stale energy as you contract the chest and lungs fully.
- Now progress to the lower dantian, directing the breathing into the lower jiao. Expand the lower jiao as fully as possible, keeping the middle and upper jiao’s flat. As you exhale fully and completely, the middle jiao may contract slightly as well.
Mst. Huo discussed the difference btwn formal and informal practice. In formal practice, one practices with eyes closed with deep concentration focused on one’s location btwn heaven and earth. [This is a position rooted deep in chinese philosophy, with human’s position lying in the middle with heaven, or sky above and the earth below one’s feet]. Men practice 36 cycles of breathing, and women practice 24 (these are Taoist numbers).
I practice somewhat informally, meaning one can practice for any length of time.
I work with each jiao until it feels that it is time to move to the next region. In this deep field of concentration i am aware of my body’s inner dialogue and signals.
Informally, this exercise can be practiced at any time, while in line in the supermarket or bank, during a television commercial, while waiting at a traffic light, or during a work break: whenever you find a moment to do it.
So, at night i have found that the following meditation promotes a quick, deep and relaxing slumber. This is my own eclectic combination of yoga & qi gong relaxation and breathing with a karmic review finish:
or Meditation to Calm the Mind & Promote a Peaceful Slumber
- Lie on your back, relax your body and begin to notice the rhythm of your breath. Allow your body to relax, letting go of any tension. Focus your attention to the rhythmic nature of the breath. Watch the breath without attempting to adjust or change it in any way.
- Relax your eyes, allowing the eyes to drop back into the eye sockets. Relax the teeth, gums and jaw, releasing any stored tension here. Allow the tip of the tongue to rest on the upper palette (This is a mudra, or yogic seal). Relax the muscles of the faces, allowing the flesh to release and drop off the cheek bones. Relax the neck and throat, releasing any tension stored here. Allow all of the tension to leave the body. Let your arms and legs be like rivers, the tension through them out of the body. The body becomes limp, sinking into the floor (mattress). Bring your attention to the brain, allowing it to fall back against the pillow, as the mind relaxs fully.
- Turn the attention back to the breath, noticing the even, rhythic nature. Direct the breath into the middle jiao, and begin the 3 Jiao Breathing Excercise.
- After completing the 3 Jiao breathing cycle, let your attention remain on the breath for a few moments. Then begin the karmic review of the past days activities and events, beginning with the 3 Jiao breathing exercise, and working backward to the moment of awakening in the morning.
Copyright 2009 Kath Bartlett
I find that i often fall asleep before completing the karmic review. I sleep deeply and soundly. When I wake in the morning and come to consciousness, I begin the 3 Jiao Breathing Exercise before rising. Upon completion, I try to remember where I left off in the karmic review before falling asleep, and then I complete the review before rising. This practice, in combination with regular yoga and meditation allows me to remain in a rather calm and peaceful place. I especially notice the calm and peaceful nature of my mind in the morning, before the activities of the day take me into the physical realm.
If you find that you wake during the night and have difficulting falling back to sleep, do the relaxation exercise and the 3 Jiao Breathing Exercise. If your mind is busy, complete the karmic review, and then meditate on your breath.
I would appreciated hearing your comments about your experience with this exercise, and whether the practice aids your slumber and calms your mind. KB