I was intending on doing my next post on meditation on setting a proper intention, but I’ve gotten a bit sidetracked and this seem to be the most fitting thing to write about after my last post. I’ve recently been working with a practice to try and help me work through my tendency to grasp onto my sad stories and use them as an excuse for inner stagnancy. It’s a Daoist qi-gong sound exercise that involves neutralizing self-pity and worry rather than bottling them or expressing them outright.
The practice begins with a round of 6-3-6-3 breathing, which is a simple form of Indian pranayama (breath control) used to condition the body to more involved breathing exercises. Sit upright with your hands on your lap and breath normally. Once your breathing has stabilized, breath in for 6 seconds, hold your breath with the lungs full for 3 seconds, breath out for 6 seconds, and hold your breath with the lungs empty for 3 seconds. 6-3-6-3. As you breath in, allow your belly to expand so your diaphragm has space to move downwards. Focus on your solar plexus as you inhale and be careful not to raise your shoulders as you breath in. As you exhale, draw your navel back in so that the diaphragm moves up, bringing your attention to your navel as you breath out. Do this 5 to 10 times, however many it takes for you to noticeably feel more relaxed and aware of the movement of your breath.
Next, sit on the edge of your chair and place your feet firmly on the ground with your legs spread. Curl your fingers and place your hands against your diaphragm. Inhale deeply and lean forward so that you’re facing the ground. During your exhalation make the sound ‘WH-O-O-O-O-O’ at a relatively high pitch, like an owl, for as long as your lung capacity allows. As you do this, visualize all of your self-pity and worries leaving your chest in the form of black smoke, exiting through the space between your eyebrows, and ejecting them deep into the earth. For those willing to adopt the potentially more questionable aspects of the practice, focus specifically on your spleen and pancreas as you release your negative emotions, as these are two of the primary organs that store self-pity and worry.
After you’ve finished exhaling, actively continue thinking that all of your worries have left your body. These can be either specific worries or just a general sense of anxiety that might pervade your life. Inhale and return to sitting upright with your hands placed on your lap, palms up. Visualizing a golden light radiating around your spleen and pancreas, think, “I am smiling on myself and all of my worries.” Continue this visualization for a few minutes, before taking another inhale and going back down to repeat. Repeat the process 3 times.
Through this practice of qi-gong, you should begin to feel a deeper sense of contentment with yourself. I personally find this practice incredibly helpful, since I am often quite hard on myself when not making the kind of personal progress I would like to be making. However, it is only through truly loving oneself and letting go of all forms of self-pity and self-hatred that we can begin to truly advance and help others. I’m hoping to post more qi-gong practices in the future, though admittedly I’ve become a bit distracted from writing on here. Nothing spurs me on to write more than positive feedback that any of this stuff might actually be helping someone!