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Home > Columns > Dennis Hooker > August, 2005 - Breath

Breath by Dennis Hooker


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Editor's note: The following two articles may provide more context for this article:


"If you stay in one spot, and spin and spin and spin, soon you will discover that even though the world whirling about you is a vast blur, in your own kinesthetic sphere is a clarity, a lucidness in your vision. You can hold out your hand and see it exactly as it is. And you realize that you are not moving, your body is moving. You are just there, watching, motivating your action.

"Breathing is a bridge between you and your body. It may be something required of you, but not something you are responsible for. Breathing goes on in spite of you. If the bridge is broken, your harmony in the universe is broken. If your breath is short, cut off, it may not make it to your center and consequently you feel off-centered. So, even though breath flows continuously, if we disturb its progress, we disturb our life, our consciousness, our vitality. The Indian word, prana, is one word for which the English has two: life (aliveness, vitality) and breath. We may use this to understand that the significance of breath is one which unites us with the Universe, with the present and with time and space. When a breath comes in and then goes out, it is but one breath: it is a circle. The same breath going in makes a turn and goes out.

"The cycle (a single breath is a single band of a spiral) is the motion of the Universe which has come to your body, which is nearest to your body. Your body is a part of the Universe. In this way breath meditation is a technique to realize the source of life. There are many breath techniques for many kinds of people. The moving meditation of Aikido is a breathing technique. The rhythms, motions, adjustments to ki direction, joining with other energies, are all spiraling with the same deep pulse of the Universe of which we inhale and exhale constantly."

The exercises I did helped me rediscover my Makoto No Kokyu (true breath). First I had to begin to remember my Makoto No Kokyu. This sounds kind of strange I know, and for a kid from the south end of a small Midwestern Indiana town it was downright spooky. As Sensei explained it I knew it was something that some part deep within me should remember. Because it was something that was with me from the first second of my birth when I came into this world with a great kiai (shout) of life and joined with the universe through my first breath. This is true of all of us. We became part of the expansion and contraction of the universe, the ebb and flow of the tides that bind all living things. Kokyu does not only refer to the physical act of breathing air in and out of the lungs. It is the pulse of the universe. Our breath is part of that pulse as are tides of the oceans. I learned to use the various forms of Tanden No Kokyu (center of the body breathing) to strengthen my Makoto No Kokyu. I tell you this much my darlings, when it starts to happen, when you start to make that connection, the Universe shakes. It opens up new vistas in your mind and belly and floods of new images and feelings wash over you.


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