The One Breath is the first practice and breathing technique we teach in the KUNLUN system. It is both a foundational practice and a very advanced one. Where we begin is also where we end.
I was once asked by one of my teachers if I understood the One Breath. I replied with what I thought, after many years of training, was the correct answer, and of course I got it wrong.
The One Breath is the merging of the inhale and the exhale through the nose, with the breath’s physical movement located at the lower dantien. This dantien is located inthe lowest part of the abdomen. When you breathe in and out without a gap between these two cycles, the separation or polarity starts to gradually fall away.
A separation between the inhale and the exhale can be an early sign of one’s wellbeing slowly failing. This gap of breath is caused by internal tension between the upper and lower body and can also contribute to breathing problems. You may have noticed when you feel anxious or stressed that you breathe from the chest. This is your fight or flight system activating. Chest breathing raises the quick burning fire which over time can be very destructive without the proper balance of the water element. Once you remember your original breath, you will notice that stressful moments can more easily dissolve through proper breathing alone.
Our Original Breath
Proper breathing occurs within the lower dantien, not the chest. You may have heard this referred to as belly breathing. This lower breathing allows the movement of internal organs, massaging them through peaceful and unforced diaphragmatic breathing. This promotes the flow of life into unity without the separation of the inhale to the exhale, the yin into the yang. This unity will create the formless form of Wu Chi.
In the KUNLUN system, we use the One Breath method while other systems use fire-type breathing. You may have heard of bhastrika found in the Indian systems of yoga and many other forms of pranayama. We are the water path. We invite students to choose a path and follow it to completion. Breathing exercises and breathwork modalities have become a very popular topic these days and it can be very confusing.
The One Breath is the original breathing technique you used as a baby. These water practices are intended to support you in returning to your natural child-like, playful nature. This breathing technique will support you in cultivating well being, reducing anxiety and stress, and awakening to your original nature that existed before time.
When you master this breath it will become your resting breath. As duality dissolves and this becomes your default state, your perceptions will change. Do not be deceived by this simple practice. It is extremely powerful. There are great secrets hidden in this ancient water practice.
When the breath is combined with the mind in the lower dantien, the fire element finds its proper seat and settles there. Eventually you will feel the root of your qi within this area. When this fire ignites the water element, it will reside in the middle dantien. When this occurs, your heart becomes peaceful and calm, just like the element of water.
When the elements are in this order, the rain of the middle dantien flows energetically downward towards the cauldron of fire located within the lower dantien. This is the union of fire and water. When this process of merging continues, there is a steaming process that occurs. The refined energies of this alchemical spiritual union between the lower and middle dantien flow upward towards the upper dantien. This is where the mind will naturally attain stillness and emptiness, which is reflected as the air element. This is called the place of the in-between. A place of insight between the worlds of matter and the void where pure consciousness exists. This barrier passnot is the place that summons and yet is seemingly unattainable.
Thinking Versus Doing
I very much enjoy sharing with you all that I know to support you on your path, but ultimately the only way is to experience it for yourself through your own practice. We can spend lifetimes researching, exploring, and thinking about practice. The One Breath has many benefits; the most fundamental is to relearn proper breathing for your wellbeing.
It is my hope that you, my friend, through this internal cultivation, will realize that you are your own master. You are your own beginning (Alpha) and end (Omega) on this sacred path. So practice well and live your art.
*You can learn more about the One Breath in The KUNLUN System book and in the Online Recorded Course. This course, led by Max and Diana Christensen includes a 45 minute introduction to the One Breath followed by a 30 minute guided practice.