The tan tien cleansing breath is a powerful, natural breathing exercise for both health preservation and self-healing, as well as for increasing your inner, vital energy. Based on natural, diaphragmatic breathing, it involves inhaling through the nose and directing the breath energy down into the lower tan tien, the area just beneath the navel, and exhaling waste products up and out through the nose or mouth while simultaneously condensing the breath energy into the cells of the lower abdomen. The tan tien cleansing breath requires a long, slow exhalation. By intentionally prolonging the exhalation, you not only promote the removal of toxins from your body, but you also help turn on your parasympathetic nervous system, thus furthering inner deep relaxation and healing.
The key to using tan tien breathing to help heal yourself is to inhale gently all the way down into the tan tien area, an inch or two below your navel. As you inhale, put your attention on the lower tan tien and sense your breath energy filling your lower abdomen. Feel how your abdomen naturally expands. If you like, you can put your hands on your belly (see the Belly Breathing Exercise) to help attract your breath there. As you exhale, sense any tensions and toxins going out with the breath as your abdomen naturally contracts, but do not “throw out the baby with the bath water.” Learn to be attentive to the vital warmth or vibration of the breath energy remaining in your abdomen as you exhale. Guard it with your awareness. Feel it being absorbed deep into your cells as you exhale waste products upward and out through your nose or mouth. Do not use any force or effort in doing this practice. Use only your awareness and intention.
Tan tien breathing is an important aspect of natural, authentic breathing, so be patient and gentle as you undertake this exercise. The key is to work with your full attention, without any feeling of willfulness, and to sense the energy in your abdomen as you breathe naturally and effortlessly. If you can work in this way for several minutes each day for a few weeks, the tan tien cleansing breath will quickly become a regular and natural part of your life.
Copyright © 1997-2015 by Dennis Lewis. This practice, a slightly edited version of the same practice included in The Tao of Natural Breathing, may not be reprinted for any purpose without the written permission of Dennis Lewis.