MIND BODY BREATH
Why is focused breathwork with meditation necessary for beginners?
We know that authentic Taoist practices, like SunDo, stress the importance of focusing the mind on the breath, but what do other mainstream meditation practices advocate? The answer is quite similar.
In Hatha Yoga, chants and mantras are regularly used in yoga classes that closely mirror the breath focus in Taoist disciplines. “Think of a mantra as a mental instrument that fine-tunes your yoga practice,” says Yelena Moroz Alpert of Yoga Journal in a recent article.
In the same blog, Zoë Slatoff-Ponté, author of Yogavataranam: The Translation of Yoga, says “Incorporating mantras into practice can help to make it sacred and take it out of the realm of the physical and into a higher state of awareness.” This is a direct parallel to the power of breath to unlock higher states of mind and allow us to connect mind and breath in a way we wouldn't normally do during everyday life.
Furthermore, in Tibetan meditation, chimes and gongs are used to channel a similar state of deep concentration and self-awareness.
And even moving outside of the traditional realm, Grokker, a popular yoga, fitness, and health video network, offers a visualization-focused form guided meditation for beginners and casual users.
Across the board, we see that effective meditation is focused meditation. For most people, it is simply too difficult to make consistent progress within a meditation routine if there is no clear direction or focus. In SunDo, while our end goal may be a fuller spacious breath, most of the time, this deeper breathing comes with practice. There’s no shame in using a focused meditation to get there, and yogic traditions across the ages agree.
The mind-altering power of SunDo’s focused breathwork meditation
When we want to relax, we often switch on gentle rhythmic sounds that create a soothing, hypnotic effect. The ocean tide, the pitter-pattering of rain, or perhaps the sounds of a clear summer night teaming with life — these repetitive landscapes of sound take us out of our ordinary frames of mind and bring us to relaxed, trance-like states.
SunDo’s rhythmic breathwork taps into a similar psychological and physiological response. Over the course of each SunDo practice session, students devote 40 minutes to focused, rhythmic breathing aided by auditory cues and visualization techniques. These additional focus tools, together with SunDo’s rhythmic breathing, help practitioners remove themselves from the distracted, unsettled states of mind present in their daily lives, and bring them deeper into focused, relaxed self-awareness.
40 minutes may sound like a lot, but the value of this time becomes very clear when we consider the benefit we reap from extended breathwork sessions. Both meditation and breathwork change how our brains function on a physiological level. Rather than remaining in the Beta state we find ourselves in during most of our waking hours — a state associated with the thinking mind, SunDo’s focused meditation brings users to a very different brainwave state — the Theta state.
Theta wires the body for:
These powerful meditation benefits are the result of dedicated practice.
Yin Yoga and meditation instructor Josh Summers speaks to the values of a more open-ended approach to meditation on his personal website, citing the relaxation benefits of an unfocused style. Allowing one’s mind to wander and freely exploring our own inner world can, no doubt, be very relaxing. Unfocused meditation may vary wildly in its effectiveness from person to person but it is a tenuous first step in the right direction. Eventually, SunDo’s focused breathing, is a proven and more advanced system for optimal meditation with a rich history of success spanning thousands of years.
We’ve fallen out of rhythm — SunDo helps us get it back
The sedentary life of hustling to and from the office, shifting sleep schedules, and an ever-decreasing amount of physical activity have caused numerous health problems for the average adult. Many of us have fallen out of habit with how our bodies are meant to optimally function, and rough, inconsistent breathing is often one of the biggest culprits.
Every one of our organs and bodily systems rely on consistent, even rhythm of breath day in and day out. This is in our nature, and as we lose awareness of it, our energy levels, mood, and overall health suffer.
SunDo’s rhythmic breath meditation directly addresses these problems by synchronizing our breathing rhythm with our bodily systems. To understand how, let’s look at a similar breathing technique of the modern day called “coherent breathing.”
Coherent breathing uses a rhythm of 5 breath cycles per minute (cpm) — a rate just slightly slower than that of SunDo. Breathing frequencies of 4-6 breath cpm trigger dominance of the parasympathetic nervous system. There is wide consensus within the medical community that PSN dominance is indicative of sound health in individuals. Depending on how we breathe, either branch of the nervous system may be activated.
Shallow chest breathing turns on the “fight-or-flight” sympathetic system, while slow deep breathing engages the restorative parasympathetic.
A rate of 5 breath cycles per minute results in something called the Fundamental Quiescent Rhythm where both sympathetic a parasympathetic systems are optimally balanced. When both systems attain this synchronization, the many functions controlled by the ANS and PNS also become balanced.
Many coherent breathing advocates say that as the electrical rhythms of the lungs (respiratory), heart (cardiovascular) and brain (nervous) become synchronized, heart-rate variability (HRV) greatly improves. HRV is a measure of stress resilience, or lower internalized stress on the cardiovascular system.
SunDo’s breath meditation not only calms the mind, it also resets the body’s internal function and finetunes it for optimal health going forward.