In this article, I’m going be sharing with you that Chinese medical theory, physiology and philosophy behind your lungs and your breath. Once you have an understanding for the Chinese medical side of your organs (in this case, your lung organ as well as the lung channel), you’re going to develop a whole new relationship with your lungs, and the health of your breath. It’s really going to help you every single day and change your relationship with some of the signs and symptoms that you might be suffering from on a day-to-day basis.
In Chinese medicine, there are channel systems that we refer to as meridians. There are 12 of them and they run from superficial to deep within the body. The lungs are the first channel within that system. The lung channel starts in the abdominals, goes down to connect with the large intestine, and then ascends up to connect with the lungs and moves out towards the axilla or the armpit area.
This is where the first lung point or Lung 1 begins. The channel continues on the inside of the arm, or the more Yin side of the arm, where it ascends down to the shoulder, the elbow and the wrist, into the pad of the thumb, which is known as the thenar eminence, and ends at Lung 10, which is going to be at the tip of the thumb.
The lungs, being that they are the first channel system within the meridian series, they’re all about how we interact with the world – we interact with the word through sense; we smell different things, breathe in oxygen every day throughout our existence. As a matter of fact, the lungs are the first channel system to be activated when we are born.
When we come into the world, we take that first breath and then we cry and scream, and activate our lungs through that scream, taking in and out the oxygen that’s just been made available to us in this new world. The lungs are also how we interact with people. Often times, when you meet somebody new, you reach out and take their hand, your thumb wrapped over their hand, and through this process, your entire lung channel is activated.
So, not only are you taking in their physical being with your eyesight, you are also connecting with them energetically and your lungs are taking in their presence. So the next time you meet somebody new and you shake their hand, notice, do you hold your breath, do you constrict, do they make you feel nervous, or do you actually find yourself breathing with ease, and taking in more air?
Since the lung channel is the first channel within the meridian system, it’s going to be extremely important to the health of the other organs and channels within the meridian system within our body. According to Chinese medicine physiology, the air that we take in, the oxygen, acts as a little rain storm or raindrops, did the rest of our organs.
Our breath in is what nourishes all the other organs within our system. If you suffer from constipation, shortness of breath or tightening within the chest, I want to encourage you to focus on your inhale, and visualize the raindrops dropping to all of your organs, especially your large intestine. If you remember, I mentioned earlier that the lung channel starts in the center of the abdomen and descends down to connect to the large intestine.
We need moisture in order for our bowels to move and release property. That moisture, one of the ways that we receive it, is through the oxygen that we breathe. Similarly, in shortness of breath and tightness in the chest, anxiety or even palpitations, it is set in Chinese medicine classics that the beat of the heart follows the pace of the breath. So it’s our breath that sets the pace of the heart.
If we’re tight, constricted or short of breath, our heart is going to need to work harder, it has to pump more efficiently because it’s just simply not getting enough oxygen. Same thing, if we are exercising, and our heart rate is picking up, so is our breath. So our heart and our breath want to be in sync with one another, and it is the breath that sets the pace of the heart.
So again, if you suffer from palpitations, shortness of breath or tightness in the chest, use your breath to open the chest and slow down the heart.
Our breath and our lungs are part of the autonomic nervous system within our body. It’s going to happen no matter what we do, but when we’re in situations where we just don’t feel like we’re taking in enough air, or we need the help of our lungs to calm our system or to simply bring in more oxygen in, we can control the autonomic nervous system.
We can use it and guide it and instruct it to act in a certain way that is to our benefit; to the benefits of our whole body, mind and even our spiritual self.
Now I’m going to take you through just a short breath exercise that you can do at any point in your day. This breath exercise is one that you can use to prime and condition the body. So the more often that you do it, the more comfortable that you become with it, and make it your own, the more effective and stronger your breath is going to be, and the more your body’s going to benefit from these breathing exercises.
What I recommend is that you set a timer, whether it’s on your phone or your computer, for just a couple of minutes as you do these exercises. I do want to suggest that you take a seat, so whether that’s on the floor or on the edge of a chair, so that your feet are planted firmly on the ground.
To begin, roll your shoulders back and tuck your chin so that your spine is nice and long. We really want to open the chest and allow for the air to come in through the diaphragm, and down through the rest of our organs and channel systems.
Close your eyes and place your hands in your lap, or if you want, you can place them out in kind of an open position. Either hand position you’re in, you’re going to be activating that lung channel, which is extremely important so you don’t want your hands to be down, you want the lung channel open and receptive to that breath.
But will be doing is taking in air by inhaling through your nose and exhaling out your mouth. We going to do that three times, and feel free to make that exhale out your mouth a strong as you want it to be, or a subtle and relaxed as you want it to be. After those three exhales, we going to take, at least three inhales through our nose and exhales out our mouth as well.
So let’s begin, close your eyes, take a big inhale, and exhale out your mouth. Big inhale, feel your belly expand out. Exhale, pull your belly in as the air comes up and out of the abdominals. Inhale, belly expands, exhale, pull the abdominals in as the air comes up and out. Inhale in, belly expands, exhale out your nose. As the abdomen is pulled in, the breath is pushed up and out your nose. Inhale, exhale out the nose. Do this exercise four or five more times.
Great job, that was excellent! You followed along so well. I want to encourage you that if you find situations where the breath is getting stuck, just imagine those raindrops going right past that stuckness and tightness.
Balance Within – Integrative Acupuncture
16200 Ventura Blvd
Encino, CA 91436