The Lung Meridian
Breathing is part of the autonomic nervous system. We breath automatically and the body regulates its demand for oxygen based upon the activity the mind directs the body to perform.
This system has two components;
Sympathetic – This is known as the fight or flight response.
Parasympathetic – This is know as the rest and digest response.
This might help the reader to understand that if we are always actively rushing, stressed out, and not able to slow down to properly rest the body and mind, it does not enter into rest and digest, but continues to think it needs to respond with fight or flight. PTSD; post traumatic stress disorder (once referred to as “shell shock” from exploding bombs) is caused when soldiers are always in an extremely dangerous situation without any relief for long periods of time. Under constant stress, the situation leads to strain, and finally system failure (nervous breakdown).
Breathing works in conjunction with blood circulation. In a dangerous situation, the heart beats quicker from fear, as adrenaline prepares the body for exertion, and gets even more excited. Although, the person might be perfectly still as the horror is only playing out in their mind and has not yet became a physical reality, where they may have no choice but to fight.
So, from this it is possible to understand why meditation is key for the warrior monks of Shaolin. Fear in the mind alone could cause the body to deregulate, and the monks could easily lose control of themselves. In this fearful state, the heart beats quicker, the breath may be held, or hyperventilation make take place, and to make matters even worse, the body tightens restricting its proper internal organ functions and external muscular movements. They may become frozen with fear. This is why the bladder tightens and often a feeling to need to pee occurs during a stressful situation. If the situation gets really bad, the person may lose control of their urinary and bowel functions.
Breathing is a bridge between the body and mind. Breathing also belongs to the Somatic nervous system. We can control it and regulate the breathing to restore normal function. This is referred to as a strategy of either yin breathing, yang breathing, or yinyang breathing.
Note: Do note intentionally regulate breathing if the body does not need assistance. Let is remain automatic. Messing with the nervous system is not advised.
When it is called for..
The mind can be intentionally focused and calmed.
The breath can be slowed and deepened (Sink the Qi)
The body can be relaxed (Song).
There are also specific Qigong exercises that can directly target the Lung Meridian and influence the mind and body therapeutically.
Note: My Sihing told me there is a specific procedure for preparing a fighter before they step into the ring, so they are mentally and physically primed and ready to go optimally.