In the classical presentation of the Longevity Exercise, the student is instructed at this point to exhale completely and hold the lungs empty for as long as comfortable. This is analogus to "running the carburetor lean" on an automobile and is designed to burn off toxins and impurities that may have accumulated in the lungs during normal respiration. One should never strain or overexert when performing these techniques. Most people can only hold this exhalation for a few seconds. Beginners are advised to remain at this level for at least 30 days.
That a direct relation exists between the breath and the heart rate must be obvious. The following practices are known collectively as Qi Gong (Chi Kung) Qi meaning breath, and Gong meaning pause. Literally, Qi Gong translates as a cessation or pause in the movement of the breath. This is accomplished in three ways: by hypoventilation (holding the breath); hyperventilation (oxygen saturation); and by balanced breathing.
Hypoventilation makes the blood more acidic by diminishing the amount of oxygen in the blood. It is characterized by a sensation of heat which floods over the body. This also causes the heart to beat faster as it strives to restore the proper pH balance of the blood by circulating it more quickly. Hyperventilation is characterized by a chill feeling of cold, which permeates the body. It causes the blood to become more alkaline by altering the system with large amounts of oxygen. This makes the heart beat slower. Proper or Balanced Breathing produces a sensation of calmness and relaxation.
There are three major "centers of power" in the human body. The Sacral Pump, the Heart Pump, and the Cranial Pump. The first, at the base of the spine, is activated by the Lotus posture. The second beats constantly. The third is the tip of the tongue pressing, in harmony with the pulse, against the roof of the mouth. Each of these "centers" is represented by a specific mudra or finger-knitting position. Between these centers are nine "gates" up the spinal column that enable the Ninja to collect Qi in the Hara, cultivate it through the breathing techniques, and elevate it to the Mysterious Chamber of the Mind to achieve enlightenment. Each of these "gates" is represented by a specific mudra. Each requires a specific breathing technique to "open" the associated endocrine gland and allow the Qi to rise.
The finger-knitting mudra enable the student to mnemonically remember each level and exercise, and to draw upon the power of that level of initiation.
Kuji Kiri is the technique of performing these hypnotic hand movements while in seated meditation and, by describing a kanji or ideogram in the air before him, imagine a particular positive attribute of his training, while the movements of his arms in doing so hydraulically "pumps" the oxygen rich blood to that area. This is essential in the study of medical applications of these methods.
These magical in-signs created by knitting the fingers together can be used to restore one's confidence in moments of stress, or to hypnotize an adversary into inaction or temporary paralysis. Each is a key or psychological trigger to a specific center of power in the body. There are three basic positions, corresponding to the three basic Qi Gong techniques. Each of these yields three variations for a total of nine. From each of these are derived three variations for each of the three types of energy (Yin, Yang, Tao). These are keyed to the 12 Meridians of Acupuncture, the Four Seas, the Five Elements, and so on for a grand total of eighty-one.
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