Ordinary people’s energy rises in front and descends in back; realized people’s energy rises in back and descends in front.  When energy goes out and in, this is called ordinary breathing; when it does not go out and in, this is called true breathing.

Generally speaking, when the ordinary breathing is stilled, the true breathing is spontaneously activated.  The way breathing is stilled is not by forcefully holding it so that it does not come out.  It is a matter of absolute emptiness and utter stillness; the steadier the mind, the subtler the breathing.

The way to do this is to return the mind to quietude whatever you are doing, not imagining what is yet to come and not thinking about what has already passed.  After a long time at this, spirit and energy merge, feelings and objects are forgotten; spirit solidifies, energy congeals, and there is just one breath in the belly, revolving without going out or in.  This is called womb breathing.

Once this breathing occurs, keep strictly to empty quiet, refining vitality into energy, which goes through the three passes and pours into the three chambers.  This is called the real bellows, the real furnace and cauldron, and the real firing process.

In Book of the Azure Vault it says, “In the past I met a true guide, who transmitted the spoken secret; it just requires freezing the spirit and putting it in the lair of energy.”

This means that what we human beings first receive when we are imbued with energy as embryos formed of the vitality and energy of our father and mother is our individual inherent absolute.

In realized people, the spirit rests on the breath, entering deeply into its own lair, subtly continuous, there as such, without the slightest interruption.

Thus one attains the wonder of “concentrating energy and making it supple” and so one is able to “observe its return.”

Lao-tzu said, “The space between heaven and earth is like a bellows.”  Human beings are born by virtue of the energy of heaven and earth; respiration is the mechanism of the bellows.

True breath is the energy of respiration.  So this true breath is the stem of reception of energy, the source of production of energy.

The rising and descending of exhalation and inhalation in alternate succession corresponds to the relationship of yin and yang.

Therefore it is said, “The breath count of the natural cycle is counted very subtly; the cold drip of the water clop matches drop by drop. ”

Some ask if it is also said that the true breathing is the alchemical fire.  The answer is that the true breathing is not considered the fire.

The fire is the human spirit; the breathing is the bellows of the fire.  The unbroken continuity of the bellows is “breathing from the heels” as realized people do.

Therefore it is said, “Stay leisurely by the medicine stove to watch the firing process; just calm mind and breath and leave it to nature.”

The whole human body is an energy circuit.  When energy flows freely we feel good, and when energy is blocked we get sick.

So dance around to nourish the energy of the blood.  This method can be practiced anytime, at one’s convenience.

It is essential to unify the mind and stop the breath so the spirit is pervasive, the energy is full, and the energy flows easily.

Then glare and grit your teeth, be stern and strong, and false thoughts will spontaneously vanish.

Do this several times and then sit quietly, and it is most effective at getting rid of confusion and dissolving illness.  This exercise has great benefit and should not be slighted.

Source: Taoist Meditation: Methods for Cultivating a Healthy Mind and Body

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