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Abstract

Psychology is originally and essentially concerned with the breath, energy, consciousness, soul or spirit of life that leaves a person at death and continues in some other form. The aim of this article is to explicate a psychology of various methods of breathing for life, health, exercise and sport. Given the abundant evidence for their value and power in various forms and contexts, breathing skills may be regarded as the original method of survival, energy control, illness prevention, health promotion and improving quality of living.
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A psychology of breathing methods
Reference: Edwards, S.D. (2005). A psychology of breathing methods.
International Journal of Mental Health Promotion, 7(4), 28-34.
Steve Edwards,
Psychology Department University of Zululand,
Private Bag X1001, KwaDlangezwa, 3886, South Africa.
(Email: sedwards@pan.uzulu.ac.za)
This research was supported by the South African National Research Foundation
and University of Zululand
Keywords: psychology, breathing methods
Abstract
Psychology is originally and essentially concerned with the breath, energy,
consciousness, soul or spirit of life that leaves a person at death and continues in some
other form. The aim of this article is to explicate a psychology of various methods of
breathing for life, health, exercise and sport. Given the abundant evidence for their value
and power in various forms and contexts, breathing skills may be regarded as the original
method of survival, energy control, illness prevention, health promotion and improving
quality of living.
Introduction
In a characteristically introspective insight, a famous North American founding father of
phenomenological, behavioural and functionalist schools of thought in psychology,
William James, remarked that the stream of consciousness, was only a careless name for
what, when scrutinized, revealed itself to consist chiefly in the stream of his breathing
(James, 1890). A widely travelled man, James was distilling thousands of years of
knowledge of the psychology, art, science, spirituality and controlled practice of
breathing known in India as pranayama and in China as chi-gung, or skill of energy
control (Ralston, 1999; Reid, 1998).
Human beings breathe to live. Since ancient African times, this vital link between breath
and life has provided the foundation for various religions, philosophies, beliefs and
practices related to survival, meaning, preservation and promotion of life in this world
and in the afterlife. In its original, essential and literal meaning, psychology is concerned
with the breath, energy, consciousness, soul or spirit of life that leaves a person at death
and continues in some other form (Hergenhahn, 2001). The aim of this presentation is to
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explicate a psychology of various methods of breathing for life, health, exercise and
sport.
Human life begins with an inspiration and ends with an exhalation. After the first infant
inhalation human life lasts about one hundred million breaths (Loehr and Migdow, 1999).
When we die, we leave this world with one last clavicular breath. Spiritual beliefs and
practices are grounded on the experience and observed phenomena of life and death.
This phenomenology has always been the special province of the shaman, traditional
healer, diviner, psychologist and priest, as revealed in the following Judaic and Christian
themes. Original spiritual meanings of breathing have been recognized for millennia in
Ancient African, Indian, Greek, Roman, Chinese and Judaic civilizations (Frazer, 2001;
Reid, 1998) and today survive in such concepts as umoya, prana, psykhe, pneuma, anima,
spiritus, chi, and Holy Spirit, as evident in the following Judaic and Christian themes
from the Life Application Study Bible (1991).
Genesis 2: verse 7
“The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils
the breath of life, and the man became a living being.’
John 20:21
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the father has sent me, I am sending you.” And
with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Similar themes occur in other spiritual traditions, including ancestor reverence,
Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, and Taoism.
Our African heritage
Discerning visitors to Africa typically have an ancestral roots experience on encountering
an essential humanity and communal spirituality lacking in their home communities,
especially in economically developed countries. A meaningful, homecoming or déjà vu
experience on African soil is scarcely surprising when it is considered that converging
lines of recent evidence from various disciplines such as genetics, linguistics,
paleontology and archeology all point consistently to Africa as the cradle of civilization
for all humanity, with homo sapiens evolving some one hundred and fifty thousand years
ago and gradually emigrating across the Sinai Peninsula some fifty thousand years later.
While an infinity of factors such as language and creative intelligence would have played
a role, it is clear that contemporary humanity has survived primarily because of a
remarkable facility to form and maintain social relationships (Jobling, Hurles &Tyler-
Smith, 2004). The fundamental form of these links in human relationships, is poetically
portrayed in the Zulu saying umuntu umuntu ngabantu”. This saying, which literally
refers to the fact that a person becomes a person through other people; only through you
do I become an I and I am because we are; has the deeper implications of a shared sense
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of self in both temporal and spatial dimensions that include the common ancestral
heritage of contemporary humanity.
Today, ancestral reality and reverence remains clearly present when breathing through a
Zulu diviner in a process called ukuphefumulela amadlozi or ukububula kwedlozi. The
first phrase literally means to be breathed by the ancestors; the second has connotations
of moaning or groaning as the energy of the past lives of the ancestors is experienced in
all their power, love and wisdom. Depending upon the depth of the past evolutionary
ancestral call, diviners may breath like roaring lions (ukubhodla kwengonyama) or even p
ythons in their silent communication (inhlwathi igingile).
All spiritual healing traditions, African, Eastern and Western converge on two basic
points: Firstly the energy, will and/or intention that created the universe and all its life is
guided by a set of primordial principles, collectively called wisdom or truth that
transcend all cultural definitions. Secondly, the universal energy or power of creation has
always been motivated by and should always be accompanied by that compassionate
empathy for life called love. Wisdom, love and power refer to three inseparable virtues or
forces of the universe requiring balance and harmony. Power without wisdom is
destructive, power without love is cold, love without power is impotent, wisdom without
power is useless (Reid, 1998). Zulu people speak of uNkulunkulu, uthando and amandla,
Breathing for life and health
While life may be about much more than breathing, the practice of deep breathing brings
a wonderful way to life, time honoured knowledge and a key to making the world a better
place in the form of various methods of promoting life, health, exercise and sport. The
psychologist, Maslow (1959) postulated a hierarchy of survival and growth needs ranging
from physiological, safety, belongingness and love through to self-esteem and self-
actualization needs. Beginning with a ‘big five’ of basic physiological needs, we may list
in order: breathing, water, sleep, food and movement. This is an individual, typically
unconscious and forgotten fact of life, in its reality as a finite number of breaths and
breath taking moments. Except in cases of extended cellular respiration in infants, yogis
and other breathing adepts, humans only live for a very few minutes without breathing.
Conversely deep abdominal breathing with balanced and harmonious breath control is an
essential foundation for a long and healthy life.
From a physiological perspective the diaphragm is the strongest muscle in the body and
acts as a second heart during deep breathing. On inspiration, the diaphragm relaxes
downwards creating a vacuum and flow of air into the lungs. On expiration, the
diaphragm contracts upwards, causing air in the lungs to be expelled outwards. Every
in-breath is energizing and stimulating to the sympathetic division of the autonomous
nervous system. Every out-breath is relaxing and stimulates the pneumogastric nerves
along the spinal column and parasympathetic division of the autonomous nervous system.
Deep breathing literally saves breath by slowing respiratory patterns and increasing
volume of air per breath from 500cc to up to 3000 cc. Besides being the primary human
energy exchange with the environment, breathing balances and harmonizes all internal
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and external systems, eg. digestion, circulation, neurochemical and endocrine systems,
central, peripheral and autonomic divisions of the nervous systems (Loehr & Migdow,
1999; Reid, 1998; Taub-Bynum, 1984). The above-mentioned effect of breathing on the
all-important sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions of the autonomic nervous
system respectively responsible for rest and arousal is the key to energy control through
various breathing methods. This quite simply means that if more energy is required,
inhalation must be longer than exhalation, and conversely, if rest is required, exhalation
must be longer than inhalation. Breathing duration is typically and best measured in
heartbeats. This means listening to the body and/or measuring heart rate at the wrist or
jugular vein. The human rate of breathing is approximately a quarter the rate of
heartbeats per minute.
Blood flow is greater in the lower part of the lungs because of gravity eg .07 litres per
minute with clavicular, .66 with thoracic and 1.29 litres per minute with diaphragmatic
breathing. The strongest muscle in the body, the diaphragm, has a pump-like action to
change the size of the chest cavity, massage the internal organs and act as a second heart
in distributing energy, blood and oxygen throughout the body. The amount of air
delivered by diaphragm and chest varies widely during the day. Bed rest requires about 8
quarts of air per minute, sitting 16, walking 24 and running 50. The deeper and more
fully the lungs are used, the greater the ratio of useful air-exchange to dead space through
oxygen-carbon monoxide energy transformations in the trachea, bronchi, bronchioli,
alveoli and capillaries of the lungs (Loehr & Migdow, 1999; Reid, 1998; Taub-Bynum,
1984).
Prevention of illness.
Deep breathing breaks the cycle of stress. Regulation of the motion of the lungs through
conscious observation and control of breathing, leads to regulation of heart function via
the vagus nerve, with its direct links to the involuntary or autonomic nervous system.
With practice, involuntary systems become progressively more open to voluntary
conscious control. In an internal cybernetic biofeedback loop, such control in turn
influences brainwave activity, production of neurochemicals such as endorphins and
higher level consciousness as in alpha conditioning and meditation (Loehr & Migdow,
1999; Reid, 1998; Taub-Bynum, 1984).
Reid (1998) has referred to emotion as energy in motion. Observation of breathing
patterns during emotional moments reveals specific breathing patterns. Grief brings
short, slow, shallow sighs and sometimes halts breathing. Anger causes an erratic
huffing and puffing as it shifts the breath from nostrils to mouth. Fear causes a gulping,
swallowing withholding pattern of breath, with long retention and short, tentative
exhalation. Anxiety causes the breath to rise to the top of the lungs and grow short,
shallow and fast, like a panting dog. In such ways emotions upset normal breathing
patterns, which can be immediately restored with a few minutes of deep breathing.
Vigilance and prompt correction of abnormal breathing patterns is an immediate form of
illness prevention.
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Promotion of health
Deep breathing with ‘light, loose, limber’ relaxation and “slow soft silent’ inhalation and
exhalation patterns is the original method of health promotion. Normal breathing
patterns and health and energy conservation and promotion are also promoted through
daily practice of breathing skills such as pranayama and chi-gung.. Breath control is
essential for human life and health and is an unconscious everyday human activity as for
example occurs in laughing, sighing, talking and singing,
Ancient Hindu, Greek and Roman writings describe the energetic system of the psyche in
terms of seven chakras or spinning wheels of energy, associated with particular
anatomical locations of the spine and brain, plexuses of the nervous, endocrine and other
human functional systems as well as colours, sounds, patterns and symbols (Mumford,
2005, Reid, 1998). For example, in Hindu philosophy, from perineum to crown, the
chakras muladhara, svadisthana, manipura, anahata, vishudda, ajna and sahasrara are
respectively associated with systemic functions of elimination, reproduction, digestion,
circulation, respiration, nervation and ultimate realisation through relation with the
cosmos. Breath and energy control through these chakras has been demonstrably linked
to various psychosomatic phenomena such as cardiac cessation and peristalsis control and
starting and stopping of bleeding (Mumford, 2005; Rama, Ballentine, & Hymes, 1979). It
is instructive that such energetic systems are essentially based on introspective,
indigenous phenomenological forms of knowledge passed on over generations.
Yogi’s often emphasize three stage breath control with a 1:3:2 ratio of inhalation:
retention: exhalation while counting heartbeats (eg 4:12:8 heartbeats). Some general
effects of Yogic breathing are to calm, quieten and refresh the mind, strengthen the
immune system, improve concentration, increase lung capacity and circulation.
Complete yogic breathing involves filling the bottom, middle and side, and top of the
lungs (diaphragmatic, thoracic and clavicular breathing) on inhalation and pulling the
abdomen in and up on exhalation to ensure all stale air is expelled. Unless otherwise
stated, all yogic breathing is through the nostrils with a closed mouth. This warms and
purifies the air and improves quality of life. Some of the more specific common forms
and their effects are described below (Fraser, 2001; Ralston, 1999; Taub-Bynum, 1984).
Ha cleansing breathing refers to exhaling through the mouth with a ‘ha’ sound while
bending forward at the waist from a standing position, pulling in abdomen and expelling
all air, then inhaling while returning to a standing position. This benefits asthma and
bronchitis sufferers by fully emptying the lungs and lowering carbon monoxide.
Ujjayi breathing, which has been mentioned above refers to deep abdominal breathing
while making a whooshing sound like breaking ocean waves at the back of the throat.
This creates a brake to slow down breathing, creates a strong airflow and clears the lungs
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of impurities. This also quietens the mind, strengthens the nervous system and improves
circulation and lung tissue.
Kapalabhati refers to a pattern of taking a deep breath then pulling in the abdomen with
each of a series of about ten short, forceful, staccato exhalations from one nostril while
blocking the alternate nostril before inhalation. This clears the sinuses and the skull,
wobbles the brain around in its cushion of cerebrospinal fluid and aids digestion and
excretion.
Bhastrika (bellows breathing) involves continual forceful exhalation of air through use of
abdominal muscles, followed by the relaxing of the abdomen so that air is automatically
sucked into the lungs as in stoking a fire with bellows. This is highly cleansing and
invigorating as it clears the mind, sinuses and improves circulation and concentration.
Although fundmentally similar and mainly based on the teachings of the Tantric Buddhist
monk Bodhidharma, an essential difference between Indian and Chinese systems of
breath control is the relatively greater emphasis on breath co-ordinated movement in the
Chinese system. Specific chi-gung breathing exercises include four-stage breath control
(Reid,1998). In practice these four stages flow harmoniously, orchestrated by the pump-
like action of the diaphragm, stringing together a smooth, continuous sequence, like
waves on the sea. When deconstructed, the stages are firstly, long slow inhalation;
secondly, retention of up to ten heart-beats while pressing down the diaphragm and
locking the perineum, lower abdomen and glottis; thirdly, long slow exhalation and
fourthly, a pause in which the lower abdomen is pulled inwards and upwards, thereby
expelling all stale air and providing an invigorating massage to the internal organs before
allowing the diaphragm to fall back into place with the next cycle of slow inhalation.
The benefits of deep breathing can readily be experienced through daily practice. The
consciously slow, silent, smooth in and out-breath stages produce sublime sensations.
Brief breath retention has many particular benefits. It slows and deepens the pulse,
balances blood pressure, produces a compression, which extends throughout the
circulatory system, enhances the exchange of gases, enriches the blood with more
supplies of oxygen and elimination of carbon dioxide, triggers the innate response of
cellular respiration, breaking down blood sugar to release oxygen and produce body heat,
and keeping the autonomous nervous system in parasympathetic healing mode (Reid,
1998, p.133). Breathing exercises are best done in the early morning when the
atmosphere is relatively unpolluted and full of negative ionic energy.
Galante (1981) reviewed reports of some 500 successfully treated patients at Shanghai
and Tangshan Sanatoriums, using respiration therapy (chi-gung) alone. Reid (1998, p.
120) reports on Wahzhan Zhineng Chi-gung Clinic and Training Centre in Qinuadao,
China, where De Pang Ming developed a chi-gung programme called chi lel, which
consists of four parts: instruction in chi-gung dynamics, group healing sessions,
individual treatment with emitted chi and individual practise in various chi-gung sets.
Medical records for 10,000 cases reveal an overall success rate of 95%, with 15 %
experiencing total cure and return to normal functioning, 38% experiencing very effective
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results in terms of vital function tests almost complete disappearance of symptoms and
42% effective results in terms of noticeable improvement in vital functioning.
As a form of health promotion, deep breathing and continuously moving meditation, Tai
Chi, is the single most popular style of chi-gung found throughout the world today (Reid
1998). Tai Chi constitutes a low impact, low to moderate intensity exercise,
incorporating elements of relaxation, flexibility, balance, and strength, in a series of
continuous breath co-ordinated movements. Exercise features include continuous
shifting of weight on left and right feet, with bending and flexion of knees, straight back
and neck, trunk rotation and asymmetrical diagonal arm and leg movements, mostly in a
semi squat position. The exercise intensity is variable and can be adjusted by the height
of the postures, duration of the practise session and training style. It is suitable for all
persons of all ages and fitness levels, and can be performed individually or in groups in
any setting (Taylor-Piliae and Froelicher, 2004). Recent comprehensive research reviews
on chi-gung and Tai Chi have revealed substantial evidence for illness prevention and
health promotion. Findings include significant improvements in aerobic capacity,
strength, balance, flexibility, relaxation, mood, cardio respiratory functioning, longevity,
blood pressure, osteoporosis, low back pain, arthritis, stress, anxiety, depression, quality
of life, psychosocial and immune functioning (Gallagher, 2003; Lan, Lai & Chen, 2002,
Taylor-Piliae & Froelicher, 2004).
Reid (1998) has referred to breath as the only vital autonomous function that can be
consciously controlled by the mind and to breathing as a sort of tuning device to balance
and harmonize all functional systems of the body. In fact, given the degree of conscious
control possible through breath control, and consequent channelling of the free energy of
the universe, through ever more sophisticated breathing skills, there seem infinite benefits
to such time honoured practices as pranayama and chi-gung and various other modern
cultural therapeutics inspired by such researchers as Pilates (Worth, 2003) Schultz, J.A.
and Luthe, W. (1959), Jacobsen (1938), Benson, Beary and Carol (1974), Cooper 1968)
and Grof (1998) all of which use related relaxation and/or aerobic techniques.
A basic percept of chi-gung practice is to harmonize movement and stillness-to seek
stillness in movement in both moving, macro-cosmic orbit forms such as Tai Chi, as well
as seeking movement in stillness in microcosmic meditation involving circulation of
breath, energy. Microcosmic orbit meditation typically involves internal visualization of
light as healing energy. Tai Chi has in fact become an international phenomenon.
Today, similar Tai Chi communal exercise scenes may also be observed in Africa,
Australia, Europe, United Kingdom and USA. Tai Chi teaches calm abdominal out-
breathing patterns that stimulate the relaxation inducing parasympathetic division of the
autonomic nervous system. As a movement meditation towards holistic living, health,
peace, meaning, higher values such as love and finding the Tao or God, Tai Chi provides
a balanced alternative and corrective to more competitive and frenetic exercise activities
so common in our postmodern world.
Breathing for exercise and sport
8
In a qualitative investigation into the exercise experience and its community effects
(Edwards, 2002), one participant gave the following beautiful breathing description.
“Exercise is a breathing experience; breathing in of new vitality and breathing out of stale
devitalized energy. In the breathing in, there is a stretching of my body muscles, my
limbs, my torso gradually piece by piece, limb by limb, the body starts to expand, to
accelerate and then to dance my etheric life force celebrates joining the vitality of all
flourishing forms until it becomes part of the cosmic experience of expansion, embracing
and revitalizing all that is growing within me, my thinking, my feeling, to the core of my
spirit.”
Physical exercise and sport are facilitated by breathing methods in essentially two ways.
Firstly the vital capacity of the lungs can be increased. Breathing methods such as those
described above for health and exercise conditioning can improve maximum oxygen
consumption by up to 20 percent. This effect is particularly evident in genetically gifted
elite athletes who adapt readily to conditioning. In terms of volume per minute, aerobic
training can triple breathing power as the heart works more effectively and pumps more
blood. Whereas the average heart rate ranges between 66 and 84, trained athletes have
typical resting pulse rates of 45 to 50 beats per minute. Secondly breathing methods can
be tailored to specific sports and/or introduced into specific sporting situations (Loehr &
Migdow, 1999) as follows.
A lung expanding breath After a deep, lower abdominal, long exhalation, relaxation,
breath to open the lungs, and loosen, relax and sink the shoulders. Fingertips are then
placed on the top of the relaxed shoulders and elbows brought up, out and back to expand
the lungs.
A centring breath After a deep, lower abdominal, long exhalation, relaxation breath,
the inner self is imagined as a clear light, calm, stable and rooted place, which is
illuminated with successive inhalations, as unnecessary tension, stress, anxiety and fear
are breathed out.
A focussing breath Following relaxed deep, lower abdominal breathing with sunken
relaxed shoulders, every inhalation is visualized as bringing focused and concentrated
energy and vitality in the lower abdominal core of the body, while the sporting situation
is imagined in great detail.
Many sport psychological research interventions, using randomised control designs, have
demonstrated significant improvement in actual specific sport activities after the
successful performance of the specific sporting activity has been repetitively visualized
or imagined. Most sport psychological sills training programmes use variations of such
breathing techniques (Morris & Summers, 1995; Weinberg & Gould, 1999). In both
actual and visualized tasks, breathing methods and techniques, which combine a holistic
approach with attention to detail, promote practice becoming perfect.
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In an investigation into 200 peak athletic performances, athletes indicated that every
single peak performance was characterised by smooth deep, full, breathing and pleasant
high energy experiences (Loehr & Migdow, 1999). Typically in actual sporting contexts
breathing is unconscious as athletes are involved in the ongoing flow of activity. The
breathing methods are designed for times and places when punctuations occur in the flow
of activities, as in timeout periods, lapses in concentration or unnecessary physical
“tightening up” periods.
Fine-tuning the breathing process to fit the actual physical course of movement usually
involves two stages (Loehr & Migdow, 1999). Firstly, heightened awareness of the task
specific breathing pattern in relation to the ebb and flow of the sporting situation is
needed. Breathing patterns also often change over the course of activity. For example,
long distance running may require longer exhalations than inhalations for relaxation and
some dissociated thinking during the early stages of races. During middle stages, an
athlete may notice a circular 3:3 rhythm beat of exhalation over three footsteps and
inhalation over the next three footsteps. Then the tempo may increase to a 2:2 footstep,
breathing pattern with highly concentrated associated thinking during the closing stages
of the race. Secondly, breathing patterns must be adapted relative to critical moments in
the activity. For example in contact and ball sports, a smooth, yang style, exhalation at
critical moments typically helps to reinforce the rhythm of play and produces a low
muscle tension at contact point, which is associated with further fluidity, power and
heightened consciousness. In this regard, it has been interesting to note the increase in
tennis players’ exhalation grunts over the years!
Some other examples of breathing patterns related to specific sports are as follows.
Swimming and cycling have similar synchronized breathing patterns as running. In Tai
Chi, exhalation occurs with forward, outward and upward movements while inhalation
happens with backward, inward and downward movements. Weight training requires
similar breathing patterns of slow, even exhalation during lifting and inhalation during
lowering of weights.
Conclusion
It is a simple fact that the more deeply, regularly and completely we breath, the better our
quality and quantity of living. The psychology of breathing methods is a vast topic of
which this article is merely a brief sketch. As universal free energy, the air out there is
shared by all of us. When it enters the lungs of particular people, it becomes uniquely
their own ‘to have and to hold, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.’ What we
make of it is a personal choice. As the bridge between body, mind, soul, human and
physical environment, there are immense benefits and opportunities for all of us as
breathers, which can be optimised through care and practice.
Various ancient and modern systems of breathing skills have evolved over the years.
These can be complemented with techniques such as
visualization, positive self-talk,
centring and concentration. Finally, given the abundant evidence for their value and
power in various forms and contexts, breathing skills may be regarded as the original
10
method of survival, energy control, illness prevention, health promotion and improving
quality of living.
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Cooper, K.H. (1968). Aerobics. New York: Evans and Co.
Edwards, S.D.(2002). Experiencing the meaning of exercise. Indo-Pacific Journal of
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Gallagher, B. (2003). Tai chi chuan and qigong; physical and mental practice for
functional mobility. Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation, 19(3), 172-182.
Galante, L. (1981). Tai chi: the supreme ultimate. Maine: Samuel Weiser.
Grof, S. (1998). The adventure of self-discovery. Albany, N.Y: State University of New
York Press.
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Jacobsen, E. (1938). Progressive relaxation. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.
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Life Books.
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Mumford, J. (2005). Chakra and kundalini workbook. Delhi: Pustak Mahal.
Rama, S., Ballentine, R. and Hymes, A. (1979). Science of breath. Honesdale, P.A:
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Reid, D (1998). Chi-Gung. Harnessing the power of the universe. London: Simon and
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psychotherapy. New York: Grune and Stratton.
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... The term 'spirit' is derived from the Latin word 'spiritus,' meaning breath and healing and implying a process of making whole. Spiritual healing is concerned, quite particularly, literally and originally, with holistic transformations related to deep breathing (Edwards 2004;Myers 1993;Hergenhahn 2001). ...
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This book is a continuation of my Motivation and Personality, published in 1954. It was constructed in about the same way, that is, by doing one piece at a time of the larger theoretical structure. It is a predecessor to work yet to be done toward the construction of a comprehensive, systematic and empirically based general psychology and philosophy which includes both the depths and the heights of human nature. The last chapter is to some extent a program for this future work, and serves as a bridge to it. It is a first attempt to integrate the "health-and-growth psychology" with psychopathology and psychoanalytic dynamics, the dynamic with the holistic, Becoming with Being, good with evil, positive with negative. Phrased in another way, it is an effort to build on the general psychoanalytic base and on the scientific-positivistic base of experimental psychology, the Eupsychian, B-psychological and metamotivational superstructure which these two systems lack, going beyond their limits. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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The usual psychoneurotic symptoms are ascribed to neuromuscular hypertension, which can be reduced by voluntary practice in muscular relaxation. The author's technique for progressive muscular relaxation, general and differential, is given; it depends upon learning to recognize muscle tenseness and to relax the sensation away. The author's experiments indicating reduction of reflexes, and of mental activity when relaxed are given. There are extensive references to and quotations from the literature of neuro-physiology, tending to justify the author's views. Case reports include spastic esophagus, mucous colitis, insomnia, compulsion neurosis, phobia, and neurasthenia as amenable to the method. Reference is also had to its use in manic states. A chapter differentiates this method from suggestion and allied methods, and argues for its superiority over them. There is brief reference to Freudian analysis which the author regards as more time consuming, less fundamental, and less satisfactory in securing lasting effects than is progressive relaxation. Bibliography of 33 pages. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Evidence mounts that Tai Chi Chuan (Taijiquan, T'ai Ch'i Ch'uan) and Qigong (Chi Gung, Chi Gong, Chi Kung), a system of physical and mental practice, is a preventative and restorative therapy for elders seeking to reverse or prevent frailty by preventing falls, improving balance, strengthening, enhancing cardiorespiratory fitness, treating arthritis, and eliciting a relaxation response. Knowledge of Chinese internal martial arts, together with clinical biomechanics and psychophysiology, suggests that Tai Chi and Qigong should also benefit some elders who have incontinence or low back pain. The combination of direct and indirect evidence can serve as a springboard for further evaluation of this system by researchers and clinicians.