Image result for breathe to succeedIt is our subconscious patterns and habits that shape our lives and determine whether we will accomplish our goals or not. It is what we do over the long term, what is ingrained into the fibre of our beings that will reinforce the actions that need to be taken in order to succeed in the realisation of our desires. How we react to certain situations in our everyday lives can influence the outcome of many things - our career and financial goals, social status, health and fitness goals, relationships, and so on.

Many of our bodily functions that keep us alive are governed subconsciously, our heart rate, hormone secretions, and respiration for example. It is respiration, however, that can be also consciously controlled in order to affect the other responses. Learning to breathe deeply and slowly when in a situation that would cause nervousness or anxiety can help to calm the nerves, thereby enhancing our performance in our daily dealings, be they in the workplace or in relationships or social situations. Mastery of the breath is a vital key in all areas of self-improvement. It can help us in the gym for example - enhancing endurance with improved oxygenation, helping us through grueling training sessions, or helping to brace the spine when lifting heavy, minimising risk of injury and maximising force output. Breathing is a valuable tool for gaining focus, and regular breath training trains our focus.

In the Chinese martial arts there exists the concept of Xin-Yi. Xin refers to the emotions (or subconscious), while Yi refers to the intention (or conscious mind). When these are in harmony then the martial artist becomes unstoppable. First, the emotions (Xin) harmonise with the intention (Yi), then the intention (Yi) harmonises with the breathing (Chi), and finally the breathing (Chi) harmonises with the force of action (Li). This plan can be applied to many facets of life and is not only applicable to martial arts. We may have goals that are creative, social, financial, physical and/or spiritual that we may apply this to.

The first step is to release built up negative emotions. We do this by using the "six healing sounds" (click here for more info). These are breathing techniques that place the tongue in various positions to activate a different organ (or one of the five elements), in order to release negative emotions.It is believed that our emotions are not experienced in the brain but in the body, in particular the internal organs (or at least the nervous system associated with the internal organs ie. subconscious).

Image result for tongue map chinese medicineIn Chinese medicine, as also in Ayurveda, the tongue is mapped out to correspond to the various organs of the body. This has relevance when performing the six breaths as the mouth's shape stimulates one particular region of the tongue. When we combine that with the motion of the breathing we are able to stimulate the particular organ that corresponds to the part of the tongue being stimulated.

The six breaths do not heal by themselves, but simply initiate the process by releasing negative patterns or emotions stored around the organs. They can be performed as little as once or a few times, each followed by a short period of rhythmic breathing.

So now that we have acknowledged that the six breaths should be thought of as breathing exercises rather than 'magical sounds', allow me to describe the performance of each one in detail. Each of the breaths should be accompanied with a slight upward tilting of the chin on exhalation and likewise a drawing inward of the jaw during inhalation.

Heart:  "Haaaawwww" (as in awe-some). Releases hatred and judgement.

 As you inhale in preparation, let the tip of the tongue sit gently against the palate just behind the two front teeth, while drawing your chin inward. As you breathe out, the tongue disengages from this spot yet remains pointed upward as your chin pushes slightly upward.

Lungs: "Ssssssiiiii" (see). Releases grief and sadness.

 This time as you exhale, the tip of the tongue sits against the two bottom front teeth, a gap forming between top and bottom rows. The sides of the mouth curl back and upward as though you are smiling.

Stomach: "Fffuuu" (as in 'kung-fu'). Releases greed and distrust.

 The bottom lip is pursed as though blowing out a candle. As you exhale. the upward motion of the chin completes the silent vowel portion of the breath ("ooh").

Triple Burner/Endocrine:  "Hhhheeeiiii" (as in 'hay' or 'hey'). Releases sickness (upward travelling heat, allow it to travel down through the feet).

 The tongue relaxes so that the throat may be open as the chin tilts upward.

Liver: "Hui" (pronounced hhww-way). Releases anger and frustration.

 With the edges of the mouth (where top and bottom lips meet) pinching in toward the sides of the tongue. The silent vowel portion of the breath comes naturally as the chin pushes upward.

Kidneys: "Chui" (pronounced chw-way). Releases fear.

 Similar to the last, the edges of the mouth pinch inward, however the bottom lip is extended in front. This gives an effect of the muscles of the mouth pinching in toward the tongue this time further back. Again, the silent vowel ("way") naturally occurs as a result of the chin tilting upward as you exhale.

Image result for vacuum breathing
Vacuum breathing
The second step is the harmonisation of intention with breath. Once having completed the six healing sounds it is time to focus on a regular breathing  pattern with deep full breaths as this is deeply cleansing and oxygenating. Focus on expelling all the air from the lungs with deep diaphragmic breathing, pulling the vacuum pose, then fill the lungs keeping your chest relaxed expanding at the belly. As you find a rhythmic pattern and quiet your mind, this is time to focus on your goals and to mentally recite your affirmations. "I have the ability to move mountains", "I am empowered to empower others", or "I will make this day matter" can all work. Or you may want to replace the negative emotions from the organs with positive attributes:

Heart: "I breathe Happiness";
Lungs: "I breathe Courage";
Stomach: "I breathe Trust for what life has in store/Confidence";
Triple Warmer: "I breathe Life";
Liver: "I breathe Abundance (to receive and to give)";
Kidneys: "I breathe Willpower".

Releasing negative emotions and exchanging them for positive attributes with the breath can help to make you a stronger person. When you focus these positive attributes with the power of your breath while visualising your goals on a daily basis, you set yourself up for success in everything you put your mind to. It may not seem like such a small thing would make any difference at first, but over time constantly telling yourself that you are great will eventually pay off as it begins to affect you on a subconscious level. As you go about your day you will find that the actions that you need to take in order to fulfill your goals will have a focus and drive that shall ensure that your dreams, one day at a time, come a little closer to reality.