Before you begin Golden Flower Kundalini Meditation, you must master diaphragmatic breathing in order to train the diaphragm to regulate the breath and to center yourself. Since we cannot control or even isolate the muscles of the diaphragm directly, we must find a “handle” that allows us to do so indirectly. That handle is the belly or abdominal muscles.
One should not be able to hear with the ear the outgoing and the intaking of breath. What one hears is that it has no tone. As soon as it has tone, the breathing is rough and superficial, and does not penetrate into the open. The heart must be made quite light and insignificant. The more it is released, the less it becomes; the less it is, the quieter. All at once it becomes so quiet that it stops. Then the true breathing is manifested and the form of the heart comes to consciousness. If the heart is light, the breathing is light for every movement of the heart affects breath-energy. If breathing is light, the heart is light, for every movement of breath-energy affects the heart. In order to steady the heart, one begins by taking care of the breath energy. The heart cannot be influenced directly. Therefore, the breath energy is used as a handle, and this is what is called maintenance of the concentrated breath-energy."
When you extend the belly, pushing it outward on inhalation and then pulling the belly in to expel air, you are embarking on a regimen of abdominal and diaphragmatic calisthenics. Starting this activity for the first time — whether sitting, walking, reclining, or lying down — you may feel a burning sensation. That is the muscles of the abdomen telling you that you are beginning to breathe correctly. Using the belly muscles is like pump priming, that is, using the handle of a pump (the belly) to activate the pump mechanism (the diaphragm).
Long-time contributor Tom S. Kinney suggests this variation:
"A complete cycle starts with the exhalation. You use the thumb and ring fingers to close the nostrils. I am right handed so I close the right nostril with the thumb. Exhale through the left nostril. Hold the breath out. Close the left nostril and breathe in. Hold the breath in. Breathe out the right nostril, and hold the breath out. Then close the right nostril and breathe in the left. This is a single round. The same 4:4:4:4 ratio works, or 4:2:4:2. If you skip the holding the breath out you can try 4:4:4. The benefits I have experienced are improved concentration and a temporary improvement in seeing parts of auras around people — including in color. It helps to keep emotions calmer. In general, colors are brighter and everything just seems a little more vivid. I have read that it helps to balance the hemispheres of the brain. Bill Harris (Holosync, Centerpointe) suggests it for that purpose. I tend to start getting results in a week or two, and I have been thinking of making time for it every day to see how it develops more long term.
"For people who are already doing the technique described at this web site, the 4:4:4:4 ratio is already familiar. It includes holding the breath in and out. The only new part is switching sides. As for which fingers to use to block the nostrils, it does vary from source to source. I read thumb and ring finger. Start with an exhalation and switch sides. Then inhale, exhale, and switch back to the original side for another exhalation. It is harder to describe and keep it clear with the holds also. With a lot of breathing patterns in Yoga, the exhalation is more important than the inhalation."
When you’ve mastered the diaphragmatic breathing skill, you will be able to take in more air during each breath cycle. How does this work? Shallow breathing merely fills the chest. Deep breathing fills the lungs, the diaphragm, the belly, even the pockets behind the kidneys. With diaphragmatic breathing, you not only take in more air, you slow down the inhalation-exhalation cycle to the point where breathing becomes entirely silent. In fact, eventually, you become one with your breathing. It’s as if you’ve filled the room with your being. Suddenly, there are no walls; you and the universe are in complete vibrational sync with your breath. This is a profound experience that demonstrates that you are connected to the energy continuum. Don’t try to force it; let it come to you.
Control of Heart Rate
You cannot influence or control the heart rate directly; it is an autonomic function. So, once again, you use a “handle” to accomplish it — the diaphragmatic deep breathing, explained above, which, once you master it, makes your breathing more profound and more regular. What do I mean by more profound and regular? Profound means still, as in silent; regular means rhythmic.
The Secret of the Golden Flower says, “Only the heart must be conscious of the flowing in and out of the breath; it must not be heard with the ears.” Like the diaphragm, the heart is a muscle we cannot isolate or control directly. Once again, you use a “handle” to control an autonomic function, in this case, the heart. As The Secret of the Golden Flower says, “The heart cannot be influenced directly. Therefore, the breath-energy is used as a handle.”
The goal is to be able to sit in a quiet room and not detect the sound of your breath while you meditate. As your practice progresses, you’ll observe that you are able to take in more air at the same time your breathing rate decreases (fewer breaths per minute) and you are no longer able to hear your the sound of your beathing as you inhale and exhale.
The fewer breaths per minute; the slower your heart rate. This is a secret yogis have known for centuries. No, you are not a turtle; there are too many anatomical differences, but the more you control your metabolism, the better able you are to start building up energy in the lower belly. What is this energy? It’s the sexual sublimation process gradually engaging. Not only does slowing your metabolism start distilling energy in the lower belly, is also has longevity implications. All you remains to complete your practice is to engage the backward-flowing method, explained in Step 4 on the GFM page.
People who consult me on Kundalini ask, "Why bother with meditation when you have aerobics, bodybuilding, and a host of other exercise programs being offered at reasonable prices in strip malls across the country?" Because Golden Flower Meditation is the only method that doesn’t wear the body out. That’s right, whether you know it or not, although exercise programs build the body up initially, over time they actually wear it out at a much faster rate. Kundalini Meditation, on the other hand, has the opposite effect; it actually rejuvenates and revitalizes the body. The truth is Less is More!
Internal exercises differ vastly from 'external exercises' and other activities that primarily emphasize the external figure. The stress, strain, pain, and contortions associated with external exercises deplete the body of its energy and disturb the delicate biological balance of the internal organs. This impairs the body's ability to fight off viruses and other disease causing agents, thereby causing not only any number of illnesses, but also premature aging and fatigue. Muscular bodies do not protect against disease-causing agents; internal organs do."
~ The Book of Internal Exercises - Dr. Stephen Chang
Golden Flower Meditation uses the nervous and respiratory systems to trigger a host of metabolic and somatic activity in the human body, especially in the internal organs. Through Golden Flower Meditation, the nervous system is stimulated such that the natural chemical substances of the body are recombined and used for self-healing, rejuvenative purposes, and greater overall awareness. But it all starts with breathing … Read the report by an individual who practiced GFM for 100-days.