Nine-round breathing meditation
This is a Buddhist purification practice in which you visualise the main three energy channels in the body. It is used in the beginning of a meditation session to calm and clear the mind and you can use any time you might find yourself in a state of anxiety and worries.
Meditation is a mental activity and we must first calm the mind. Also we should make an effort to purify the subtle energy channels in our body. We must attempt to clear them as much as possible so that they can function properly. There are thousands of these channels throughout our body but we shall be concentrating on the three main ones located near the spinal column.
Sit comfortably on your meditation pillow or on a chair, spine straight, chest open, chin slightly drawn in to lengthen the back of your neck.
Visualization of the channels
We will begin this particular meditation by visualizing a thin, red channel within our body located on the right-hand side of the spinal column (1). This red channel begins four finger-widths below the navel and travels upwards, just to the right of the spine, to the top of the skull, above the brain but below the bone. At this point, near where the skull is soft in a new-born child, it bends like an umbrella and ends at the opening of the right nostril.
In the same way we should visualize a white channel beginning four fingers-widths below the navel and running upward along the left side of the spine, bending at the crown of the head and ending at the left nostril.
In the right, red channel we visualize blood flowing and in the left, white channel, we visualize seminal fluid.
We will begin the meditation by visualizing the white channel as being inserted into the red channel like two hollow tubes connecting at four fingers-widths below the navel.
Having clearly imagined these two channels, we should then block the right nostril with the right index finger. We then inhale through the left nostril and visualize the air descending through the left channel.
When it reaches the point at which the left channel is inserted into the right channel we then begin to exhale and simultaneously we remove the right index finger from the side of our right nostril and use it to block the left one.
As we breathe out we visualize this inhaled air passing from the left channel into the right, rising up the right channel and being exhaled through the right nostril. As we do this visualization we imagine that the air flowing through the channels cleanses them of all impurities and that they are left clean.
We should breathe slowly, calmly, and deeply both during the exhalation and inhalation. There is no need to force the breath: just breathe normally and gradually we shall become used to the practice and our breath will naturally lenghten. We should do this cycle of inhaling through the left nostril and exhaling through the righ three times. Imagine that the right channel becomes luminous like a channel of very subtle red light.
When we have completed this cycle, we should then reverse the process and cleanse the left (2). Therefore we inhale with the right nostril and exhal through the left nostril. While doing so we imagine all the impurities of the left white channel are expelled with the breath. The channel itself becomes pure and luminous like a radiant tube of subtle white light.
We now visualize a third, blue channel between the other two (3). It also begins at the point four finger-widths below the navel and runs up along and slightly in front of the spinal column. When it reaches the crown of the head it curves like the handle of an umbrella and ends at the point midway between the eyebrows.
This third channel is slightly larger than the red and white channels. It is the most important of the channels in our body! We visualize the white and red channels entering the blue channel at the point four finger-widths below the navel, like two tubes fitting into a slightly larger one. We inhale and exhale through both nostrils but when we exhale we imagine that the impurities are leaving the central channel at the point between the eyebrows.
We repeat this process three times and we imagine that this channel is completely purified and becomes of the nature of a subtle, radiant, blue light.
Having completed this process we should continue to breathe slowly, gently and evenly, imagining our breath flowing freely through all the channels.
If we concentrate on this breathing practice it can be an excellent way to calm the mind and prepare ourselves for further meditation.
Reference: “Treasury of Dharma. A Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Course.” By Geshe Rabten