A Zen Healing Method

Dove Floor Pattern in Taos

Lately, I’ve been back to reading books by Shunryu Suzuki (Suzuki Roshi) and Dainin Katagiri. They brought Japanese Zen training to the U.S. Zen simplicity counterbalances the complexity of the messages one can get bombarded with as a spiritual seeker, with the wealth of what is available today on the internet. No matter how far I stray, and I’m open minded so I do stray far, I come back to a longing for simplicity. 

In Suzuki Roshi’s book, “Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness”, I stumbled across a healing method. I liked it a lot, and I tried it, and think it has all of the necessary elements as a tool for healing, and so I thought I’d post it here.

The practice is called unshu, which means putting emphasis on the out-breath while saying “m-m-m-mmm” to express suffering. 

During meditation, put more breathing effort and strength into your lower abdomen and take a long time exhaling. Say “m-m-m-mmm” silently while directing this expression of suffering to the spot that ails you or causes you suffering or requires healing. “M-m-m-mmm” is the (silent) cry out, the expression of the suffering. By feeling this which is described as a begging for mercy, an emotional energy of supplication is included in the practice. Importantly, the focus then goes to the spot that needs to be healed, moving energy there. Remember that the effort stems from the lower abdomen. The Zen masters tell us that the practice “feels good” if it comes from the lower abdomen but not so much if the breath effort is at chest level.

Key components of any healing such as this require faith in knowing that absolutely anything is possible as you release the outcome to the higher power. In zen, one also desires to dissolve into the out breath, so keep this in mind while doing this healing practice as well. This would be equivalent to modern day healers who label their method quantum healing, but frequently requires forgetting the self during which time the healing takes place. Qigong teaches that our power comes from the navel area or the solar plexus chakra, which is included in this practice. Furthermore, this utilize the power of sound vibration. It is my understanding that one should be in an uplifted mood for healing to take place, too, so even though this practice expresses suffering, the practitioners mood should be joyful and open-warm hearted.

Hakuin Zenji, b. 1689, was a Japanese Zen master who used this unshu breathing practice to heal his childhood acquired pulmonary tuberculosis.

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