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Taoism in Korea is not well known.

Until recently, there had never been any official Taoist
organizations.The heart of Korean Taoism is the actual practices that exist in the country’s mountains,
cities, and towns. Korean Taoist practices tend to focus on tancheon development and the process of
internal alchemy. Korean daoism uses tancheon breathing, called tancheon ho-hup in Korean, as the
primary tool for cultivating the breath. The tancheon is located below the bellybutton in the center of the
abdomen. In Hindu yogic tradition, it corresponds to the second navel chakra.
There are several tancheon development practices in South Korea. Some of these tancheon breath
practices are also considered to be yogas. Sundo is the main form of Taoist yoga in South Korea today.
Other Taoist yoga practices have evolved from it and are known by different names. Sundo focuses on
tancheon cultivation. Although many people in South Korea practice Sundo, it is not well known outside
the country. Originally only practiced in the mountains, it has, at various times in Korean history, been
practiced in cities and towns. During the Confucian dominated Choson Dynasty (1392-1910), Sundo,
along with Buddhist and Shamanistic practices, retreated to the mountains. It remained a practice only
for mountain dwellers until the late 1960's when it began to reappear in cities and towns. The first
Korean Taoist organization appeared in 1967 when the first SunDo Center was opened in South Korea.

SunDo Self-Healing with Tancheon Breathwork
by Gracia Del Rosario, PhD
In the Taoist philosophy, to harmonize with the universe is the purpose of healing to re-build,
balance, and harmonize the five elements of the human body. Traditional Asian Medicine (TAM) asserts
that the natural condition of health is an intricate and graceful dance whereby Yin and Yang (blood and ki)
and the organs complement, support and counterbalance one another. It is the disruption of this systemic
equilibrium that jeopardizes the relationship between the body and its environment and causes disease.
Taoists contend that the human body does not fight disease but rather tries to regain the Yin and
Yang balance to counteract disease. The human body possesses a natural ability to maintain and regulate
its functions of life in harmony. The Five Element System demonstrates the “Five Activating Forces”
operating, not in a mechanical way, but with mutual interaction. SunDo-Taoist breathwork balances the
energies of the Five Element System and restores the health of the internal organs.
Pregadio, F. (2008) provides the Five Agents and their main correlations. All the five agents (see
Table 1) and human elements are deemed interrelated and interdependent of each other. For instance, if
the body is physically injured or afflicted with a debilitating disease, the mind, emotion, and spirit will
simultaneously be affected or become unbalanced without the efficient functioning of the vital organs.

Table 1. Five Agents and Natural Elements (to list a few)
NATURE

Wood

Fire

EARTH

Metal

Water

VISCERA

Liver

Heart

STOMACH

Lung

Kidney

The impact of stress is akin to the “domino effect” pattern. divorce.e. and the like. Alignment of the “three treasures” takes place with the heightening of awareness. the Tancheon Breathing Meditation Self-Healing Wheel model shows the interrelationship of the five elements naturally embedded in the human being. etc. The stress brought about by one stressor is likely to impact all five human elements simultaneously as well as impact the normal flow of . lost of job can lead to homelessness starvation. and grounding of the body’s vital energy. b) Social Stressors (threat that has to do with love. break-ups. debilitating illnesses. clothing). a fulcrum that enables the body to balance its structure when it is experiencing the various cycles of stress. and other health related risks. Occurring simultaneously. relationships. hypertension.e. physical injuries. the “stomach and spleen” act as the balancing agents for the other vital organs. centering (focusing) of the mind. shelter. they can be classified as: a) Survival Need Stressors (threat to basic human needs: food. d) Environment Stressors (threats brought about by natural forces) i. family conflicts. and sense of belonging) i.. As far as the stressors. c) Health Stressors (threat that has to do with physical and mental functioning). i. separation.e. Internal Alchemy (Qi circulation) is induced and this activity revitalizes the vital organs and unblocks Qi channels of the body (see Fig. Tancheon Breathing Meditation (see Fig. 8) is the practice that acts as the balancing agent. 9). conformity. accidents. such as cancer. brain waves revert to alpha/theta state due to deeper relaxation thereby altering the person’s perception of the stressor(s). traffic jams.. i. and similar events. pollution. In relation to the vital organs. During the practice of Tancheon Breathing Meditation.RECEPTACLE Gall Bladder Small Intestine SPLEEN Large Intestine Urinary Bladder EMOTION Anger Joy CALM Sorrow Fear YIN-YANG Minor Yang Great Yang BALANCE Minor Yin Great Yin SEASON Spring Summer ALL SEASONS Autumn Winter DIRECTION East South CENTER West North COLOR Green Red YELLOW White Black In SunDo-Taoist practice. heart disease. natural disasters. major health problems.e.

lying or standing postures. focus and grounding. (Fig. This type of meditation influences the alignment of the three energy centers (lower. and the effectiveness of their coping skills. their perception of their ability to handle the situation or event. such as their perception of a threat and the intensiveness of a threat. stressors come in different forms at various stages of life (temporary or long-term). As previously discussed. The purpose of the self-healing wheel is to realize that human beings are equipped with a built-in tool in the body called the tancheon. 10) or even when walking. which can be used to help manage stress through the practice of the Tancheon Breathing Meditation. dependent factors. This breathing can be performed in sitting. middle. . and upper tancheons) as well as to gain awareness.Qi within the vital organs. People respond to stress differently.

8 Tancheon Breathing Meditation Self-Healing Wheel Model (by Gracia Del Rosario.Fig. PhD) . 9. Effects of Tancheon Breathing Meditation (by Gracia Del Rosario. PhD) Fig.

Stress is all part of the human experience and its natural occurrence in daily living cannot be avoided. If we know how to breathe correctly with ease through our tancheon in the lower abdomen. Visit them online at www. We frequently forget how to breathe properly. breath and the act of breathing is life enhancing. Gracia Del Rosario is a PhD graduate of Namseoul University. or uneven without awareness. West Hartford CT. when confronted with stressful situations our breathing becomes shorter. mind.org for more information about upcoming training classes and the Taoist Healing Arts Fair being held on January 29. Unfortunately. 2012 (see calendar listing p. or are not aware of the pattern of our breathing. faster. If one desires to learn and incorporate this art of self-healing in daily life.sundo. rough. stress can be managed in a very positive and healthy way. However. SunDo-Taoist Yoga & Breathing Meditation is located at 45 South Main Street. emotion. and spirit would naturally come to equilibrium. tancheon breathing and natural methods of self-healing through her articles and research. Sitting. we often forget to take care of our bodies.Figure 10. body. we may become distracted with daily living and not pay attention to the fact that breathing is life. Standing. Moreover. Usually. Cheonan City. & Lying Down Postures Interestingly. South Korea and a SunDo practioner who hopes to further understanding of Taoist practice. ?). we forget to enjoy the air that we breathe. it seems that nature has provided the human body with innate tools to heal naturally. . I believe the Tancheon Breathing Meditation is the balancing agent that can enable individuals to cope with the stress of life as well as to reap the benefits of vitality. When our minds are busy. and calmness.