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    January 1894

    “How to Breathe Properly” The Home Missionary, 6, 1, pp. 8-12.


    When the previous lesson closed, we had just noted the fact that the general shape of the inside of the chest, and of the organs contained therein is that of a cone right side up. However, it is not the shape of a complete cone, but of what is called a truncated cone; that is, a cone with the point off; a cone which does not end in a point at the top, but yet is considerably smaller at the tope than at the base. And the lungs and heart, the vital organs, completely fill this cavity, so that there is not a particle of unoccupied space there. And as the heart occupies but a very small place, it is evident that almost the whole cavity is occupied by the lungs alone.HOMI January 1894, page 8.1

    Now this cone-shaped body formed of the lungs and heart, is not fastened at any placed to any part of the chest. It is connected with the throat by the wind-pipe, but it does not hang from the throat by this. What, then, supports these organs and keeps them in place?—The diaphragm. The diaphragm is as a floor upon which rests this cone-shaped body formed by the lungs and heart.HOMI January 1894, page 8.2

    Here is a cut which will show the position and general shape of this cone, and of the diaphragm which supports it. The diaphragm is that apparent band marked d, running across the body just below the heart. Just above is shown the heart, marked A, and just beneat the diaphragm is the stomach, marked D.HOMI January 1894, page 8.3

    The diaphragm is an arched, or more properly speaking, a dome-shaped muscle, which forms the floor of the organs in the chest-cavity, and at the same time the roof of the organs in the abdominal cavity. It is thus a lateral, or transverse, dome-shaped position between the inside of the chest, and the inside of the abdomen.HOMI January 1894, page 8.4

    Now be sure that you have these points clearly fixed in your minds, then we can proceed to the study of the process of breathing. Bear in mind that the vital organs, lungs and heart, the contents of the chest have the general form of a cone right side up, formed almost wholly by the lungs and therefore capable of expansion, completely filling when at rest, the whole cavity of the chest, and supported by the come-shaped floor—the diaphragm. This is the normal position of these organs.HOMI January 1894, page 8.5

    The amount of air taken in at a full breathe, varies of course, according to the various sizes of individuals, but the average is about 230 to 250 cubic inches. Here we stand, then, ready to breathe.HOMI January 1894, page 8.6

    Now with the whole cavity of the chest completely filled already by these organs, it is plain enough that in order to get 230 cubic inches of air into the lungs, room has to be made for it in some way. And it is evident enough that in order to make the required room something has to move. Now to make this required room in the right way, to move the right things, in the right way—this is the whole philosophy of right breathing.HOMI January 1894, page 8.7

    How, then, shall the necessary space be created for this air which we must have? Shall the cover of this cone be moved? or shall the cone itself be moved? What does nature itself teach in answer to these questions?HOMI January 1894, page 8.8

    Let us take the first question first, Shall the cover be raised so as to give the cone, the lungs, the required space in which to expand and receive the 230 cubic inches of air that is required. The cover of this cone is that part of the chest from the tip of the breastbone upward. In other words it is that part of the chest which is formed by the strongest and heaviest ribs, strongly braced both front and rear—by the backbone and the breastbone—and therefore the most rigid part of the whole structure. Now to look at this structure, does it appear as though it was made to be either raised or expanded so as to create 230 cubic inches of space twenty times a minute? Everybody can see that the only possible answer is a decided and emphatic, No. It is true, as we shall see later, that there is a slight movement of these ribs upward at the outward ends, but it is so very slight when compared to the amount of space which must be created, that it is practically nothing.HOMI January 1894, page 8.9

    But even though the chest—the cover of this cone—could be raised sufficiently to form the required space, it would have to be done only by drawing the air into the lungs, and by this means lifting the chest. This would bring all the pressure upon the lungs and would require that they do all the work, instead of having them do none of the work as the Testimony states. It would practically make the lungs perform the function of a force-pump with which to lift a weight. But the lungs are not a force-pump, and cannot be made to perform the function of a force-pump without destroying them, and so destroying life itself.HOMI January 1894, page 9.1

    The lungs are not muscular tissue at all. They are neither muscle nor flesh; but a sort of texture containing air-cells, with only enough of tissue to hold these cells together and give place for the necessary arteries and veins to keep them alive, the whole forming a texture almost as elastic as rubber and as light as a sponge. The air-cells contained in the lungs of the average man are so numerous that if spread out flat they would cover a space of two thousand square feet—equal to a floor or ceiling 50x40 feet in size. Yet just think, all this 2000 square feet of air surface is contained in the lungs which occupy so little space as to be held in that part of the chest from the fifth rib, or point of the chestbone, upward, in a medium sized man.HOMI January 1894, page 9.2

    A single glance at these facts is enough to convince anybody forever that the lungs are not composed of muscular tissue, and are totally incapable of performing any work for themselves. And that therefore no process of breathing or speaking which causes the lungs to do any work in lifting or expanding the chest, can possibly be right. From these facts it is clear that the lungs were never created for any such purpose, and that to make any such use of them is a violation of nature’s law which is the law of God.HOMI January 1894, page 9.3

    Before leaving this part of the subject, it will perhaps be well to note the danger and even the damage that is caused by this perversion of nature’s intent in the use of the lungs. The surface of the air-cells in the lungs is a membrane so thin and delicate that when the blood comes up to the inside of it, and the air to the outside of it, the life-property of the air passes through into the blood; yet the blood cannot pass through to the outside. God has made it so.HOMI January 1894, page 9.4

    Now it is a principle in nature that when any unusual exertion is required of any organ, nature begins at once to supply whatever is needed that the organ may perform the extra labor, or meet the extra demand, without injury; or if any part is injured, nature seeks at once to repair the injury. This is done, and can only be done, by sending to that place and increased supply of blood, carrying in its corpuscles building material with which to strengthen the organ for the increased exertion, or to repair the injury done. It is a fact that nature will thus fairly work miracles to keep men alive, against continued abuses. And it is a sad fact that she is compelled to do this nearly all the time with multitudes of people.HOMI January 1894, page 9.5

    But it is impossible for nature, with safety, to strengthen the lungs to perform the unusual labor that is put upon them by this wrong breathing which tries to lift or expand the chest, as directed in the extract from the Union Signal in the previous lesson. She tries to do it, but cannot; for the very effort which she makes to remedy the evil is itself an injury. Let us examine this: When this unusual exertion, this work which was never intended, is put upon the lungs, of course they are unprepared for it. Nature begins at once to strengthen them for it in the only way possible, that is, by sending an increased supply of blood into the lungs. But if this blood is to strengthen the lungs it can do it only by making the tissue itself stronger. And this must inevitably make thicker that delicate membrane which is the surface of all the air-cells. But as certainly as this is made thicker, the vitalizing property of the air will not as readily pass through into the blood. Thus not enough breath can be taken to keep the blood pure; the blood therefore being deprived of this vitalizing property becomes sluggish, grows more and more impure, which conduces to ill health, breeds disease, and brings death.HOMI January 1894, page 9.6

    But the lungs cannot in all cases endure this process, and particularly in those who have much talking or public speaking to do, and then this delicate membrane of the air-cells becomes distended by the increased supply of blood; it is easily ruptured, and then instead of the vitalizing property of the air passing through into the blood, the blood itself comes through into the air, and there is bleeding at the lungs, and this means death. So you see that it makes no difference what nature does in her efforts to build against this abuse of the lungs, it means only death. Not death on the instant, of course, nor in a day, nor in a week, but it means death just the same, sooner or later, and that long before nature’s proper time—precisely as the Testimony expresses it “slowly committing suicide.”HOMI January 1894, page 9.7

    Another serious evil in this way of breathing is that it does not allow all of the lungs to be used. This will be noticed further on. So, then, our first question is answered over and over in the negative. The cover of this cone, formed of the lungs, etc., cannot be moved.HOMI January 1894, page 10.1

    Then let us turn to our second question, Shall the cone itself be moved? Well, as something has to move in order to provide the space for the 230 cubic inches of air that we must have; and as the cover of this cone cannot be moved sufficiently for this purpose, it follows that the cone itself must be moved. How, then, shall this be done?HOMI January 1894, page 10.2

    In describing these organs at the beginning, we found that this cone rests upon the diaphragm as upon a floor. Well, then, if this floor could be lowered this would lower the cone, and this would give space for the expansion of the lungs by the air which would rush in of itself. Now this is precisely what is done in right breathing. This is nature’s way. This is just what God has made these organs to do. And that is why the diaphragm is made as it is, and occupies the place that it does occupy as the floor of the lungs, the base of this cone.HOMI January 1894, page 10.3

    The diaphragm, as we have seen, is an arched, or dome-shaped, muscle (as it is arched on all sides), which forms the floor of the organs in the chest cavity,—the lungs, etc.,—and at the same time forms the roof of the organs in the abdominal cavity—the stomach, liver, etc. The drooping sides of this dome all around are formed of muscle which reaches up over the curve toward the center, but does not extend clear to the center. A considerable portion of the center of this dome—the diaphragm—is not composed of muscle, but is simply a sheet of tendon. The drooping sides of this dome, the diaphragm, extend downward along the inner surface of the body to the twelfth rib all around except in front, where it extends only a very little below the tip of the breast-bone; and the edge is fastened all around to the inner surface of the body. By this it is seen that the edge of the diaphragm, or dome, except immediately in front. It is seen also that the drooping sides of the diaphragm—this dome—all around extend downward close to the inside walls of the body.HOMI January 1894, page 10.4

    Now the muscles of these drooping sides of the dome-shaped diaphragm contract, and thus draw down the top of the dome which is the floor of the cone that is formed of the lungs, etc. When this floor is drawn down, that which already only fills the cavity where it is, being drawn down into a larger cavity would leave a space all around and over itself from bottom to top, but for the fact that “nature abhors a vacuum. Therefore as this cone is lowered, and begins thus to make room, the air having fifteen pounds of pressure to the square inch outside of the body, rushes through the nostrils into the lungs, and causes them to expand till every particle of this larger space is filled as completely as was the smaller space before the cone was lowered. Thus is created the room for that 230 cubic inches of air which must be taken in at each breath. And you can see that it is all accomplished without a particle of exertion being made by the lungs themselves.HOMI January 1894, page 10.5

    Now we have taken this breath in, how shall it be gotten out? Let us follow on and see.HOMI January 1894, page 10.6

    It was stated a little while ago that this dome-shaped diaphragm not only forms the floor of the organs in the chest cavity, but also the roof of the organs in the abdominal cavity. And the stomach, liver, etc., fit up under this roof, just as closely as the lungs fit down on the floor above. From this it is evident that when this roof descends by the contraction of the muscular sides of the diaphragm, that which is beneath—the contents of the abdomen—is forced downward also. But the abdominal cavity is completely filled already, and there is no vacant place into which to push the contents of the abdomen. Besides, the abdominal cavity is smaller at the lower part than at the upper.HOMI January 1894, page 10.7

    What, then, can be done? That roof is surely descending, and so surely that which is beneath it must be pushed downward out of the way. O, well, it is all right. The Lord has provided for this. It is true that there is no vacant space into which to push these organs. But the Creator made the muscular walls of the abdomen elastic, so that when the diaphragm forces down the contents of the abdomen, these elastic muscles are stretched by the pressure against them, and thus ample room is made for the contents of the abdominal cavity, when the contents of the chest cavity descend by the drawing down of the diaphragm. Then when the muscular contraction of the diaphragm has ceased, and the pressure is taken off from the elastic abdominal muscles, the abdominal muscles naturally return to their former and normal position. This forces the contents of the abdomen back again up against the diaphragm, this carries the diaphragm upward again to its normal position, and this in turn carries the contents of the chest cavity back to their normal position by contracting the lungs and forcing out the air which has been taken in at the previous inspiration. And still it is all accomplished without a particle of exertion being made by the lungs themselves. They are not required to do any work at all, but are wholly passive, subject to the movement of the diaphragm.HOMI January 1894, page 10.8

    And thus the abdominal muscles alternating with the muscles of the diaphragm, carry on the motion which alone is right breathing. The principle is that of the blacksmith’s bellows. The weights attached to the lower part of the bellows, draw it down, and the pressure of the air outside raises the valves underneath and the air rushes in and fills the bellows. The blacksmith’s hand upon the lever presses it down, compresses the bellows, and forces the air out. Not the diaphragm corresponds to the weights on the bellows. The abdominal muscles correspond to the lever. And the lungs are the bellows. As the bellows can do no work except as it is moved by the lever, so the lungs can properly do nothing except as they are moved by the abdominal muscles and diaphragm. The lungs, as the bellows, are never active of themselves, but always passive; never act, but are always acted upon.HOMI January 1894, page 11.1

    This, though, is normal, regular breathing. But when taking a long, full breath, the fullest kind, there is another motion added to these, that comes only as the consequence of these. It is a slight motion of the ribs.HOMI January 1894, page 11.2

    In looking at the course of the ribs, it is seen that from back to front they tend downward, instead of pointing straight around. If the ribs could be raised straight up, so that they should point straight or nearly straight around instead of downward, it would make the chest larger and so make more room inside. Now there are muscles attached to the ribs, and interconnected from rib to rib over the whole chest, which are put there for the express purpose of raising the rib s to the position in which they point nearly, if not quite, straight around. This is so arranged that that deep, full, long breath can be taken which is taken only occasionally, in addition to the normal regular breathing, and which when it is taken should fill every cell of the lungs to its fullest capacity.HOMI January 1894, page 11.3

    But, as before stated, this motion is only in addition to the regular motion of the diaphragm and abdomen, and is only the consequence of that motion. It never can be properly made except as it follows the full motion of the diaphragm and abdomen. 1In military tactics there are certain movements that are made in what is called “one time in two motions.” The second motion is always the consequence of the first, and cannot properly be made except as it follows the first. Right breathing is also “one time in two motions.” The primary, original, motion is of the abdominal and diaphragm muscles. The secondary is the rib motion, and is the consequence of the primary, and cannot properly be made except as it follows the primary. And this is the point that is made in the Testimony when it says that “the chest will become broader” by exercising the “abdominal muscles in deep breathing.”HOMI January 1894, page 11.4

    Now we do not want this to be a theory in any sense. We want it to be strictly practical. I therefore ask you, Are you breathing right? Are you exercising only the muscles of the abdomen and diaphragm in your regular breathing? Examine yourselves and see. An easy way to detect it is to place one hand on the upper part of the chest and the other on the point of the abdomen, and see which one moves. If only the upper hand moves you are breathing altogether wrong. If only the lower hand moves you are breathing right. If both move, then you are breathing partly right and partly wrong, and must train yourself to breathe so that only the lower hand will move.HOMI January 1894, page 11.5

    Then again put your hands upon the sides. If they move out and in you are breathing wrong. And train yourself so that when you breathe in regular breathing there shall be visible only the motion of the abdomen. And in deep, long, full, inspirations only the abdominal motion followed by the rising of the ribs in the expansion of the chest as explained above. The motion of the abdominal muscles is the foundation and key of all. Do not say you cannot bring yourself to it. By diligent and persevering effort you can, for the Testimony says so, and it is so. If you have no teacher, you can help yourself by filling the lungs as full as possible, any way that you can, then holding your breath and forcing all downward. This will help to get your diaphragm in motion. And to help the abdominal muscles to their proper motion, place the thumbs backward, on the sides at the top of the hip-joint, and work the abdomen with the hands. When you have once acquired the proper motion, it will soon go easy enough, and at last it will become so natural that it will go on itself.HOMI January 1894, page 11.6

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