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Instructions for the Ninefold Purification Breathing - Part 1

Inner refuge

Tsa (Channel)


First refuge: Body
The center of the victorious mandala, one's own body,
The source of all positive qualities without exception,
Is the expanse within the three channels and the five chakras.
I take refuge in this body of emptiness. (30 sec)



Lung (Wind)


Second refuge: Speech
All the gathered clouds of suffering and misery
Are completely cleared by the wisdom wind,
Revealing the unelaborated, primordially pure expanse of the sky.
I take refuge in this body of light. (30 sec)



Tigle (Sphere of light)


Third refuge: Mind
From the pavilion of the five wisdom lights,
Rays of non-dual spheres of light emanate,
Clearing the webs of the darkness of ignorance.
I take refuge in this body of great bliss. (30 sec)



Take the Five Points Meditation Posture

Sit cross-legged, spine straight, chest open, hands resting in the stance of equanimity (palms up, left resting on right) about four fingers below the navel, the neck slightly bent forward. (30 sec)



Visualize the Three Channels

The blue Central Channel goes straight through the center of the body. It is visualized in the size of the stem of a bamboo arrow, and it moves a bit further from the heart to the opening at the top of the head. The side or beside channels, one white and one red, are slightly smaller in diameter than the Central Channel and connect to the Central Channel at its base. The connection of the Channels is four fingers below the navel. The side channels goes in the body on both sides of the Central Channel straight up, curve under the skull roof and go behind the eyes down and open each in a nostril. The right channel is white and represents method; the left channel is red and represents wisdom.



The first Three Breathings

Lift the right hand and press the base of the ring finger with your thumb. Close the right nostril with the ring finger. Inhale the pure air element in the form of green light through the left nostril to fill the red channel. Move your hand over to the other side of your nose and close the left nostril with the right ring finger as you exhale through the right nostril. Imagine that the air moves up the white channel and is released in the form of violet air.


With each exhalation, ne (nad) diseases associated with wind, dön (gdon) obstacles caused by disabling male beings, and dripa (sgrib pa), mental obscurations associated with aversion and anger, along with the influences from the past, are ejected through the white channel.



The second Three Breathings

Change the hand and nostril and inhale the pure air element through the right nostril. Green light fills the white channel. Then close the white channel, exhale, and expel the impure air through the left red channel up and out in the form of orange air.


With each exhalation through the red channel, diseases associated with bile, obstacles caused by disabling females, and mental obscurations associated with attachment, desire, and greed, along with influences from the future, are expelled.



The third Three Breathings

With the hands in the Mudra of equanimity, you inhale the pure air element in the form of green light through both nostrils. The rough exhalation of impure air passes through both nostrils. The subtle wind moves up through the Central Channel and left beyond the highest point on the head in the form of dark reddish brown smoke.


With exhalation, diseases associated with phlegm, Nagas-induced obstacles and mental obscurations associated with ignorance, lack of trust and doubt, along with influences from the present are expelled.



[The same instructions now follow, but in a different form].


The Nine Breathings

Consider the idea of exhaling negativity. With our air, our breath, we exhale negativity and breathe in positive qualities. That's an amazing idea. One can say: «I take pills with this mouth». But imagine all these positive qualities with the breath through the nose, not through the mouth and through swallowing. Some things are difficult to understand in terms of our ordinary perception. I'll explain it, but maybe it's not so easy to understand, so let's just be as it is. I encourage you not to be worried that there are so many things. «I do not understand, how exhaling through the right nostril cleanses past Karma? How does it work? How does breath from the left side cleanse future Karma? And breathing from both nostrils somehow cleanses the present Karma». If it does, it's good. But if it does not happen, I would not worry now. Some things seem to be more accessible when it comes to understanding the practice. We will work on what makes us more meaningful.



The Posture and the Channels

First, we sit in the Five-Point Posture. Remember, the position of the body is important: you are sitting cross-legged, opening your chest, your hands are in a state of equanimity, your chin is slightly bent down and your spine is straight. This is called the Five-Point Posture. For men and women this is the same and there are no differences in the channels between men and women. Next, we visualize Three Channels. There are three main channels: the right is white, the left is red and the middle is blue. Below the navel they are connected. Feel that the side channels go up on both sides of the Central Channel. They rise behind the eyes and then go down to the 2 nostrils, the right, white channel to the right nostril and the left, red channel to the left nostril. The central channel goes straight up and opens like a flower on the crown, the opening becomes broader on the crown of the head.



Cleaning the right white channel

Become familiar with the idea of these three channels, the very subtle energy in the center of your body. Then take your right hand and press your right thumb onto the root of your ring finger. Press with your ring finger on the right nostril and breathe in through the left nostril. Take a deep breath. Imagine the breath going down through the left nostril in the left red channel to the junction and then going up the right, white channel and leave over the right nostril. While you exhale on the right, close the left nostril with the pressure of your finger. Repeat this for a while. Continue repeating this breathing, become familiar with feeling the Three Channels, and especially feel the clearing of the right channel. The last part of the exhalation is a bit stronger. You should be able to hear your exhalation. But you do not have to make it so strong that everyone in the Gompa hears it; only you hear it.


Every time you breathe in left and exhale right, imagine that this cleans the right, white channel. Basically, the breath cleanses both sides, but the only thing that's unique is that you release something on the right side. Continue with this for some time and become more and more familiar with it.


There's one aspect to it: Imagine and feel that you let go of the feeling of anger. Repeat this over and over again and just feel that you release anger when exhaling. Think about anger, repressed anger, anger against yourself, anger in personal situations, anger against situations in life, anger against someone, and anger over religion, politics. Imagine any kind of trouble. If you want, reflect on a specific anger that has occurred lately in your life. You can certainly connect with that. If you inhale on the left and exhale on the right, imagine that you just let go of the trouble. Feel that; let it go. Keep going on.


We have the idea of the three root poisons: anger, attachment, and ignorance. These three breathing cycles free and cure the Three Root Poisons. The right white channel is associated with anger. Continue with it.


Another aspect is added. When you visit a Tibetan doctor, he often tells you that you have a wind disorder. Did you hear about it? We will come back to this later. For now imagine that every wind disorder and illness is loosed. Keep it that way.


Something else comes up, whether it makes sense or not: the Karma of past lives. If you know that you have Karma with other people from the past, this is a great way to clean it! If it's hard to understand what is meant, just remember that there are karmic imprints and relationships, negative Karma from the past that affects your present life. As you exhale through this channel, let go of karmic imprints. Release anger, wind disturbances or wind diseases, male powers and Karma from past lives as blue-red or purple air that you exhale through the right white channel. These five points; you do not have to think about everyone. I mentioned them all, but connect more with what it feels like. If the channel is more blocked with feelings, connect more with feelings. Most of us feel a strong connection to anger. So be aware of the five points, but focus on the trouble. If you can change your relationship to anger by understanding the Three Channels and the exhalation, and minimize the trouble in your life, that's a miracle. Just work on it.



Rest a moment, breathe normally. Now we go to the next. Recognize the presence of the three channels again. The right channel is white, the Central Channel is blue and the left channel is red. They all meet below the navel together. Now press your left thumb on the root of the ring finger of the same hand and close the left nostril with the ring finger. Take a breath from the right. Move your hand over to the right side and press on the right nostril while exhaling to the left. Continue with this breathing. Feel that being purified on a deep level.


According to the text, the three root poisons are cleansed, but that also applies to feelings and sensations that are deeply purified in you, on a deeper level than the thought that your condition is because of anyone or anything or any situation. You clean from the root, from the inside. The breath purifies the inner fundamental conditions.


Now, make aware of what you exhale, you exhale attachment, emotional attachment. We know, attachment causes much suffering, we know, attachment causes conflicts, disputes and strife. An aspect of attachment is desire and greed. Raise awareness of any sensation of attachment or greed and breathe it out. That is how it works. It's not like moving an item from one place to another. It's more like that, the moment you're able to bring awareness to attachment, breathe it out. This will remove them.


Now comes additionally the diseases associated with bile. We will talk more about this later. Right now just think that you are releasing bile-related illnesses. If at the present time in your life there is anything meaningful about it, just think about it; otherwise do not worry about it.


Furthermore, exhale the obstacles and negativities that come from female powers. Now consider the Karma and karmic conditions that will mature in the future or the next life. There are many causes and conditions that exist in us and are ready to bring forth the Karma of the future; our tendencies to create certain situations. Continue to breathe, using your hands to block the nostrils and release. Watch your laziness. If you do not feel like moving your hands, that's an aspect of laziness. Go on. Do this as right as possible.


The color of the exhalation is reddish-yellow, orange.


Do not worry about some things that you cannot reach or connect to. Do not worry about it. Do what makes sense to you and what you understand. Focus on it and do not think that you miss something. Just feel and feel that something has been erased from a very deep place in you.



Cleaning of the Central Channel

Relax with the last breathing cycle; put your hands in the position of equanimity, and takes in the Five-Point Posture. Try to feel the presence of your channels as clearly as possible, white on the right side, red on the left, blue in the middle straight up. The Three Channels are connected below the navel. Feel all Three.


Here you do not move your hands; you let them rest in the Mudra of Equanimity. Inhale through both nostrils and imagine the breath going through the side channels down to the connection, five fingers below the navel. When you start exhaling, the air goes up through the central channel and out through the crown.


When you breathe in through the two side channels, both side channels will be cleaned and your breath will reach the joint. With exhalation, the breath moves up through the Central Channel and cleans the Central Channel. In this process, all Three Channels are cleaned. Just feel it and try again.


As you exhale now, you imagine and feel that you exhale the root poison of ignorance, one of the Three Root Poisons. Ignorance is experienced as self-doubt or lack of trust. Connect with the feeling of lack of trust deep inside you. It's not about a situation or a relationship with anyone, it's only deep inside, barely noticeable, that sense of lack of trust is subtly present. Whatever blocks the energy, imagine releasing it with the exhalation through the crown of your head.


In terms of disease, we release causes of mucus-related diseases.


Concerning the forces, we let go of provocations coming from the Nagas, the water spirits. When people make prophecies in the Tibetan tradition, they mention that there are obstacles associated with the Nagas. So imagine that now is the moment to feel those forces and let go.


Think about all the Karma of this life, now, today, this week, this month, this year, this life. If there is a specific situation in this life that you want to focus on, focus on it. This can be your job, wealth, poverty, fear, whatever it is; relationships or situations related to this life, just think, this is the time for. As you breathe in through the two side channels into this deep place, imagine letting go of some very subtle aspects of these karmic conditions through the Central Channel and through the crown of the head.


The color of the exhalation is a dark red brown, maroon.


Okay, that's good, we can finish here.




Each of these Nine Breathings has Five Points. We will make a table of the Five Points you can take with you if it makes you happy. We want to try here, not to worry too much about all the depths and details, because if we worry about too many details, there is a possibility that by focusing on a few small areas, we may lose some chances to be realized. That's what we do in our everyday lives. We focus too many things and we lose the simple beauty of life in all these things. In practice, there is a possibility that we will do the same. You know, you will get the table, you know, you will have time when you go home; you will have 6 or 7 hours to reflect on what these 5 or 6 points mean. For now, the Three Root Poisons may be enough. Of course, if you're able, add something to that. If you are unable to add something, do not think you are missing something or that you are not doing enough. As long as you work with these three root poisons, it's very good.


The Three Root Poisons are called roots because any conflicting feeling starts here. Ignorance is the root and the two babies of ignorance are desire and anger. If you like something, you want it. If you do not like something, you push it away. That's how it manifests. Not only do we have these three roots, but we have created a lot from these Three Root Poisons. We have created people that we really hate or dislike, or that we do not feel comfortable with, and people with whom we want a relationship but are unable to. There is still a whole list of everything you want and do not have. This list is very long. And maybe you decide that you want it, and you want it all the more when you start losing it. If you have it, you have less desire for it. That is the nature of desire.


The point is that we have created both personal and collective situations. In global understanding as a nation, as a family, as an individual, we have created a lot of situations out of these Three Root Poisons. Sometimes we think it's a personal thing. My personal relationship with someone I hate is, «I do not like you, you've done this to me and you're planning to do more!» That's very personal. Something comes out of you outward against anyone. We really do not talk much about it when we practice that. Think about the roots of it. We already know how far we can follow our wishes. Take an example from your life. People who work a lot often say: «I'll work a few more years and then I'll retire». These famous few years will never come.


Strong wishes are hard to let go. Even when it comes to a good thing, a nice, beautiful thing, it falls into the category of not being free from it. If there are too many of these things, they make your life very unhappy; others become useful in life; others become an ornament of life. Of course, if something is useful and conducive, it's good. But other things are annoying, affecting your life in a negative way and others in your environment as well. You do not want to let it go that far; but these things come from the root and this root is in you!


I think it's very interesting to explore this idea of the Three Root Poisons and their independent, impersonal existence in you. It's easy in you. We know a lot about it, or we are very involved in it in relation to others. Take, for example, a bad relationship where there is always conflict. How many hours a day, a week, a year? A lot! We are involved in it, we feel bad and we influence our environment with it. But where does that come from? You get up one Sunday morning and think, «Maybe that's nothing to do with you, just with me». Close your eyes; nobody exists there; there is only I and Me. There is no one; just look inside yourself. «How do I feel if there is no story and no object of desire? How do I feel when there is no situation that produces these desires? How do I feel?» Of course, the possibilities are much better than the ones you had with anyone. It is better in the sense of being more feasible.


When you think about the channels, it's not as if there are three pipes in them. These energetic channels are very subtle. Breathing is not like normal breathing. We breathe every day, but the quality, the awareness, associated with this particular breathing goes deeper. Through practice, we have the opportunity to go further and deeper. We've been doing the nine breaths for a long time. But again, here is the opportunity for all of you, including me, to reflect and understand more deeply. That's why I say, «Do not be lazy». «Okay, ok, I heard about the nine respirations; I have a few copies of it at home. I'll look at it later». You repeat the same pattern again. As a teenager you are excused, but we are not teenagers. So I think at some point it is better to say, «Yes, let's act directly and as clearly as possible».



Question: How should we imagine the Central Channel?


TWR: Up and through the crown of the head. Just feel the middle. She is as open as a flower. Imagine a little trumpet flower - there are still many things to clarify!



Question: Can you explain what male, female and Naga powers are?


TWR: They refer to sources of provocation. Why exactly male and female and Naga in the middle of it is somehow difficult to understand. Why so? In the shamanic tradition, illness often finds it to be provocation of the Nagas, and a strong understanding of the belief that humans are greatly influenced by the Nagas. The understanding that provocation is caused by the influence of the Nagas is great. We do not think so. We think, «My problem is my father, not the Nagas! My problem is not female spirits, it's just my mother!» We think that mistakes in life have something very personal to do. «It's not male, it's my dad, it's not female, it's my mother. It's not the Nagas ...» I do not know, who can take the place of Nagas? Somehow we narrow our view and I think that's one of the biggest healing problems. Think about it: is not it much easier to heal when something is more impersonal than when it is very personal? To make personal things impersonal, you need either some faith, some understanding, some experience, or some understanding of Shunyata, the illusory nature, the radiant light. Or you have a clever thought: «It cannot be that my problem is just with this guy». Simple cleverness can be enough, but sometimes we behave like this: [Rinpoche points away from himself]. That's the problem. So the simple answer is, these are the sources where the influences come from.


Once again, since you asked me that question, I answered it, but I would suggest that you do not spend too much time on it. What I consider to be a successful retreat is to have the most stable experience possible, to understand as much as possible, and then in the end take these photocopies with you. This is not a problem. It's easy to do these two things. To do this we are talking about five things. People say, «Five things, now I have to remember which color came from which channel and whether the Nagas are here or there». Of course, it's easy to feel that. I would feel that way in a computer class. But the mantra is: Do not worry, you'll get copies. The only thing I would worry about is whether you will take time for this copy or not. But you will get the copy. Do not worry about it. What you should do, rather than worry, is to narrow the Five Points to one: the Three Root Poisons. Is this interesting? Of course it is. In my life, right now, I have a craving for something and I have hatred for someone and I have a lot of confusion. Think about whatever is happening in your life right now, and focus on changing those things. As simple as that.


Do you currently have concrete, inconvenient manifestations of the three root poisons in your life? Would you like to clean it? Yes? Let us do it. That's our goal. Let us not worry about how many arms Nagas have and how many categories of them exist. Let's not worry about it now. But be open; there is something called Nagas and powers; I do not understand everything right now and it's good. I understand anger. Active manifestation is out there. Personal situations are out there. Impersonal experiences, the energy, the state of the mind is in me, I see that clearly, and out of this deep way of working, there is a possibility to change something in a deeper place that will affect my external circumstances. Personally, I would go in that direction. That would be my approach. That does not mean I'm not trying to learn the details. Do as much as you can, but do not lose the core.


What we call being lost in retreat, overwhelmed by information, happens because you have no concrete place of experience and are lost.



Question: So, would Rinpoche advocate starting with a personal sensation?


TWR: Yes. Perception of that is good. For example, if we do the practice, say, if I want to put the cup back on the table, I cannot do it with my breath; I have to move the cup. That's the way it is. Why am I doing this? This is a firm hand; this is a solid cup; this is a solid table. A firm hand moves a solid cup from one fixed table to another fixed table. But if I expect to transfer everything in this way, I'm in trouble. I cannot transfer my ignorance so easily. How do I do that? I exhale my ignorance in the middle of nowhere in the room. Take, for example, a situation of anger: «I am in a situation where I have difficulty with a person I am angry with». The instructions help you to no longer dealing with the other person; these allow you to reflect more about yourself, to feel yourself without the other person. How does this emotion feel? Bring the emotion into consciousness, see if that emotion continues to manifest without the other person. You may not know who it is aimed at, but you see the possibility exists. So there is something in the source. Maybe it's not as intense as that [with the other person], it's not as bloated a story as that, but the seed is there. So, when you exhale, just think that it is very beautiful, that it is a neutral space in which you are.


This space where you work on your anger is a very neutral space. It's not like talking to someone. Imagine that the person you are talking to is the same person you are angry with, but twice as much means when talking bad to a person about a third person. Remember that feeling, it's not the same. This person has twice as much trouble, has twice as many stories to tell and twice as much to talk about, and you get more from that person. In the situation here the space is very neutral. The condition is very impersonal. That's how you work. Okay?




(ngo mön)


All pure virtue done through the Three Doors,
I dedicate to the welfare of all sentient beings of the Three Realms.
Having purified all afflictions and obscurations of the Three Poisons,
May we swiftly achieve the complete Buddhahood of the Three Bodies.



Dedication prayer

(ngo wa)


May I gain great confidence in the Three Refuges.
May my experiences and my realization of wisdom of the Three Doors increase.
By purifying the Three Poisons, may I receive the Three Bodies.
By liberating myself in my own being, may I benefit others.



Explanation of the terms in the dedication:
Three Doors — Body, Speech, Mind
Three Realms — desirable, shape, shapeless
Three Poisons — Aversion, Desire, Ignorance
Three Bodies (or dimensions) —


bön ku or Dharmakaya;
dzok ku, long ku, or Sambhogakaya; and
trül ku or Nirmanakaya