The Jedi Training Archive
Meditation- 5- The Three Locks

The Three Locks are used to create a therapeutic compression within the abdominal cavity. This compression gives a strong boost to venal circulation, opens the meridian system, and helps activate the pneumogastric nervous system. The locks are applied at or toward the end of inhalation, held in place briefly during compression, and released on exhalation. At first it may seem difficult or awkward to apply them without interrupting your breathing, but with practice they will become an integral part of your natural breathing patterns. Like the Four Stages, the Three Locks should be performed smoothly and without excessive effort.

The Anal Lock
The Abdominal Lock
The Neck Lock

The Anal Lock:

The anal lock is designed to raise the entire pelvic floor in order to lock in and enhance the compression created in the abdominal cavity by the diaphragm as it descends from above during inhalation. The resulting increase in abdominal pressure has profound therapeutic benefits for all of the internal organs and glands, driving stale blood and cellular wastes from the tissues and stimulating the secretion of essential hormones.

The pelvic floor consists of a flexible web of muscle and tendon that supports the colon, prostate, uterus and sacral glands. By flexing this lower diaphragm, the anal lock massages all of the organs and glands within the sacrum, strengthens the tissues of the pelvic floor, and gives a stimulating tug to the sacral roots of the pneumogastric nerve endings, which helps activate the immune responses of the nervous system. It also pulls on the nerves of a small gland, known as the Luschka gland that hangs from the tip of the coccyx, stimulating secretions that further enhance neuro-immunological healing responses.

As inhalation approaches completion, the anal lock is applied by contracting the outer ring of the anal sphincter, a tough band of muscle that controls the external aperture of the anus. This maneuver lifts the anus and contracts the webbing of the entire urogenital diaphragm. For the more powerful effect, the contraction may be extended deeper to the inner ring of the anal sphincter, located about one inch above the external ring. This raises the entire perineum between the anus and sexual organs and deepens the compression throughout the sacrum. However, for regular practice, contracting the external ring is sufficient, while the internal ring may be used when stronger stimulation of the sacrum is desired. Due to the benefits of the anal lock it is often practiced by itself.

The Abdominal Lock:

The purpose of the abdominal lock is to seal in the therapeutic compression in the abdominal cavity when the diaphragm descends and the pelvic floor is raised with the anal lock on completion of inhalation. If the abdominal wall is simply allowed to expand outward, much of this compression is lost, diminishing the stimulating massage effect on the internal organs and glands. Furthermore, the powerful boost that the diaphragm gives to circulation depends largely on enhanced abdominal pressure against the vena cava, a major vein that draws stale blood up from the abdominal organs for replenishment in the lungs. The increase in abdominal pressure exerts a powerful propulsive force on the vena cava, pushing blood up into the chest like a pump and thereby taking a huge workload off the heart. This effect is particularly beneficial early in the morning, when up to half the body's blood supply lies dormant in the liver and pancreas. Try doing just a few deep diaphragm breathes with the Three Locks while sitting up in bed the moment you wake up in the morning, and you can feel this propulsive power on circulation from the head to foot.

When inhalation is complete with the anal lock in place, the abdominal wall will be fully expanded. To apply the abdominal lock, simply pull the lower part of the abdominal wall inward toward the spine. It is neither necessary nor desirable to pull it in very far or with excessive effort. Just draw it slightly inward with a light contraction of the abdominal muscles, hold it briefly, and then relax it completely as you commence exhalation. That brief moment of enhanced abdominal pressure saves your heart at least twenty beats of work, so if you practice this sort of breathing throughout the day, you can well imagine how much it extends the working life of your heart.

The Neck Lock:

The neck lock serves several functions. By partially constricting the carotid arteries in the throat, it prevents excess blood from rushing straight up into the brain due to enhanced circulatory pressure from below, instead diverting some of it out to the extremities for more balanced distribution. Carotid compression also slows and deepens the pulse, thereby further benefiting heart function. The neck lock seals the breath down inside the lungs after inhalation, so that it doesn't rise up and cause uncomfortable pressure in the throat, nostrils and Eustachian tubes during compression. It also stretches the entire spinal cord from skull to sacrum, stimulating all the nerves and ganglia along its entire length and opening the energy channels that run along the spine. Also, the small pressure it puts on the carotid sinus nerve is known to facilitate mental calm and the internalization of awareness, which are helpful factors in breath control, particularly during meditation.

To apply the neck lock, wait until the anal and abdominal locks are in place, then contract the throat muscles and clamp the glottis over the trachea. (If you're wondering how to do this, try taking several short inhalations one on top of the other. As you pack each one into the lungs, what prevents it from coming out before you draw in the next one is clamping the glottis over the trachea.) Some practitioners find it helpful to swallow first, which facilitates the neck lock and helps pack air and energy into the chest cavity, but this is not an essential step. When the throat is closed and contracted, tuck the chin slightly in toward the chest and stretch the back of the neck, but without actually bending the neck forward. Be sure to keep the shoulders relaxed so that they do not hunch up and cause tension in the neck and shoulder muscles, blocking energy flow from the spine into the head. When you're ready to exhale, raise your chin a bit, relax the throat, and let the air stream out.


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