"Right and Wrong Breathing" 


WE begin this evening the study of health itself. In the previous lesson we studied the Lord's wishes in regard to it; and something in regard to what health reform is, and what it is for each individual. We might say that in that lesson we studied about it, and from this time forward, we shall endeavor to study it. In that lesson we studied what it is, and what it is for; now we shall study how to live it.  

The first thing in health reform and in all good health, is right breathing. If there is any one thing about health reform that is more important than another, it is breathing; and yet, that seems to be just about the last thing that nine tenths of the people ever think of. And of the one tenth who do think of it, about half think of it the wrong way.  

The first thing that anybody does when he comes into the world, is to breathe, and the last thing he does is to stop it; even then he stops it because he cannot do it any more. And this has to be kept up steadily all the way along, from the time a person begins till he finally stops.   

We can live weeks without eating, and days without drinking, but we cannot live minutes without breathing. That of itself, is enough to show that breathing is the most important part of life. And, although you eat that which God says is good, and of that which is good for you, this will not do you the good that God intended it should, if you do not breathe right.   

First of all we will find what is right breathing, and next, what is wrong breathing; and having thus found what is certainly right breathing, we shall afterward study how to do it, its benefits, etc., because that is truth. And, by the way, a good thing for us to establish and have fixed in our practice, is to study, and to think only on that which is truth. When we know that a thing is false, that is enough; that is all we want to know about it; we do not need to study that, for this is only to misspend our energies. But when we find a thing that is true, we can put all our energies on it and study it as long as we live.   

Therefore, the first thing we shall do in this study is to find out what is certainly right breathing. And for this I shall cite you to that which is authority. 

The first passage I read will be found in the little work lately issued, entitled, "Christian Education." This was addressed primarily to the students in our schools; yet it is just as good for those who are not actually in school as for those who are. Under the heading, "The Necessity of Doing our Best;" page 125:—  

"They should perseveringly practice speaking in a low, distinct tone, exercising the abdominal muscles in deep breathing, and making the throat the channel of communication."  

That is right, and only right breathing; and only that is right breathing. The abdominal muscles, or muscles of the abdomen, form the structure which God has built that men and woman may breathe for health.  

Let me say right here that you are never to use your lungs themselves in breathing. I mean, you are not to work them to breathe with. No effort is to be made by the lungs; no strain is to be brought upon them. They are not made for that. Wherever this is done, it is only warring against life. You are not to breathe with your lungs, nor to talk with your throat. The abdominal muscles are to be used to breathe with, and to talk with. The lungs are not to be active but passive; they are not to act but to be acted upon by the machinery, which is to be kept in motion by the exercise of the abdominal muscles. So likewise with the throat; it is not to be the organ, but only "the channel of communication." The exercise of the muscles of the abdomen, causing contraction of the lungs, forces the air through the throat over the vocal chords, and thus creates the tones; then the tongue, teeth, and lips cut the tones into words, and thus speech is formed. Therefore, do not breathe with the lungs; do not talk with the throat. Breathe with the abdominal muscles, and talk with the abdominal muscles and the mouth.  

"Many speak in a rapid way and in a high, unnatural key; but if they continue such a practice, they will injure the throat and lungs, and as a result of continued abuse, the weak and inflamed organs will become diseased in a serious way, and they will fall into consumption."—Id.   

Don't you see, then, that it is a serious wrong for any Seventh-day Adventist to be a consumptive? It is wrong for any Seventh-day Adventist to have continued lung trouble of any kind; but it is an awful thing for a Seventh-day Adventist, and above all, a minister, to die of consumption.   

"Ministers and teachers should give especial attention to the voice, and learn the art of speaking, not in a nervous, hurried manner, but in a slow, clear, distinct manner, preserving the music of the voice."—Page 126.   

But you never can do that if you use the throat; much less if you use your throat and lungs both.   

"Let no one say, 'There is no use for me to try to pray, for others do not hear me.' Rather say, 'I will make earnest efforts to overcome this God-dishonoring habit of speaking in a low, indistinct tone, and I will put myself under discipline until my voice shall be audible, even to those who are hard of hearing.' Will it not be worth while, disciplining yourself to be able to add interest to the service of God, and to edify the children of God?   

"Let the voices of the followers of Christ be trained so that instead of crowding words together in a thick, indistinct way, their words will be clear, forcible, and edifying. Do not let the voice fall after each word, but keep it up so that every sentence will be full and complete."—Page 131.   

"The proper use of the vocal organs will bring benefit to the physical health, and increase your usefulness and influence."—Page 132.   

You will see this more fully as we advance. We are simply searching now for the right principles.   

"They can give attention to the cultivation of the voice, and by judicious exercise may expand the chest and strengthen the muscles."   

But it is not enough simply to expand the chest,—it may be and often is expanded entirely wrong,—but you must expand it right. Now let us see how that is done.   

"Let the abdominal muscles have full play. Do not bind the waist with bands and corsets, but taking in full breath, let the burden of your words come from this foundation, supported by abdominal breathing, and let the throat be the channel for the tone."—Page 122.   

The abdominal muscles cannot have any proper play at all, much less can they have full play, when you have them bound about with dress bands and corsets.  

And, when we come right down to practical health reform, it is going to be a living test with our sisters as to whether they are going to accept God's way or the devil's way in this matter—whether they will follow the Lord's word, or follow fashion's tyranny. Which will you do? Will you set about this in sacred earnest, and breathe according to the Lord's directions, or will you bind yourselves tightly about so that you cannot possibly breathe properly and so never have good health? O, let your bodies loose; set yourselves free!   

"Let the abdominal muscles have full play. Do not bind the waist with bands and corsets, but taking in full breath, let the burden of your words come from this foundation."   

In this way you can take in a full breath, even while you are talking or reading, and can keep it up right straight along; breathing not only between sentences, but between clauses, or even between words, if the sentence is long, just as you please, and nobody will notice it. But, if you undertake to use your lungs in breathing, speaking, or reading, you will be constantly on a strain to keep yourself in breath; and if the sentence is long, you will have to actually catch your breath in the very midst of it; the reading or speaking will be all broken up; you will get weary, and also those who hear you will get weary in listening; your lungs will be in pain; your throat will be sore; you will be a living invitation to throat and lung diseases; your work will be crippled, and your efficiency and even your usefulness will be destroyed. O, such a course is only a lingering death. The other way, according to the Lord's directions, is life, bright, cheery, active, vigorous, healthful, God-given life. Which will you choose? Which will you follow? Therefore, again I read:—   

"By giving heed to proper instruction, by following health principles in regard to the expansion of the lungs and the culture of the voice, our young men and women may become speakers that can be heard, and the exercise necessary to this accomplishment will prolong life."—

Page 132.  

This touches the point; yea, it tells the whole story. And again I may say, it is not enough simply to expand the lungs. You can expand the lungs in such a way as to make them only an invitation to consumption; and in the right way, you can also expand the lungs in such a way that it will be impossible for consumption to get hold of you. So, that if you should happen to take cold, and it should even reach and settle upon your lungs, or in your throat, you need not be afraid, it cannot stay, neither can it stop you in your work. The living life and vigor of the whole system will drive it speedily away. O, the Lord wants us to live.  

"There is need that among our ministers careful attention should be given to the culture of the voice, or many will lie down in untimely graves. The Lord is not glorified by the reflections that are cast upon him, when men attribute to him their sufferings; for the Lord has no pleasure in the suffering and death of his people. He would have them pursue a right course of action, carefully looking after their bodies that they may be in health, and know how to keep the habitation in order." Page 133.  

Now, do not get the idea that this is an intricate thing, and hard to understand, and difficult to get hold of, and that you have to have a whole lot of unscientific instruction to get it. It is not that at all. It is all as simple as any other part of the religion of Christ. Listen to this:—   

"If we neglect to heed the simple laws by which we may preserve health, and fail to cultivate right habits, the Lord will not work a miracle to heal our disorders, while we continue to transgress his laws. Men are sleeping in their graves that the Lord would have had live. They destroyed themselves through lack of knowledge."—Page 133.   

What kind of laws are they?—Simply laws. That is just what they are. And do not allow yourself, nor allow anybody else for you, to make them anything else than simple. You will see this more fully as we follow this subject farther:—  

"Some of our most talented ministers are doing themselves great injury by their defective manner of speaking. While teaching the people their duty to obey God's moral law, they should not be found violating his physical laws. Ministers should stand erect, and speak slowly, firmly, and distinctly, taking a full inspiration of air at every sentence, and throwing out the words by exercising the abdominal muscles. If they will observe this simple rule, giving attention to the laws of health in other respects, they may preserve their life and usefulness much longer than men in any other profession."—"Gospel Workers," p. 147.   

Well, then, is it not almost a disgrace for any Seventh-day Adventist minister, except the oldest, to die, especially of lung or throat troubles? And he professing to be a health reformer, too? If we did not have these things, and set them so plainly before us and so repeatedly, too, it would not be so bad. But with all these things made so plain, and these good wishes of the Lord so fully expressed, it is awful to have our ministers dying, when to take the Lord's way, the ministers may "preserve their life and usefulness much longer than men in any other profession." Then let us quit dying. And this expression is not out of place either. For men often think they are all right and not dying, when the truth is they are dying all the time. I read on:—   

"The chest will become broader."   

What! The chest become broader by exercising the abdominal muscles?—Yes, of course. That is the only way the chest can become broader in the right way, in the way to have health. Now there is no contradiction nor inconsistency here. I am not explaining yet, just how this will be. It is all true though. You believe it, and practice it, and you will find it so. However, we are searching now for what is the right way to breathe; how to practice it we shall study afterward.   

"The chest will become broader, and by educating the voice, the speaker need seldom become hoarse, even by constant speaking."—Id.   

Why no, the throat is the last place in the body to become weary from talking; the lungs never. The abdominal muscles may become tired sometimes, and the back also, and even other parts of the body, with long or strong speaking, but the lungs and throat will be all right. Only use them as God intended them to be used, and they will outlast all the rest of the system.  

"Instead of becoming consumptives by speaking, our ministers may, by care, overcome all tendency to consumption."—Id.   

Good. Then why should any Seventh-day Adventist minister have even any tendency to consumption, much less have consumption itself? Instead of being delicate, and sunken-chested, and weak-lunged, the Lord wants us to be healthy, full-chested, and strong-lunged, and proof against disease instead of being subject to disease. And why is not this true of all the people as well as of the ministers? Why should our sisters be sunken-chested, stoop-shouldered, and weak-lunged, and subject to lung troubles any more than our brethren or the ministers? They should not. The Lord wants women to have as good health as he wants men to have. And these excellent things that I have been reading, are just as much for women as for men; and are just as true of women as they are of men. Then, sisters, you stand erect and use the abdominal muscles in deep breathing and in expanding the chest, and throw out your words by exercising the abdominal muscles. Then, if you have any tendency to consumption, you will soon be all right,—in more ways than simply your lung troubles, too,—you will "overcome all tendency to consumption." That is a great deal; it is a blessed promise.     

"I would say to my ministering brethren, unless you educate yourselves to speak according to physical law, you will sacrifice life, and many will mourn the loss of 'those martyrs to the cause of truth;' when the facts in the case are, that by indulging in wrong habits, you did injustice to yourselves, and to the truth which you represented, and robbed God and the world of the service you might have rendered. God would have been pleased to have you live, but you slowly committed suicide."—Id.  

That is to Seventh-day Adventist ministers who die of consumption. It is an awful thing for a person in very desperation to commit suicide by a sudden act. But how much more it is for a person, and of all people a Seventh-day Adventist, too, slowly to commit suicide—to keep it up, and follow it up persistently for years, till it is finally accomplished,—that is terrible. Who, then, will continue to do it? O, rather, who will not cease entirely to do it, by choosing now, and diligently following, the right way?   

"Speaking from the throat letting the words come out from the upper extremity of the vocal organs, all the time fretting and irritating them, is not the best way to improve health or to increase the efficiency of those organs."—Id, p. 150; Vol. II., p. 616.    

Why, I have known even Seventh-day Adventist workers, who had a great deal of talking to do, who had so nearly ruined the throat that it was somewhat doubtful whether it would ever be well again. The throat was so filled with diseased formations that it had to be cauterized—burnt out. And the sole difficulty was that the throat had been used in talking just as is here stated should not be done. The throat had been used alone, all the time fretting and irritating it, until it was almost destroyed. And all through lack of knowledge of the simple principles, which we are now studying.  

"You should take a full inspiration, and let the action come from the abdominal muscles."—Id.   

Let what come?—Why, the action. From where?—From the abdominal muscles. The action should not come from the lungs or the throat. "Let the action come from the abdominal muscles."   

"Let the lungs be only the channel; do not depend upon them to do the work. If you let your words come from deep down, exercising the abdominal muscles, you can speak to thousands with just as much ease as you can speak to ten."—Id.  

Where shall the words come from?—From "deep down," not from high up; from the base of the vocal organs, not from the top, the action coming from the abdominal muscles. Then you can speak to thousands with just as much ease, so far as the lungs and throat,—the vocal organs,—are concerned, as you can speak to ten. Of course you can. But no man can do that who uses his lungs and throat to speak with; for the more effort that is put upon these the more destructive it is. But, the man who is using his abdominal muscles, any extra exertion of these can be made just as easily as the normal. Of course, if he has to speak to but ten, he will speak as though he were speaking to but ten, and the muscular exertion will not need to be much, if any, more than if speaking to one. But, if he is speaking to ten thousand, this will require more power; yet all he has to do is to bring more pressure on the abdominal muscles, and he can make the people hear. Yet the lungs and throat will be just as safe as in the other case. There is no more danger of injuring the throat in the extra use of the abdominal muscles than in the regular use of them.   

"Some of our preachers are killing themselves by long, tedious praying and loud speaking, when a lower tone would make a better impression."—Id. p. 150.  

You have heard it; you have heard ministers speaking in a small room to only a few people, and they would strike a high key that would make the house fairly ring. To cause all the house to hear, they needed not to have talked any louder than they would in simply talking to a neighbor; yet they actually talked louder than they would have needed to had they been speaking to hundreds. And, when they had stopped talking, they were tired, and you were also tired; and if they should chance to go out into cold or wet weather, they would take cold, and the throat being all irritated and inflamed already, the cold seizes upon that at once, and he is "laid up" for days or perhaps weeks, besides having laid the foundation for serious disease.   

"A lower tone would make a better impression, and save their own strength. Now, while you go on, regardless of the laws of life and health, and follow the impulse of the moment, do not charge it upon God if you break down."—Id 

Now do not think that these are but imaginations, or mere trifles, meaning but little. They are not; they mean your life. And you can carry out these instructions if you will but persevere, and work with diligence. You can do it alone. There will yet be teachers in all our schools, and among the ministers, who will give this set training. But you need not wait. Until these come your way, you can study these principles and follow a few simple rules, and so breathe and speak right anyhow.   

I will read a sentence on that:—   

"Teachers should be employed to educate the youth to speak without wearing the vocal organs."—Testimonies, Vol. V, p. 274.   

Thus you see the right way to speak is not to wear the vocal organs. Then don't allow yourselves to wear your vocal organs when you are talking. That is the way a teacher would train you if he were here; but till he comes, do it for yourself. And that you may see that it can be done easily, I will read even that to you:—   

"All that was essential was to study and conscientiously follow a few simple rules. . . . and the exercise of a little common sense."—Id. p. 605.  

I might say that this was given as a testimony of reproof of that which was done a number of years ago, when that professor of elocution was employed to come to Battle Creek, and teach elocution. They got up a great stir over the matter, and some were even dropping the work of the ministry to take up the teaching of elocution. This testimony was given to correct this wrong course. I have met some of the brethren who were there, and who took the instruction in elocution, and they have been suffering from the effects of it ever since. They did not know what was the matter with them, until they studied up on the Testimonies in this matter. And then they had to undo that which they had been taught by the professor of elocution. 

So the testimony says that instead of employing a professor of elocution, all that was essential was to study and conscientiously follow a few simple rules, and educate themselves by the exercise of a little common sense. 

That was all that was needed then; and it is all that is needed now, at least until a teacher is found who understands the subject himself, and can train people as directed by the Lord.   

Well, perhaps that is enough on the subject of what is right breathing. Now we shall read what is wrong breathing.   

"You should not let the labor come upon the upper portion of the vocal organs, for this will constantly wear and irritate them, and will lay the foundation for disease. The action should come upon the abdominal muscles. The lungs and throat should be the channel, but should not do all the work."—Testimonies, Vol. III, p. 311 

There it is written both how to do it, and how not to do it: not to use the upper part of the vocal organs, and not to use the throat and lungs; but use the abdominal muscles.   

Again in speaking of a certain one it says:—   

"He uses only the upper part of his lungs. It is seldom that he exercises the abdominal muscles in the act of breathing.—

Vol. II, p. 67.  

Now I will read the next sentence, that you may see how much is involved in right breathing:—  

"Stomach, liver, lungs, and brain are suffering for the want of deep, full inspirations of air, which would electrify the blood and impart to it a lively color, and which alone can keep it pure, and give tone and vigor to every part of the living machinery."   

How much of a person suffers from failing to exercise the abdominal muscles in breathing?—O, think of it, "stomach, liver, lungs, and brain." Take these things away from a man, and how much is he worth? I will put it in another way: Take away from a man the proper and free use of these organs, and what is he in comparison to what God intended that he should be?—Why, he is as nothing, compared with what God made him to be. And yet the "stomach, liver, lungs, and brain" of thousands of people, and Seventh-day Adventists too, are suffering from the want of knowing how to breathe correctly. O, brethren and sisters, study up on these things. God has given us these organs to be kept in health, and to be used to glorify him. But it is not health to have the stomach, liver, lungs, and brain suffering.   

Now to sum up:—   

Question.—What is right breathing?  

Answer.—"Exercising the abdominal muscles."   

Q.—What is wrong breathing?  

A.—"The use of the top of the lungs."   

Q.—What is the right way and manner of speaking?  

A.—"By using the abdominal muscles."   

Q.—What is the wrong way?   

A.—"To use the tops of the lungs and the throat."   

Q.—Where are the words to come from?   

A.—"Let your words come from deep down."   

Q.—Where shall they not come from?   

A.—"Not from high up. Not from the throat, nor from the upper extremity of the vocal organs."     

Q.—What is to do the work?   

A.—"The abdominal muscles."   

Q.—What is not to do the work, not to be worn?  

A.—"The lungs and throat, the vocal organs."   

Now that you may see yet more plainly how important this is, I will read you a statement clipped from the Union Signal, the organ of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. And in this time when it is popular to adopt the pernicious ways of that organization, it is well that we know their foolishness in this matter as well as in others, and avoid it.   

The heading of this is "Physical Culture for Children." I have neither the number nor the date of the paper, but only the clipping itself:—   

"I would begin when a child was two years old and teach her [her, mark it. And you will all see that there is a point in so teaching her rather than him] to stand poised from the hips and slightly forward, chest up, abdomen contracted, toes turned out at an angle of sixty degrees, and neck erect, so that the collar-bone should be horizontal. [Now comes the point.] . . . Then I would teach her to breathe slowly, inflating the chest upward and outward, not downward, keeping the abdomen contracted."  

Just think of it: "Chest up, abdomen contracted, toes turned out, neck erect, breathe slowly." Why, to take a grown person who is breathing right, and put him or "her" through that and it would be torture to him or "her." And a child two years old breathes right; she breathes naturally as God made her to breathe. But lo! This proposes to take her at that age and train her into this absolute perversion and inversion of nature. Why, it is awful. Let not these speak any more against the Flathead Indians, nor against the Chinese binding the feet of their female children.   

Why, to take a child at that age and train her that way, if she should chance to survive the dreadful ordeal, when she gets her growth she will be shaped directly opposite to what God made us to be,—she will be shaped like an inverted cone, like a common ink bottle upside down, and will be a living invitation to consumption. It is plain to see, though, why this is done. Some devotee of fashion invented this plan so as to have the women wasp waisted as fashion dictates. And they will take the girl at two years old and train, or rather torture, her into this shape, so she will have as small a waist as possible. And these same people will praise the Venus of Mila, and then take their children and train them in exactly an opposite shape, and opposite, too, to the shape, which God made us to bear.   

Now, in the way the Lord made us, the vital organs, the heart and lungs, are in the upper part of the body, and are fenced in strongly with the large, powerful upper ribs, and these further strengthened and braced with the breast-bone; but the breast-bone does not extend all the way down as far as the ribs number. The lower ribs are loose at the front ends, and so are pliable, and therefore are called "floating" ribs. Now which are easier to be moved—the ribs that are so strongly braced as to be almost immovable? Or the ribs that are left free and floating purposely to be moved? There is only one possible answer. Therefore, does not nature itself, and common sense, too, teach that breathing should be downward instead of "upward and outward," as this extract says? Nothing more than this simple consideration is needed to demonstrate that this W.C.T.U. method is contrary to nature. And by every passage, which we have read, we know that it is contrary to revelation.   

The general shape of the thorax, the inside of the chest, and the vital organs contained therein, is that of a cone right side up; that is, the small end up, and the large, broad part down. But the W.C.T.U. method, you see, would develop just the reverse of that. This would put the broad part up and the point down. Don't you see that this just reverses nature, and makes the shape just the opposite of what God made it?  

Nothing more is needed to demonstrate that this method of breathing, like the most of the W.C.T.U. methods in other things, is contrary to nature and revelation, to reason and common sense. And there I leave it, and close the present lesson. Study these things carefully, consider them prayerfully, apply them conscientiously, and glorify God by having good health. 

December 1893 ATJ, HOMI 264 

The Home Missionary, Vol. 6 (1894)

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.   

Now this cone-shaped body formed of the lungs and heart, is not fastened at any place to any part of the chest. It is connected with the throat by the windpipe, 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.   

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 beneath the diaphragm is the stomach, marked D.   

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.  

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 dome-shaped floor—the diaphragm. This is the normal position of these organs.   

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.  

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.   

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?   

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.   

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.   

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 chest bone, upward, in a medium sized man.   

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.  

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.   

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 an 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.   

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.   

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."

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.   

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?   

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.   

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.   

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.   

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

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.  

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.   

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.   

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.   

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 ribs 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.  

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.  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."  

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.   

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.

 January 1894 ATJ, HOMI 11.6 

February 1894

"Benefits of Right Breathing" The Home Missionary 6, 2 , pp. 34-36.

We shall begin this lesson with a statement of the Testimonies for a text:—  

"Perfect health depends upon perfect circulation."—Vol. II, p. 538.  

And perfect circulation depends upon perfect breathing more than upon anything else. Now, it is a perfectly fair proposition, that, God has not given to any person more lung capacity than that person needs to keep him in such condition of health as God made him to have, and as God wants him to enjoy. I suppose, this, will not be disputed by any one. It follows, then, plainly enough, that if all the lung capacity which God has given to you is not used, you will not have the health which God made you to have. Just to the extent that you come short of using all the lung capacity, which God has given you, in the same proportion you will come short of having the health that the Lord made you to have. And I do not believe that it is to the glory of God to give any one health by a miracle, and keep him in it by the miracle constantly maintained, when the cause of the ill health is the neglect of the very things within himself, which are given to insure good health. It is not prayer but conformity to nature's laws, which are God's laws, that is needed in such cases. I can see no room for a prayer of faith to heal the sick, when that person has made himself or herself sick by wrong habits of eating, or by shutting off the life-giving air of heaven by tight lacing or wrong habits of breathing.  

As perfect circulation depends so largely upon perfect breathing; as perfect breathing is only the use of the full lung capacity which God has given; and as the Lord has shown us both in our very make-up and in his Testimonies how to do this, there is certainly no excuse for any of us having imperfect health because of imperfect circulation. As perfect health depends upon perfect circulation let us study a little while— 

February 1894 ATJ, HOMI 34.4 


That we may gather as far as possible what perfect circulation is.  

The passages through which the circulation is carried on, are the arteries and the veins. The arteries are the passages along which the good blood is sent by the heart to all parts of the system to supply its wants. The veins are the passages along which the exhausted blood is carried back to the heart to be sent to the lungs to be purified. The life-blood is sent out by the heart in two directions—toward the head and all the upper parts of the body, and toward the feet and all the lower parts of the body. Where the blood leaves the heart there are but two of these arteries and they, of course, are therefore very large. But as the blood goes farther and farther from the heart, these two large arteries are divided and sub-divided and so become smaller and smaller until they become as small as the finest silken fibers and so numerous that you cannot penetrate the skin anywhere, even with the sharpest needle, without touching these and drawing blood. These small, hair-like blood vessels are called capillaries. Where the capillaries of the arteries end, there the capillaries of the veins begin. The capillaries of the veins take up the blood which has been exhausted here from the capillaries of the arteries, and carry it to the small veins; these carry it to the larger veins, and these to the largest, which empty it into the heart. The heart sends it into the lungs, there to receive the life-giving property of the air, which purifies it and so makes life-blood of it, which is drawn back into the heart and is sent on its way again through the arteries, and so on around and around. This is the process of the circulation of the blood.   

Now let us look at it again and see the purpose of the circulation. Every motion, voluntary or involuntary, within the human system, exhausts human tissue. The thinking of a single thought exhausts some tissues of the brain. And so with every part of  the system, any motion of any part exhausts some of the tissues of which that part is composed. Therefore food must be taken to furnish material to supply good tissue to take the place of this constant waste. But how is this done?   

Let us take our stand at the heart as it is laden with its supply of good life-giving blood. Every corpuscle, that is, every part of every drop of this blood is laden with material to supply good tissue in the place of that which has been exhausted by the motions of the different parts of the system.  

As the heart throbs, this blood is dashed through the arteries into the capillaries all over the system in every part. Through the capillaries the corpuscles deposit their load wherever the material is needed, depositing most where most is needed—as where there is a cut, a bruise, or an abrasion. When the blood has thus deposited its load, its value is gone. In unloading its material to take the place of exhausted tissue, it has become exhausted blood. Then it passes on from the capillaries of the arteries into the capillaries of the veins, and so through the veins back to the heart, receiving on the way the nutrient properties of the food, and all passing into the lungs where the impurities are thrown off, and the blood receives the vitalizing property of the air which makes it good life-blood again. This is taken up by the heart and again sent on its glad, life-giving way. Thus the circulation is carried on in its ceaseless round from birth to death.  

Now let us look at this exhausted, this lifeless blood, as it is thrown into the lungs to be vitalized, that is, to be given life. Bear in mind that God has not given to any person more lung capacity than that person needs to keep the blood that is in him as pure as it must be in order that he may have the health that God made him to have. If then, a part of the lungs is not used, if, some of the air chambers cannot be reached, by the blood or the air, then a portion of the blood will return to the heart impure as it came from the veins, to be sent out impure through the arteries and capillaries. This causes the blood to become sluggish; it will not pass easily through the capillaries, and the heart is not only compelled to work harder than it ought, but the sluggish, impure blood breeds boils, pimples, sores, and disease. Therefore that the blood may be kept pure and full of life, all the lung capacity must be used in breathing. And in order that all the lung capacity may be brought into use there must be full, deep breathing, and this can be accomplished only by the use of the abdominal muscles, as shown in the previous lessons. And thus it is that, as perfect health depends upon perfect circulation, perfect circulation depends upon perfect breathing.  

There are other elements, it is true, which enter into the keeping up of perfect circulation. These are: (a) keeping the extremities—the hands and feet, wrists and ankles—properly clothed that the blood may not be driven back upon itself, and chilled by the cold; (b) eating good food, etc. For, even though you breathe properly, if you eat pork, overfed turkey, "high" meats, and such impure and gross things, it is impossible for any amount of air to make pure and good the blood, which comes from such victuals. Yet on the other hand, even though you eat only the very best of food, which will make the purest and best of blood, it is impossible to keep even this blood pure and good without using all the lung capacity which the Lord has given you, which can be done only by the deep breathing caused by the free and full use of the abdominal muscles. So that it remains true that, taken all around, perfect circulation depends first and most of all, upon perfect breathing.   

Not let us go a little farther in this. You will remember that in one of these lessons we read the statement from the Testimonies, that "stomach, liver, lungs, and brain suffer for want of deep, full inspirations of air," etc. Let us read that again and study how this is. Here is the passage:—   

"He breathes only from the top of his lungs. It is seldom that he exercises the abdominal muscles in the act of breathing. Stomach, liver, lungs, and brain, are suffering for the want of deep, full inspirations of air, which would electrify the blood and impart to it a bright, lively color, and which alone can keep it pure, and give tone and vigor to every part of the living machinery."—Vol. II, p. 67.   

Let us take the lungs first. They are made to suffer from this kind of breathing, thus: Breathing only from the top of the lungs, all the lower part lies wholly unused. The air-chambers of this unused part of the lungs fill up with a sort of serum and finally harden. And the longer the parts remain thus unused the worse they get, and there goes on that process as before expressed of "slowly committing suicide." 

Next, the brain. This is made to suffer thus: As only a part of the lungs is used in breathing, part of the blood that is thrown into the lungs to be purified and vitalized returns as impure and dull as it was sent up. It then is so sluggish that it will not pass easily through the extremely delicate capillaries of the brain. The brain thus robbed of the full life-current becomes wearied by a little exertion, there is dullness of mind, depression of spirit, and if an attempt it made to force the brain to do work, there will be sleepiness or headache.   

The stomach is made to suffer in more ways than one. First, like the brain, being robbed of a good quality of blood, it is in a measure robbed of the strength which it needs in order to do the work, which it must do, and thus a weak stomach and from that indigestion will result. Secondly, there being no motion of the abdominal muscles, the stomach is held tightly in place, tucked up under the diaphragm, and when filled with food is distended and thus more tightly held, and as the consequence it is deprived of that free movement which is essential to easy and good digestion.  

The liver is made to suffer in the same way. Lying close alongside the stomach, it, too, by there being no motion of the abdominal muscles, is held closely in place, tucked up under the diaphragm, and being thus deprived of any free action, not only cannot perform its normal function, but torpid liver is induced.   

In addition to all this the heart by being compelled constantly to drive impure and sluggish blood through the course of circulation, is overworked and thus weakened, and then, with a little unusual exertion, there is irregularity and palpitation of the heart.   

Oh! With the human system compelled to endure the abuses that it is, it is a standing proof of the mercy of the beneficent Creator that so many people live as long as they do.   

Look, however, at the other side of the picture. Let the abdominal muscles be always exercised in deep breathing. Then every part of the lung capacity is used; every air chamber is opened to the free entrance of the life-giving air of heaven. The impure blood, which is thrown up to these chambers is at once purified and vivified by the life property of the oxygen, which enters its corpuscles "as free as air." It being thus "electrified," the heart takes it up gladly, and cheerily sends it fairly dancing to the farthest extremity of every capillary in the system. The brain, receiving about one fifth of all the blood of the body, is clear, ready, and vigorous, and capable of any task. The abdominal muscles, moving fully and regularly, give to the stomach and liver and all the digestive apparatus and intestines that easy, free, regular, and full motion that is the most efficient aid to the performance of all their functions. Thus "tone and vigor" are given to every part of the "living machinery." This is health. Thank the Lord. Take it, take it, and enjoy it to the glory and praise of Him who wishes "above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health."


December 1893 ATJ, HOMI 258.1-

February 1894 ATJ, HOMI 36.5