4 Breath Words

From Cheng’s _New Method for Self Cultivation_

行氣允須
細長靜慢
xing qi yun xu: xi chang jing man
(you) must allow your breath/qi to be:
Fine, Long, Calm, and Easy

Character by character:

細, xi

Meaning: Fine, Delicate, Thin, Refined, Subtle
Character: threads (with silk radical) plus a phonetic.
Examples: used in compounds with meanings such as “minute details”, “delicate and fine”, and “fine and skillful” vs. “rough and clumsy”.

As a meditation instruction, 細 心 (xi xin) describes a state of awareness characterized by careful, detailed, unbroken attention

長, chang

Meaning: Length/expanse, in both space and time, also strength.
Character: original form showed a high table, a person, and death character.
Examples: used in chang quan (long boxing aka taijiquan) and chang shou  to describe longevity practices. Also used, as in this phrase, to describe something (the breath) that stretches out in time or space.

靜, jing

Meaning: Quiet, tranquil, serene, peaceful.
Examples:
 * 靜 思, (jing si): meditation (calm thoughts)
* 靜 功 (jing gong): Taoist meditation (quiet work)
 * in buddhist theory, represents one of the 16 aspects of the four noble truths: the calming of afflictions
 * 靜動 (jing dong): stillness and movement. a pair of opposites.

慢, man

Meaning: Slow, easily, gradually.
Character: heart plus 曼 (man) lengthen/stretch. So, to lengthen or stretch the heart-mind.
Examples:  used in compounds meaning “without urgency”, “easy going”, “all in good time”.
We’re told Professor often said “man man” -- “gradually, gradually”.