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Harada Roshi

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I'm confused about the exhalation of the breath does exhalation comprise only of contracting the abdomen until all the air is out or is there also a stage of contracting the diaphragm and if so which should I contract first?

When breathing in zazen, first take away all tension in the shoulders, the chest and especially in the diaphragm, release the upper part of your body, like a waterfall, becoming an emptypipe through which the wind blows, lowing your breath effortlessly. You cannot create it. If you try to create it, then the muscles become tense and you cannot exhale to the end of the breath. If you exhale in a relaxed way your lower abdomen becomes flat, that is how far you need to breathe. 30 seconds, 40 seconds....and when you have reached the end of your breath, then the inhalation follows naturally. When you can experience this, you will feel the inhalation to be feeling really good filled with great energy. This is the deep breating in zazen.

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