"When one gives undivided attention to the breath, and brings it to the utmost degree of pliancy, he can become as a tender babe. When he has cleansed away the most mysterious sights of his imagination, he can become without a flaw." ~Tao Te Ching
Breathwork is a means of inducing an altered state of consciousness through full and connected breathing. In 1973 an anthropological study found that 90% of the world’s cultures provide a socially sanctioned way to induce altered states. These include chanting, fasting, drumming, spinning/dancing, temperature extremes, sleep deprivation, extreme pain, meditation, sensory deprivation, and psychotropic substances such as peyote, ayahuasca, psilocybin mushrooms, etc. We live in one of the 10% of societies that does not promote healthy ways to use altered states for growth and healing.
While Breathwork is quite powerful, it has the advantages of being totally natural, safe, and loving. Through the control of your breath you choose the depth of your experience. The process is gentle and most participants will have a deep moving experience. As an added benefit, Breathwork is quite healthy for the body. Please come prepared for immediate growth and a powerful experience. While no two sessions are alike, some commonly encountered experiences include those that are psychologically healing and those that are transpersonal (spiritual).
A note about experiencing memories – while it may seem frightening and undesirable to re-contact memories of difficult times, it is quite a different experience to recall them in Breathwork than to relive them. It is almost like watching a movie of them. In fact, most people report that it is quite pleasant and a huge relief. Contacting memories can be very healing in many ways. According to Candace Pert, Chief of Brain Biochemistry at the National Institutes of Health, unexpressed emotions are stored in our bodies as polypeptides in our nerve synapses. Just releasing the emotions from the body is a great relief. Going into a memory as an adult and changing the outcome or the interpretation brings lasting change. And quite often, the Breathwork setting allows for a ‘corrective experience’ meaning that now you can give voice to your anger when you were unable to before, or you can be held while you cry your tears, while in the past maybe no one was there for you.
Accessing childhood memories where you might have taken on a core belief such as “I’m not safe” or “I’m bad” or “I’m not worthy”. These subtle beliefs are very difficult to access and heal through talk therapy, but they have a strong subconscious and pervasive effect on our lives. By regressing to the time you took on the belief, you can heal it at its source.
Example: One woman remembered being four years old and seeing that her parents had packed her suitcase. She believed they were going to send her away because she wasn’t good enough. She vowed to “people please” to save herself, and this habit was permeating her personality ever since.
Contacting the psychological underpinnings to somatic illness can often result in physical healing.
Example: A woman came to Breathwork because she wanted to conceive a child and had been trying for 7 years. In Breathwork she recalled a past life (some people might call this a vision) where her baby was stolen from her. She had come to a deep conclusion that she carried with her unconsciously, that a baby wasn’t safe with her. She decided to spend 10 minutes per day focusing on how safe the child would be – her husband had a good job, America was a safe place, there were many loving relatives, etc. In two weeks she became pregnant with a beautiful baby girl.
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross teaches us that the grieving process includes five stages. Often people can’t manage to move through these stages and they never fully grieve (come to acceptance and let go) someone they’ve lost. They can carry a heavy weight of emotion for many years. It is a very common experience in Breathwork to move through the stages of grief and finally resolve. The setting of Breathwork is perfect and supportive for this process.
Example: A woman was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder for 9 years, and had been a drug addict for the previous 11 years. During Breathwork she grieved the death of her baby 20 years earlier. Her depression lifted immediately.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):
Current psychological treatment protocol for PTSD centers on talking about the traumatic event. It is believed that accessing the affect (emotions) around the event is necessary for healing. Breathwork allows you to very strongly access memories in an altered state, to allow the emotions to flow, and to let the body physically do what it was primed to do (fight or flight) in that traumatic situation, so that the fight or flight arousal cycle can release and the body can go back to a relaxed state.
Example: A 20 year old man diagnosed with ADHD, recalled being raped 10 years prior, by his stepfather. Using a tennis racket and pillow, he let his body imaginally fight off his attacker. Afterwards his ADHD symptoms all but disappeared.
While energy healing is difficult to document empirically, many people report learning to open their chakras and unblock energy flow.
For people who feel themselves always on the verge of anger, Breathwork is a godsend. In a totally accepting environment, they can 1. Allow the body to simply release the anger energy in a safe way without shame, and 2. Access the hurt, fear or sadness that is living underneath the anger and then take steps to resolve that.
Accessing underlying causes:
Causes of emotional eating, painful relationship dynamics, and anxiety.
Direct meetings with archetypes, deities, etc. These visions always are relevant to the person’s current life and when interpreted like dream material, provide a strong curative direction.
Example: A man saw a white eagle flying in circles while its leg was held by a chain to the ground. On the ground were soldiers shooting at the eagle. He watched this from a cloud. In interpreting this vision he realized that one part of him, the eagle, wanted to fly free – his passion for life (the Freudian id). But another part of him chained him down and “shot at him” through self critical thoughts (Freudian superego). He realized that the eagle, though very powerful, was white, which was representing its intrinsic goodness and positive motivation. By becoming conscious of the fact that he was so self critical, he was then able to be more self accepting and assertive in the world.
Past Lives: (see example above in physical healing)
Birth is usually our first intense experience of life and according to theorists (see www.birthpsychology.com) it can have a profound effect on the way we view and experience the rest of our lives. In Breathwork some people re-experience their births and resolve the trauma and core beliefs from that experience.
Many people report being a tiger or flying as a bird, or even being a mountain. Often people experience many levels of evolution, being an amoeba, then a plant, then a reptile, then mammal, etc. Another common experience is flying through space.
Direct Spiritual Connection:
Many people report experiencing or merging with inner light, inner celestial music, ecstatic bliss states, intense energy flows, “knowing” God, or extreme affective states such as universal compassion or power or total trust. For those people who practice meditation, the strong state induced by Breathwork will often give them a ‘peak’ experience, allowing them contact with meditative states levels beyond where they are working.
All of these experiences happen automatically. All you have to do is relax and breathe. Breathwork is totally safe. And while some of the above experiences sound painful, participants always report that they regard their experiences as positive, healing, and loving and very often deeply life changing. If you have any questions about Breathwork feel free to contact Jane Martin.