What are the usual problems people come to breathwork with?
One of the main symptoms that bring people to breathwork is the feeling that life is not working somehow, a feeling that life has more to it than is their current experience. This can apply to anyone in any field of life, whether you are a successful professional, a student, a designer, a therapist, wealthy, well or just getting by.
Breath is something that we do, all of the time, without even thinking about it, and at the same time one of the best-kept secrets on the planet. What do I mean by this?
Our breathing is fundamental to every aspect of who we are. Physical health. Breathing is the way we bring oxygen into our body, via our lungs. Oxygen is fundamental to the nourishment of every cell in our body. If we stop breathing we stop living.
Emotional wellbeing. Our breath is utterly interwoven into our expression. Speaking, laughing, whispering, etc, are actually exhales with sound attached! If you are constraining your emotions or expression in anyway, you are basically holding your breath in some way. This will over time have an impact on your physical health.
Mental clarity. How can breathing impact our thoughts? You can try this right now, and remember that there is no real distinction between our body, our emotions or our thoughts. Think of something that you have to do in the next day or so that you don’t want to do. Maybe call someone up, or go to a meeting that you are not prepared for anything like that. Now notice what has happened to your breath?
You may notice that our usual response is to hold our breath or stop it in someway, as if this will prevent the thing that we have to do from getting closer!
Now think of something that you are looking forward to and at the same time take some fuller breaths and see what your experience is?
For myself I begin to feel more energy and excitement builds. What I am illustrating here is that how we breathe can impact our thoughts and experience and vice versa.
The benefits of conscious breathing are endless as it impacts our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health and wellbeing. It really is a holistic practice, where every aspect of you is included.
After a session often people share that they feel energised, calm and peaceful. That it is a relief to breathe into and free up some of the deep held feelings that they have never been able to reach before. That a new level of self awareness and confidence emerges and that in freeing up the breath they also free up their energy and feel more relaxed, more of the time and in many previously stressful situations. Breathing sessions balance and free emotions, body tensions and increases spiritual and/or subtle energy awareness.
So how does a breathwork session work? What is involved?
The core part of breathwork is bringing conscious awareness to your breath and connecting your inhale and exhale to create a circle of breath (energy). What happens is that by breathing this way you drop into a meditative experience that is very deep and very conscious. It is a moment-to-moment journey and every single breath is a healing, a letting go and opening to a new possibility. As it shifts many 'unconscious' reactions or 'involuntary' processes, this practice regulates your physiological, emotional, psychological and spiritual states. There is research that as in meditation the brain wave rhythms shift and you drop into the deeper and slower wave rhythms that are resonant to a deeper vibration. (Schumann resonance). The other essential aspect of conscious breathing is that as you continue to breath in a circle you begin to feel the energy that is within your breath. This is called chi, or prana and is the subtle energy that is our life force and is essentially what everything is about.
Our breathing mechanism is both automatic and voluntary. As I said earlier we breathe without even thinking about it. This part of our breathing mechanism is controlled in our brain stem and functions via a chemical balance. When there a certain level of CO2 in the blood the brain stem automatically triggers and impulse to breathe in, ie. to bring in O2 into our lungs and then through a process called diffusion into the cells of the body, via our blood. This is a simple snippet of what happens, but is just to give you an idea of how the breath is fundamental to our physical wellbeing.
And we can also control our breath voluntarily. In order to speak we have to control our breathing. This is regulated by another part of the brain.
Breathwork is also known by the term conscious connected breathing and as soon as you bring consciousness to it, our breathing will automatically change its behavior. So even if we just watch our existing breathing pattern, something would begin to happen. In the sessions we play with how we breathe to bring awareness to existing holding pattern. Then as the session progresses these patterns begin to loosen and release and create an opportunity for a new holding pattern to emerge that is less constraining.
Each session is complete in itself and each time you are supported to go as far and as deep as you are ready to go in that moment. Over a series of sessions you begin to feel at ease breathing more fully and as you relax and allow the experience to be a dance between. I breathe and I am breathed, your literally feel your energy within your body freeing up.
In the same way as in a de-tox process thought patterns, emotional constraints, or physical tensions begin to be activated in order to let the energy move and clear.
What happens during a session? A session starts with the client having some time to share and be coached on issues in their life that either they wish to transform or are having difficulties integrating and healing.
When ready the client will begin the awakening breathing part of the session. This practice is done either sitting up, or lying down. The benefit of lying down is that the breather can fully relax and allow the energy to awaken fully. The breath practice is based upon conscious connected breathing, where the inhale and exhale form an uninterrupted cycle of breath. Conscious connected breathing is either through the nose, or through the mouth but not alternating through both.
Energy and/or bodywork are used to help release any build up of tension, and/or verbal guidance and positive affirmations, to hold a space of total safety, possibility and relaxation. Through welcoming, embracing and trusting what comes to the surface within a session, healing happens automatically and with ease.
The practitioner continues to support the breather through the breathing cycle, which can last anything from 45-90 minutes. At times the breather may experience a heightened awareness of physical, emotional or spiritual states.
The breathing cycle comes to a natural integration and the breather will feel lighter and clearer, often with an awareness and clarity around issues that have been a problem. The peace and stillness and or feeling or relaxation that occurs during the integration phase is important and the breath worker will encourage the breather to stay still and quiet for a period while the full impact of the session settles in to their awareness. The integration phase is an essential part of gaining maximum value from the session, and should not be rushed or interrupted. After the breathe the client may want to share some of their experiences and realizations. Afterwards an appointment will be made for the next session. A series of sessions is highly recommended as this allows a continuation in the unfolding and healing process. The intention of a series is to allow the client to open their awareness to the energy within the breath, to release any holding pattern in the breathing mechanism and to come back to a freedom of being. A series of breathing sessions is a life transforming experience.
Jane Okondo; Lovesbody Breathwork; 14.2.06
tel. 0208 318 9466