Although the media talk about Breathwork as a current wellness trend - the Guardian even called the experience ‘A Cosmic Orgasm’ - I know there are a lot of people that still haven’t tried it, and who aren’t sure exactly what it is, or why they should do it.
Breathwork can be a surprisingly powerful practice, from which people frequently report deep emotional healing, bliss states, connection with the dead, connection with God, full-body orgasms, or trauma release - to name a few of the more intense experiences.
But, it’s best to not come to the practice with too much expectation, as each experience is totally unique. At first, the physical effects are often most noteworthy – particularly the vibrations of energy you may feel in your body, of the kind that most people have never experienced before. But deep revelations can surface, emotions can be released, and imagination and creativity can be activated.
Below I describe one experience I had using Breathwork to address my negative self-talk and limiting beliefs:
Some things hadn’t gone my way regarding my work and I’d got into a self-critical funk that had lasted a few days. The relief I gained from practicing yoga and reassurances from loved ones was only ever temporary, negative thought patterns kept stubbornly returning and affecting my mood. Eventually, I decided I’d have to take the medicine I prescribe, and be fully present with my discomfort and breathe into it.
I gave up my work plans and my desire to do or to try to fix things, and instead lay on my bed. I played a lovely free recording from Clarity Breathwork (my teacher Anthony’s teachers) which I find helpful when struggling with something or someone. It assists us to find the root of our issues in our own limiting beliefs.
As I breathed I started to feel and witness more of what was underneath the tension in my body; the sense of not being good enough, my anxiety about the unknown, a need to control, the general unease that I’d been feeling.
I was guided towards a core belief that I wasn’t loved: The wound that so many of us sustain from life's rejections, and that along with not being enough, is at the bottom of so much of our fear, suffering and neurosis.
I realised that I had subconsciously been seeing the events that had unfolded in my life as proof that I wasn’t loved. That was why they were so painful, not because of the situations in themselves. And I was making things worse for myself because I was acting from this wounded place. As this realisation brought up tears, the recording asked me to consider: "What if the opposite was true?"
With this thought in mind, I put on the Breath of Bliss 'I am Love' audio - a heart-expanding, self-love-inducing, vibration-raising breathwork audio. Using the breath, movement and sound I reminded myself that I was the source of Love - the ancient truth that what we are grasping for outside ourselves is always waiting for us, within ourselves.
When I went to meet a friend that night, he was pleasantly surprised to see such a difference in me - and 48 hours later the effect of this self-healing experience had yet to fade. It's not always this easy to shift perspective with one breathwork, but of all the healing practices I've tried, this is the most effective I know.