My Breathwork Journey
I studied to become a Breathwork Practitioner over 28 years ago and have had quite a journey since! I was lucky enough to do my training with someone who was taught by Leonard Orr, the creator of this process back in the 1970’s. Back then it was called ‘Rebirthing’ because, through this process, one can access memories from their birth. It is quite powerful to remember the details of your birth because it allows you to understand the ‘blueprint’ for your life and to even understand your life purpose and why you decided to come here.
The course went for over six months and was very powerful and intense. We learned about breathwork, of course, and there were other subjects covered such as Inner Child work, dealing with suppressed emotions, understanding the birth scenario and how it effects your life, dealing with any abuse in childhood, including sexual abuse and releasing trauma, just to name a few.
After I finished my training I then went on to practice for a few years and committed to more training. I went on to train in Past Life Therapy, Energy Healing, Shadow Work Therapy and Life Coaching. These other trainings took me away from Breathwork therapy as I was ever increasingly curious as to how we can heal and become our authentic selves.
Then about 12 years ago, I experienced one of the biggest lessons that would take me many years to work through. I had my gallbladder removed due to gall stones and very nearly lost my life because of the trauma it caused my body. First I got really sick, I was constantly vomiting up everything that I ate, returned to hospital and all they did for me was give me anti-vomiting medication and sent me home again. It didn’t help at all and ended back in hospital the next day where they put me into the emergency ward because I was really going downhill from there. My organs started to shut down from dehydration.
They really didn’t know what was wrong with me. I was then transferred to a ward where most people who were put in this ward didn’t make it out alive. I had about six tubes coming out of me and after 10 days was discharged with the diagnosis that I was now an insulin dependent diabetic.
I took several months to recover, although not completely. I was then experiencing at least one migraine a day for about a month before they started to be less frequent. Then the next issue I had to learn to deal with was chronic leg pain. It was painful to walk and the pain never lessened no matter what I did. I then worked through a long list of health practitioners, both medical and alternative, to release me from the pain. I saw over fifteen practitioners, and even had an operation that did nothing. Along with the physical therapies, I also did a lot of emotional work as a way to work through the pain but to no avail.
This was very distracting for me and I stopped practising my healing work. I was constantly researching and seeking answers. I had to quit my office job because it became too painful to walk from the train station to the office and it completely exhausted me. I then trained to become a Life Coach so I could work from home and use all the skills and knowledge to help others.
My research and study lead me from one healing modality to another but still nothing seemed to help. Being in constant pain can be very debilitating and can really get you down but there was something inside of me that just kept me going, searching.
Then finally a breakthrough! I stumbled across some information on trauma and discovered that while I was unconscious during my gallbladder operation, my body was not. I could understand how traumatic it would have been for my body to have an organ ripped out and that caused my body to disassociate from my mind. My body and nervous system switched into the sympathetic mode and was stuck there. All the medical and health practitioners I worked with could not see that. I also worked out that the reaction my body had directly after the operation (vomiting and migraines) was my body’s attempt to release the energy generated from the trauma.
When our bodies flip into the sympathetic mode, also known as the flight / fight response there are certain functions that turn on or off to prepare our body to respond to a threat. These are:
• Heart rate increases
• Liver releases glucose
• Pupils dilate
• Bronchioles are dilated
• Adrenal glands secrete epinephrine and norepinephrine
• Digestion is turned off
• Frontal lobe shuts down
The body is stuck in time and stays in this mode because it does not know the threat is no longer present and will do what it needs to do to protect the body. When someone is stuck in this mode the body systems are stretched to the limit and that resulted in the chronic pain that I have been suffering from since.
So my next lesson was to find out how to get myself out of the sympathetic mode and back into the parasympathetic mode and how to connect my mind back with my body. There is a lot of information out there on trauma and PTSD. For those suffering with PTSD, there is a memory of the trauma, and that suffering is constantly on their mind. With surgical PTSD there is no memory of the event, just what happens afterwards.
From my research into surgical PTSD, I found practically nothing on this subject. I even worked with a person who was trained in Somatic Experiencing but she knew little about my form of PTSD and wasn’t able to help me. So the search went on. Then it dawned on me – Breathwork.
We can use our breath in a conscious way to slow everything down and it is a way to switch into the parasympathetic. When we are stressed we tend to breathe in the upper chest area only which puts the body in the stress mode, so by slowing down the breath, by breathing into the abdominal area we can move out of that stress mode.
So now I practice breathwork 2 – 3 times a week and when I feel particularly stressed out. With the way the world is these days and as an Empath, I often feel stressed after simply going out to do the weekly shopping and picking up on the energies of those around me. I simply lay down on the bed, put on some relaxing music and focus on my breathing and practice breathwork. While I am focused on my breath, I talk to my body, telling it “You are safe now, and I love you” and the like. I talk to my body and leave space for it to answer me.
After a breathwork session, I feel more energised, the pain recedes and my mood improves greatly. The beauty of breathwork is that it is a therapy you do for yourself, it can be done anytime and it’s free! Our minds want everything to happen now but our bodies will do it in its own time and we have to respect that.