Breakthrough Breathwork: Breaking Free from Stress

What happens during a Breakthrough Breathwiork session? Before answering this question, we need to understand a few things…

Did you know that the body knows how to breathe itself in order to regulate through the different emotions that we experience? For instance when we experience sadness, for example when we grieve the loss of someone or something important to us, we might cry, sob and sniff. We experience frustrating situations that anger us and we may tense up. 

Think about what happens to your breathing rhythm during these times. Does your breathing increase or decrease during these times? Considering what happens during the full range of different emotions that we experience, our bodies know exactly what to do to help us get through it. 

But what happens if we grow up in a society that tends to value the Head over the Heart? Logic and Analysis over Emotions and Intuitive Instinct? Judgement and comparison over compassion and empathy? It’s common to suppress and bury our emotions in order to save face and appear ‘fine’ on the outside, without realising the impact that this has on us on the inside. 

At other times, we may not be in the appropriate setting, surroundings or social dynamics to appropriately express our emotions and how we’re really feeling. On top of that, there’s also the social notions like “men don’t cry”, or that it’s weak to show vulnerability of any kind. Maybe we’re simply not educated that it’s safe and acceptable to let our emotions out and discharge our stress reactions appropriately.

STRESS CYCLE

This buildup of emotional stress contributes to societies and individuals who absorb more stress, experience more mood swings and decreased empathy. Also, increased ranges of conditions such as Cardiovascular Disease, Stroke, Burnout, Depression, Anxiety and Substance Abuse.

These emotions can range from simple to complex. For example, they can range from the tension that builds in a school classroom or in a workplace meeting at the office (where you just want to move around and do something to release the buildup of stress), to the challenges of conflict with others (and not reaching peaceful and agreeable resolutions), to more intense ones that leave heavy scars, like acts of physical or verbal violence, neglect and abuse. 

The list goes on and each of us carry emotional wounds to some degree. What’s common about many of these emotional wounds is that a lot of the time, there weren’t the proper structures in place to help us process and discharge these. As time goes on, these emotions sink deeper and deeper, becoming trapped in our bodies. These trapped emotions influence the way we act unconsciously to develop behavioral patterns. These patterns serve as defense mechanisms for our unresolved pain and trauma. 

We may be aware of what’s challenging us and we might attend sessions in talk therapy to try and work through it. We may see our therapist, make some progress and once we stop attending, it’s hard to maintain that progress. What may often seem the case is that we keep circling around the issue at hand by bringing up and talking about the stories and hurts by using a mental approach to deal with our buried emotions.

STRESS RESPONSE

Our bodies have an inborn Stress Response which prepares the body for a sudden explosion of muscular activity. Tension can be reduced by allowing the stress response to take place. Learning to harness your Breath means that you become active in allowing the Stress Cycle to take place. Instead of trying to calm the body when Cortisol and Adrenaline starts flowing through, we learn how to breathe into the intensity to work with our Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous Systems. Basically, meet our Bodies where they are at and bring balance and calm.

WHAT HAPPENS IN A BREAKTHROUGH BREATHWORK SESSION?

Breakthrough Breathwork takes place in a safe and nurturing environment with one or several Breathwork instructors. It provides breathers with a unique opportunity to connect with their physiology; bringing their shadows to the light and breathing life into those parts that seem dead and long-gone, but are what was once unresolved, stuffed down and locked away in the body. 

The process of Breakthrough Breathwork involves being guided through a sustained and controlled period of big, full breathing— in and out. Breathing begins slow and intensifies over time, leading to an increased to rapid breathing rate. By expelling an increasing amount of air, Co2 is dumped from the blood and lungs and there is a decrease in the amount of Oxygen we can take in.

As this takes place, the Oxygen levels in the Brain decreases, taking pressure away from the Pre-Frontal Cortex. This is the part of the Brain that is associated with our ‘ego’ and is responsible for things such as our Rational Mind, analysis of the world and logical processing traits. 

BYPASSING THE EGO IN A BREAKTHROUGH BREATHWORK SESSION

When the ego is bypassed, this creates opportunity for us to enable direct access to deeper parts of our Brain such as our Hippocampus (the Brain structure containing our implicit and memories), Subconscious Mind (associated with our instinctual behaviours, patterns and traits), and Superconscious Minds (associated with connections beyond Human thinking and reasoning, experiencing altered states of consciousness and connection with all of life).

The nature of the progressively increasing speed and depth of the breathwork in the first half of a Breakthrough Breathwork session. Here, we activate the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS). This part of the process involves participants breathing their way into the discomfort and deliberately putting it under stress. 

MEETING THE RESISTANCE AT BREAKTHROUGH BREATHWORK

This is the pristine time to work with your breathing and your physiology to get straight to the source of your trauma or unresolved emotions and energy! It may feel uncomfortable to breathe so heavily for such a long period of time. Know that Breathwork takes deliberate and conscious work on your behalf to get you where you need to be. 

Thinking of yourself like a car, the breath is the accelerator. Breathing increases and the tension builds up, uncovering whatever is under the hood and the state that you are in. 

As you go through this process, it may be possible to experience things such as; 

  • An urge to cry, scream, yell or make noises to release any tension,
  • Resurfacing and flashbacks of unresolved emotions and memories,
  • Shaking, kicking or wriggling movements to shake out old energy and emotions,
  • Intuitive insights and visions of past-lives and
  • Connections to higher consciousness and feeling a deep sense of peace. 

HOW DOES BREAKTHROUGH BREATHWORK WORK?

Working the Diaphragm muscles for such a long period of time builds a tremendous amount of tension and there is a deep-release and surrender period. This finalises with something that feels like a breath-induced, prolonged, whole-body orgasm. Large sighs of relief, smiles and relaxing waves of peace often rush through the participants as every muscle and fibre of the bodies and minds surrenders into the space in which they lay. 

Now, we enter the integration phase, where the emphasis is on the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), the brake to this process. The pace begins to slow down to what could be described as a nurturing period. This allows the Nervous System to settle and the body to welcome in restorative, rejuvenating and refreshing energy, emotions and enlightenment. 

What the body and mind are going through during the integration period is the processing and healing of their experiences from this journey with Breakthrough Breathwork. In the first phase of this process, the old traumas are brought to the surface. In the second phase, the participant has been given the opportunity to connect the dots with these exposed experiences and allow the stress cycle to be completed.

REFLECTIONS ON BREAKTHROUGH BREATHWORK

Instead of seeing stress as a ‘bad’ thing, we can begin to appreciate it as a catalyst for our own growth. Through this process, we are changing the way that we look at stress and the ways that we respond to it, by allowing ourselves to acknowledge what we would normally hide away or bury in order to prevent ourselves from appearing vulnerable or exposed and we breathe into an intensity that allows the body to process this. The safe environment where we practise this provides us with the space to heal.  

When we’re in a vulnerable position, there are two different directions that we can head in. Being faced with challenging and stressful situations that we don’t have the environment to process in with a sense of danger, is a pathway to developing trauma. The weight of these unresolved emotions and experiences contribute to the individual’s emergency state becoming the status quo. On the other hand, when we are vulnerable and there are stressful and challenging situations that we face but in an environment of support and safety, then that provides opportunities for healing to take place.

Think of it this way:

  • Vulnerability+Danger = Trauma
  • Vulnerability+Safety = Healing

Having experienced Breakthrough Breathwork as a participant and facilitator, I’ve heard many times from participants “this is the best spiritual experience that I’ve ever had”. Why is that? You may be wondering about what kind of gifts await you through a Breathwork Breathwork offering…

The only way to find out is to come along and experience it first hand and do the work for yourself. Every participant’s experience is different, and it is also different every time you go on a Breathwork Journey. No journey is ever the same. If you have doubts or questions, I invite you to embark on that experience and embrace the sensations, one breath at a time. I promise, you won’t regret it. Let’s do this!

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