Leonard Orr, the Father of the Rebirthing Movement, recently passed away. He left behind a living legacy, and I am grateful and blessed to be part of that legacy. In honor of Leonard, this month I would like to write about Rebirthing-Breathwork.
The technique or pattern can be defined and described in this way: “conscious, connected, rhythmic, circular, energy breathing. The inhale is active, and the exhale is passive. There are no pauses or gaps between the inhale and the exhale or between the exhale and the inhale. The breathing is continuous, like a wheel turning.
Let’s consider each piece:
Consciousness is an essential aspect of our nature, and it is our greatest tool for survival. When we practice being conscious of our breathing, we are becoming more conscious in general. By becoming more conscious of our breathing, we become more conscious of our body, mind, and emotions, our habits and patterns and reactions. And in the process, we can become more aware of who we really are.
Everyone and everything in life is connected. There is a natural connection between our spirit, mind and body. Breathwork allows us to awaken, strengthen and deepen this connection. The breath connects the mind to the body, and it connects the conscious mind to the subconscious mind. And so, when we eliminate any pauses or gaps or breaks in the breathing cycle, we move toward a felt experience of connection or unity on other levels.
Eliminating the illusion of separation is what spiritual enlightenment is all about. By keeping the breaths connected, we strengthen our connection to life and the world, to ourselves and each other, to nature, reality, and to the present moment…
Circles and cycles are everywhere in life. Nature is based on them, and energy loves to move in that way. In the East, they see the cycle of life as a wheel of birth and death. The circular pattern in Rebirthing-Breathwork taps into this universal principle and brings us into harmony with nature. That’s one of the reasons that Rebirthing-Breathwork triggers such powerful experiences of awakening and liberation.
Rhythm is another universal principle. It is a fundamental dynamic in nature (think day and night, the seasons, the tides, and so on). Breathing in a rhythmic way brings us into harmony with “what is” naturally in the universe and in life. Rhythmic breathing allows us to sense the deep and subtle pulse of life, and it supports so many other biorhythms, like our heartbeat, waking and sleeping, eating and fasting, working and playing, the ups and downs in life, and the rhythm of serving others and taking care of ourselves.
Energy breathing increases aliveness. We are not just physical beings. We are also—and mainly—energy beings. In Rebirthing-Breathwork we do not just breathe air, we breathe energy. Call it chi, ki, prana, spirit, light, or life force. Everything is energy. Every thought, feeling, sensation, emotion, or movement is a form or expression of energy. If you can experience these things as energy, you will accelerate your awakening and simplify your healing and growth process.
Active Inhale/Passive Exhale.
This is a key element in the practice of Rebirthing-Breathwork. The opposite pattern: an active exhale and a passive inhale, is also a very valuable skill that we want to master, but it creates different effects and serves us in other ways.
Active and passive… yin and yang… positive and negative… north and south… male and female… inner and outer… up and down… within and without… above and below… These are all based on the same fundamental principle of polarities, again reflecting and expressing a basic pattern in life, a core aspect of our nature, and the background structure of existence.
These are fall based on the same fundamental principle of polarities. Again, this reflects a basic pattern in life, a core aspect of nature, a background structure of existence.
Therefore, in Rebirthing-Breathwork, we consciously apply the active-passive principle to the breathing pattern, making the inhale active or deliberate and the exhale passive or reflexive.
While breathing in this connected circular rhythm, it is important to be aware of your thoughts and emotions and pay attention to the feelings and sensations in your body. Don’t judge or analyze or resist or react to any of this. Keep focusing on the breath and return to the breath as soon as a thought or a feeling stops us from simply inhaling and exhaling, expending and relaxing, pulling in and letting go.
After several minutes of Connected Breathing, the “energy experience” begins. Most people experience it as tingling, vibrations, warmth, electrical sensations, and so on—not to be confused with the symptoms of hyperventilation. Allow this energy to come up, to move, and to take over your body. It is your own energy. It’s perfectly safe. Don’t resist it. Don’t be afraid of it. Later on, with practice you can control and regulate it. But in the beginning it’s important to simply relax into it, allow it, welcome it, surrender to it.
Various “symptoms” come and go during a Rebirthing-Breathwork session, like dizziness, tremors, shaking, spasms, sensations of heat and cold, spontaneous laughter, crying, primal sounds, emotional releases, memories, images, insights, etc.. It’s not happening to you. It’s happening for you. Enjoy the show!
Simply allow and observe all these things as you would scenery along the way of this inner journey. Don’t let any of these things interfere with or interrupt the conscious connected circular breathing rhythm.
You are surrendering to yourself—a higher or deeper part of yourself. Remember that under every feeling and behind every emotion, is another one. And under it all, behind it all is pure love, pure peace, pure joy. Breathe yourself to this place!
Rebirthing-Breathwork awakens our Inner Child.
Even though we are all grownups, we still have a child who is very much alive in us. That child is a source of creative energy and aliveness, passion and delight, innocence and beauty. That child can also react with fear and anger, anxiety, jealousy and confusion, helplessness and hopelessness, and these things can hold us back or get in our way. Rebirthing-Breathwork also awakens our inner adult, and this helps us to heal or awaken our inner child.
Every Rebirthing-Breathwork session is unique, and it pays to learn and practice and be guided by a well-trained intuitive breathwork coach or practitioner… what Leonard would call a good Rebirther.
There are many excellent breathworkers. I know, because I have trained many of them over the past 40 plus years. I invite you to find one, or better, become one!