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April 2021

Breathwork for Releasing Trauma

By Blog

Recently, the International Breathwork Foundation sponsored a teaching session called “Befriending the Elephant in the Room: Recipes for Trauma Release in Younger and Older Bodies.” It was a pleasure to create the presentation with Joanne Lowell and The Breathing Classroom Team.

A fun and beautifully illustrated booklet is in production and will be available through the IBF soon. And if you’d like to view the Zoom Presentation, contact the IBF.

This is a very important topic, especially considering the state of the world these days. And since breathwork is such a powerful means of addressing the issue, I’d like to talk about it this month.

First of all, we need to realize that trauma is not a problem. It is a fact. It can occur when something negative happens without warning; when something happens that we are not prepared to deal with; when negative events occur multiple times; or when they leave us feeling powerless.

Trauma has many physical, psychological and emotional signs and symptoms, and we all respond to it in our own ways, such as anxiety, anger, fear, sadness, guilt, shame, hopelessness, self-blame, denial, disbelief, confusion, difficulty concentrating, loss of memory, having an extreme startle reflex, nightmares, insomnia, disturbing visual images or intrusive thoughts about an event, a feeling of being numb or disconnected from reality, withdrawing from social situations and personal relationships, aches and pains that have no explanation, and chronic health problems due to stress.

It sounds like if you have a belly button, you have experienced trauma! It may surprise you to learn that most people have been carrying trauma in their bodies since birth! And nothing clears it better and faster than Breathwork, especially when combined with other healing practices. In our little IBF booklet, we reveal some very powerful ‘recipes’ for clearing trauma.

Here is a quick overview of the elements in the approach:

  1. Conscious Breathing
  2. Identifying ‘Triggers’
  3. Body Tensing and Relaxing
  4. Body Scanning
  5. Touch/Self Massage
  6. Moving, Shaking, Dancing
  7. Making Soothing or Expressive Sounds, Toning, Singing
  8. Finding a Place Inner Stillness, Silence, Oneness
  9. Gentle Self-Soothing

Once you understand and practice these basic ingredients, and by trusting your body’s natural wisdom, you can combine them in your own unique way. When you do, you can help yourself and support others. This is by no means a complete list of trauma-related practices or interventions, but they are more than enough to do the trick!

What’s more, you can select and apply these practices in your everyday life whenever you feel fearful, tense, anxious, irritated, edgy, upset, when your fight or flight response gets activated, or when something causes a sudden increase in your heart rate or blood pressure. You can even practice right now.

Bring to mind a disturbing event. Close your eyes and tune into your breath. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Get your breathing into the ‘therapeutic zone’ which is between 4 and 8 breaths per minute. You can use ‘Coherent Breathing’ which is 5 seconds in and 5 seconds out. You can practice the ‘1-2 Breath’ which means your exhales are twice as long as your inhales. Or you can simply repeat slow exaggerated sighs of relief. Continue breathing consciously while you open your eyes and take in the details of your surroundings for a few moments.

Then close your eyes again and scan your body from top to bottom. Feel what’s happening in your jaw, neck, shoulders, belly, spine, arms, legs, hands… How does it feel in your body right now? Look for a place in your body that is warm, relaxed or comfortable. Allow your attention to rest there. Put your hand over this place and breathe into it for a few minutes and feel a sense of gentle peaceful expansion. Know that you can return to this soothing feeling at any time.

Next, bring your attention to a place that feels tense, uncomfortable, closed, or blocked in some way. Put your hand over this place and breathe into it for a few minutes. Bring in a self-soothing resource: a pleasant memory in nature or a loved one. Give the feeling a voice or play with sound.

Open your eyes again and notice your surroundings. Tune into something around you that brings a pleasant feeling, such as the sky, a tree, a plant, or a pet. With your feet firmly planted on the ground, invite gentle rocking or swaying, like a tree in the wind. Or you might want to loosen your knees and let your whole body shake up and down.

After a few minutes, return to simple stillness, and let your breathing be free and easy and natural before returning to your normal activities.

Wishing you much luck in your practice, and many blessings on your path!

(Guchu Ram Singh)

It Ain’t What You Do, It’s What’s Going On Inside You While You Do It!

By Blog


I think most people would agree that the main thing in any relationship is what you bring to that relationship. A similar thing applies to communication: often what matters most is not what you say, but how you say it. And Breathwork is no different: the quality of attention and the purity of intention that we put into the practice determines what we get out of it.

This month, I want to remind you that there are three pillars or cornerstones in Breathwork: consciousness, relaxation, and breath control. And it’s a reminder that it’s easy to get caught up in the technical details and the measurable aspects of the practice and miss the subtle essence of it.

An unconscious person might be hooked up to a mechanical ventilator which is set to an ideal rate and volume in terms of physiological requirements, yet that breathing pattern is void of any psychological, emotional or spiritual benefits.

There was a time when our survival depended on being strong and fast. Animals with the sharpest teeth, biggest claws, and toughest skin tended to out-survive others in the jungle. But then along came smart, and suddenly or gradually, speed and strength alone were not enough.

Moving into the future, it is not those who are the strongest, fastest or smartest who will survive and thrive, but those who are the most conscious. Consciousness is primary. It is the most essential aspect of our nature and existence itself. And breathwork is all about awakening and expanding consciousness, about raising and deepening our consciousness.

Breathwork is also about bringing passion and enthusiasm, love and appreciation—not only to the practice, but also to ourselves and others, to life and the world. Leading scientists and philosophers tell us that consciousness exists everywhere in everything—or more accurately, everything is taking place in your consciousness.

Take a few minutes right now and become conscious of your breathing. Be very conscious of your inhale and be very conscious of your exhale. And be very conscious of any pauses between the breaths. Be very conscious of the muscles you use to breathe. Be very conscious of the feelings and sensations related to the breath. And notice that everything is taking place in your consciousness.

Being more conscious is about being totally honest with yourself about exactly what you feel and what you think. It’s about being totally present to what is occurring in your mind and body. Whatever ‘grabs’ your attention, whatever your senses alert you to, breathe into it, breathe with it. Meet it and greet whatever arises in consciousness with breath awareness.

Begin to play with your attention. Notice that your attention can be internal or external, it can be narrow or broad. Notice that you can combine internal and external awareness. You can be laser-focused on a specific external event or object and at the same time you can maintain a broad internal awareness of your body breathing.

Bring a sense of openness, of softness and relaxation to the practice, and you will find that your awareness expands and deepens. As it does, you will notice the natural tendency to experience ‘heart-centered’ thoughts, feelings and emotions.

Most people are trying to think their way through life or muscle their way toward success or victory. Breathwork teaches us that we can open to life and move through life much better by awakening heart intelligence. It’s no accident that the lungs are wrapped around the heart.

Breathwork teaches us that higher consciousness arises in the heart. Think of the heart as your new root chakra! If you use your breath to become more heart centered, your relationships and your communications will take on a new quality, a new dimension, and your experience of life will deepen and expand.

Right now, focus on your heart and breathe. Deliberately generate thoughts and feelings that resonate with your highest aspirations, and your heart’s grandest desires. Breathwork is about choosing high quality thoughts and feelings and then consciously breathing life into them.

If you put this kind of passion, enthusiasm and heartfelt intention into each breath, you will begin to awaken to your essence. If you can bring a certain quality to your awareness you will awaken to a universal consciousness that is far more powerful and much more important than any personal power, speed or mental capacities!

And the amazing side effect is that you will naturally and automatically become faster, stronger, and smarter!

Good luck in your practice, and many blessings on your path!

(Guchu Ram Singh)

March, 2021

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