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Breathwork certification | BREATH MASTERY

Breathwork for Venting and Transforming Stress, Tension and Fatigue

By | Blog

One of the advanced breath mastery skills we teach, and practice is “sucking” tension and fatigue out of the muscles with the inhale and releasing it from the body with the exhale.

With practice, anyone can learn to use the inhale to pull energy from tense tired muscles, and then vent it from the system with the exhale. If you are an athlete, fitness junkie, or a high performer, this is an extremely valuable skill to develop, and so it is well worth practicing.

For example, when your legs get tired and sore while running, you can use the inhale to suck that tension and fatigue up from your leg muscles and release it with the exhale.

To begin this practice right now, tense your left arm and simultaneously relax and loosen the right.

Now inhale and imagine drawing energy from the tense left arm and sending it across and out the relaxed right arm with your exhale.

Do this a few times, then reverse it. Relax and loosen your left arm while tensing and tightening the right. Now draw energy from the tense right arm up across and out the relaxed left arm.

You can also get in the pushup position, twist to one side and hold yourself up with one arm. Relax the other arm, let it hang loosely and practice drawing the tension and fatigue up from the weight bearing arm and exhaling it out the relaxed arm.

You can also focus on any other part of your body that begins to feel stressed, tense, or tired. Gather that energy up with your inhale and send it out your relaxed arm.

Do this a few times, then lay on your back, puddle out, and meditate on your energy. Notice that you feel something like an energized calm. This skill helps us to relax and recharge on the go, and it quickly notches up our endurance levels.

In general, you want to remember to relax any muscles that you don’t need to do the required work or maintain the stressed position. A good exercise for this is to tense and tighten both arms and fists as much as possible, while deliberately relaxing your jaw and neck and face, or any other place where there is unnecessary tension.

You can also relax your arm and shoulder while making a very tight fist. When you move or swing your arm, your fist should feel like a ball on the end of a chain. A very powerful and dangerous weapon!

Recently, we have been practicing an advanced upgrade to this kind of training.

It is very useful when you need to relieve stress and tension and fatigue, but you can’t afford to drop into parasympathetic rest and recover mode because you are engaged in an important activity.

When you need to perform, when you need to remain charged and ready—locked and loaded, relaxing completely or puddling out, is not an option.

So the skill is in how to transform tension and fatigue through breathing alone, rather than dissolving it through relaxation.

Here’s the practice. Breathe (inhale) into the area of tension. And then with the exhale, send the energy toward yourself instead of releasing it out of your body.

Press the energy deeper into your system with the exhale. It is similar to the practice of Iron Shirt Chi Kung, where you use the breath to pack chi into your fascia. It also touches on one of the principles of “de-reflexive breathing.”

I like the analogy of a French coffee press. When we exhale, we are pressing the energy into our system rather than releasing out of the body. You can use the “ujayi” breath sound to help the process and make it more alive.

Do this for a few minutes. Breathe into your tired muscles or tense body parts, and then with the exhale send this energy in toward yourself, toward your center, rather than venting it from the system.

After some time, lay down on your back, puddle out, and meditate on your body and your energy. You will notice that the “heavy” tense energy is gone but the muscles and body are still charged, but with a “lighter” form of energy.

We all have the ability to transform energy, to transform dark heavy energy—tension and fatigue—into light life force energy. We can transform pain and suffering into healing and growth. We can transform negative emotional energy into creative, life giving energy.

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

The Battle Over Breath

By | Blog

I think it was Rudolph Steiner who said, “we live with our soul in the breath.” That bit of insight and wisdom is worth meditating on!

Our breathing is controlled by physiological or biological needs—chemical and mechanical processes. And it is also controlled by psychological and emotional needs—conscious and unconscious processes.

Breathing is affected by posture, movement and physical forces. It is also affected by changing moods, attitudes and the force of will. In other words, the breath’s life-giving power serves both our instinctive animal nature as well as our conscious spiritual nature. It serves body, mind and soul.

This brings up the difference between breathing and respiration. Respiration is automatic, instinctive, or reflexive. It is driven by chemistry and biology. Breathing on the other hand is a behavior. And like all behaviors it can be unconsciously inherited and modeled, or consciously learned and deliberately practiced.

Since the breath serves us in so many ways and on so many levels, different parts of us can often end up competing for control over the breath. Our emotional patterns and psychological tendencies can steal the breath away from serving our physiological functions and biological process.

Biological needs generally tend to win out over conscious control. But many extreme athletes, yogis, and world record breath-holders show just how far we can push the envelope when it comes to so-called “physical” limits.

When we observe or monitor unconscious breathing, we see that it displays all kinds of machinations—speeding up or slowing down, stopping or starting, intensifying, quieting, etc. It’s alive, constantly acting and reacting, adjusting itself moment to moment to changing biochemical as well as psychospiritual activities and needs.

I have been using the metaphor of an expensive car with a state-of-the-art suspension system. It can travel over very rough bumpy rocky roads, yet the passengers enjoy a smooth quiet ride because the suspension underneath is absorbing and neutralizing all those bumps and ruts and rocks and holes.

The body uses breathing to maintain a smooth, steady and balanced metabolic state. However, emotions and thoughts along with changing moods and attitudes—in other words our minds—can wrestle control of the breath away from the body’s biochemical needs.

We can also use our breath—speeding it up, slowing it down, pausing it, intensifying it, making it subtle, etc., in order to create or sustain a certain smooth psychological or emotional state.

When we are communicating passionately, our breathing performs what Dr. Litchfield calls calisthenics. We see it abruptly speeding up, slowing down, stopping and starting, etc. When the breath is serving our communication in this way, it may not be properly optimizing our chemical or biological functions.

Beyond this constant competition or battle between the body and mind, between physiology and psychology, beyond biology and emotions, we find the wild card in life—and that is consciousness.

In and around or below and beyond the body-mind system is the miracle of spirit and consciousness.

Our conscious creative spirit give us power over the breath so that we can transform or transcend the body-mind system. We can use our breath to move toward higher consciousness, spiritual awakening, or ultimate potential. We can use the breath to accelerate our evolution, and to awaken and transform others and the world

When we do this kind of spiritual work, we can expect that the body-mind system will complain and resist. It will fight to regain control over the breathing in order to tend to its ancient biological needs.

When people practice spiritual breathing, I like to remind them that a temporary physiological or chemical imbalance is a small price to pay for permanent psychological and emotional benefits. And any temporary emotional and psychological difficulties are a small price to pay for a lifetime of spiritual benefits!

Breathwork helps us to evolve beyond our ancient, low level, negative and rough emotional and psychological habits and tendencies, so that higher, lighter, more positive and loving psycho-emotional and spiritual states can become the new natural, the new normal.

We are all learning to navigate the process of transformation, transcendence, and personal evolution. And many of us have been practicing long enough and have gone far enough on this journey to realize that conscious awarenessconscious relaxation, and conscious breathing are the three main skills or practices that we need to master.

I invite you learn Spiritual Breathing to unify body, mind, heart and soul, and to end the battle over the breath, by awakening to and connecting with the power and wisdom of spirit.

Turn the battle into a dance… the dance of life, of love, joy and peace!

ON BREATH AND BREATHING

By | Blog

Rebirthing-Breathwork

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:

Conscious Breathing.

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.

Connected Breathing.

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…

Circular Breathing.

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.

Rhythmic Breathing.

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.

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.

General Advice.

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!

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