What if I told you that you possess a treasure that is very simple, yet very powerful. That within you lies all that you need to heal the parts of yourself that are not yet whole, that are stuck in the past, that are crying out for love?
Well you do. That powerful inner healer within you is your breath, and you may find it somewhat surprising when you learn just how deeply your breath affects your emotional wellbeing and consciousness.
In nearly all cultures the word for breath is intricately linked to the word for spirit. Think of the word inspire, it means to breathe in as well as to feel mentally and emotionally invigorated. We begin life on Earth with our first in-breath and our journey here ends with our last exhale, when our spirit departs.
As babies we knew how to breathe and feel fully…
As babies we beathed naturally and deeply all of the time. As adults we use less than 1/5th of our lung capacity, but as babies our stomachs swelled and sank with each long breath. When we were babies we also felt and expressed all of our feelings fully, we could scream with rage, cry and then giggle all within a matter of minutes. Emotionally, we were free and open.
Gradually, over time, we were taught to be quiet, to settle down, to stop cyring and to conform to acceptable social behavior. We were taught that some feelings are “bad” or “wrong” while others are “good” feelings. In order to please the adults around us we began to try to resist our natural feelings, to hide them and to put on a social mask. Our feelings no longer poured out naturally in free expression, but churned and stewed inside of us, unable to release.
Resisting our emotions with shallow breathing…
You may wonder what this has to do with the breath. One of the main ways we resist our emotions is to contract, shorten or hold our breath. Emotions are energetic, they need to be experienced and to flow through us. When we resist them we try to stop them from moving, we try to hold onto them and control them. We stop breathing and living fully and we contract our jaws, necks and shoulders, literally clamping down on them. They don’t go away when we do that. They stay buried within us in our bodies and closed hearts, and gradually life becomes less magical and we are not the open, innocent beings we once were. And we get tired – it takes a heck of a lot of energy to hold down all those emotions and stay in control. They still need to be released however, so they come out in drips or drabs in inappropriate scenarios.
We might think we have an issue with our partner, and wonder why we feel so triggered by their behaviour, when actually our feelings may be stemming from long-held childhood anger at a parent. We become sarcastic, passive-aggressive, bitter and blaming. We start to analyse our feelings, or get into elaborate stories in our mind about who did us wrong and how unfair it all is. Some people suppress their feelings so much they become depressed. Others have no idea that within them is a dull longing or fear that stops them from living their life fully.
Emotional Integration through Breathwork and Rebirthing…
The good news is, we used our breath to control these feelings, and we can use our breath to feel them fully and release them again. In daily life, we can train ourselves to breathe fully and deeply all of the time and to be aware of and allow our feelings to be experienced as they arise. We can also see a breathwork practitioner or rebirther.
Breathwork sessions are very powerful, and a safe way to experience and release emotions. From my experience with Inge Benda of The Breathing School, it is very important to have a teacher who has done a lot of breathwork themselves and cleared their own baggage so that they can hold a safe space for you. In the sessions I have had with Inge, we don’t talk about my problems or feelings, she is adamant that our minds are very tricky and can help us to avoid actually feeling our feelings by thinking and blaming, and creating stories about our life. We stay well away from all that and she gently helps me to return to my natural deep breath and just experience anything that comes up. Sometimes she will notice where in my body I am holding on, and she will either massage the area or tell me how to relax that part. Sometimes strong emotions are released, and sometimes it seems like nothing much is happening, but shifts are occurring, and things start moving later in the week or month. Often memories can come up of a time where you suppressed strong emotions. You may uncover times where you formed limiting beliefs about yourself and your life. Sometimes breathwork has been called rebirthing, the reason being that some people have experienced repressed emotions right back from when they were being born and even while inside the womb.
The results of breathwork can be profound. We become more present. Our relationships improve as we no longer blame other people for feelings that already reside within us. We have more energy. And because we resist our emotions less and less, we become more alive. We are able to experience the depth of our joy and love as well as our sadness or grief.
So I implore you, breathe fully and allow yourself to open your heart and live life deeply. You did once, and you can do it again.