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The mind affects the body and breath affects the mind. The way we breathe can change our life.
Breath is conscious and voluntary when and if you remember to breathe. It is automatic and involuntary when and if you forget to breathe or have no awareness that breathing is happening. When the breathing is automatic and involuntary, an individual affected by past conditioning and is more likely to be reactive. When breathing is conscious, an individual is in the present, free-to-be-in-action and at points of choice. Look at the following table showing the differences between conscious and automatic breathing.
There are four types of conscious and automatic breathing patterns as follows:
When the breath is flowing smoothly and rhythmically, at an easy, relaxed, pace, then the mind is calm and peaceful. When the mind becomes disturbed by a trigger or stimulus, the breath changes pace and pressure, triggered by a thought or the emotion associated with a thought or memory. When the easy/subtle breath is maintained consciously, the disturbance of the mind is calmed by the peaceful breathing pattern. Anxious and neurotic states of mind cannot exist when the breath is even, gentle and smooth.
Breath retention or holding
There are yoga practises and other disciplines where the technique is to consciously retain the breath on either the internal or external
hold. This conscious or spontaneous retention is different to the automatic or unconscious holding to suppress unresolved memories or feelings. The conscious practise is used for spiritual development and is successful with increasing the life force in the body, plus clearing therefore balancing the emotions and stilling the mind. Kundalini yoga has always stated that conscious breath retention sends energy to and activates the frontal brain ( the evolutionary part) and now brain scan technology is able to document this to be so.
When the mind is extremely calm, there may be a spontaneous breath hold while the individual remains fully conscious, yet without a need to breathe in or out. Yoga calls this kaivalya kumbhaka - free retention. To sit beside a client in this state, the feeling is of calm and peace even bliss. It is easy to sit there and no sense of alarm or panic or discomfort that there is no breath in or out. The lips of the participant do not go blue. The sense is of physical and psychic relaxation and let go. This is quite rare, however and the opposite is when clients need to “split” by breath holding and going “somewhere else” to be safe.
A human mechanism that is frequently used for managing past or present feelings, emotions, memories or images that have been too much to “stay with” and fully experience is to suppress, or repress them by holding the breath. The breath is held a lot or a little, when feelings or memories start to surface. This keeps them below the surface of conscious experience. However, when there is an “overload” or breakdown of an individual’s capacity to manage in this way, the breath holding mechanism fails and overreaction or irrational behaviour surfaces.
The automatic holding diminishes the life force in the body. By suppressing and repressing the memories and emotions, it perpetuates the disturbance in the mind. This automatic/involuntary mechanism will continue until an individual feels safe enough, ready enough or supported enough to change the mechanism.
From time to time in a session, clients hold their breath – sometimes until their lips start going blue. They “split” from being conscious. When they “come back” they do not know where they have been. However, the sense for the breather and for whoever is sitting besides them is that they have “been away”. The state was not conscious. This is one way a breather responds when not yet safe or ready to go to some memory or image or feeling. Alternatively there is a sense of “going somewhere else” to resolve or clear something. The immediate outcome can be quite energising.
Over-breathing - adding pressure or force and hyperventilation
Conscious, automatic or unconscious over-breathing is also successful at effecting the brain, causing it to impact emotions in a certain way. Instead of feeling emotional pain or joy, the emotions are pressurised. This occurs to a point where they are being experienced as energy rather than the feeling or emotion that is really present. Pain in the body becomes the pathway. The true feeling at the emotional level will only surface when the client is safe enough to really feel and the breath is not pressured.
Feelings and emotions that are flowing as an authentic response to certain events, like sorrow, joy, grief, rage are not felt in their fullness at the times when over-breathing is induced. They turn into certain types of vibrations in the body and emotions come to be experienced as strong sensations, or if the over-breathing is continued, as pain in the body. This is a successful release or discharge mechanism. Yet there is more to experience in terms of resolution.
Pressurised emotions become cramping, strong tingling, galvanised pain and other symptoms of voluntary or involuntary forced inhale and exhale or forced inhale or exhale, or one or the other. This is the psychological and emotional pain coming to the surface through the physical body in order to be processed and released. It is an effective pathway for expression or release, as emotions from physiological pain can and do release this way.
In Breathwork Mastery the psychological pain is the limiting thought or decision which is accompanied by an emotion or feeling and superimposed over the body, revealing itself as body sensations.
With pressure on breath, the process becomes a strong sense of energy flows in the body, all the way through to strong cramping or paralysis, if continued. This process is amplified if the breath also becomes shorter within that period, as well as faster. Connected breathing is likely to be happening but not full.
Conscious or automatic even unconscious over-breathing is successful at effecting the brain by dismissing the thoughts, and overriding the emotions, yet creating strong sensations in the physical body. With both approaches, there is still a breathing pattern suppression. The sense is of breathing lots and lots of air. However, this is not necessarily lengthy and full breathing. There is not necessarily more air or life force or oxygen coming into the body when pace, force or pressure is added.
Breathwork Mastery, breathing is full, connected and conscious. A “full” breath is where breathing is increased to the fullest comfortable extension of the breathing mechanism. This includes breathing into the navel, the chest and upper chest.
The actual movement of the lungs into their extended expansion, stimulates the nerve endings between the vertebrae. The spine is conductor of the major flow of energy in the body. All the nerves in the spine are connecting to each of the organs and directly to the brain. Each of these areas of breathing from navel to throat, that is the navel, chest and upper chest, has both an emotional and mental correlative as discussed below.
“Connected” or “Circular: breathing is where the inhale is extended to meet the exhale and the exhale to meet the inhale. The length of breath extends so there are no pauses between inhale and exhale allowing a higher breath intake into the lungs. This action removes the pauses or the habitual breath holding mechanism that keeps the subconscious material below conscious awareness. The unconscious or subconscious material surfaces to be released or resolved in a safe, supported environment.
“Conscious” breathing means “remembering” to breathe each breath. It is breathing with awareness or being aware of the breath pattern or creating or generating each breath. It can be a connected pattern or one with pauses.
The breath can be conscious when it is
fast or slow,
from the navel only or
the chest only
if it is held, a lot or a little
........... it is still conscious breathing if you remain aware that you are breathing in and that you are breathing out.
Time and research will reveal that it is the conscious breathing that creates the results in Breath work Mastery. It constantly stands out as the single most important factor. Remember that conscious breathing comes from the more evolved part of the brain that gives us “being in the present”. Appropriate action and choice come from being in the “now” and present. Otherwise, we are coming from our past.
There is also a direct correlation between the breath and the psychological mind state and how it affects our emotional well being.
The solar plexus Charkra is the energy centre located at the navel. It is the centre of personal power and emotional richness, of personal connectedness to ourself, others and the cosmos. When breathing is coming into and from the navel, a breather can experience a sense of personal power and a personal experience of this emotional connectedness and a sense of expansiveness of mind, spirit and body. Alternatively, what is in the way of being with this feeling may surface.
If the breath is not coming into the navel, the experience is usually based on the memory, mild or extreme, of being powerless, disempowered, alone and or helpless. Sometimes there is a sense is of being emotionally abandoned, disconnected, cut off and various other similar states. When a body memory is coming up and one of these feelings, is ready to discharge, the navel is actually in spasm or totally frozen. This happens as a response to the trauma or the memory of the trauma, the “locked in” emotion that is held tightly by breath retention. If a breather starts wheezing or choking it releases immediately if and when the breath is taken into the navel centre. Such experiences happen in day to day life, not just in sessions. At the mildest level it is called shortness of breath, and at the extreme level it is panic and anxiety attacks.
The chest cavity holding the heart Chakra is the energy centre that relates to being in touch with oneself and love of self and others, tolerance of self and others and total acceptance of self and others. In this centre is a live and let live state of mind, while the individual is personally responsible for their actions. When the breathing is coming fully into the chest cavity, everything that lies in the way of loving self and others, unconditionally, comes to the surface for clearing. In particular, the feelings most often released are grief, loss, sadness, terror, fear, revenge, shame and other similar emotional states. The aftermath of such a clearing is gratitude, in-touchness, self love and acceptance, willingness to share and meet others in a “who are you?” space of love and acceptance. There is also freedom to create win/win situations.
On the other hand, keeping the breath out of the chest is certain to keep feelings below the conscious level of experience. If the chest is frozen in a session and then the breath is encouraged and allowed up to the chest, a feeling or emotion is often just a few breaths away.
When the breathing is coming into the upper chest or throat area, the feeling is one of mental alertness and a sense of being more focused in present time. In the upper chest there are hardly any air sacks. Yet when we do breathe the breath that has the clavicles lift a little, we become very aware and alert what is happening now and feel more confined to our body’s shape and size in this present moment. It is nearly impossible to be immersed in the dramas of your past if the breath is flowing into the top of the lungs at the collar bones. This is because you are more present to “now”.
Alternatively what is in the way of your being in the present comes to the surface.
Professionals who facilitate Breathwork Mastery sessions notice that people are breathing into their upper chest, if and when they are experiencing complete freedom in regard to their issues or intentions. The other times that people breathe into their upper chest easily and effortlessly in sessions and day to day life is when individuals are deeply in touch with themselves and having an experience close to oneness for all of life and it’s forms and compassion for other living beings. Indeed the energy centre of the throat Chakra is the centre of compassion for and on-judgement of self and others, satisfaction, contentment and communication.
The instructions for a breathwork mastery session are to breathe full, conscious, connected, subtle/relaxed breathing, having set an intention. When an individual is expanded on one level, in terms of their body sense, in touch with themselves and self-acceptant and tolerant, and experiencing oneness and profound compassion, those individuals will be breathing effortless and smoothly into their navel, chest and upper chest in a rhythmical, relaxed breath. Therefore, if and when, an individual lies down and breathes full, conscious, connected breathing everything in the way of this multi-dimensional experience will surface in relation to how safe, ready and supported that individual is in that moment. One of the ways of knowing if you are sitting in the presence of a true spiritual master beyond karma is if that person is breathing effortlessly into the three mechanisms and in and out of the nose.
Breaking the habits of NOT fully breathing into the navel or chest or upper chest is one of the main purposes and outcomes of Breathwork Mastery. This is why Breathwork Mastery is a form of breath training. After a series of sessions, the very patterns of holding the breath are subtly re-circuited so there is a new freedom of personal choice and with that comes a new freedom to breathe.BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS