Breathwork Europe

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Breathwork

BreathWork

In celabration of the 2010 GIC in Spain, I have great pleasure in presenting a lengthy article by the emminet ambassador of breathwork Dan Brule, that puts forward his view of what this thing called "BreathWork" is all about. Enjoy!

Geoffrey

Dan Br46H100Over the last 20 years, the art and science of Breathwork has made its way to the cutting edge of the human potential movement; and it has found its place at the forefront of mind-body medicine. Breath Awareness and Conscious Breathing are studied and taught wherever consciousness and spirit, science and religion, or open hearts and minds come together for good.

From ancient times, breath and breathing has been held sacred by practically every culture in history. The spirit of breath has been celebrated in myth, veiled in ritual, and often passed on only in secret. Yet today, most people are quite aware that conscious breathing is a key to peak performance, optimum health, and ultimate potential.

If you?re a health nut or fitness junkie, take note. If you are into self-improvement or personal growth, pay attention. If you are a counselor or a therapist, or an athlete or a coach, a performer, a healer, or simply a student of life: then you owe it to yourself to discover, explore and develop the power and potential of breath and breathing!

It is very exciting to discover that by focusing on your breath, and by breathing in certain ways, you can awaken healing energies and calming forces within you. By controlling and directing your breath, you can control and direct many so called "unconscious” reactions or "involuntary” processes. Through conscious breathing you can regulate your physiological, emotional, psychological and spiritual states.

From the first breath you took at birth to the last breath you take at death, breathing remains your constant companion. The same energy or life force that built your body in the womb is still available to you to rebuild and renew it. You can use the power and skill of conscious breathing to awaken your creative energy and to tap into your highest potential. You can breathe is such a way as to feel more energized and alive, more centered and balanced, more relaxed and focused. You can use your breath to clear yourself of physical, emotional and psychological pain.

Whatever your issues or problems or challenges are, there are certain ways of breathing that can trigger your symptoms or make them worse, and certain ways of breathing that will reduce or eliminate them. There are even ways of breathing that can produce profound peace, insight, enlightenment and ecstasy!

Observe your breath right now. How do you know that you are breathing? Where does the breath go? What does it touch? What moves when you breathe? What feelings or sensations do you notice as the breath comes in and goes out? What muscles do you use? Is the breath centered high in your chest or low in your belly? Can you feel the sensations at the tip of your nose or in your throat? What happens in your back when you breathe? In your neck? What do you do with your shoulders when you breathe?

Continue this exploration? Tune into the tiny details, the subtle sensations of the breath. Is your breathing easy and full? Is it free and relaxed? Breathing is a language: the language of the soul. Like the expression on your face, the tone of your voice, or your posture, the way that you breathe reflects and expresses what is happening inside of you. Your breathing habits and patterns, and the way that you breathe in certain situations, says a lot about you. In fact, the deepest aspects of your personality--your core issues in life--are revealed in how you breathe!

Breathing patterns are like fingerprints: unique to each of us, and unique in each moment. The way you breathe when you are afraid or upset is different than the way you breathe when you are calm or relaxed. The way you breathe when you are jealous or angry is different than the way you breathe when you are peaceful or "in the zone.” The way that you breathe when you are working on a math problem is different than the way you breathe when you are having an orgasm. (Although for some people, it might not be so!)

Every psychological state has a corresponding breathing quality or pattern. Every emotional state has a related breathing quality or pattern. And every chemical or physiological state has an associated breathing quality or pattern. As you change from one mood or state to another, your breathing pattern changes. These changes can be observed, measured and controlled. If you play with your breath, you will quickly find that you can access various energies, and you can trigger different thinking and feeling states of being.

There are a number of levels or aspects to breathing. One level is that of form, structure, and mechanics. Physical tension, and muscular coordination, as well as posture affect breathing volume, rate and flow. In general, good posture tends to support good breathing, and good breathing tends to support good posture. This is easy to test:

Stand up and breathe. Let your arms hang by your side. Turn your palms forward and draw your arms back as you raise your head slightly and inhale. Notice how the breath expands. Next, bend over, hanging at the waist, as if touching your toes. Breathe in. Notice the difference in breathing sensations.

Lie down and relax. Let your whole body loosen and soften. Notice how smooth and easy the breathing becomes. Then, tense every muscle in your body, and try to breathe while maintaining all that tension.

Another level of breathing is chemistry. Your lungs can be full of healthy life giving oxygen, but you still need to get it out of the lungs and into the bloodstream, and from the bloodstream into all the cells and tissues of the body. The physiological key to this vital exchange process is carbon dioxide. So it turns out that CO2 ain?t the bad guy after all! It is carbon dioxide that controls the constriction and dilation of blood and other vessels, thereby setting the stage for oxygen delivery. And it does much more. CO2 works to control pH (the critical acid-base balance in your system).

Did you know that you can actually reduce the supply of blood (along with oxygen and nutrients) to the brain by more than 40% simply by breathing deeply and quickly for sixty seconds? It seems like a paradox that the more you huff and puff, the more you starve your cells and tissues of oxygen. But that is exactly the case. This is just one example of the amazing complexity, the confusion, and the mystery around breath and breathing.

With breath control, you can adjust and regulate a host of chemical and biological factors vital to health and well-being. And so, many medical symptoms and conditions can be improved with breathwork

The most subtle level of breathing is energy. In China they call it chi. In Japan they call itki. In India they call it prana. In Latin, it is spiritus: the animating principle of life. In Hebrew, it is called ruach: the breath within the breath. This vital energy is our life force. It springs from the deepest and highest level of our being: consciousness and Essence.

Every shock you have ever had, every trauma you have ever had, has left an impression on this energy, and influences the way it moves in you or expresses itself through you. When you are afraid, you do something with your breath. When you are angry, you do something with your breath. If you receive a shock or a pain, you do something with your breath. If somebody says, "don?t cry!” you do something with your breath. To keep yourself from laughing, you do something with your breath. When you try to be quiet and still, when you try to hide, you do something with your breath.

Breath awareness leads to self-awareness, and greater overall awareness and intuitive abilities. Breath awareness brings to light many unconscious impulses and reactions. This awareness can help us to prevent or resolve a host of health problems, life challenges, and relationship issues. If you can become aware of how you are breathing, especially when negative or limiting thoughts, or painful feelings, or destructive behaviors arise; and if you can redirect the flow of your breath at those times, many wonderful changes will occur!

Everyone carries physical, mental and emotional tensions. Everybody has a place where they store or carry these tensions. The jaw is a popular place, so are the neck and shoulders, and muscles in the back, and also in various internal organs. But often, it?s not until this tension becomes pain or it results in a breakdown that we intervene. It?s not until stress and tension or anxiety interferes with our normal activities, with our ability to succeed, or to be in relationship, do we finally take action. Unfortunately, at those times, many people simply resort to an over-the-counter drug or a prescription medication!

Tension can be thought of as blocked or "stuck” energy. And it is important to realize that you can learn to breathe away your tensions. You can also learn to appreciate and support all your natural healthy breathing reflexes such as sighing and yawning. We can use these primal reflexes to our advantage, especially when our life energy becomes stuck, stagnant or stifled.

I encourage people to yawn and sigh on purpose. Why wait until the body demands it? We don?t do that with food. We don?t do that with sleep. We don?t wait until we are starving before we eat. We don?t wait until we are exhausted before we go to bed. So why do you wait until your body forces you to yawn or to sigh before you do it? Why not yawn and sigh for the heck of it? Because it?s fun, because it feels good, because it?s good for you! The soft animal of your body needs to breathe-loves to breathe! Why not conspire with nature on your own behalf?

Yawning is yoga! Have you ever watched a dog or a cat yawn? Watch what it does with its spine and limbs. Watch what it does with its jaw, neck, and even its pelvis and hips. You have to do those things too! Your spine, your neck and your jaw--your whole body has to take part in the yawn. Let it!

Try yawning right now. Make yourself yawn. There is a certain something that you can do in the back of your jaw and your throat in order to trigger a yawn. Fake a yawn. Fake it until a real yawn happens. Stretch! Make noise! Be dramatic! Do it again. Give yourself one yawn after another for two minutes.

How do you feel now? Are you "buzzing”? Are your eyes watering? Are your juices flowing? Do you feel more relaxed, alive, awake, energized? What is it that has changed inside of you? Is your world brighter?

Most people automatically suppress or stifle their yawn in some way. We do this out of politeness, in order not to attract attention, or in order to avoid disapproval. This is just one example of how we inhibit our natural breathing. And when we inhibit our breathing, we inhibit other natural abilities. We loose our spirit and our grace.

Take a sigh of relief now. Give yourself the kind of big relaxing sigh of relief that comes after a long hectic day, when you get home to your favorite chair, and you can finally relax: the kind of breath you take when all the work is done. Take a deep breath now, and deliberately let it out in the form of a big pleasurable sigh of release and relief.

A breath like this comes to us by itself from time to time. Do it now on purpose. Exaggerate it. Make it dramatic; make it theatrical!

Notice how you feel after two or three big luxurious sighs. (For a real life adventure, try this in an elevator, in a restaurant, during a serious lecture, in court, or in church!)

If doing a theatrical sigh of relief or an exaggerated yawn is too big a leap for you, even in the privacy of your own home, then try this: tune into your breathing. Just look, listen, and feel. Find an aspect of your breathing that feels good or is somehow interesting. Focus on the details of your breathing and find some aspect that is organically pleasurable. Identify some sound or movement, some turning point, or a particularly interesting feeling or sensation. And then try to maximize your enjoyment of it. Deliberately take more pleasure from the simple act of conscious breathing.

Here are 8 pointers or breathing exercises. Take a few minutes to explore each of them. Find one you like (I can share dozens more with you), or invent one of your own. Make conscious breathing a regular daily practice, and you will add years to your life and life to your years.

Warning! Breath Awareness and Conscious Breathing can be very habit forming, even addictive! If you are not careful, you may begin to feel good all the time, for no reason at all! You may begin to find more comfort and pleasure, peace and power, energy and aliveness, even joy and inspiration in your everyday life. And you may even find that you are inspired during the most trying of times, and in the most difficult of situations!

1) Put the exhale first. When most people think of breathing, they think in terms of an inhale followed by an exhale. But who says the inhale has to come first to your awareness? Just by changing your orientation to the breath in this way, you can create many new possibilities.

2) Explore the three breathing spaces: The lower space is from the pubic bone to your belly button. The middle space is from the belly button to the nipple line. The upper space is from the nipple line to the collarbones. Remember that half of your lungs are in the back, not just in the front. So, breathe into your back as well as your chest. Play with breathing into each space. Then practice filling the spaces in order: the bottom first, then the middle, and then the top (it?s like filling a glass with water). This is called the full yogic breath. It may take practice, and you may need some coaching, but it is well worth the effort!

3) Breathe low and slow. Diaphragmatic or belly breathing helps you to combat stress, and to regain your composure. Use it to calm, balance, and ground yourself. Most people breathe with quick shallow breaths high in the chest when they are tense, anxious or afraid. Their breath becomes ragged and chaotic, and this is reflected in their mental states and emotional tendencies.

There are a number of ways to slow your breathing down. You can increase the length of the pause after the exhale: that is you can postpone the inhale. You can also stretch out the breaths so that each inhale and each exhale lasts for 5 to 10 seconds or more.

4) Combine breathing and thought. As you inhale you can think, "I am relaxed:” and as you exhale you can think, "I am peaceful.” Or, as you inhale think, "I am healthy and strong;” and as you exhale think, "I am free and safe.” You can create your own positive thought or affirmation, and breathe it into reality and make it your experience.

5) Combine breathing and movement. As you breathe in and expand, allow your hands and arms to express this expansion. Allow your body to move in some way, in synch with the breathing. You can also breathe in rhythm to your footsteps as you walk or run. A beautiful exercise is to sit, and as you breathe in, arch your back and lift your head. As you breathe out, lower your chin and curl your spine.

6) Combine breathing and sound. You can make breathing noises like a strong wind or ocean waves. You can make calm and soothing sounds. You can breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Or you can breathe in and out through your mouth making a "hoooh” shape with the inhale, and a "haaah” shape with the exhale. You can do chanting or toning. You can hum, or whistle, or sing!

7) Combine breathing and visualization. Imagine light coming into you and filling you as you inhale. As you exhale, imagine that this light radiates from you. Imagine this light flowing to every cell in your body: nourishing, cleansing, renewing, soothing, strengthening, Then imagine this light going out to the world as love, touching and blessing everyone and everything in your life.

8) Learn the Rebirthing Breath. This is also called "conscious connected breathing,” or "energy breathing." It is my favorite! The idea is to make the inhale active and the exhale passive, and to connect each breath without pauses or gaps.

 

A Brief Overview of my Practice

Breathwork is the use of Breath Awareness and Conscious Breathing (Exercises and Techniques), as a tool (a bridge, a force) for health, growth and change, in spirit, mind and body.

As a healing modality, Breathwork is probably the most "holistic" of all holistic practices, the most "complimentary" of all complimentary approaches to care in medicine. Breath Awareness and Breathing Techniques can be integrated into any other healing practice.

I apply Breathwork as a method of self-improvement, personal growth and spiritual development: education and training for peak performance, optimum health, and ultimate potential.

Breathwork includes individual, paired, and group sessions. The practice involves the exploration of three basic skills or elements that I call the  "Formula for Transformation:"  

Awareness (the consciousness factor) Waking up!

Relaxation (the release factor) Letting Go!

Breathing (the energy factor) Taking Charge!

I have found that no matter what method is used, or what label is given to it, every miracle event, every healing experience, every positive shift, every emotional release or integration, every bit of personal and spiritual growth can be linked to one of these elements. 

Real power and magic comes from deliberately and consistently engaging and combining the power of these three elements.

And so in practice, Breathwork is the art and science of self-exploration and self-realization. We increase, expand, and refine our breath awareness and breath control, and in so doing, we raise and nurture self-awareness and self-acceptance, self-esteem and self-expression.  

We use the breath to open and relax and integrate. We learn to do so more quickly, more deeply, and in more situations. We learn breath control that results in more energy and aliveness, more peace, more pleasure, and more personal power.

I also call what I do "Breath Therapy," and it is based on two ideas:

1) The breathing mechanism in most people is not functioning at an optimal level. We need to improve our breathing, to correct any habits and patterns that inhibit or interfere with our nature.

2) Once the breathing is full and free, healthy and natural, then the breath becomes a therapeutic tool, and it can be used to heal mind, body, emotions, and behavior.

The "Principles of Breath Therapy" represents the answer to my searching question: "How do we produce, or make ourselves available to receive dramatic results, even miraculous results in every session?" 

I train Breathworkers to apply these 5 Principles of Breath Therapy in their work with themselves and others:

The Technique (there are many techniques, exercises, methods, processes, approaches, each with a certain aim or effect)

The Atmosphere in which one practices (this includes the internal and external environments: physical, psychological, emotional, energetic and spiritual)

The Teacher (making use of what can be called the power and purity of one's personal process and presence: initiation, direct transference) 

The Mind of the Breather (individual capacities and tendencies: thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, intentions, focus, desires, purpose, will, etc) 

"Something Else" (something greater: a mystical or magical factor? grace)

Chi Kung/Qigong: (Chinese Medical Breathing Exercises) This is another way that I present the theory and practice of Breathwork. Qigong is an ancient system of self development. It underlies all the Eastern martial and healing arts, and is based on three principles:  

1. Regulate Body (posture, movement, relaxation) 

2. Regulate Mind (awareness, meditation, focus) 

3. Regulate Breath (energy, spirit, chi)

 

I also teach Breathwork within the context of Yoga(Prana, Swara, Kundalini, Kriya Yoga) where:

Shakti is the creative life force energy that can be activated through meditative awareness. 

Vayu is the flow of that energy, and can be initiated by thought, by breathing, by movement, or by others.  

Karma is the resistance to that flow, and is expressed or reflected by physical and psychological habits of tension, contraction, or control.

This yoga model can be understood through the analogy of electrodynamics, where we have voltage, current, and resistance; or in hydrodynamics where we have volume, flow and pressure. During a Breathwork session we play with the balance of these forces within us, in a kind of alchemical fashion.

Rebirthing is one of the most beautiful and one of the most popular forms of modern Breathwork. It was developed by Leonard Orr in the late 1970's. It continues to spread under a variety of names, throughout the world, due to its simplicity, power, and efficacy. Many people work with me over a series of 10 to 20 individual sessions to complete the Rebirthing process.   

I also call what I do Spiritual Breathing.For me, this represents the essence of my work. It requires a certain faith in oneself, a certain trust in the natural divinity of every human being, a sense of oneness with all existence, and an appreciation for the perfection of life. 

It requires a willingness to be with whatever is, as it is, moment to moment, while holding a space of conscious, active, all-inclusive, unconditional love. This cannot be taught, but it can caught!

An idea from the Course in Miracles applies here: "A universal theology is impossible, but a universal experience is not only possible, it is necessary." Breathwork is a key to that universal experience. Evidence of this is easily seen in the results and benefits of spiritual breathing practices.

I offer public and private breath and breathing sessions and seminars: a 1-day, 2-day, 5-day, 7-day, and Month-long Programs, a 1-Year Advanced or Professional Training, and a 3-Year International Breathworker Certification Program.  

The following "Guiding Principles" represent both the process and the promise, as well as the Path of Breath Mastery: 

Oneness and Wholeness 

Freedom and Safety 

Peace and Power 

Energy and Aliveness 

Health and Happiness

Comfort and Pleasure 

Rhythm and Balance 

Circles and Cycles 

Love and Light

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