Can deep breathing make a difference?
I’m frequently asked how deep breathing techniques can make a difference in people’s lives.
I’m going to attempt to answer this in two parts:
1- I’ll tell you how Breathwork has impacted my own ability to heal from panic attacks and depression.
2- I’ll update you on the latest research of how Breathwork affects the nervous system, how it opens up the subconscious and gives insight into our behaviors and choices.
I’ve spoken a lot about the physical benefits of Breathwork, and how even short periods of deep breathing can make you feel better. But have you experienced how it can relax your mind and connect you with your intuition? Have you found that place where your inner voice resides, where revelations about yourself are waiting to be found? What if I told you that you could tap into this place and use the information to make better choices for your life?
So let’s get started with the impact that Breathwork has had on my life by sharing my personal journey:
My daughter died in October of 2015. Immediately my body began to hum, and continued to do so with no end in sight. For months the memories would replay again and again, forcing the humming sensation into overdrive, leading to panic attacks. I felt that I had lost all control, and became desperate.
I could barely get out of bed but I forced myself up and out. I stumbled around at first but quickly went in pursuit of ways to find healing for my broken heart, my frantic mind, and my exhausted body. I engaged in counseling, practiced yoga, read books on healing, journal-ed, and meditated, among other things.
Through research I came to understand that I was suffering from PTSD. For me this embodied the re-living the painful scenes of my daughters decline and death. A thought, a smell, a piece of music, almost anything could trigger the movie to begin playing in my head. I learned later that my brain would create a host of stress hormones which would stream out into my body and induce the panic attacks. I felt stuck in a loop of terror.
Though debilitating, I determined I was not going to turn to drugs for help. Yet, talking and reading about it was not helping much. My intuition and my background in movement therapy made me decide to explore unconventional means for healing. I instinctively knew that all three areas needed addressing - body, mind, and spirit.
But how was I going to do this? And what would it look like?
My first experience
Remember, I was now a woman on a mission, willing to take risks. For example, I heard of a woman coming to town who had a reputation for helping people in unorthodox ways. She was holding a Transformational Workshop. The title alone evoking all kinds of emotions; from skepticism, to curiosity, from hope to fear. I signed up.
Over a five-day period we experienced three one-hour Breathwork sessions, my first introduction to breathwork. By the time the workshop was over, I felt significantly better and noticed that something had shifted inside me. I felt more light hearted and hopeful than I had in a long time. To say the least, my curiosity was piqued.
Over the next year I immersed myself into many different forms of deep breathing techniques. And then, after a rigorous 24 days of training, I became a certified Clarity Breathwork Facilitator.
What I’ve learned
Being a curious gal I wanted to know why deep breathing had such an impact on me. How could it make me feel better so quickly? How did it quiet the anxiety? Why were the painful memories not producing the same physical reactions in my body as they once had?
I began to read books on non-drug treatments for trauma by Dr's such as Peter Levine and Bessel van der Kolk.
Both of these Dr's actively treat trauma patients by integrating physical activity into their work. They proclaim that talk therapy (counseling) and drugs can only do so much and that these treatments fail to break the pattern of re-living the trauma. They believe that trauma gets stored in the body, and to address it wholly a person must be given an opportunity to express it physically. They recommend activities that bring mindful attention to the breath, such as yoga, dance, drama and singing.
This information fascinated and excited me and I began researching and practicing many different forms of breathwork. I was reaping benefits from mindful attention to the breath and I started to share this work with others.
Two additional findings excited me greatly and encouraged me to continue studying and practicing my new-found deep breathing techniques.
I found that the breath is connected to the nervous system. Deep breathing techniques have the ability to turn on the Parasympathetic Nervous System (the system opposite the fight or flight system), which needs to be turned on for healing to occur in the body. This system alerts your body that the environment you’re in is safe.
This helped me understand why my panic and anxiety went away. The calming effect Breathwork had on my nervous system allowed my body to rest. To feel safe. This gave my brain a chance to rewire itself and stop sending out the damaging stress hormones. And putting a stop to the loop of terror.
Secondly, I discovered that deep breathing can activate the subconscious mind, bringing hidden information about one’s self into conscious awareness.
I now understood that I had found a tool that could not only help me on a physical level, but one that I could use for personal growth, as well.
Now I would like to address the subconscious mind. Approximately ninety-five percent of our memories get stored in our subconscious mind. It's a memory bank that holds our beliefs, memories, life experiences and other information that affects our behaviors, actions and choices.
Dr. Bruce Lipton of Stanford University says that the subconscious mind, “ultimately casts the deciding vote.” He claims that your subconscious is “one million times more powerful” than your conscious mind.
What a powerful piece of information. How can such a massive amount of information, that which so deeply affects our daily lives, not be accessible? Except perhaps through hypnosis and dreams.
It became obvious to me that in order to heal I needed to change the patterns and programming in my subconscious mind. I needed to forgive, and to let go of anger and sadness. I also began to analyze why some of my behaviors were so difficult to change. For example, why would I consistently sabotage myself? And why was it seemingly so difficult to forgive certain people? And why couldn’t I let go of certain memories?
I was now more aware of places in my life where I wanted to grow, places where I needed to build stronger self-esteem. And Breathwork was proving to be a tool to help me do it.
My research led me to the understanding that yoga masters, scientists, mystics and motivational speakers all refer to the subconscious as a wealth of information when one is seeking to transform old thought patterns and habits. These great thinkers understood the power of tapping into the subconscious for personal growth.
The insights I've gained have not only been about things I needed to change, but have also increased my creativity as it relates to my gifts and passions. I’m now have more clarity about the next steps I want to take in life.
My passion and fascination for the modality of Breathwork has not diminished over the years, but grown. It’s impact on the body, mind and spirit is powerful and real.
Honestly, Breathwork is best appreciated through experience. Once you’ve tried it, you will better understand the benefits it can offer.
If you haven’t experienced this for yourself, you can click the button below and go to a 12 minute guided Breathwork that I’ve made to get you going. This is for the beginner or the advanced.
My desire is to make Breathwork easy and accessible for anyone who desires to know themselves better and improve their quality of life.
If you haven’t already signed up for my Intro to Breathwork Series, sign up below. Get 3 simple deep Breathing techniques sent to your in box, completely free.