Categories
Breathwork Meditation

Do You Want to Try Breathwork? It Makes People Laugh, Scream, and Cry

“Breathwork helps me cope with the challenges of life,” is how Sarah, a working Mom describes the practice. 

“My body vibrates from my fingers to toes,” is what Jim, a single man in his mid twenties had to say after his first class.

“I cried about money, and not feeling worthy as a child growing up,” is how Jordana, a working grandmother described her feelings after practicing breathwork.

Have you been feeling stressed out with the pandemic, not seeing loved ones, or even the aftermath of the January 6th insurrection? 

If this sounds familiar, then breathwork may help you, too. 

Breathwork teaches us to release stress in an easy way – through exhaling. In breathwork you breathe with intention, which helps to over-oxygenate your blood stream.

It can be like five years of therapy in one session, and like therapy it can be intense. 

A good breathwork class is all about breathing deeply, yelling, crying, sweating, laughing, and allowing stored-up pain to leave the body. 

Breathwork is a spiritual practice to help you lower your stress, find a deeper consciousness, and heal your mind, body, and soul. 

To practice breathwork you lay on your back, breathing in a rhythmic breathing pattern. Music is playing in the background, and your goal is to relax your body. 

You breathe in two deep inhales. First in the belly, then in the chest. Then you exhale it all out. 

It goes like this:

  • Inhale in the chest
  • Inhale in the belly
  • Exhale it all out

You repeat these three steps non-stop for twenty to twenty-five minutes. Afterwards, you remain on your back, in calm and serenity for one to two relaxing songs. 

My life is now divided into two life spans: Before Breathwork (BB), and After Breathwork (AB).

I became a breathwork teacher during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Breathwork is universal, and can help people of all ages. One class could have a profound impact on your life.

Students often have spiritual, mystical, and memorable experiences.

From single men in their mid twenties to grandmothers in their fifties to parents in their forties, this is what some of my students have experienced during their sessions: 

Sarah finds calm after surgery

Sarah is a fashion designer, who worked from home during the pandemic. She is recovering from a surgery. At the same time she managed her young daughter’s at-home learning via Zoom.

She shared that “breathwork class makes my body tingle, usually my hands and feet within a few minutes of active breathing. The oxygen going into my brain makes me feel like I have a runner’s high afterwards.”

She practices her virtual breathwork sessions in a spare bedroom. 

As many of us would, Sarah sometimes got frustrated with the at-home learning, while also managing her own life and recovering from surgery. 

After weeks of classes, she shared that:

“Recovery from surgery had not been going as well as I had expected. I was angry at the doctor and even myself for not being in good enough health to recover. Through yelling in the class, breathwork showed me that I had been suppressing deep anger. While trying to stay positive about the surgery, the focused breathing during class opened me up.” 

The surgery was a traumatic event, and she was frustrated. She shared: “Breathwork helped me choose to be grateful for the surgery, and made her feel lucky to be alive.” 

Breathwork was more active than she expected. It brought up memories. After Breathwork (AB), Sarah felt a sense of calm and serenity.

Jim grieves his friend’s passing

Immediately after Jim’s first class, he was shocked and said “I am surprised as to how effective the breathwork class was. It took me to a similar state as to when I did LSD.” During class he cried, laughed, and yelled. 

Jim shared: 

“Within a few minutes, my body began pulsing while my hands and feet tingled. I thought about my friend Max who died when I was nineteen. I cried. Obviously, I have some unresolved grief around that.”

Jim continued to share about the dream he had the night after class:

“That night, I had a lucid dream and slept deeply. In the dream, I had a chance to talk with my friend Max, and Max’s family. It was like we were catching up and having a conversation as if Max was alive. It was like we were reliving a moment together. Max told me that he is dead but not gone and that I can interact with Max through his memories.”

During the laughing portion of the practice, he said:

“I laughed when thinking about a high school memory of laughing with my friends. I had some funny friends in high school. I realized that I had not talked to many of them recently. After the class, I made a list of different friends that I hadn’t spoken to in a while. I have dangling friendships from life, and I’d like to make amends to people from my past.”

Breathwork surprised Jim, it brought up many old memories. He grieved for the loss of his friend. After Breathwork (AB), he felt a sense of peace and serenity.

Jordana heals tension with her ex-husband

Jordana is in her fifties with grandchildren, is divorced and has an office job.

She is a regular attendee of breathwork class. She carries general anxiety and stress related to her work, family, and ex-husband. She cried during the first few breathwork sessions. 

She explained, “I cried about money, and not feeling worthy as a child growing up. I grew up around a farm in the midwest and money was hard to come by. Thinking about my childhood during breathwork brought up a lot of old feelings.”

After weekly classes, she started to sleep better at night. She had vivid dreams about her ex-husband.

She talked about a lucid dream:

“After breathwork, I had a dream about my ex-husband. We have had tension in our relationship that negatively affects myself, our children, and grandchildren. During one dream, I was in my bedroom with my ex-husband. I whispered in his ear ‘You are coming into my dreams, and I think we have some trauma to heal.’ Then we hugged.”

This was a breakthrough. She shared:

“A few weeks later, I attended my grandson’s birthday party. Last year at this party, I felt a lot of tension, and my ex walked out the back door when I arrived. This year, we hugged. I credit the breathwork experience in healing the relationship with my ex-husband. The tension is no longer there. Breathwork healed me, the relationship with my ex-husband, and alleviated the stress in our family.”

Breathwork helped Jordana grieve, revealing more pain than she anticipated. It brought up vivid dreams around her family. After Breathwork (AB), Jordana felt a sense of peace and serenity.

In these examples we have people of all kinds benefiting from the practice – from Moms to Grandmas to single men. It can change your life, even just with taking one class.

Breathwork is a coping skill to deal with the challenges of life. It is both invigorating and relaxing. It’s a way to reconsider how you breathe, something we do every moment of the day. 

Breathwork helps the mind, body, and soul to heal and recover. 

Whether it is dealing with daily stress, general anxiety or long-term grief – the practice is a natural remedy to the pains of life. 

Seeing how breathwork helps heal people, it could bring you to the same too. Sign up to take a class with me Thursdays at 6:30 PST.

Note: All the names have been changed to keep the students anonymous. 

Editors:

Big thanks to my editors: Drew Stegmaier, Piyali (Peels) Mukherjee, Lyle McKeany, Steven Ovadia, Nanya Sudhir, and Joel Christiansen.

Categories
Uncategorized

How Breathwork Heals the Mind, Body, and Spirit: Why I Practice

After decades of filling prescriptions of antidepressant, mood stabilizing, and antipsychotic drugs, I finally rejected conventional psychiatric wisdom. Using ancient methods, I went against doctors’ orders to heal. Through these methods, I treated the root cause, not merely the symptoms. I charted my journey in a series of essays. 

I write bi-monthly articles, publish podcasts, and host workshops on healing, recovery, and the root causes of pain. Sign up for two stories per month, that’s it. I charted my journey and this first article is Complex PTSD: When Your Therapist Thinks You May Be F*cked. My second article is How Breathwork Helps Process Stress, Pain, and Trauma: Why I Practice.

I breathe. 

I cry. 

I scream.

I laugh. 

I roll over on my side. 

In short, I leave behind a lot in my garage during each session of breathwork. Laying on a worn-out, plush, olive green couch, I wear blue jeans, a zipped up green hoodie, a black Iowa golf hat, and unmatched colored socks. I am under the weight of a warm blanket. Resting on my back, my arms lay next to my body. The garage door is shut, the ceiling lights are dimmed, and the dryer is on pause. 

On the floor lie half folded t-shirts, my running shoes, and a box of Christmas ornaments. I am preparing for my nightly, pre-bedtime ritual of breathwork. Breathwork is a routine to heal the mind, body and spirit before sleep. 

The next thirty minutes are mine to enjoy.

This breathwork sequence is a regular, virtual class that I take during the Coronavirus pandemic:

I close my eyes. 

Taking a few deep breaths helps me to shake out the cobwebs in my head. I push play on my iPhone. The black bluetooth speaker connects, and I hear my teacher, David Elliott, talking.

How to practice breathwork 

He asks me to set an intention. Tonight, my intention is self-love. I create an I am statement to recite to myself: I am loved.

In my head, I repeat the affirmation three times. 

I am loved. 

I am loved. 

I am loved.

David explains that we will inhale through two parts, and then exhale. We will be focusing all of our breathing in and out of the mouth. 

I start a rhythmic breathing pattern with two inhales in, and one exhale out. 

  • I inhale through the belly.
  • I inhale through the chest.
  • I exhale it out.

My heart softens. 

I repeat in my mind: 

I am loved.

I am loved. 

I am loved.

After my diagnosis of Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD), breathwork has become a regular part of my recovery routine. Whether first thing in the morning laying in my bed, or in my garage on a couch before sleep, breathwork calms me down. It allowed me to stop taking pharmaceutical drugs prescribed by doctors. Natural medicine like breathwork, which along with sound healing, psychedelics, yoga, and other ancient practices help heal my mind, body, and spirit. 

These modalities help me to discover mystical ways to recover my aching soul. Stuck in a state of disease, and I found ease after my first breathwork class. 

Breathwork is a spiritual practice to help me find a deeper self-awareness. 

Back in the garage, I actively breathe with the two-part breathwork inhale and one-part exhale for around twenty minutes.

With the intentional breathing pattern, my thoughts slow down, while my heart opens up. 

I relax. I let go. My mind is distracted from my current state. I am at ease. The practice opens up a deeper consciousness. 

I expand my capacity to love myself. I repeat in my head: I am loved.

As I start the breathwork, I want to quit. It feels overwhelming at first. It’s like riding a horse, you have to get comfortable in the saddle. I fight through my urge to stop. Focusing on the breath, I relax more.

  • I breathe through the belly.
  • I breathe through the chest.
  • I exhale it out.

Within a few minutes, my arms buzz. From shoulder to fingertips, I tingle. My mind is wide open. It’s as if I am running a 5K race, and have a runner’s high. 

I love this feeling and do not want it to stop. The urge to quit the breathwork is gone. I am in rhythm. 

Breathwork releases stress

David asks us if we want to let out a yell. He counts to three, urging us to take a break and scream. Knowing my garage door is completely sealed off from the outside, I let go. Taking a deep breath, on the exhale I scream at the top of my lungs. 

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAAHHAAHAHAHAHAAHAHA

I do not hold back on this yell. I am sinking deeper into the ground as I let out another loud and long yell.

AHAHAHAHHAAAAAAHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHA

I shake my head from side to side while I exhale out. The yelling opens up space in my head. 

I am free.

I yell one last time, and exhale during the scream. This yell is a shorter and higher-pitched scream. It’s as if I am back in high school, jumping off a bridge into a lake. I scream like somebody taking a risk, and not afraid of getting caught. 

AHAHAHHHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHHAHAHHAAAAAAA

I shake it out. I wonder if my neighbors can hear me. I imagine them in the backyard next door. I remember how thick the walls are, and do not worry. I get back to the breathwork.

I ask myself: “What is going on with my body?” David is in the background, hyping me up, saying that I might be “drunk off oxygen and that “my body is warmed-up.” 

Coming to breath again, I go a little deeper. My lungs open up. I am more purposeful taking longer breaths. I am controlling my body. 

My arms continue to tingle by my side. My legs extend long, they start to tingle too.

I’m having fun and a smile cracks on my face. There is now a buzzing sensation coming through my tailbone. I am rooted to the couch, as if I’m touching the core of the Earth with my tailbone. It is like I am glued to the couch. I keep it up:

  • I breathe through the belly.
  • I breathe through the chest.
  • I breathe it out.

I repeat the breathing pattern again and again.

I am safe in my garage. I snuggle deeper under the blanket to warm my body.

Breathwork can bring up old thoughts and memories

During breathwork sessions, old thought patterns come up. Faded memories emerge.

I have flashbacks from my youth. An old memory comes up as I breathe and I emotionally travel back in time: 

I am eight years old visiting my Uncle Seamus and his family in Connecticut. My cousins, aunt, uncle, and family are having fun. In the background, MTV is showing a music video for the movie Ghostbusters. It’s the Ray Parker Junior version of the theme song. Like a soundtrack to my life, I hear:

“If there is something strange, in your neighborhood. Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters!”

My family and I are on our annual summer road trip. We drive from Iowa to the east coast in a wooden station wagon, with a roof top carrier on top of the car. We usually pass through Connecticut to see my relatives. Tonight we are having fun, eating dinner. 

I am happy. I am loved.

I recently called Uncle Seamus after we had lost touch for thirty years. I am grateful we chatted. I forgot this memory. I enjoy reconnecting with the emotions. 

A side effect of my C-PTSD is that I blocked out memories from my childhood. Until recently, I could not recall some of the best memories from when I was a kid. 

I tear up as I reflect on my childhood. I loved being a kid. My nose sniffles. I think about my life as a child. 

I find my child-like spirit in this memory. 

Breathwork reboots my operating system. It cleans-up my mental hard drive. 

Breathwork releases joy

As we continue the breathwork, my teacher asks us to laugh. He recommends I let out a big belly laugh. I am tired of breathing. I welcome the laugh to break-up the session. 

Breathwork over-oxygenates my brain. I am pushing through to finish the class. I let out a big laugh:

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAAHAHA

Again, I laugh one more time. My mind, body, and spirit are free:

HAHAHAHAHHAAHAHHAHAAHAHHAHHHAAHAHAHAHAHAAHHAHA

I acknowledge that I’m laughing so hard my neighbors may hear. I don’t care. During the laughing I imagine: 

I am twelve years old. I am at my friend Jay’s house. We are drinking Coke from a bottle in his basement. We are in his furnace room that doubles as an indoor tool shed. We are sitting on the floor, enjoying our drinks. It’s Friday night, and it’s NBA basketball time. I am laughing hysterically with him. I am laughing.

HAHAHAHHAHAHAAHHAAHHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

Breathwork calms anxiety and worry

I go back to the breath. I have another episode. This one flashes forward:

I think about my to-do list for tomorrow. I worry. I have a job interview. I am anxious in anticipation. 

The voice in my head panics. Stressed, I think about the job interview. The voice says: “I haven’t done this before” and “I haven’t interviewed in years.” I accept my feelings. I acknowledge my concern. I am gentle as I breathe. I think: “I’ve done this before. If something comes up in this life, most likely I have done it before.”

The voice in my head calms down. I think: “Hey, you got this. You interviewed for a job recently and it went reasonably well. You weren’t the right fit, but the interview went well.”

I reason with myself. I am calm. I stop concerning myself with the job. I am happy. I heal. I am grateful to have a job interview. I am happier the more I heal.

I continue breathing:

  • I breathe in through the belly.
  • I breathe in through the chest.
  • I exhale it all out.

I am buzzing from head to toe. I do not want this session to end. My nose lets out its remaining sniffles from when I cried earlier. I am okay with that. I accept that it’s okay to tear up. I am grateful for my life. I am connected to my roots. My tailbone is vibrating. 

The session ends. I stop actively breathing. I enter the cool down portion of the practice. For ten minutes, I lay in silence. I think to myself:

Breathwork heals the mind body and spirit

I love myself, and admittedly I haven’t loved myself previously like this. I am ok with my life. 

I am on a runner’s high. It’s like a completed a 5k.

My consciousness is expanded beyond my own self. I am rooted in the world, as my tailbone keeps vibrating. My entire body is buzzing. I am profoundly loving myself, that is the biggest difference in my life.

Breath in. Breath out. I cool down. My body feels cold and I wrap myself up more in the blanket. I am intoxicated by the world. After a few more minutes, I gently open my eyes. 

I sit up on the green couch. I grab my journal and pen to collect my thoughts. I take a sip from the cup of water next to me. I jot down some notes, and enjoy the fruits of my labor. I have spent thirty five minutes jump-starting my mind. I am exhausted, and whole.

Breathwork is a spiritual practice. Yelling, laughing, and crying are common experiences during my sessions. It feels good. Breathwork helps to process the unconscious. 

Whether it is emotional, spiritual, mental, sexual, or physical healing – breathwork brings up a lot of stuff. It is about healing, forgiving, and loving yourself. Through the classes, I expand my to a deeper consciousness. 

Breath in through the belly. Breath in through the chest. Breathe out. 

Breathwork helps the mind, body, and spirit recover from the ups and downs of life. 

I open up my heart, filling myself with radical self-love. Breathwork heals the mind body and spirit.

Breathwork heals my mind, body, and spirit. It could bring you to the same too. Sign up to take a class with me Thursdays at 6:30 PST.

Link:

Listen to my teacher David Elliott’s breathwork here

Editors:

Big thanks to the writers who helped edit this: Asad Badruddin, Stew Fortier, Tom White, Drew Stegmaier, Piyali (Peels) Mukherjee, Stephen Scott,  Chris Angelist,  Philip Thomas, Kelly Walborn, Brett Friedman, Kyla Scanlon,Ergest Xheblati, and Chris Holinger.