(NaturalNews) This article will look at how the breath connects our inner expectations and our outer experience, our mind-body-spirit, our conscious and subconscious mind, how it is literally the bridge connecting all of these aspects of our being and our existence and how it can become blocked and the effects that it can have.
It is known that the breath is intimately linked with our emotional state of being. The previous article showed how it can relate to our physiological well-being. What is perhaps less well known, or less thought about is the links without spiritual and subconscious aspects.
In virtually all schools of yoga and meditation; however, the importance of the breath will be mentioned at some point and most schools have some kind of breathing exercises to help one reach higher states of spiritual awareness, just as psychologists have breathing exercises to emotionally calm clients.
Through healing modalities like breathwork it is now known that the breath has the power to access our subconscious and all of the traumas and behavioral patterns stored within. It also has the power to transform and release these issues. In a study by Smith, it was concluded that, "The use of breathwork for clients offers a safe and reliable approach to exploring transpersonal states as well as a quick method for accessing unconscious material... Individuals have reported rapid improvement in a wide range of disorders as a result of breathwork treatment"
So how is it that these issues are stored and how can the breath alone be so effective in resolving them?
Breathing inhibition - The hidden key
There are few people in the world who know how to effectively deal with emotional issues. Nearly all of us use one tool or another to suppress such feelings, be it ice cream or chocolate, sex, drugs or alcohol. This avoidance is known to cause anxiety and depressionas well as increased sympathetic arousal, which then holds the body in a constant, chronic state of stress. Coupled with these issues is breathing inhibition.
By breathing less fully into life, we are able to avoid, to a greater or lesser extent, the uncomfortable feelings and emotions. It is also a way of continually suppressing these sensations and thus, via classical conditioning, these inhibitions become habitual. The problem here is two-fold. By decreasing our oxygen intake we reduce the supply of oxygen to the brain and body which reduces its ability to function and has been shown to lead to a variety of psychophysiological issues. It also means that, rather than processing the issues we have in our day-to-day life, they are suppressed and stored in our subconscious. These stored issues, as well as taking a large amount of energy to suppress, then condition how we experience our reality. If the issue involved physical danger then by storing this, we can believe that the world is a dangerous place and we will thus attract or interpret events via this belief and repeatedly prove it to be so.
Many of our beliefs and behavioral patterns come from our formative years. During this time, we are like a sponge, soaking up information and making conclusions about life. However, these conclusions are not always correct, particularly if based upon extreme, traumatic events.
We have suppressed these issues so well and become so accustomed to our way of experiencing life, and indeed of breathing, that we are generally unaware of this cause and effect relationship, usually we only see the results. It is therefore imperative, if we wish to evolve physically, mentally and spiritually, that we release our breathing inhibitions and all of the emotional baggage that we have inside so we can experience life and its wonders with eyes unconditioned by fear.
Smith, W. M. (1988). 'A comparison of the Breathwork approaches of Stan Grof and Gay Hendricks.' Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. Gross, J. J. (2002). 'Emotion regulation: Affective, cognitive, and social consequences.' Psychophysiology. 39. p281-291. Campbell-Sills, L., Barlow, D. H., Brown, T. A., Hofmann, S. G. (2006). 'Effects of suppression and acceptance on emotional responses of individuals with anxiety and mood disorders.' Behaviour Research and Therapy. 44. p1251-1263. Shea,S. A. (1996). 'Behavioural and arousal-related influences on breathing in humans.' Experimental Physiology. 81. p1-26.
About the author: Joe Jennings is an experienced Rebirthing Breathwork practitioner who was trained by the founder Leonard Orr and Fanny Van Laere. He has written a small book about his first experiences with the breath as well as a number of articles which have been published in various magazines. He is currently the co-ordinator of Rebirthing Breathwork International in the UK and a committee member of the British Rebirthing Society. He has begun a large scale study into the physiological and psychological effects of Rebirthing Breathwork. He gives private sessions and teaches in the UK. For more information please visit www.RebirthingInternational.co.uk