5 Things You Didn't Know About The BreathAug 08, 2022
Breathing is something we are born doing. We often don't think about how we're doing it, where we're doing it, or even how it affects us. We breathe about 15 times per minute or 21,000 times per day! Gaining an understanding and synergy with this is important system of the body began to really strike me. I had participated in breathwork sessions a couple times before, but this past month, I became a certified trauma-informed Embodied Breathwork Facilitator under the tutelage of Nichole Ferro.
I sought out breathwork training because I deeply desire to share the type of psychedelic breathing I've experienced with others who are not yet ready to jump on board with plant medicines. What I learned rapidly expanded my awareness of just how important this potent tool is that we've been given. Psychedelic experiences with breath aside... what the breath can do for you in its various practices will revolutionize your life.
I'd like to share with you...
5 Things You Didn't Know About The Breath
1. Most People Don't Breathe Right
As babies, we come out of the womb breathing properly... if you notice, babies and children tend to take fully belly breaths where their stomachs noticeably expand outwards. As kids, we're not yet concerned about what we look like to everyone around us. Since that's how we were born breathing, we just do it. Later on comes the programming that one might look "fat" if their belly is out and so we learn to keep it tucked more in. This comes at the loss of these full breaths that our bodies so greatly desire.
Take a moment and notice how you breathe. If you place a hand on your belly, does your hand move outwards when you breathe? Or does it stay put and instead you notice a rise in your shoulders? A rise in your shoulders signifies that you are NOT breathing deeply. You are not getting as much oxygen as you could be and this type of shallow breathing leaves the door wide open for reoccurring anxiety and panic attacks. Developing a deeper breathing practice will help you down regulate your autonomic nervous system and operate from a more grounded and embodied experience.
2. How We Breathe Affects Our Physical And Mental State
Building off of noticing WHERE and HOW you're breathing from the previous point, the breath has the power to both trigger or calm anxiety and panic attacks. By taking longer inhales emphasizes the sympathetic activity of the body, increasing your heart rate and bringing more energy in. By extending the exhales and stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, you can calm your anxiety and lower your heart rate. There's even different styles of breath for heating or cooling the body (and bringing down fevers), improving lymphatic drainage, improving oxygenation, enhancing digestion, purifying the blood, balancing the left and right energy channels, lowering or raising blood pressure, quieting the mind, and reducing muscle muscle cramping. I personally am super excited to have more power over my own body and how I show up in my physical and mental states. Be in control of your body and your reactions to the outside world, not the other way around.
3. The Breath is Medicine
Once you start breathing PROPERLY and utilize different breathing practices, or pranayamas, to target areas of concern, the breath can be fully embodied as the medicine that it is. We were born with this innate gift of healing ourselves using the breath, sometimes you just have to unlearn the programming to re-learn the inherent truths of how it works. Being able to increase oxygen to all the cells of your body is a wildly powerful tool. We see physical healing in the body that also triggers emotional and spiritual healing by releasing the emotions that have gotten stuck in the body.
When you breathe IN, you are stimulating the amygdala and hippocampus which are responsible for processing emotions and long-term memory of experiences respectively. When you breathe out, you are stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system to interact with these other systems and calm your response. By doing so, we can trigger implicit memories, which are stuck in the body tissue and don't necessarily have full recollection to them, along with explicit memories, fully recalled memories, to be released. By doing this, we often release in the form of tears, shaking, moving, or screaming. This experiences helps us to let go of our attachment to the trauma memories and then we can re-integrate ourselves to a life of having healed from them through this breathwork experience.
4. Breathing Will Get You Out Of Your Comfort Zone
I'm a big believer in facing your fears... and if you're not quite ready to do that, at least get out of your comfort zone. Often. Embrace discomfort because there's rapid personal growth just on the other side of it. Breathing can shockingly get you to face that discomfort. You get to experience the reactions from the body as it tries to trigger you to breathe. But realistically, you can hold your breath WAY longer than you think you can. We're talking several minutes up to much more with proper training! By sitting with your discomfort in breath holds or timed inhalations and exhalations, you push past your boundaries and discover you're capable of more than you thought. Rapidly, what was once uncomfortable becomes less so and that line where discomfort sits gets a little farther and farther away. This makes your regular experiences seem that much MORE COMFORTABLE!
5. You Can Have Psychedelic Experiences From Breathing
This is one of my favorite truths about the breath! Having had my own first hand encounters with powerful mystical experiences akin to what one might experience on psychedelics, I became very drawn to breathwork to share a taste of this space with the world. There's a few different modalities around this now. Common ones include holotropic breathwork, circular breathing, three part breath, somatic breath, and psychedelic breathing. What you will experience when essentially hyperventilating the body in a safe container combined with the music of a powerful playlist will blow your mind. Researchers have often traced this back to the production of DMT being triggered in the lungs through this style of breath. DMT, known as the "spirit molecule," is a chemical produced by the body most notably when we're born and when we die. So triggering this production and entering this altered state often gives feelings of connection and one-ness with the universe. These are beautiful transcendent journeys that you really have to experience to believe!
If you are interested in learning more about the breath, how you're breathing, great practices for you or would like to heal your body from past traumas and triggers, I offer 1:1 breathwork alchemy sessions both in person and virtually. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE.