The Three Requirements of Breathwork

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Humans are born innocent and free to choose and grow in life’s journey. Yet, integral to that process is the experience of pain and difficulty, sometimes to the point of sheer mental, emotional, or physical breakdown and dysfunction. Interestingly, this is often the point where we forget that all of us possess the free will and ability to start the process of examining our ancient wounds, the old debris held within our body’s systems. This can feel hard to do, yet direct attention toward these agencies of introspection and re-evaluation is usually what will set you free. What else does this mean you need to do?

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Intent: Innocence, Surrender and Heartfelt Choice

You must surrender. It is not until a full-on, wholehearted surrender takes place that you are ready to face the old programming, become aware of and understand the underlying stories, and finally let go of the blockages causing your suffering. Once you are aware and ready to surrender, you can choose intent. Intent, or intention, is the heartfelt desire that directs your attention toward something you want. In this case, the personal, emotional, and physical issues you wish to heal and integrate.

You might think, “Does this only happen in breathwork, or might it just come to me through some inspiration?” Sometimes, an individual on a spiritual path can spontaneously access a higher or more explicit viewpoint (a state experience) in which they realize the true impact of carrying out these old issues. This can be profoundly significant and, in many cases, has changed lives! Yet, even with that, because physical embodiment is the deep recording mechanism of these magnetic and energetic constrictions, I believe some form of a somatic experience and relational therapeutic process (a stage experience) must be engaged so you can heal the source beliefs and PTSD at its roots. 

Remember, “your issues are in your tissues!” With breathwork, engaging in conscious, connected breathing offers the possibility of long-term freedom, clarity, and the likelihood of healthier relationships. And here’s the other mostly unknown benefit: once you go through the breathwork process of peeling back the layers of trauma to reveal your true self, you rarely have to go back to that same place ever again.

Invitation: Understanding Trauma as a Natural Part of Growth

Healing trauma requires a higher perspective on life, especially those frustrating, painful, or debilitating. As mentioned, this higher viewpoint is often enough to transform the immediate difficulty. But for most, if we look closely, we realize that almost all of these adaptive patterns, beliefs, and behaviors have become subconscious. Therefore, we cannot just use our cognitive abilities to negotiate and heal the inner constituents of our traumatic experience(s). These deeply held blockages tend to ‘go underground’ to create a kind of psychosomatic resistance to the innate, natural flow of life in the body. Simultaneously, it interferes with (slows down) your internal evolutionary prime directive to develop and progress. 

The Bow and Arrow Example

Think of a bow and an arrow. The bow represents the loving potential of your soul’s highest capability to grow and develop in brand-new ways. The arrow represents your intent, the inherent opportunity often dormant within you to choose what you want and how you want to live your life. Initially, as children, we experience difficulties and traumatic experiences where we try to use other people’s arrows (usually our parents). We get lost in trying to make them work, and in response, we pull back the bow repeatedly but never fully release the arrows. 

Then, one day, a guide comes along and points out that you’ve been carrying a quiver of arrows behind your back that is truly yours. Pick out one of those arrows and place it in the bow when ready. Something feels different; you remember something new, and with the tremendous strength you’ve developed from the years of repeatedly pulling back the bow, your choice launches the arrow into the sky with an incredible power you’ve been longing to experience. You suddenly connect with what has been latent within you and start successfully aiming for what you want.

In other words, besides the devastating experience during its initial impact, from a higher standpoint, trauma is an accelerant. I genuinely believe the underlying reason for much of human suffering is to motivate the sufferer to seek healing, find and utilize the “bow and arrows” that are ours, and achieve a greater awareness of how to make life work. Just choosing to understand these deeper truths can facilitate spiritual fulfillment. At a personal, familial, and cultural level, I feel the human traumatic experience is primarily designed to stimulate and reveal specific key lesson patterns that ultimately support our evolution. 

“Vital to understanding how breathwork works is that the body is the physical expression or embodiment of the soul in space-time designed to facilitate healing and evolution. It is not until the embodied soul or personality chooses to understand this inherent truth that the reasons for most painful traumatic events can be understood as an integral part of a soul-lesson growth cycle.” 

Every progressive cycle must include a certain amount of time and space for choice to emerge, which then can guide us toward a place of higher understanding and evolution. To put it more popularly, a problem can’t be solved at the level within which it was experienced or created; it can only be resolved from a higher perspective. The bottom line is that we must go through the experience and understanding of our soul’s deepest inner workings to ultimately take responsibility for the life we want to create.

Integration: The Return to Wholeness

Along with the experiencer’s intention and the invitation to grow, there also must be a readiness to enter the healing room for personality integration.

“Carl G. Jung argued that a significant goal of psychological development is the process of individuation: the ability to separate oneself from others as a unique personality. Integration, according to Jung, is the process during which both the individual and collective unconscious are integrated into the personality. Integration is a positive psychological development that indicates psychological maturity and may help an individual move past negative habits.”  (Source: Good Therapy)

In space-time, the body or embodiment of the soul, like the earth itself, must go through a passage of seasons to complete annual cycles of achievement. Similarly, the human body becomes the repository and the vehicle within which the front lines of a soul’s evolution can occur. In that regard, often, we must lose ourselves to find ourselves.

As incomplete cycles of soul growth, these (traumatic) experiences can be uniquely and individually based, such as neglect, sexual abuse, a car accident, or as part of a more extensive series of events involving others, such as racial tension, a war, or a natural disaster. The key to freedom in all these cases is the willingness to undertake a journey of recognition and surrender, inquiry and release, forgiveness, and the patient integration of what is blocking you from health and wholeness.

Conclusion

Although we can take this journey alone (which we must do from time to time), it is often helpful to engage the help of another to support, reflect, and remind us why we’re on this path in the first place. This is facilitated by a skilled breathwork practitioner who understands how to assist someone on their journey of empowerment and possesses the physiological, energetic, and emotional intelligence to work with the spirit of breath in this way.