Breathwork – Somatic Therapy
“Once you start approaching your body with curiosity rather than fear everything shifts.” ~ unknown
About our Breathing:
When we breathe normally, most of us do not even give a thought to the process or pattern. We tend to breathe automatically. This is a gift. Imagine having to actually think about breathing. That would be a big job. The downside of automatic breathing is that we often pause between breaths and do not breathe deeply. In addition, when we face stressors or trauma, we tend to hold our breath. This traps the heavy energy inside our bodies.
Breathwork: What It Is & Why It Works…
Conscious-connected breathing is the process of directing the breath so that the inhale and the exhale are connected without any pauses. Conscious-connected breathwork creates a complete circuit of energy in the body. It is directly opposite to the type of breathing that is used to suppress and inhibit our awareness of physical and/or emotional distress.
When we go through traumatic and stressful events as children or adults, it is a natural response to hold our breath. Most of us are not aware that this natural response instantly lessens and removes some of the immediate intensity of the trauma. Unfortunately, it is the equivalent of physically sealing the memories, beliefs, pain, or distress into the body at a cellular level. Mentally we suppress by withdrawing our awareness from the experience.
Years later, we are not even aware that the responses that once helped us survive are now negatively influencing our daily lives. By using connected breathing, we reconnect with our full, natural breath. By doing so, we can reconnect to the old, suppressed feelings. By releasing these old feelings and releasing the false beliefs that came out of these experiences, we can be free to live more fully in the present.
The technique is done by breathing through your mouth. The inhale and the exhale are connected with no pause in between. Imagine yourself breathing in an oval, beginning at the pelvis and drawing the air up your back and into your throat. Then exhale without pause, allowing the breath to roll out of your mouth and down the front of your body to the pelvis. Then begin another inhale without a pause. Think of rounding out the top and the bottom of the breath so that the action of the breathing is smooth and rhythmic.
The breathing tempo should be full and slow with more air coming in than your normal resting state. The exhale should be completely relaxed. In the next step, your therapist guides you to be aware of any somatic sensations you might experience. Your body becomes your roadmap to releasing old traumas and patterns that might otherwise stay stuck.
Try It Now
Simply relax your body and give your breathing your undivided attention. Put your hands on your stomach so you feel your stomach expand as you inhale. As you exhale, you will notice your stomach flatten. Now hold the image of the oval in your mind as you get your breath moving in and out. Focus on connecting your inhale and exhale without out any pauses. Make a nice, full curve with your breath. This is called riding the curve of your breath.
How Breathwork is Used in Therapy
CCM Counseling & Wellness therapists may add breathwork to your therapy experience. The technique can be used at different stages of emotional processing. Breathwork can help facilitate a connection to a false belief, heal from a traumatic event, and release emotions. Your therapist will skillfully guide you in how to use your breath. Breathwork can help you listen to your body, as it will be your road map to release residual trauma to make room for healthier patterns to develop.