So, what exactly is Breath4Life™ Breathwork?
The breath is our fuel for living – we wouldn’t survive without it. Breath4Life™ Breathwork is a therapeutic use of that vital breath. It is a simple breathing technique that enables you to connect with emotions attached to past traumas and unresolved issues. Connecting with those emotions gives you the opportunity to heal the past and bring more clarity to your future.
Why do it and how does it work?
Whenever we experience a traumatic event – which can be as ‘big’ as the loss of a close family member or as ‘small’ as losing a favourite cuddly toy as a child – there is always an emotional reaction to that event. Over the course of our lives we encounter numerous traumatic life events. However, we do not always fully experience the emotional response to those events, and so they become stuck. This is often referred to as ‘emotional baggage’, which can affect how you are living your life. Breath4Life™ Breathwork is a dynamic use of the breath that enables you to reconnect with those ‘stuck’ emotions and free up the energy surrounding them for you to use in a positive way!
What happens during a breath work session?
You lie down on the floor or on a bed, under blankets or a duvet, get yourself comfortable and close your eyes. A qualified practitioner then takes you through a relaxation process and a countdown with colours and numbers to take you even deeper into a relaxed state. You then start the Breath4Life™ breath – a simple connected breathing technique during which you breathe in through your mouth imagining you are taking in energy and gently allow the breath to sigh away, leaving no gap between the in breath and the out breath. You continue with this rhythm of breathing while the practitioner holds the space and keeps you safe – probably for around an hour and a half. Music will be played throughout the session, which may help you to access particular feelings!
Does it really work?
We can only go on our own experiences. For Jill, Breath4Life™ Breathwork has been the single most effective method in bringing her from a place of fear and depression to living a joyful, positive and very full life. As a practitioner she has witnessed people gaining enormous freedom from emotional and physical pain even during their first session. She says that seeing the light returning to someone’s eyes after a breath work is amazing.
There is a renewed lightness and sense of clarity!
Beverley had been lost in a deep well of grief for many years. Breath4Life™ Breathwork allowed her to process this buried emotion safely, without having to keep going over the story of her ‘wound’. It also uncovered a layer of even more deeply buried rage, which she was then able to access as a resource and tap into her passion. It has also helped her to experience more high-vibration emotions such as joy, peace and bliss.!
What we don’t realise is that when we don’t allow ourselves to feel ‘difficult’ emotions – called suppression – we also stop ourselves from feeling the fantastic emotions too. By allowing ourselves to feel and breathe these ‘difficult’ emotions, we allow the energy of joy to flow. In health, emotions are energy in motion – the trouble is, most of us are e-stuck! Breath4Life™ Breathork helps you get un-e-stuck!
What is it good for?
There are so many ways in which you might gain from Breath4Life™ Breathwork. You might be anywhere along a spectrum at one end of which is that you just don’t seem to get where you want to be going in your life; and at the other end there are emotional and mental issues related to anxiety and depression, deep-seated fear and anger or unresolved grief. Breath4LifeTMBreath Work can help you wherever you are on the spectrum – to gain clarity around an important decision; to gain insights into unhelpful behaviour or situations that are limiting your life; to reduce emotional overwhelm or even conversely to re-energise from a feeling of being numb. Emotional baggage can weigh heavily on a person and this baggage can be reduced over time and the load lightened significantly!
How long do I have to do it for?
An individual breath work session typically lasts two hours – including time to settle in and make sure you are ready to go home afterwards. Frequency of breath work sessions is very individual, with people needing to breathe weekly, monthly or after a time less frequently as required. In terms of commitment to the process, a rule of thumb is one month per year of living with a particular problem or set of problems. A practitioner may encourage you to make a commitment to, say, six to 10 sessions (or to follow a course, such as the Acorn to Oak Breath4LifeTM Foundation Course) in order to gain the most benefit and to achieve a good level of progress with your health and wellbeing!
What happens if something comes up that I can’t handle?
People often worry that they will become overwhelmed during a breath work session. It may feel difficult or overwhelming for a short while during a breath work; however, we know that clients experience only what they are ready and able to – plus the Breath4LifeTM practitioner will be there to support and guide you through any difficult processes during the session. By lightening the emotional baggage bit by bit, you gain more sense of self-control and are more likely to be able to experience emotions in a healthy way!
Can I do it by myself?
When starting out with Breath4Life™ Breathwork it is not advisable to do it by yourself – the support of a qualified and experienced practitioner is necessary. The practitioner’s role is to make sure you get the most benefit from your breath work session, to help keep you on track, to guide you through any difficult parts and to ensure you are fully present and ready to leave at the end – usually giving you a cup of tea and a biscuit into the bargain! You will be given some maintenance techniques that you can practice, to support you in experiencing emotions in a healthy way!
Is it like yoga breathing/pranayama?
In a word – no! However, what is true is that there are many therapeutic uses of the breath, which explains why the breath is such a good way of helping people access a wide variety of healing and nurturing experiences. Breath4Life™ Breathwork is a specific type of connected breath, the aim of which is to bring energy within to support the person to reconnect with those stuck emotional responses and then help resolve them!
Will I have to talk about my stuff?
Sometimes it is difficult to talk about what is happening for you, or you just can’t find the words to express how you feel. Breath4Life™ Breathwork does not require you to talk about your story or how you feel; the practitioner supports you to experience the breath work session and guides you through it with very little talking – it’s all about using the breath to support you to heal the emotions connected to past traumas and periods of difficulty in your life, so that you can move forward more freely and with an understanding you have gained for yourself – not through someone else’s filter. There is, however, space to talk with your practitioner if you feel the need to do so.
I’ve tried loads of different therapies – what’s different about this?
There are many, many different types of therapy available and how people respond to a particular therapy is very individual.
Jill says that in her experience of a number of therapies, particularly talk therapies, she has felt it was being ‘done’ to her and that the practitioner’s agenda was running the session – she didn’t feel she had a stake in her own healing process.
Beverley has also tried many different therapies and has had some good results in the past but feels that psychotherapy in particular gave her a clear intellectual understanding of her issues but it didn’t shift her emotional baggage!
With Breath4Life™ Breathwork there are a number of clear differences – first of all it is recognised that the client is at the centre of the process and by them doing the work, with the support and encouragement of the practitioner, they gain insights and understanding that no amount of talking to them can give. It is also immensely empowering as it enables the client to tap into the resources of knowledge, wisdom and understanding that has previously not been accessible.
This form of breathwork allows people to access and build on that wealth of inner understanding. The practitioner will give feedback during the process, but clients are also encouraged and expected to develop their own reflective practice to monitor their progress in all areas of their lives – thus further encouraging ownership of their healing process.
What qualifications and experience do you have?
All Acorn to Oak Breath4Life™ Breathwork practitioners undergo a rigorous two-level training – the Foundation and Practitioner Courses. The Practitioner Course is externally evaluated by Surrey University. During their training, practitioner students undertake a community project, which introduces Breath4Life™ Breathwork to a group of people that are new to it – for example in a hospice setting working with people with HIV and AIDS, or a group of teenagers who have been self-harming. Acorn to Oak practitioners are also required to have undergone their own therapeutic process using Breath4Life™ and to undertake continuous personal and professional development.