Rising In Love. What does it mean? It means having the courage to face the shadow of ourselves, rather than projecting our wish fulfillment onto our partner or new flame. It means weeding out self sabotage and building intimacy with our internal landscape. It doesn't mean making ourselves perfect. We rise in awareness of our capacity to love our 'everything'. Everything that brought us to this point in time. As the Breathwork we do on this retreat takes us deeper, there is no final point at which we have arrived, rather it's a discovery of how to connect with our bliss when all our barriers come down. As the barriers come down, love rises.
'Sensuousness means you are open, your doors are open, you are ready to throb with existence. If a bird starts singing, the sensuous person immediately feels the song echoed in his deepest core of being. The non-sensuous person does not hear it at all, or maybe just as a noise somewhere; it does not penetrate his heart.
The sensuous person is liquid, flowing, fluid. A Zen master told one of his disciples who wanted to paint bamboos,"Go and first become a bamboo...how can you paint a bamboo if you have not known what a bamboo feels like from within?"' (Body Mind Balancing, Osho 2005)
Our upcoming Sensually Alive Weekend aims to reconnect us to feeling and sensuousness in the body. It's just the beginning.
I've often wondered about the power of landscape to move us - romantically, spiritually a and subtly. Some places just feel low key, others a bit dark or eerie, others just very bouncy and alive. So it is the case with any of the ridges running of Gulaga. Our new venue for the retreat is on a ridge running down from the mother mountain. Powerful energy, just like the previous venue. Expect the unexpected!
Breathing is a part of our whole bodymind. A spontaneous breath, that is, a breath which is full and free, helps us to establish a flexible centre, a place from which our energy remains even and self-nourishing. When using the breath in breathwork sessions we are attempting a reset point from which we can move more gracefully through any discomfort (yes that includes all types of feelings). I've recently been trying a Kriya breath on YogoGlo which really clears out my brain first thing in the morning. (9 mins of short sniffs in - through the nose, and 8 short sharp sniffs out) will leave you feeling very different!
Breathworkers can often get caught up in the question of 'if someone hasn't cried then they have not had a proper session'.
Whilst it not essential to express tears in a Breathwork session, they are a good sign that pent up tensions in the body are being released. I just came across this article by Chris Wright arguing that talk therapies in themselves cannot heal the deeply embedded toxic feelings.
'In traditional therapy we learn to counter dysfunctional issues with new, healthier attitudes and behaviors. Armed with increased self-awareness and greater understanding we can learn to develop healthier ways of thinking and acting as an adult. But does increased understanding and insight into inner dynamics and changing our behaviors actually heal the original painful feelings that lie buried deep inside? Unfortunately, repressed emotions are not resolved by learning new understandings. Otherwise the universal answer to healing our insecurities and purifying our consciousness would be simply to read widely or even get a PhD in psychology. We know, however, that regardless of your level of understanding or the sophistication of your beliefs, the underlying churning of these repressed feelings continues deep inside the brain. What does heal then? The nervous system must have a natural, innate mechanism for resolving inner stress. ' (Chris Wright)
What would that innate mechanism be? Mostly crying, shaking, shouting. Letting go of toxic feelings. That's why Breathwork can heal deeply.
Spiritual bypassing frequently presents itself as an opportunity to fast-track spiritual progress, a shortcut through delusion to enlightenment The real delusion here , of course, is the very idea that one can actually cut corners in spiritual practice. All of our attempts to dodge the messy world of difficult relationships, unpleasant emotions, and whatever else we would rather avoid only sidetrack and obstruct us, eventually generating enough suffering to draw us back to the steps we skipped or only partially took - of honoring , digesting, embodying and integrating the essential lessons in our lives.' Robert Augustus Masters "Spiritual Bypassing' One of my favorite reads last year.
Image taken from LSD psychotherapy by Stanislav Grof (1980)
Life in the womb can be as emotionally varied and complex as life outside the womb. This is what people report after Breathwork sessions. But how is this so? Medical science says that we can't actually remember life in the womb or our birth. There is no way it can happen because the cerebal cortex of the newborn is not complete, it is not myelinized (as it is called), and therefore no memory recording function is available to us.
So in a Breathwork session clients report oceanic feelings of bliss (a good womb) or a toxic womb (environmental toxins e.g. tobacco or alcohol) or a 'toxic' emotional environment.
So whilst Freud and the psychoanalytic movement tended just to focus on post-natal biography and the Freudian individual unconscious, discovering the perinatal aspect of ourselves process opens up a major door to healing distortions in our nervous systems. In my own case, I uncovered lots of repressed rage, even though on the outside I was a very nice guy. I traced this back to my high forceps delivery and being 'forced' out of the birth canal.
So when we undertake Breathwork, we can tap into some 'unremembered' areas and bring it up for processing and healing.
A major component of a breathwork session is lies in the realm of sensory experience. How do I experience my body in a non-ordinary state of consciousness?
We can feel tingling, changes in body temperature, tetany (pins and needles/numbness), subtle changes in the amount of energy in the body and not-so-subtle energy changes. In terms of my own early breathwork sessions, I had a lot of pain in my abdomen. Very intense spear like pain. This continued on for a least six or seven breathwork sessions where it gradually lessened then disappeared. From my reading it was related to some trans-personal story (past life or ancestral form of being wounded - literally!). This pain no longer occurs during my breathwork sessions.
Sometimes I have had sessions where I have felt totally leaden. Like I can't move my arm off the floor. Like some heavy tranquilizers have entered my system and I'll never escape them. But it does pass. This could be read as revisiting and integrating the drugs that crossed the placental barrier during the birthing process. A drugged mother generally also equals less quality bonding with the mother, hence less ability to bond with adults later in life.
Sometimes we just need to move our bodies. Thumping the floor, shaking the legs, moving the arms upwards, untwisting the neck. All these somatic responses are perfectly valid in a breathwork session.
So in summary don't be inhibited what your body wants to do in a session.
What are some of the things that we can find out in a Breathwork session?
According to one of the leaders in Breathwork, Stanislav Grof, the main categories of experience are;
When we explore a deeper, more connected breath style, what can often arise is feeling of numbness. This is generally read in Breathwork as the surfacing of psychological patterns of control.
Wilhelm Reich in the 1930's delivered his theory on "character analysis" in the body. His main tenet was concept of material from a patient should be enlarged to include not only the content, but also the form of the patient's communications. Reich was convinced that the non-verbal behavior of the patient - his look, facial expressions, dress, bodily attitude - was not only underestimated but often completely overlooked by many analysts.
Additionally, Reich emphasised an early concept of Freud's. When Freud first studied hysterical patients with Josef Breuer in the 1880's, he used hypnosis. He found that unless a traumatic event was re-experienced, not simply remembered, under hypnosis in all its emotional vividness, there was no alleviation of symptoms. (M Sharaf 'Fury on Earth' 1983)
As a Breathwork practitioner, whenever people complain of feeling numb or frozen this is a good indicator that a major release of emotion is not far away. This is where Breathwork is very good at by-passing the defence mechanism of the muscles and fascia - and allows deep feelings to flow. Once the emotional tension is released there is more room for 'streaming', and feelings of pleasure and joy are much more available to us when return to our ordinary state of consciousness. If the client cannot move past the feelings of numbness, then bodywork sessions may be indicated to help break down the body armouring.