I remember the first ever Group Breathwork Session I participated in. It was at a retreat lead by Zen Master Nissim Amon on the Greek Island of Paros. I did not know what to expect and this first experience was quite gentle. I had a few tears, though I was not entirely sure what they were for. A release of some sadness that I couldn't put my finger on. I was amazed at how a conscious, connected breathing style could produce such an experience.
The experiences of others in the room were quite varied. Many others had tears as well, though I specifically remember two women in the group who seemingly got the cosmic joke and could not stop laughing for about 10 minutes. Another participant had a mystical experience recalling his happiness at the time he was born.
I've since learned that through Breathwork, we have the opportunity to have experiences that are emotional, mental, physical and spiritual. Emotionally, we are given a unique opportunity to process and release sadness, anger and fear that may have been locked inside of us for years and associated with a past trauma or incident. We might also experience deep peace and bliss within a session.
I liken sessions to opening a Kinder Surprise (the chocolate egg with a gift inside). You never know exactly what you are going to get, but one thing is certain, the gift our Conscious Breath gives us is always exactly what we need at that particular moment. No guesses...always a precise prescription for what we need right in that moment.
The role of a facilitator like myself is to support the participant through the process. The facilitator is able to offer positive affirmations and gentle touch at the right time, providing a compassionate and non-judgemental support to the process. Where appropriate, the facilitator can even help to encourage stronger expression in a safe container, such as repressed anger or grief.
Once processed, the space created by this release now has the opportunity to be filled with something more positive like joy, courage and lightness. It can take multiple sessions to get through the "big stuff", then periodic sessions to help us all deal with life as it comes.
I like to spend time with clients before we begin the actual breathing. This gives us an opportunity to touch base, share what's going on in life and create a safe container for the session. Similarly, following the breathing component, it is necessary to ground clients, afford them an opportunity to share if they are called to, and to offer any support that is needed at the time.
I continue to need to do Breathwork Sessions just like everyone else. Life can be challenging and my Breathwork colleagues and myself are aware that we can only help clients to the extent that we are willing to "go there" ourselves. Speaking of which, I feel due for some Breathwork myself....