It is with great thanks and appreciation that I come to write this piece for Start the Wave’s new pillar focusing on Spirituality. This opportunity arose out of a friendship with Dom P-C that started while we were on a Breathwave retreat together last year. It is an honour to be here and I am so grateful. Thank you.
It feels appropriate then to speak to the power of the breath as a healing medicine, my intimate journey with it, and what I have witnessed in its power to help people heal and transform their lives.
In this day and age, the number of people who do not breathe well is staggering, and particularly so as levels of anxiety and fear have intensified in recent times. As such, a common response is to dissociate from the body and to breathe in a shallow way. This can further exacerbate feelings of not being safe, grounded or present.
What I love about the breath is its ability to bring us back into our bodies – to be here now, in this moment. And if we can drop down into the belly and breathe from there, it can help us to ground and reconnect.
A conscious breath returns us home – to ourselves, our bodies, our souls and also home to the greater source of Creation. Interestingly, the etymology of the word “respiration” refers to just that:
Re: “back, back from, back to the original place;” also “again, anew, once more,”
Spire: mid-13c., “animating or vital principle in man and animals,” from Anglo-French spirit, Old French espirit “spirit, soul” (12c., Modern French esprit) and directly from Latin spiritus “a breathing (respiration, and of the wind), breath; breath of a god,” hence “inspiration; breath of life,” hence “life;”
I love this because it reminds me of how the breath can connect us all deeper within ourselves and open us to expanded states of awareness and experiences of Higher consciousness. In ancient texts, breath is life. It is the bridge. As we breathe, we fill ourselves with Prana or Chi – life force – giving us vitality and health. I know this to be true from my personal experiences as I dove deep into conscious connected breathwork.
About six years ago I was a very different person than I am now. Back then I was scarred, scabbed and armoured from some deeply painful and heartbreaking experiences. I was hard, angry, rigid, defended and felt very alone. My ability to trust and surrender was scant and my need for control paramount. My light was diminished – I wasn’t sure if it could ever be restored.
Intuitively, I was guided and found my teacher Robin Clements, Founder of Breathwave. When I did, I felt the depth and authenticity of his offering. So, I signed up for a Level 1 Breathwave retreat and proceeded to change the trajectory of my life forever.
I had no idea of what I was stepping into. We were to breathe each day twice a day for an hour each time and then share in circle. I remember when I arrived, I begrudgingly thought to myself “Oh these fucking new age hippies and all their woo woo.” That was really just a defence to keep me separate … and superior in my mind …
So I breathed every day twice a day and sat in circle with other humans. With each session, the layers of armour loosened. The holding, the pain, the hardness … softened. So many tears, so many wails, so much fucking rage. Each breath invited me to let go, go deeper, to feel and move through. Each sharing invited me into vulnerability and into courageously being seen.
To give you context, Breathwave is a gentle form of conscious connected breathing done lying down for about an hour each time. It enables one to regulate one’s nervous system, integrate suppressed emotions and also, potentially, reach expanded states of awareness that may bring experiences of bliss and communion with Source. It’s a beautiful support for gently unwinding trauma and also for integration after peak experiences in one’s life (ie: plant medicines).
Each day I breathed. I cried. I shook. I screamed. And each day, I breathed in anew … a new way of being, a new possibility, a new inner-standing. It was profound. This practice gently, lovingly supported me to experience life with fewer defences – more vulnerably, more truthfully. I remember the session when I decided to put my weapons down – to stop fighting. That was huge.
And then, at a certain point … that light inside of me … it started to shine again. As I breathed and connected more deeply with myself, my authenticity and what felt good for me – the heaviness of the past lost its hold. The light could not help but shine through.
Since that first retreat six years ago, I have become somewhat of a Breathwave groupie. I attended retreat after retreat after retreat as I just got so much out of them on a fundamental level. I trained to be a facilitator and am now a senior facilitator and trainer, and I sit alongside Robin in the Breathwave trainings and retreats.
So, with that, I have had an opportunity to witness the profound power of this medicine and its beauty. There is the technique … and yet that is only one part. There is also the honouring of the sacred, of our Mother Earth, Father Sky, all of life’s creatures and calling upon the Spirit realm to work with us in ceremony. It is a time when we can connect in a way that has all but been long forgotten in our western culture. And it is here dear reader as to why I am writing this for STW’s spiritual pillar. Because, in my experience, I have seen people come to life again as they reclaimed and reconnected with who they truly are – without all the pain and programming, and also experienced deeper relationships with life including nature, the planet, the animals, the plants, other humans, spirit beings and Creation itself.
When we open ourselves to the possibility and willingness to connect, be it with ourselves, with another or something greater, the breath is right there to help make it so. So simple and so accessible. And, it’s ALL within you!
YOU are the MEDICINE.