In freeing up the breath's natural movements, we begin to develop a sense of our own unique breath rhythms. Opening to the natural rhythms of the breath is a dance between effort and surrender, between doing and undoing. As we learn to attune to the ever-changing rhythms of our breath, we find ourselves attending to the flow of the breath, in a manner that is unified, coordinated, and effortless. This rhythmic dance of the breath sequentially move us inward into a deep inner stillness, reconnecting us to the deepest part of ourselves. It is a dance of purification and renewal; it is the dance of awakening, it is the dance of breath.
As tensions in the breath unravel, old emotions that have been suppressed may surface. Mindfulness plays a vital role in learning how to witness these emotions without collapsing into them or avoiding them. In our approach, the intention is to cultivate what is referred to as “emotional presence." Staying present when uncomfortable feelings are awakened and experiencing them with loving acceptance can initiate deep shifts in consciousness. These shifts in consciousness literally transform us. The ultimate goal is to stay present when emotional discomfort arises and experience the transformational power of non-resistance.
As old emotions are released, the innate breath becomes even more liberated and invites us to dance, we call this The Dance of Breath, the fourth key principle of Restorative Breathwork.
As we learn to attend to the flow of the breath, we must resist the natural temptation to apply too much effort or force, because doing so can be counterproductive. We must constantly remind ourselves that we “allow” rather than manipulate or control the breath. It is about learning how to relax and "undo," going with the breath instead of trying to control it. We call this the yoga of "effortless effort." In cultivating an attentive awareness of the breath, we begin to become aware of those places within us where we hold back—where we find ourselves gripping. Learning to relax and receive the breath into those spaces of the body where tension arises invites us to be fully present, open, and receptive.
Inviting awareness in those spaces where the breath meets resistance cultivates a quality of mindfulness that spans into the realm of our emotions. We soon recognize the integral role of Emotional Presence, the third key principle of Restorative Breathwork...coming...
Restorative Breathwork has its roots in the Eastern practice of breath meditation. It is comprised of four key principles: Attentive Awareness, Effortless Effort, Emotional Presence and The Dance of Breath.
In the next several blogs, I will defined each of these key principles and their essential role in cultivating deep states of inner stillness and greater self-awareness. Lets us begin with the first principle: Attentive Awareness.
When we begin to cultivate an attentive awareness of our breath, many of us notice that we are unable to breathe fully, and that our breathing is labored and erratic. Most irregularities in our breath grow out of breathing habits caused by chronic stress and suppressed emotions. These tensions in the breath eventually block or impair the functioning of the innate breath; although still present, it now exists in a quiescent state. As we open up the breath's natural movements, old patterns of tension and gripping are gently released. In...
Each stage of a Restorative Breathwork session builds on the next, gradually and progressively moving us inward toward more subtle dimensions of awareness. As we cycle into these inner levels of consciousness, there comes a moment where we experience a profound state of inner stillness. It is here where we release all influence upon the breath and allow a time of meditation. As we move more deeply into meditation, a silence seems to gently come upon us. In the beginning this experience of silence can be rather short, yet settling into this silence, for even a little while, is immensely impactful. In this "inner quiet,” there is a vibrancy, a quality of consciousness that is transforming. As our meditation deepens, these moments of silence lengthen, enhancing an expanded awareness and inner vibrancy. In this stillness, one awakens to a presence of consciousness that resides deep within—awake, fully Self-aware, and resting in the heart of the Divine.
With devotion seeded in the heart and mind, we are now ready to work with the breath. We begin with cultivating an awareness of the more subtle qualities of the breath, resisting the urge to judge or alter it. Emphasis is on cultivating a "witnessing presence" of the breath. This simple yet powerful approach begins the process of unraveling tensions in the breath. We then progress to cultivating an "attentive" awareness of the breath. This quality of awareness invites us to be mindful of the breath while simultaneously modifying the breath to open up its natural movements. In unraveling tensions in the breath, we awaken the innate breath from its suspended state, encouraging it to unfold its potential to activate and stimulate energy flow. As our breath becomes more free and uninhibited, the innate breath engages more fully, guiding us upon an inner journey of healing, transformation, and awakening.
As this stage of the session deepens, we become more and more attune to a...
As the body releases and opens to stillness, we allow time and space to take a moment for silent devotion. This stage of a session is tailored to honor the uniqueness of each individual's spiritual path, creating a sacred container for deep inner experiences. Infusing our breath practice with devotion, invites us to ask ourselves a powerful question: why are we doing this work? Most Eastern meditative systems emphasize that technique is not as important as the spirit and intent with which we approach our practice. It is highly encouraged that our intention be of a spiritual nature—one that infuses our practice with feeling, vitality, and purpose. For without spiritual awareness, there can be no inner transformation, thus no transformation in ourselves or in our lives.
As we attune to an inner state of devotion, we move forward to Attending to the Flow of the Breath, the third stage of a Restorative Breathwork session...coming up in our next blog.
Restorative Breathwork offers a sequential process of moving into stillness: first the body, then the breath, then the mind, and then emptying into the deep inner silence of meditation.
Each Restorative Breathwork session is comprised of four distinct stages, each building on the next, eventually bringing us to a deep inner stillness. They are: Systematic Relaxation, Silent Devotion, Attending to the Flow of the Breath and Stillness Meditation.
In the next several blogs, I will define each of these stages and their integral role in awakening deep states of inner stillness. Lets us begin with the first stage: Systematic Relaxation.
We begin every Restorative Breathwork session with a guided relaxation that focuses on systematically relaxing the body. Most of our breath practices are done in a reclining posture known as Savasana in yoga. This posture naturally elicits a deep relaxation response in the nervous system, allowing the body to let go of tension more easily...
The interrelationship between the breath and the state of our health, and even states of mind, has long been recognized in the medical and meditative practices of the East. For centuries, these cultures have worked with the breath to facilitate healing and self-development, evolving over time into a sophisticated science often referred to as the "Science of Breath.” Among the best-known forms are Vipassana meditation, pranayama, qigong and tai chi, with pranayama being perhaps the most familiar to Westerners.
Today, the practices of the Science of Breath, once were reserved for only a select few, are being shared more openly with the West. This cultural metamorphosis has given birth to a variety of breathwork practices and methods. These innovative breathwork systems are best known for their ability to foster healing and transformation. Most approaches to breathwork share the common elements of conscious breathing, evocative music, bodywork, guided imagery,...
In addition to supplying oxygen during the process of respiration, the breath simultaneously draws in another energetic quality, known as prana. This prana, or qi, as it is called in China, is the vital life force energy that sustains and animates all of life, vitalizes the mind and is the energy of consciousness itself. Eastern adepts have long been aware that the breath is our connection to prana. From the ancient traditions of yoga and Buddhist meditation to the practices of qi gong and tai chi, the breath is considered a powerful medium for rejuvenating the body, mind, and spirit.
Breath and Energy Flow
With each breath, the body takes in and absorbs prana, constantly activating and stimulating the energy flows that comprise the human energy system, the bridge between the mind and body. Acknowledging that the breath is a vehicle for prana, one begins to understand how specific qualities of the breath, such as speed, depth, and rhythm, all have a critical effect on...