“In this inner space where nothing and everythhing exsists… Breathwork is so blissful. I never imagined just breathing could be so blissful…” 

© by Ernesto Ortiz

I have done dozens of Breathwork sessions and it never seases to amaze me…These were my thoughts as I was moving toward the end of my Breathwork session. In my mind, I was comparing the sensations of breathing to being as pleasurable as anything I had ever experienced in my body, I was using my body to connect, connect with my mind, my spirit. What a revelation! Bliss was not about attaining anything from outside oneself it was as simple and obvious and present as breathing and giving myself permission to feel and explore my emotions, breathing was blissful because I was healing!

In my path toward personal illumination, healing and understanding I have spent more than 25 years meditating and doing spiritual practices, I’d had many wonderful experiences with bliss and breath. The difference this time was that my only goal in this session was to be totally with myself and with whatever surfaced in my awareness from within I was ready to totally surrender.

I wasn’t looking for God or enlightenment or transcendence. I was bringing a lot of energy into my body with the breath and I was just being present to all of it. Trusting it and flowing with it. Feeling everything fully with no judgment about the feelings (grief or joy, fear or guilt) and at the same time watching myself feel.

At one point I was crying intensely feeling my mother’s pain and fear during my birth and my own feelings of guilt and inadequacy not being able to do anything at all and for having caused it. I stuggled I felt as If I was being pushed shoved inside a small and tight tunnel, I was experiencing my own birth. From a dark space, all of a sudden I emerged into the most beautiful green as if I were in a lush tropical rainforest, everything still wet and iridescent from a recent storm. But there were no distinct shapes only this color that was vibrating and healing. I was floating being cradled and comforted by this warm beautiful environment.

I seemed to relax completely at this point and ride the breath home almost like a riding a wave into the shore. “I was experiencing total bliss”….

Releasing Emotions/Healing the Past

Integrative/Shamanic Breathwork is “one of the most effective ways to release repressed emotions”. Our cultural habit has been for generations to repress and deny emotions, I remember as a young boy my Mom telling me big boys don’t cry, you don’t want your friends to see you like that! And I always questioned what do I do with my feelings now? What do I do with my emotions? And my sensitivity..

I grew up with the teachings that to “keep a stiff upper lip” and “suffer in silence” was the correct way to deal with anything as messy as an emotion. My Mom used to tell me you cannot show your emotions if you are going to be a successful business man.

An image that came to me in one session was of myself inside a mini submarine that was filling up from the inside with water. I saw that if I didn’t start releasing that water (my feelings), I was going to drown and sink.

Learning to release and express my feelings during the sessions allowed me to begin to see how does this work? I have learned that emotions are stored in disorganized patterns and are held in the soft tissue of our body, trauma causes this and we all have suffered trauma in our lifes. I call this disorganized cells “cookie cutters”. The cookie cutters are holding a pattern filled with emotion form the experience, and if our emotions are not released through expression, these particles can become trapped as energy in the spaces between the atoms and molecules, and the cycle with continue again and again…

When we are under a great deal of stress, we stop breathing and breathe more shallowly, which traps the energy of our emotions in our bodies. Conscious connected breathing helps us release the imprisoned emotions and to break the cookie cutter by over oxygenating our cells and forcing the trapped energy out. Along with the energy and emotion, some of the old beliefs or decisions we made out of fear, pain or anger from the past begin to surface. Sometimes we see how these decisions have been running our lives from the unconscious level. As we become aware of them, we can release them and make new decisions in present time based on safety, trust and love.

Experiencing the Presence

Breathwork is Sacred, is the natural gift of life, we can live for days without food and water but only minutes without the breath, our breath connects us to our present reality. Breathing consciously and with the awareness that we are actually breathing brings us right to experience the present, to be here now. Jacquelyn Small author of Embodying Spirit talks about the state of “cosmic consciousness” facilitated by this process.

My own experience and that of my clients have included such beautiful and holy moments full of extacy and connecting with the Divine that I have emerged from many sessions feeling absolute awe and immense gratitude, again and again. I am reminded of what I wrote a few years ago, “We become whole, healed, by making the invisible visible and bringing the darkness to light.” We merely have to release the obstacles within us that block our awareness of love’s eternal presence.

Eight years and dozens of sessions later, as both voyager and facilitator, I am still in love with this process. As Mathew Fox said, “We are at this moment participating in one of the very greatest leaps of the human spirit to… of our own deep inward mystery.” As a toot to help us probe these mysteries and make that leap of spirit, Breathwork is invaluable. it teaches us through our own experiences about moving past pains of living and breathing out what is painful and constricted and, as the Sufi poet Rumi wrote, about finding that

“breath of love that takes you all the way to infinity.”