Since the beginning of human civilization, we have used music and the breath to help us heal, reach higher states of consciousness, and connect with the divine. In a society largely devoid of shamans, healers, and magic we must create those experiences for ourselves. Join us in exploration through a series of unique breathwork journeys.
A Little Background on Breathwork
What is a Breathwork Journey™?
You might consider this a form of spiritual technology. Using a combination of carefully curated, supportive music and intentional breathing, we will attempt to induce a transcendental state. What happens there can be transformational.
Your experience will be entirely unique to you. You will have the journey that you are supposed to have. It may be intense, but it will never be more than you are ready to address, take on, or let go of.
Phases of Breathwork
- Induction: we begin with a grounding meditation to quiet the mind and relax the body.
- Separation: we will then use sonic driving (rapid, repetitive, rhythmic beats) to induce a trance-like, shamanic state.
- Descent/Initiation: this phase is calmer, generally more centering and numinous. We will descend deep into our internal realms, explore their depths, and experience the extraordinary.
- Return to the Ordinary World: having had whatever experience was open to and meant for us, we will begin a gentle return to body and waking consciousnes.
Proper Breathwork Technique
We will be using a very simple, yet powerful form of breathing which is both circular and diaphragmatic.
Put one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. When you take a deep breath, where is the movement?
When we do diaphragmatic breathing, only the lower hand moves. Breathing with your diaphragm requires less effort and draws air deep into the lungs. Imagine that you are breathing all the way down into your feet. For this practice we will breathe in and out through the mouth.
Our breath will also be circular.
That means there is no pause between the inhale and exhale. You take a deep diaphragmatic breath into the belly and then let it release effortlessly. It is not a forced exhale. This is immediately followed by another deep diaphragmatic inhale which is immediately followed by a gentle exhale.
The inhale is longer than the exhale, otherwise you begin to hyperventilate.
What you will need:
Breathwork is a very simple practice, but it can be extremely intense. You want to be somewhere that you feel safe and will be free from distraction. Pick a quiet place in your home where you won’t be interrupted. If you have a daily yoga or meditation practice, use that same space.
You may experience surges of emotion, and you will want to be able to experience them fully. Put yourself in a situation where you are free from judgement.
The session will last around 90 minutes. You want to be comfortable!
Wear baggy pants and a loose-fitting shirt. Your body temperature can vary dramatically during a session. Have a blanket on hand for when you get cold. You may or may not want socks. In the middle of a session it can be hard to take them off.
Lay on a yoga mat or thick blanket. Have a small pillow for behind your head. If you are in physical discomfort, consider propping yourself up with cushions or bolsters.
A bed is probably too comfortable. You don’t want to sleep through the experience.
Music is an integral part of the experience. You want to be able to fully appreciate the nuances and changes in tempo.
If you opt for headphones, an over-ear style works better than ear buds. If you use a speaker or sound bar, make sure that it has some base.
Ideally, you will be able to easily adjust the volume without looking. You want the music to provide strong support, but we aren’t trying to damage our hearing.
To explore your inner depths, you need to disconnect from the outside world. A blindfold is essential.
An eye mask, folded bandana, or even a face mask can make a great blindfold. You are shooting for total darkness.
By and large breathwork is extremely safe. When was the last time that you didn’t breathe?
However, we are going to be using our respiratory capacity to its fullest. If you have uncontrolled heart or lung problems, you should not do this.
Breathwork has also been known to trigger psychotic episodes in those who have such tendencies.
Every breathwork session is different. It depends on the cycle of the moon, the energy in the room, your state of mind, and how well you stay with the breath. Over the past decade or so I have had a number of recurring experiences:
- Sometimes you lay there breathing for 60-90 minutes wondering why nothing is happening but feeling very relaxed in the end.
- Sometimes you have an emotional release. You may find yourself laughing or crying. You may know why, but you may not. Just go with it.
- You may have a spiritual experience connecting with ancestors, entities, or loved ones who have passed.
- Your body may start moving of its own accord, and you may spontaneously find yourself in yoga-like postures.
- You may start performing energy work on yourself.
- You may stop breathing for what feels like a really long time.
The best thing to do is have no expectation and follow the breath where it leads.
You may or may not want/need encouragement along the way. This will in part depend on how many times you have done this sort of breathwork.
I present supportive music both with and without guidance. Make the decision for yourself.
The initial phase of the journey powers the experience and lasts around 30 minutes. Sometimes a reminder to keep breathing is just what you needed. Sometimes the instruction is annoying.
If this is your first time or first time in a while, do the guided journey.
- Don’t eat before doing breathwork. A full stomach will siphon off the energy and leave you with a lack-luster experience.
- Pee first! Even if you don’t think you need to, go to the bathroom. In the middle of a session, it can be hard to use your hands.
- You are in control. If you force the exhale and start to hyperventilate, you will get cramping in your hands and feet. It hurts. Don’t fight it. Relax into it and breathe normally. After your body calms down, come back to the breath.