Hey friends, it has been a while! Last weekend I had my first experience with breathwork. I was not expecting what I got out of it and I totally recommend you make time to fit it into your schedule. This blog gets pretty deep into my mental health, so be aware that there may be mildly triggering things. Now, let’s get into this breathwork experience.
The only things I went into this experience knowing were that it took about an hour and I was going to have to lay down, using headphones to listen to the Zoom call. I sat on my bed and participated in a Zoom call with people twice my age and older. It started out with logistics and a basic explanation of what might happen and how to respond to those things, as well as, how to breathe during this breathwork. Which, if I may add, got harder to keep up with over time as I was breathing so deeply that it took most of my focus to remain breathing in that way. Once Meg, the person leading the breathwork, explained that you may fall asleep I immediately thought it would be similar to a body scan. I imagined it to be a body scan-breathing meditation hybrid. Most of what she said fit into this, but she kept touching on the fact that some people have “aha” moments. This immediately set off red-flags in my meditation brain. I had been so used to taking notice of when my mind brought something up, but just letting it go with no judgment--this really helps you stay in the present moment. Though her explanation of breathwork somewhat fit into this, it was allowing your mind to wander that, honestly, somewhat worried me.
I tend to steer away from deep self-reflection. Most often, I will notice how I react to things, physically, verbally, and emotionally, without trying to find a super deep meaning to why I act this way. I also stay as present as I can as it keeps me from worrying about things that I cannot fix. Meditation has helped largely for me in my journey; however, I am relatively new to the practice. In the past, namely directly after the passing of my brother, I had not really been living. When I was younger I prided myself on the fact that I had a wonderful memory (which I still do, but not as wonderful as it used to be). Once I lost my brother, I started just going through the motions. Most of my actions were not thought out and I wasn’t present many times. This is not to say I was in my head, however, as it was the complete opposite. My mind was blank most of the time, and, out of habit, it remains that way many times. Through mediation, I have found ways to keep myself present, but that whole period of my life is very fuzzy to me because I didn’t retain as much as I would have if I had noticed and absorbed what was happening. So, this was a foreign idea to me and it worried me; what would happen if I got in “too deep”?
This exact outcome was fully realized because of this exercise. I was aware of how I reacted when tempted to bring up things held deep within my psyche, but I had not realized the reason. Now it seems a bit obvious that I was trying to avoid what happened to my brother, but I guess that it was difficult for me to realize that before this experience as it was also held within that locked up part of my mind. It was as if there was a wall in my mind that held back anything that had to do with my brother. I acknowledged his passing but was unable to delve deep into it without hitting that wall.
Once the exercise started, the music playing in the background, Meg led the group through some things to focus on. As I had imagined, it was pretty similar to my normal, daily meditations, at first. Every few songs, which were mainly instrumental, there was a song with lyrics to listen to. During these songs, Meg would allow us to listen and breathe in the words. During most of this exercise, I was focused solely on my breath and it wasn’t until the third song that I let my mind take me. I vividly remember Meg’s voice fading out as a song came on that reminded me of something I would hear in a Curious George movie. My breathing slowed and relaxed a bit in response to me taking my focus off of it, but it allowed me to really listen and absorb the words.
This song spoke to me in multiple ways. It started out bringing my mind to my relationship and what I really wanted from it, which was something I had been avoiding a bit at the time. As the song progressed, it slowly started to get deeper into my psyche and pushed passed my wall.
The line “you know you are hiding from your pain” was what led it to start pushing into my deeper feelings.
Normally, when trying to express my pain my mind becomes jumbled and I cannot focus on one thing-- I quickly become overwhelmed. During this exercise, on the other hand, I saw a clear path. It was a smooth transition from one emotionally difficult topic to another. I remember the moment the song got past my wall. The chorus had come and I had my “aha” moment of realization. I was prepared to not have this happen to me, as Meg had mentally prepared me to expect that, as my first time, I may not get anything extreme out of it.
My realization consisted of deeply noticing and understanding that I am trying to avoid what happened with my brother and am clinging onto what I had before. I learned about my brother's passing the moment I came home from my best friend's sweet 16, which is one of the happiest moments of my life. My emotional scarring from this event has kept me all over the place during the grieving process. All of this time I had imagined that I had hit acceptance early on, but I haven’t. I was in denial for a long period of time, and would sometimes jump to the other stages, the most common being anger, bargaining, and testing. But, I always kept coming back to denial subconsciously. By denial, it isn’t a direct denial that he isn’t gone, which I am aware that he is, but it’s a denial of change. Ever since that moment, I have had difficulty meeting new people and getting close to them.
Over the past 2 years, I have not changed much socially.
At the time of his passing, I was in a friend group of 8 people. Currently, three of those people have moved to another town and made new friends, and the other 4 have all somewhat disconnected from me and made new friends that they spend much more time with. We are all still connected, but not as it used to be. I have been unable to slip from this grasp held on me and have not made more than 1 or 2 new close friends, though I still refuse to think of them as closely as I do the 8 people I am attached to. This has been something I have been pondering upon for some time. I knew that it was difficult for me to make close friends, but I had not realized the true reasoning until this experience.
After the breathwork exercise, many people shared their experiences and it truly hit my heart with joy and bliss hearing how this had helped different people in vastly different ways. This is something I could easily see myself participating in again and recommending to many people who might be stuck trying to avoid their true feelings, as well as a younger audience as its an easy tool that won't take too long. Breathwork is not guaranteed to give you this exact experience, many people respond in different ways, but I hope you enjoyed hearing about mine. Letting my mind take me away on a journey deep into my psyche was not something that I thought I would need, but it turned out to be the last puzzle piece to what I wanted to realize. Now, especially, is a time that it could be useful to reflect and have some realization moments.
If you are curious about how to participate in this, contact me via email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or the “Let’s Chat” option on our webpage!
About the Author:
Gabriella is a striving Music Therapist and seeks out positivity for other people. With her life, she yearns to make the world better little by little and cause a “butterfly effect”. Her motto is “a smile makes someone's day better." One of Gabi's long term goals is to travel and learn different cultures while bringing her knowledge with her to make the lives of others better.