Adding Breathwork to the Spiritual Toolkit

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I often talk about "breathing in to issues" on this spiritual awakening blog, so I wanted to take a moment to explain that a little more.

My experience of the human body and in working with others is that we have two central ways of engaging with ourselves: rest and action. This really shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, and yet these basics seem to be overlooked. Maybe people have gotten too caught up in complicated ego stuff to appreciate the simplicity of this.

In general, it seems like people don't fully return to rest after taking action. There seems to be some way that we have gotten stuck in different levels of activation that have gradually built up throughout our lives. It's like a part or parts of us stay stuck in "alert-mode," and then that ends up getting stuck emotionally, physically, and energetically in our bodies. The breath is a way to unstick those parts.

With that said, I'm generally interested in using breath to engage with the rest and recuperation aspect of our bodies. I'll mention some breathwork that is about active engagement later on in this post.

Breathing out Discomfort

Physical and emotional discomfort takes energy to maintain. Without some amount of attachment to it, we'd drop back to total rest after any action or triggering moment. Thus, breathing into discomfort is naturally combined with seeking ego attachments that want to hold on and keep us stuck in a level of discomfort.

How to Let Go of Your Ego

In general, pain is a useful system to tell us where there is a problem so that we'll address it. If we stub our toe, it's helpful that our bodies use pain to tell us what happened and encourage us not to do that again. However, we make ourselves suffer by creating ego stories that tell us to stay in pain. It's like how a self-worth issue tells a person in a million different ways to feel bad about themselves. Then their heart, body, and energy conform to those messages. The person starts to have all kinds of additional discomforts the longer they feel the initial pain and believe they are bad. The overall ongoing experience of discomfort reinforces the idea that they are worthless because the whole of their human body feels so bad. It creates a terrible negative feedback loop that endlessly repeats. So what to do?

Come back to your breathing.

While self-worth issues have to be worked on in multiple ways, consciously breathing and relaxing helps to tell the body, heart, and energy that everything is okay. You are okay. The breathing should be measured and slow. Gradually breathing deeper is helpful to get a full breath, although some people are so tense that deep breathing can be challenging. However, the more you focus on breathing and the longer you do it, the more any ego-cause discomfort has to melt away.

Facing the Abyss of Self-hatred

Pairing Breathwork with Other Spiritual Tools

I want to emphasize that breathing by itself won't work too well if you don't work on other levels. If you still actively believe in the self-worth issues, you'll feel like you're getting no where because you keep feeding the ego attachments to those issues. However, if you have learned to identify and release those beliefs, it gets easier to bring greater ease back to the body through breathing.

With what other spiritual tools does breathwork pair well? All of them.

Plus, breathwork can be done at any time, so there is no excuse to not practice with your breathing. When you are at work, the breathing can help you to calm down and slow down. You can do it for 5 minutes in the break room. It doesn't have to be extensive. You can breath driving in the car or on any commute to work. You can practice breathing while working; you don't have to wait for a break. You can practice breathing when you're changing a diaper. None of this has to be difficult. In fact, keeping this kind of breathwork simple tends to very helpful.

Simplicity in Breathwork

While there are many kinds of breathwork, the steps that I suggest are very, very simple:
  1. Focus on your breath
  2. Breathe in and breathe out
  3. Notice how your breath feels and where in your body you can breathe into
  4. Gradually expand your breath into your belly, your back, and the sides of the rib cage
  5. Be patient
The last one is really, really important. So many people are trying to do everything quickly, and that is the opposite of resting. If you are trying to force yourself into relaxation, that is completely counter to what I am discussing. If you want to use active breathing to work on stuff, different forms of kundalini breathwork, Holotropic breathwork, and others exist to activate and energize the body. They are useful tools in and of themselves.

However, what I'm talking about is working with the rest side of our physical system, and so struggling or breathing too fast will be counter to the effects I'm encouraging you to bring about.

Finally, you can use this relaxing breathwork to work on areas of the body that are holding tension, but the key is to remain as calm as possible. Don't try to force the tension/issue out. Gentleness is vital as is patience to allow the tension to gradually dissolve through this soothing, focused breathwork.

Patience, Patience, and More Patience

As you learn to breathe better, you can help your body stay more at rest and be more resilient to the ups and downs of life. When issues come up, you can pair this tool with other spiritual tools (meditation, journaling, energy work, and so forth) to understand the issue and calm the body, heart, and energy. The less you energize any issue, the quicker the breathing can work. If you keep feeding the issue while trying to breathe and relax, you will become frustrated. Even if this happens, try to be patient with yourself and find more spiritual support to get better at identifying how you're attached to an issue intellectually. While I often don't talk too much about this, being intellectually able to understand your issues is really important. You don't side-step the mind. The ego comes from the mind to impact the rest of the body, so the mind needs retraining.

And retraining the mind takes patience too. The brain needs to re-wire itself to think differently, and that takes times. So once again, it's about patience. Patience, patience, and more patience. And keep breathing. Gradually. Slowly. Let everything settle so that your body can return to its natural state of relaxation and ease.

Patience and the Path to Spiritual Awakening

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