The Wild West of Breathwork Courses
Whilst the popularity of Breathwork as a modality now exceeds Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ album, this also brings along a certain dilution of quality teaching in my opinion.
‘Become a facilitiator in 3 days!’ yells one facebook ad. In my experience, it takes about 2 years of training and committment to the art of Breathwork to become proficient at the craft. Why is this? It’s all about integrating your own Breathwork sessions before you can really be present for others healing journey.
So what would I look for in a Breathwork Course? Number one would be are they professionally accredited with the Australian Breathwork Association. In the sea of mediocre and dodgy Breathwork courses out there, is it reassuring to know that a small band of Breathworkers in Australia are committed to standards and ethics in the delivering and teaching of Breathwork. If not, you are at a professional disadvatange. (That also depends on how you want to use Breathwork Courses – for personal growth or to start a professional therapeutic business.)
I can tell you from personal experience, sometimes there are very unusual phenomena that can arise in a session, and you need to be able to ‘flow’ and ‘guide’ your client through choppy waters without losing your own grounding (otherwise known as ‘freaking out’).
So what sort of content in Breathwork Courses would I be looking for?
1. A sound understading of birth trauma. What is birth trauma anyway? Well it is a point in your birthing process where something ‘goes’ wrong or gets ‘really difficult’. For example, did your mother give up pushing and they had to use foreceps? Did they administer drugs to relieve pain? Were you induced? Did your mother have a complicating illness aorund the birth? All these events can leave imprints on your psychology.
2. A sound understanding of the terrain of the psyche – a map of consciousness if you like. We need to know what we are dealing with other than just saying things like ‘it’s just their stuff coming out’.
3. An understanding of why love matters and what you did or didn’t get from your parents – from the point of your conception to your early adulthood – is important in the world of relationships, sex and dealing with life’s curveballs.
4. Getting in touch with your ancestral shame and pain. If you don’t know much about your ancestry, start digging! This is not a family tree mapping exercise but rather you pay attention to the distortions and ‘blocks’ in your family. There is always some clue about events being not quite right in a family line, e.g early death, suicide, sudden death, abuse, divorce, war trauma, forced migration, voluntary migration. All these ‘non-normal’ family trajectories can all have a deep impact on how you perceive the world in the present moment.
5. Understand your own body and its needs. Many Breathwork Courses miss this one. Make sure when you do Breathwork that you are inside your body (at least for the first 20-30 mins of the session). Many people are drawn to Breatowork because they are seeking to go into spiritual ‘worlds’. This ‘leaving’ pattern is a defence mechanism against feeling of pain. At Inspired Breath we really emphasise how to understand your Character type (another blog) and how to listen to what your body is telling you.
Many Breathwork courses focus on the old ‘acsencion’ model of getting more enlightened and if we just do more and more Breathwork, then things will one day become perfect. This is not the case. It’s better to look at Breathwork as way of sorting out the different compartments of your life, the good, the bad and the ugly. For example, I used to have road rage when I first got a car at age 27. I didn’t have outbursts of rage prior to this (except when as a child). I thought ‘what in the hell is going on’? It was a process of discovery, drilling right down to my birth trauma – which proivded the answer over time.
There is a way to turn down the volume on this – by re-integrating our trauma into day to day life. You can’t make eveything better all at once! It’s a long steady journey to being able to get a handle on all that makes us up. Rather than trying to ‘move toward wholeness’ we could look at the Breathwork journey as a ‘sorting of the myriad colours of my life’ in order to create less chaos. Breathwork courses are best when they take into account the totality of life influences, not just the ‘birth trauma’ or not just ‘attachment theory’ and not just ‘ancestral material’.
There is also room for the soul’s journey in any teaching of Breathwork. That is, what were you put on Earth to do? The circumstances of your life are not only given by what happens to us, but also by the fact that you are incarnated in the first instance. There is an ‘acorn’ in your embryo which will attempt to sink its root down in this world and flourish regardless of all the negative circumstances that may beset you.
So stop trying to ‘work’ everything out with your mind and start understanding your Breathwork journey as just that, an adventure which is not all perfect, not all ‘big bang’, not all ‘I’m going to find the true path’ etc.
Liberate yourself from the tyranny of ‘getting better’. Start instead becoming your own expert archaeologist in the desert sands of time. Look for objects and situations which formed you, intergrate that moment in time, and move onto the next item. It’s an endless process until the day you depart.
About our professional Breathwork training:
Suzanne and Phil at Inspired Breath have designed our 4 part modular training for those wishing to become a professional therapist in Breathwork, or for those professionals who would like to take our 8 day Breathwork Courses as a personal retreat to gain a better understanding of themselves. We teach you the essentials in how to become a great Breathwork Practitioner – grace, healing, empathy, understanding your own shadow, dealing with transference and counter-transference, examining your own birth trauma. We also look at your early years and focus on what did and did not get as a child. And that my friends, is good place to stop. More on ‘parenting styles’ next time!