How to avoid feeling totally overwhelmed during a Breathwork Session

Answer? Take a Zen approach to feelings in Breathwork

Often when we begin to work with the breath, energies which have been held in the body will start to be mobilized. Feelings that have been held in the body will start to come up. All sorts of feelings – the whole range of feelings. From absolutely extraordinary over the top laughter to absolutely profound depths of sadness and everything in between – delight, rage, desire, ecstasy, anger, resentment, jealousy – the whole lot.

And they’re just moving through you. The deeper they are in the matrix of your energetic system, the deeper you will experience them as real. You will experience them as real because you will be looking out at the world and everyone else through the filter of those things. Just imagine having a slide of an ocean, then superimposing another slide of an ocean liner. So when you are looking at it you see the ocean liner on the ocean. We know that neither of those are ultimately real, but when you are seeing that and you don’t know you will believe what it is, and no-one will be able to convince you that it isn’t. This is because it is the contents of your own nervous system that is giving you the experience.

Zen approach to feelings in Breathwork

There was once a Zen student who was involved in the process of watchfulness. During that time very, very deep feelings of anger and resentment were moving through him. And so he went to his master. It was a woman who said – just keep watching. And he got through that and sometime later he got to the stage where he was starting to burn up karma. His whole body was being consumed by flames. When he was having internal visions being consumed by what seemed like these fires of hell. Again he went to the master and said ‘what’s happening, I am very distressed’, and she said ‘just keep watching.’ And he got through that and sometime later the Goddesses and Dakinis came and visited and they were dancing dances of great Tantric delight, and they came into his nervous system and filling him with ecstatic visions and movements and glorious yummy things, internal experiences. And he had a big smile on his face. And the master came along with a stick and hit him and said ‘ just keep watching.’

The work with the breath will teach you a lot about process, you will be working with each other in that. You will sit with each other, you will learn a lot by watching what people go through. In a Breathowrk Training, you may see students moving between ecstasy and hell, between birth and death, between this dimension and the tenth dimension, between the first chakra and the twelfth, spread everywhere. And you will see some things that you have never seen before, and you will hear some things that you have never heard before and you will experience some things that you have never experienced before. So the breath is powerful, intense, it is confronting, its joyful, its ecstatic, its delightful it is all of those things. If we just work with the breath alone, amazing things would happen. But it is possible to move even faster than just using the breath.

Breathwork and the Unconscious

What will happen is that sometimes you will hit holdings and limitations. Some of those will be in the body. We will be doing movement work with the body; we will be doing active meditations to free up stuck emotions out of your body. We will be doing psycho physical work, directed movement, re-patterning, releasing things previously hidden in the body, bringing them into awareness. Sometimes they will come out as feelings, sometimes as pain; sometimes they will come out as symptoms.

Sometimes the holding will be below the level of awareness; in those areas you call the unconscious. It won’t manifest as a body system, it will just be there as a thought that you are not aware of. You will just presume that the nature of reality is structured in a certain way, and you won’t have ever had the chance to really examine all of those tiny interlocking belief systems about the nature of reality.

If you keep awareness with your breath (the Zen approach to feelings in Breathwork) they will move much more easily through you. If you are upright and watching you will start to get that distance between that feeling and you and your experience.

If someone is going through some feeling process or karma that is also part of your pattern, you will start to feel what they are feeling; you will start to resonate with them. That’s great, because it helps it all to move. But don’t get stuck in feeling for the other person. You feel what is happening for you not feel what is happening for them – so don’t get caught into sympathy, don’t get caught into judgement for these will take you away from awareness from your own process and what is moving through your own nervous system.

Note: This was first published by Deva Daricha in the early 2000’s. Just re-reading this makes me realise what a great foundation I had in my own Breathwork training way back in 2005 at the Centre for Human Transformation! To read some more about the health benefits of Breathwork check this out To check out more about our upcoiming Breathowrk Training in NSW on August 13th – 22nd, go to