Breath is fundamental to life, but we can also use mindful breathing as a powerful technique for clearing trauma from our bodies. This post from UpLift showcases how to heal ourselves with a practice of active breathing.
There were ten of us in a circle, heads toward each other, the scent of sage swirling in ethereal forms above my body.
This is the first time. I’m in a geodesic dome (a partial spherical structure based on a network of great circles) in the backyard of a vintage store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn aptly named Narnia. I close my eyes gently, and follow directions.
Guided by a presence, a voice, that seems omniscient in the moment, I breathe all of the things I dare not speak about into a visceral hurricane at the base of my being.
The echoes of my belly, the hollows and molecules of my sacral space, become flooded with feeling. I feel deeply all of the unsaid words and best-left-lost experiences rising with the flow of inhale, inhale, exhale. Sacral, heart, exhale.
Moving the mass in harmony with breath. A dance between fear and surrender, a simple act taking over all action and leaving me with a simple, tingling, letting go.
The Power of Breathing Consciously
Inhale, belly. Inhale, heart. Exhale, breath. Linking ancient emotion with physical intention like gentle surgery on all of the deep wounds I’d left wide open. This space in the lower abdomen, energetically, is the harbor for our insecure thoughts and old traumas to swim in circles, sometimes for decades. In a familiar cacophony, what we resist persists, and it rises when we speak to it.
Pranayama is the magic of conjuring – states of being, deep releasing, the necessary melting-into consciousness that we so deeply crave when we notice we’re feeling alone.
It is the allowing of the very essence of life force to flow in a very conscious way – rather than many instances where, without knowing it, perhaps, we allow for the magic to simply carry us. Much like the heart beating, effortlessly, the filling of the lungs transpires all on its own.
Daily, moment to moment, the body is breathing itself. We need not do anything, but with conscious use, we are capable of many things. In an alchemical way, we can turn our dark matter into breath, to flow with breath, to release with breath.
On the conscious exhale, the willingness to sit with the rising up, we become capable of the letting go of weights. We held them so strongly that we had no idea just how heavy we were, until we’re floating.
Learning to Heal Ourselves
On that first dedicated occasion, in the backyard of Narnia, with the sage and many tears, I found a freedom I could taste. I vibrated. I lost the assuredness I love to cling to about where my body ends and the Universe begins. My limits disappeared so that I could truly see the edges of my body as nothing more than an outline drawn in cosmic chalk.
What I carry is also carried by you. What you carry, I also carry.
Nine other beating hearts and breathing bellies laying with me in a geodesic dome, breathing away their old stories to be fed to the ether – the perfect handing-over, that eternal lesson, to just let go. Amidst proclamations of personal power, howling sadness, warrior cries and quiet wisdom – the collective expression was simply that this excavation must transpire.
The great, deep dive into our golden bodily vessels to see that the tools we most need are within us is an act of truth. There is a monumental power in a function we so often take for granted. There is the focused discipline of carrying breathwork as a daily practice, and then there is the unexplainable and tremendous quality of mindful inhale and open exhale that embodies all we may truly need to start to heal ourselves. This is important.
The answers are not beyond, but within. And our collections of dark matter are different, but not separate.
Breathwork for Clearing Trauma Energy from the Body
Create a safe sanctuary by first clearing whatever space you will use with a sage smudge, lighting candles, putting on light music, and gathering blankets and pillows for your comfort.
Laying comfortably on the ground or in your bed, supported and warm, relax into your body.
Begin with natural breath, at which point you may feel into where your hands want to be – perhaps next to your body with palms facing up, perhaps one hand on your belly and one on your heart.
Begin by inhaling deeply into your belly, then a secondary deep inhale through your heart. This should feel like you are flooding these areas with oxygen. Bring your awareness to any thoughts or feelings that come up, noting them, inviting them to flow freely.
Exhale out of your mouth, bringing awareness to trusting in love and guidance.
Breathe. Relax. Feel.
Moving in this way – belly, heart, mouth – repeat for up to 30 minutes of active breathing, maximum, followed by 15 of regular, relaxed breathing.
Be mindful to stop if you truly feel uncomfortable, slow down when necessary, and tune in to your body. Allow yourself to cry. Scream. Vocalize however you need to. If messages – sentences, affirmations, mantras – come up for you, repeat them silently out loud as feels appropriate.
When you feel that you are finished, stay in a resting Savasana position and return to natural breath. You may feel tingling, tightness in your hands, or a sense of mild physical exhaustion. These are all temporary and are signs that you have really moved some things around.
Afterward, you may have heightened sensitivity, so it’s best to avoid substances and loud noise/bright light. Treat yourself with great reverence to keep the energy flowing, and pay attention to what appears in your dreams after this practice.