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Watch: Introduction to breath as medicine
October 26, 2022
3 min read
Shared during one of Robin's live monthly breathwork journeys on Nectara. You can hear the nine minute recording above or read the transcription below.
Creating more peace in our life experience
I want to talk about the power of breath - and maybe some of the powers of breath that are easily overlooked, especially in the west because of our addiction to peak experience. What really fascinates me and attracts me is creating more peace in our experience, whether it's in a plant medicine ceremony or in our daily life.
I've found that as we regulate the breath in a very gentle and relaxed way, it gives space for spirit to move a little bit more freely because we're not so much in the way with our own agenda. It's really powerful to have an intention, but once we're in the ceremony, we let go of our intention and we receive everything that's arising in each and every breath.
The greatest advice that I can give you is to allow for the thoughts and the information that come in to be like clouds in the sky and return your attention to what you're feeling now.
Getting out of the way of our own medicine
The mind wants to intellectualize and process the information that's coming in; because we're raising the vibrational frequency and the voltage in the body with the breath, we start to purge the information that we've gathered. We start to clear the subconscious mind. So the breath is a very clear bridge between the voluntary and the involuntary. It's actually the only function that we have, that's both voluntary and involuntary. So it's a bridge between the conscious and the subconscious.
As we activate these higher brain centers with a full respiratory breath, we do get into an altered state. It can be very psychedelic to breathe in this way. As we've experienced with any other really good plant teachers, there's a clearing of intellectual processing - the information of the thinking mind.
The beauty of the breath is that it's actually calling for our participation, our contribution to each in-breath. Or else we can just fall away in the dream state and we can follow the pathways of the information that come in, and it's more of a daydream than it is a visceral activation and relaxation.
Essentially we're creating unity and balance between the male and the female, the in-breath and the out-breath.I like to think of the out-breath as the feminine, because it's that quality of completely letting go - like the water knows how to do - that creates the relaxation response in our experience that regulates our nervous system.
Bringing more ease into our life
A demographic that we see a lot of in people coming to breathwork is those of us that are more Type-A. We wanna create a peak experience really fast. We get too much moving too soon, and then we get all caught up in our heads.
What I'd like to see is for you guys to learn how to self-regulate and create a really peaceful rhythm in your breath pattern. That quality of the rhythm is the most important factor that determines the medicine of the experience. Then you give space for spirit to come in.
How dynamic that gets and how much capacity starts to come in will continue to fluctuate and change - along with the breath pattern - but essentially if you're able to notice and train yourself how to relax in a stressful situation, that may be the greatest quality for children and grandmothers and everyone in between - the ability to rest and digest what we're moving through.
We all know that we're in a tumultuous time of change and transformation, and it's a very personally unique thing to speak of change and transformation, but we're also very much collectively moving through a birthing process.
A bit of breathwork history
The foundation of this work came from Babaji. And Babaji gave its transmission to Leonard Orr. He was the first westerner to receive this and he created Rebirthing. So the initial intention behind conscious connected breathing was to clear and integrate our birth trauma, but very quickly, other advanced practitioners started to learn that we can create an altered state of consciousness. That's where Stanislav Grof came in with holotropic work. He was exploring with LSD and the holotropic state with plant medicines - and then he realized he could do that with breath.
This whole psychedelic approach to breathwork is 50 years old now.
The power of breathwork as a psychedelic wellness modality
What I see a lot of in the west is that people want to create that peak experience really quickly, and maybe that's why we're drawn to really powerful plant medicines because they just give us a kick in the ass and push us there. But the breath can take us there. In fact, I've gotten way more from the breath than I have from any other plant teachers.
I've been quite, exploratory, I'll just say when it comes to plant medicines - and yet anyone that's had a long path with plant medicines comes to breathwork eventually.
There's this aha - it's a full body, "Aha - I am the medicine and I can activate this quality of a heightened state of awareness with my senses on any given day. I don't have to go on a pilgrimage to the jungle. I am the shaman. I am the doctor. I am the healer." Our breath may be our greatest guide.
Because it's so unconscious for us to breathe, it's very easy to get unconscious, even while you're breathing. Do you get that? So as we get into our breath and we get really activated - we're in the journey, and it might be a little bit psychedelic, you're in an altered state, you have a lot of energy moving - it can be very unconscious.
The way that our patterns start to emerge, the way that our resistance starts to show up and where we really meet transformation.
Working with deep abiding acceptance
What I've seen is when we're able to correct the ways that we're controlling or resisting or forcing. We can train ourselves, not to manipulate the breath, but to keep engaging with the breath and relaxing the breath. When we relax the breath, we not only create this relaxation response in the nervous system, it reminds us how easy it is to receive. Because the more easily we relax, the easier we make it to receive. So we don't have to work hard on the, in breath as well.
But a lot of people come to it and they want to do the practice right and so they're using their back muscles and they're using their chest muscles and their making all sorts of things happen with the breath, but it doesn't have to be that big.
We don't have to create a huge extravagant altar to have a ceremony. We're always working with the elements and the elements live within us.
And so know that you are working with the fire when you're working with the life force. The body is the earth. Your circulation of course, is the water and your breath is the air. So this alchemy is happening in each and every breath. The balance of that and how it shows up and moves in your blood chemistry and in the pattern of your nervous system is precisely regulated by the quality of your breathing pattern. A lot of breath workers, surprisingly enough, are overlooking the fundamentals of how we're breathing.
Want to learn more about breathwork and psychedelics? Here's a primer on Youtube, shared by Robin.
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