At Alchemy of Breath, we strongly believe that the breather should listen to their own body and intuition and allow the breath to be the guide. AoB Facilitators seek to empower our breathers to be their own healer’s and trust that the breath will take them exactly where they need to go. We are not there to dictate; we are there to hold space for the miracle of the breath to unfold.
However, having said all that there are a handful of things that we commonly see that may impede the Breathwork process. Below we will share what these things are and provide recommendations to help create the best opportunity for the alchemy of breath to occur.
5 Things to Avoid to Get the Most Out of Breathwork:
1. Having Expectations or Conditions
One of the most common errors that breathers make is showing up with expectations and conditions (as opposed to showing up with unconditionality). Embarking on a Breathwork with expectations interferes with the opportunity to truly expand. And while setting an intention is fine, you should not stick too closely to it or try to force it into existence.
The quality of attention we give if we show up with unconditionality, without need or expectation allows some kind of cosmic code to unfold and be delivered. Unconditional attention means not carrying our normal conditions into that moment. A good analogy for this is a garden – you need to get rid of the weeds in order for the plants to grow. The weeds are your conditions/expectations; by removing the conditions and decontaminating the thought processes you create fertile ground for miracles to occur.
Showing up without condition is much more challenging than we might think because it requires unthinking; however doing so, unlocks the door for your highest healing and awakening. Try to remember that during a Breathwork all you need to do is breathe. You don’t need to direct or lead the journey in your head; simply let go of any resistance or expectations and allow the breath to be the guide.
*For an excellent read on creating fertile ground for miracles and healing, we recommend ‘The Physics of Miracles: Tapping into the Field of Consciousness Potential’ by Richard Bartlett
2. Forcing the Exhale:
We want to use the exhale to symbolically let go – let go of control, resistance and forcefulness and release what no longer serves us. Forcing the exhale creates the opposite effect – fueling resistance and the need to control and direct.
Forcing the exhale is also problematic because Breathwork changes your physiology – it increases the pH and lowers the C02 levels in the body. This is not an issue in and of itself, however forcing the exhale can reduce C02 levels even further, which can intensify a cramping sensation that often happens in Breathwork called tetany, and cause it to become physically painful. The physical pain may then become all that the breather focuses on and greatly detract from the journey.
Try to keep your exhale passive, and imagine it as a gentle letting go. Think of the breath as the cycle of life – with each inhale we claim life, and with each exhale we gently release it.
Also note Tetany is a safe and normal process during Breathwork that should not be resisted and will subside when you come back to a normal breath. On a psycho-spiritual level it is symbolic of holding onto something. So if you experience tetany, breathe into it and inquire into what it may be time for you to let go of (you can find out more about tetany here).
3. Not Breathing Enough or Losing the Breath
During Breathwork you want to get as much oxygen in as possible, this charges the system with awareness and allows the breath to be the guide and the medicine. If you take shallow breaths, breathe very slowly throughout the whole session, and/or leave a gap between the inhale and exhale, it reduces physiological changes that help fuel the journey.
Another problematic tendency is to lose the breath during the journey. This is especially common after the peak when many breathers will switch to extremely slow or shallow breaths, or check-out completely and stop breathing through the mouth all together. While breathing slower is often recommended after the peak, the breath should still be connected and deep and no slower than a normal breathing pace. When you forget to bring the conscious, connected breath with you on the journey all the benefits you just built up gradually dissipate.
In order to maximize your oxygen intake try keeping your mouth wide open, breathing deep belly and chest expanding breaths, and keeping the inhale and exhale relatively equal in length (avoid extending the exhale). Perhaps most importantly, keep the breath connected, with no pause between the inhale and the exhale.
Also remember to bring the breath with you on the ENTIRE journey. It is natural for your breath pace to ebb and flow, but do try to always come back to the breath, and to keep the breaths deep and connected.
4. Breathing Too Rapidly
Although this may sound like it contradicts #3, Breathwork is a journey, and a full session typically lasts for an hour or longer. Breathing too forcefully right off the bat (as opposed to starting off gentler and gradually building towards the peak), is unsustainable for most people. And instead of simply dialing back a bit, many will take an all-or-nothing approach and switch to barely breathing at some point in the session. Unfortunately, this reduces the breather’s ability to tap into and stay connected to a heightened state of consciousness. As for the few breathers who do sustain the rapid pace throughout, it often results in dramatically lower C02 levels and painful tetany which distracts from the journey.
Breathwork should indeed feel like work, especially in the beginning when resistance is common. However Breathwork is all about finding your own personal edge, so if you are someone that approaches everything with a 200% attitude, then perhaps the alchemy for you will be found in a gentler approach. Next time you partake in a session try starting off with a softer, slower breath. You may build the breath towards the peak, but try not to force it and resist the urge to hyperventilate. You may just be surprised by how deep of an inner journey this gentler approach can take you on.
5. Not Allowing Yourself to Fully Feel
In AoB Breathwork we often say ‘It is safe to breathe, it is safe to feel,’ but more than being safe, feeling is encouraged. Allowing yourself to feel all of your sensations and emotions without resistance or judgment, without having to attach a story to them, without labeling them as good or bad, and without holding back, is vital for healing with Breathwork.
When you allow yourself to feel everything, and breathe into any sensation or emotion no matter how heavy or ‘dark’ you can finally release it from your body. And then you can walk away from the Breathwork having let go of something you may have been unknowingly storing in your body for years or even decades.
The more you try to run from your feelings, the more power they will gain, and if you want to find yourself, you need to accept the darkness. So, face emotions and darkness head on. You may feel sad, depressed, scared, angry, hurt, or stuck – whatever it is, just accept it.
Try to feel your emotions as deeply as possible during Breathwork and then tune-into your intuition and listen to what the feelings are trying to tell you. Repetitive negative feelings are almost always a red flag that something in your life (a job, a person, an addiction, a habit, a mindset etc.) is not serving you, and you need to let it go, in order to step fully into your light.
Our first recommendation for maximizing the Breathwork experience was to show up with unconditionality and we’d like to close by returning to this, as it is so important. Something can’t happen until you show up for it, and if you don’t show up it won’t happen. When you come with conditions it blindsides you from what may actually need to be seen, felt, discovered or released. On the other hand when you come unconditionally, you are taking off the blinders and essentially showing up for whatever wants to happen. This unconditionality allows the divinity and wisdom of the universe (your inner wisdom, or whatever higher power you believe in) to do its job.
This unconditionality is also what the Alchemy Meditation is all about. In this meditation we focus on body sensations without expectations or conditions, and simply wait until something pops into awareness. When it does show up, we give it our full focus, attention, and awareness, without trying to analyze or judge it. This unconditional attention allows us to tap into the body archive and the superb wisdom that the body holds; to heighten our sensitivity and awareness, and to cross the portal into pure potential.
We offer free Alchemy Meditations online every week, and we invite you to join us here. We also developed a 10-day Alchemy Meditation course that includes daily lessons and meditations. This course will reconnect you to your Felt Sense, and equip you with invaluable skills to use in your daily life and to understand yourself and the world in a whole new way.
We hope to see you at one of our free live offerings or special events soon!