Explaining what it's like to facilitate Breathwork is almost as hard as explaining what Breathwork itself is like – you can only truly understand once you’ve done it. But for those of you who are considering becoming a facilitator or who are curious what it's like to hold space for such deep and transformative experiences I’m going to try my best to share about this incredible calling below.
First a bit about me. I graduated as a Breathwork facilitator from AoB a year and a half ago. Since then, serendipitous events have continuously occured allowing me to offer this special gift to the world, even throughout the pandemic. Every time I get to facilitate I am so grateful to AoB for their comprehensive training program which left me feeling prepared for anything that comes my way, and to the Universe for leading me to this beautiful calling.
Preparing Myself, the Space, and the Breathers
I usually start to prepare a couple hours before a Breathwork session by creating the playlist and then readying myself by doing Anthony's 20 minute guided Breathwork recording
and some yoga if I have time. Then I’ll begin to prepare the space while listening to ethereal music to maintain the meditative headspace. I’ll lay out the mats in a circle and set up an area in the center for kleenex, flowers, offerings etc. I sage the space and mentally clear out any old or stagnant energy and set an intention for the session.
Before beginning the frame (Breathwork explanation and introduction) I have everyone share their names, whether they've done Breathwork before, and their intention for the practice. It's always fun to watch how everyone is strangers at this point, then to see how deeply connected and unguarded everyone has become in the sharing circle after the Breathwork!
After the introductions I go into the frame, ask if the breather’s have any final questions and get them to lie down, heads facing inwards. I start the music, have them stretch and massage their jaws, make any final adjustments to get comfortable, close their eyes and begin to breathe through their mouths.
Now the Alchemy Begins
I begin breathing with them, nice and loud so they can be guided by my breath, and in this moment my ego, doubts, and insecurities dissolve, time ceases to exist, and I step into pure presence.
I keep an eye on everyone throughout the Breathwork and use my felt sense
(body intuition) to guide me to who would most benefit from touch and where. If I notice someone isn't breathing very deeply or keeping the breath connected I may breathe in their ear, or gently place a hand on their belly and chest to encourage inflation. If someone is breathing to excess, I may whisper in their ear something to help them let go of the need to push and to surrender to what wants to come through.
Crying is extremely common in Breathwork as most of us have avoided feeling all our feelings and suppressed many tears throughout our lives. I am very grateful that AoB taught the importance of not taking on others emotions and how to hold space without feeling the pain and grief that is so often released. When someone goes into an uncontrollable crying spell I use gentle touch as support, and may remind them to unite the emotion with the breath, or to feel and breathe at the same time.
Separation Dissolves and the Breathers Become One
It is so beautiful to bear witness to group Breathwork journeys as the breath dissolves our artificial man-made sense of separation and unifies us as one single consciousness. The energy is so deeply shared when people breathe in unison that breathers often unknowingly mimic each other. In more than one session I have had the breathers all start dancing with their arms and hands. This is not a cue I give, and they had no way of knowing the breathers around them were doing the same because their eyes were closed.
Emotions are often shared as well. As soon as one person starts to cry, many around them do. And if someone laughs, the laughs can catch around the circle like wildfire – instantly transforming tears into giggles.
Nothing is surprising in Breathwork – screaming, shaking, singing, groaning, moaning and random body contortions are all par for the course. My job is to make the breather’s feel safe and held and encourage them to surrender to whatever wants to arise, with cues such as ‘everything is welcome here’ or ‘it’s safe to breathe, it’s safe to feel’.
I rely on my felt sense heavily, which was cultivated during the AoB training. Connecting to my felt sense allows me to feel into what wants to be revealed to the breathers. I don't think, I just speak from the heart and body. Common themes often manifest as most of our struggles are shared universally as they are a part of the human condition.
As we near the end of the Breathwork I stop the music and guide the breathers through a quick visualization to help integrate whatever predominant experiences seemed to occur and then I play two songs for them to come back to and to journal about their experience. And then I invite the breathers into a circle for sharing.
The Sharing Circles Are Deep and Enlightening
The vulnerability and the wisdoms that come through the sharing circles are remarkable. Everyone learns from each other's shares, including myself. I often get full body goosebumps during these circles when I hear about the life changing insights, healings and transformations that occurred and bear witness to the breather’s incredible gratitude for the Breathwork.
Why Facilitating is So Fulfilling
I couldn't imagine a more fulfilling, interesting and gratifying occupation and can't believe I get paid to do this. The thing that immediately drew me to Breathwork is that it works! I used to offer hypnotherapy and nutritional healing, but I found they were contingent on the client and didn't work for everyone. But the breath works for everyone, every time, all you have to do is get people to breathe and the breath does the rest. And the effects are powerful – many breathers report their one session was more valuable than years of talk therapy.
I also love that the biggest skeptics almost always end up becoming the biggest supporters. I have had highly skeptical war veterans who were dragged there by their loved ones, and they were so touched by the healing power of the breath that they ended up becoming breath ambassadors and telling all their fellow veterans about it.
Facilitating keeps me accountable as well, so that I don't get lazy with continuing my own breath practice and inner journey – for as long as we are alive there is more work to be done. Also, unlike some healing vocations I do not feel drained after holding space, just the opposite, I feel full of energy, heart wide open, and joyous; and any stressors that may have been weighing on me are placed back into perspective, as I remember all that matters is love!
I loved the training and I love each and every breath session I facilitate. They are all unique, never boring and I've never felt ill prepared for any crazy thing that has come my way, or nervous to take on a new challenge. I just got asked to hold a session for the president of a major tech company and his associates and I feel totally confident to take this into a corporate setting thanks to AoB and it's extensive and thorough training program.
I'd also like to share with you that prior to training with AoB I was scared to speak to groups of 3 or more people. I remember during my course practicums shaking with nerves while delivering the frame to small groups of friends. Now I can confidently speak to and hold space for groups of strangers of any size.
So if you think you are too shy, too introverted, too self-conscious or too anything – don't, AoB’s inner journey will allow you to overcome any obstacles that may be standing in the way of your greatness. You are perfect, you are here for a reason, and if you're feeling the call, that reason just may be to uplift the world with Breathwork!