Ecstasy. bliss. Epiphany. Such conditions are often associated with drug use. But what if you could achieve a moment of true liberation in a healthy and safe way?
On a borrowed yoga mat from the clubhouse at my local 1970s pitch and putt club, I entered this realm of high spirits in a breathwork class.
Lying next to my curious yoga teacher stepmother and about 20 other men and women, my inner journey began to the loud rhythm of drum music and the scent of incense.
At the end of the hour-long class, I felt like I had gained a new perspective. The consciousness that normally surges through an unstoppable chain of domestic questions—what-is-there-to-eat-is-it-time-to-get-the-kids-when-is-dads-birthday—switches away. Instead came the slow whisper of my soul.
The beats of the music danced on my collarbone. I rode a wave of joy, grinning cheek to cheek, oblivious to everyone around me. i felt the music
I remembered who I really was by the nickname Mammy. When class ended, I didn’t want to open my eyes. And this exhilaration stayed with me for days.
Holotropic breathing promotes a continuous inhalation and exhalation pattern with no pauses in between, flooding the body with oxygen. Some claim that holotropic breathwork, developed in the 1970s, can stimulate a psychedelic experience that promotes greater awareness of your emotional state.
I have never taken LSD and have no intention of doing so. With the increasing number of studies exploring the possibility (yet unproven) that psychedelics could provide mental health benefits, I was intrigued to try something safe and legal.
So what can you expect from a breathwork class? Focusing on deep abdominal breathing can calm the nervous system and take us from a state of “fight or flight” stress to a “rest and digest” phase. This aspect is something that most of us are already familiar with.
The 4-7-8 technique adds counting beats on the exhale and inhale; You breathe in for four beats, hold your breath for seven beats before counting to eight and exhaling.
A longer exhalation encourages us to completely empty our lungs. With alternate nostril breathing, one nostril is kept closed while breathing through the other.
The “fire breath” uses activated core muscles to push the exhalation outward. This is to give a feeling of stability. Working with an experienced instructor is essential to mastering some of the more challenging techniques and avoiding side effects such as hyperventilation, tingling in hands and feet, irregular heartbeat, ringing in the ears or blurred vision. Daryl Noonan from Wolf Academy guided me through my breathwork. But my journey with breathwork started a year ago.
Along with meditation, cold water therapy, diet, exercise, and stress relief, it was one of the tools I used to free myself from the clutches of panic.
Now the fear doesn’t touch me. I can face life’s challenges without sinking down the shaft of despair. I notice the beauty of my toddler’s blonde locks or the warmth of a fresh cup of coffee. I remember being thankful for the blessings in my life and the other hearts in my home.
From this stable platform, I discovered the joy that breathwork can bring. A high that outperforms a post-run endorphin hit. I was as happy as I had been many years ago only after childbirth or in the basement of a disco in Temple Bar. Chasing the state of euphoria is what the illicit drug trade relies on.
A growing number of studies show that breathing techniques are effective against stress, anxiety and insomnia. This power has been recognized in Chinese and Indian traditions for millennia. Promising research suggests that breathing work can alkalize your blood pH, reduce inflammation, and lift your mood.
So how could breathwork help us? Many people experience “panger”, post-pandemic anger, after two years of stress. Just as Covid has stolen our freedom, the increased cost of living is limiting our choices. These worries and stress affect our bodies. A racing heart, impending disaster, sweaty palms – these signals of panic and fear are familiar to many.
If we look to the government, an employer or anyone else to fix everything, we become victims. Dealing with our inner reactions to outer circumstances is an art.
The anger, fear, and sadness we experience are emotions that need to be felt in order to be released. Sometimes we need to taste the saltiness of our own tears.
The prevalence of stress, depression and anxiety in our society shows that our lifestyle is at odds with our natural state of being. We all carry childhood trauma or significant unfortunate events that can happen.
The process of breathwork can bring these memories to the surface for us to process. For me, unresolved issues bubbled to the surface as I began the breathwork. Those early sessions ended with tears streaming down my face.
With the help of a counselor, I realized that my workaholic tendencies, which had partially caused my anxiety, were ultimately due to my lack of self-worth. I mistakenly believed that if I didn’t succeed, I didn’t deserve the love or respect of others. This realization was a turning point.
The resolution of trauma is a trending topic. Non-fiction books dealing with it are at the top of our bestseller charts, such as that by Bessel van der Kolk The body holds The score or Vex Kings Healing is the new high.
Breathwork advocates include Selena Gomez, Gwyneth Paltrow and Gisele Bundchen, but the practice has reached new audiences during the pandemic through Dutch motivational speaker Wim Hof.
But Frank Sinatra also practiced special breathing techniques that enabled him to sing smoothly. Ol’ Blue Eyes adored the lungs’ ability to reset our emotional states: “Take a deep breath, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start over.”
As the challenges we face this fall take on a new form, finding a way to listen to our own inner guide could lead us to peace.
https://www.independent.ie/life/health-wellbeing/you-dont-need-drugs-for-ecstasy-release-and-feelings-of-true-bliss-41941854.html You don’t need drugs for ecstasy, release, and true happiness