What To Expect From Body And Breathwork Sessions
It is normal to be curious about what to expect from body and breathwork sessions, particularly because what happens in a session often goes beyond what the mind can comprehend. Clients are often apprehensive about what might happen when they are preparing to come for their session.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING A BODY AND BREATHWORK SESSION?
The work is performed on a massage table onto bare skin, the rest of your body will be covered with sheets. To begin, I place my hand over your heart space, either at the front or the back of your body. We always start working here first to get the energy flowing through the heart space. This can feel like a new and unusual experience.
There are energetic points all over the body, which are found in the muscles, tendons and bones. I put my hands on these points and invite you to bring your breath and attention to that place. Simultaneously I bring my awareness to the area along with pressure and movement, and together we create an energetic connection which allows whatever is being held to come to the surface and be expressed through sound, movement, or even subtle changes in the tissues of the body.
HOW PEOPLE EXPERIENCE BODY AND BREATHWORK SESSIONS
Experiences will vary from person to person, and no two sessions will be the same for any one person. Some sessions are very subtle, and others give rise to big releases of emotion. It is important to remember that both are equally valid.
A key factor in determining how the work might be experienced lies in how the person has coped with their life experiences. For some, the emotions are always close to the surface, so they may already be aware of feeling quite activated by emotions. Here, there may be more of a need to help the person feel the edges of their own bodies so that they are not constantly at the mercy of all that is happening around them.
For others, emotions have had to be supressed to such an extent that it is difficult to connect with them, which can leave a sense of profound emptiness, absence, or numbness. Part of the process is to get to know these feelings and the defences that have been put in place, so that gradually they can release their grip.
Often people are trying to “get rid” of unwanted feelings, but the gesture of trying to push something away only serves to reinforce what is there. For this reason, it is important to work slowly and gradually so that people can learn new ways of being with whatever could not be managed previously.
The breath is fundamental to this work. It is a way of consciously meeting and exploring the true self.
The breathing style I use is to inhale and exhale via the mouth.
Many people are not accustomed to taking full breaths into their bodies, so as we work I will encourage you to come into your body using the breath, to connect your breath with the sensations in your body, and to stay with whatever is happening.
The more you are able to breathe into your body and feel the sensations in that place, the more you can connect with yourself, the energy, and whatever blockages might be there.
The willingness to breathe into your own body and to experience yourself in this way will have an impact upon your ability to show up for yourself in life. Once again, it is important to remember that it can take time to really experience what it feels like to connect with the body via the breath.
If you are considering having your first session and you would like to experience the breathing technique beforehand here’s a little exercise you can do.
IMPORTANT: If you are feeling overwhelmed or flooded with emotions please do not do this on your own.
- Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed
- Choose a comfortable place to sit in where your back will be supported
- Place a hand on your heart space (where your ribs meet on your chest)
- Close your eyes
- Begin to breathe in and out through the mouth, and imagine that you are bringing your breath to meet your hand
- Notice how it feels to do this. Are there physical sensations? Are there emotions present? Do you feel resistance?
- Now, begin to make a sighing noise as you breathe out. What is it like to make this noise? Does it feel good? Do you feel silly? Do you struggle to make a sound?
You can practice this exercise breath by breath, meaning even if you start by just taking a single breath in this way you are making an important connection. As you get more used to doing this you can begin to increase the amount of time you spend practicing the breathing. Some days it might feel easier than others. There is no end goal with this exercise, the purpose is simply to experience yourself and your own body in a new way. You may discover that you have not inhabited your body for a very long time, and this technique can give you a route back to reconnecting with it
You can also try the breathing technique by clicking on the meditation below. Please note that there is nothing you need to “achieve”. Breathwork is a process that evolves through practice.
COMPLETING THE SESSION
At the end of the session I close the work by putting both my hands on your body, usually one on your heart space and one on your head or in the palm of your hand, which has the effect of letting your body know that the work is complete and allowing your system to settle. I may hold your back, arms, legs and feet, depending on what is needed.
After that the body can begin to process the work that has been done, and this may continue for days, weeks or months afterwards. Over time, new ways of being install themselves into daily life, the inner emotional container has expanded, along with our capacity to meet life in new ways.
WHAT CAN HAPPEN WHEN WORKING WITH THE BODY AND THE BREATH?
The magic of this work happens through the connection to the energetic points, and all sorts of sensations and emotions might arise. It is not uncommon for old memories to appear, particularly when some aspect of that memory is emotionally incomplete, i.e. the feelings you were experiencing at the time could not be expressed or met as you would have wished. These often stem from early childhood and traumatic events you have experienced.
Particular behavioural patterns may become apparent. As an example, clients sometimes discover that they are so focused on what is happening in the world around them that they are not often in contact with their own inner worlds. These realisations are much more powerful when experienced through the body and can lead to subsequent shifts in behaviour.
You may also meet generational patterns: emotional dynamics that began long before you may be derived from the suffering of previous generations. Children’s lives and psyches are inevitably affected by the dynamics of their parent’s experiences, and whatever cannot be processed by the parents passes down the generational line.
When the original trauma is beyond your origins, the energy is unconscious and it plays out silently in the fabric of your life affecting you in ways you do not know and cannot work with until it can be met. You may never consciously know or understand what you are processing, but the importance lies in allowing the emotions to rise and feeling them.
The story is always secondary to the emotion where this work is concerned. This is where transformation occurs and new possibilities open up, and where the way you behave is no longer being driven by the unfinished energy of events that happened before your time.
If you are interested to explore this theme more deeply you might want to have a look at the work of Thomas Hubl who articulates this concept beautifully. He says,
“when energy is complete, there is peace, there is stillness, there is presence, there is space.“
This is very much the gesture that we are working with: completing the energy to bring stillness, presence and space, as well as revealing your true nature that has always been intact, but perhaps buried within the incomplete energy.
WHAT EMOTIONS MIGHT ARISE?
The full range emotions can be experienced ranging from fear, sadness, grief, despair and anger, through to love, connection, joy and bliss. No two sessions are the same, and many different emotions might be experienced within a session. Watch this video to explore this question further.
Can We Predict What Will Happen During A Session?
It is common to experience resistance to feeling what is happening, and old defences may rise up as an attempt at protection. As the saying goes, the mind is an excellent servant but a terrible master, and the more accustomed it has been to the role of master the more unwilling it is to relinquish its power to the wisdom of the heart, particularly when it is frightened and under threat from something it cannot understand.
Often people retreat to their minds and start thinking about other things. Thinking and keeping mentally occupied (or distracted) may also have been go-to strategies for surviving difficult circumstances.
My role is to notice when you retreat to your mind, and to encourage you to shift your focus back to the breath and your body. When the mind is used to pulling someone away from their emotions it creates a short-circuit, stopping the emotions from being released and keeping people stuck. It can take time to gradually become aware of how this happens and to feel safe enough to sink into the experience of the bodily sensations.
Numbness or emptiness in the heart is a common experience. It represents one of the ways in which people have defended themselves when encountering emotionally difficult or traumatic situations that they were powerless to escape from. Numbness is usually the top layer that protects other emotions that may have been lying dormant for many years. Once again, the willingness to meet the numbness with the breath holds the key to inviting new possibilities and change.
HOW CAN LIFE CHANGE?
Changes will vary as you work through the different layers of emotion that are held in your body, and everyone has their own individual experience of the work. However, here are some of the experiences that are possible:
- Greater clarity about who you are and what you want from life
- Willingness to speak your truth and be seen
- Feeling lighter and more connected with yourself and your environment
- Putting yourself in the centre of your life and having a clearer sense of your boundaries
- A greater capacity to recognise and meet your own needs
- Old patterns fall away
Watch this video: Amanae: becoming unapologetically me
Change is not easy. It can be painful at times, and this work will not lead to “happy ever after”. You will still encounter troubles in your life, but your capacity to handle them will likely change.
To discover how fear, courage and freedom are handled in my work watch this video
To explore pain and change further further watch this video
HOW I WORK
I generally work slowly and gently with clients. I often spend full sessions working on the heart points, giving people a chance to really get familiar with the sensations they are holding there. Some clients need a lot of dialogue to help them come into their bodies and feel what’s there, while others are more comfortable to say very little and to simply work with the emotions and sensations.
Click here to learn from one of my clients about their experiences of body and breathwork.
For people who are not yet sure whether they would like to do a body and breathwork session I also offer breathwork massage, a more gentle way to explore working with the breath.
Please note that your experience will always be unique. It is important to come to a session with curiosity, as fixed expectations can often be barrier to what needs to be experienced.
WATCH THESE VIDEOS TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE TECHNIQUE I USE
The main technique I use is called Amanae. I sometimes combine this with massage and holding techniques, depending on what is needed. Learn more about Amanae here.
In simple terms: What is Amanae Breath and Bodywork?
What is Amanae? A Deeper Exploration
HOW YOU CAN WORK WITH ME
I offer individual sessions of 60 and 90 minutes at Clinic 124 in Whitstable, Kent. These can be purchased as single sessions, or you can buy a block of sessions, which gives a more favourable rate and also includes a 30 minute check-in so we can discuss your experiences and assess what you might need next. You can find more about this on the Services page.
TRY BODY AND BREATHWORK
If you would like to explore this work further, book a session, sign up for a discovery call or contact me directly.
Photo Credit: www.melissaviviersphotography.com