What to Bring:
Comforter or mat to lie on
Blanket or comforter as covering (please don’t bring a sleeping bag, they are too confining)
Glasses (you won't want to wear contact lenses)
Please refrain from wearing fragranced perfumes, cosmetics, hairsprays
What to Know:
Tetany - About 40% of new breathers will experience tetany, which can range from a tingly or numb sensation to spasms and cramps. It seems to be an indication of blocked energy or armoring. The most important thing to know about tetany is that it is not dangerous and that it always passes. If you have this experience, relax into it the best you can. You might also ask yourself, “How does this energy want to express itself?” or “What am I holding onto right now or in my life?” Often, finding a way to let go of the physical holding provides an insight into a valuable letting go that can be applied to life circumstances. If you are blowing or forcing the exhale, letting it come out naturally will reduce the tetany. If you feel stuck and want help in handling the tetany, have your sitter call one of us over.
First we meet in a circle to check in, answer questions, etc.
Then everyone is paired up. One person will breathe first and the other will “sit” first. The sitter will give support to the breather during his session. Breathing sessions are from 45 minutes to 3 hours depending on the workshop format.
Then you will switch so the other person can breathe.
At the end, we get back together in a circle to talk.
The Role of the Sitter and the Breather - Sitting and breathing allow the exploration of the roles of giving and receiving respectively. If you have issues with these roles, they will emerge during the workshop. If you have difficulty giving, you will feel bored as a sitter and want to read or otherwise distract yourself. If you have difficulty receiving, you will want to take care of your sitter while you breathe, wondering if you are demanding too much or not providing enough entertainment. Notice what comes up around these roles and see if you can get something that you can apply in day-to-day life.
Before your breathing session, make a “contract” with your sitter. Tell her if you want to be reminded to breathe if it looks like you stopped the process, and specify if you’d like a hand on your chest, a tap on the shoulder, or a whisper in your ear to ”breathe.” You may set up hand signals for practical needs like tissues, your water bottle, an extra blanket, etc. Spell out any boundaries around touch that you would like.
As the sitter, while your partner is breathing you will sit to his side observing, ready to offer any assistance. You will have the difficult task of treading that fine line between giving too little and too much. You want to assist the breather in any way you can, but you don’t want to interrupt his experience! Use this process as an opportunity to focus within, maintain connection with another, and develop your intuition. When in doubt, it is better to do less, or call a facilitator over.
If the breather asks you for something, provide it within the limits of your own comfort and boundaries; it is important that you take care of yourself in this regard. In addition to verbal requests, you may be aware of unasked needs of your partner. Are they obviously cold? Is the blanket they are lying on lumpy and distorting their back? Put a tissue into their hand if he begins to cry, and have their water bottle handy. Be sure their glasses are safe. If a neighbor is getting very active, create a barrier with pillows and/or your body to keep your partner safe.
Make sure the breather continues to breathe. Notice if they are keeping the breath continuous and uninterrupted, especially during the beginning. It is very common for the breather to take long pauses between breaths or to stop breathing altogether. If they do this, respond according to your contract. This may have to be repeated many times depending on the breather. When difficult emotions come up the breather may subconsciously attempt to avoid them by engaging in idle conversation or some other distraction to short circuit the intensity of the experience. If something happens that you are unsure about or need help with, call one of us over.
As the Breather, your job is to breathe! If you can, also begin to notice, to scan, your body. Notice physical sensations as well as emotions that may manifest in physical form in your body. For example, the emotional component of neck stiffness may be anger or frustration, tightness in the chest may have sadness underneath, or nausea may be covering terror.
Since your sitter will be trying to avoid interrupting your session, you will need to be brave and go ahead and ask for what you need. This is your time to be King or Queen for the hour. It is up to your sitter and facilitators to say “no” to any requests that would be inappropriate for us to honor. But there is never any shame in asking.
Ground Rules and Safety - Experiencing sexual or aggressive energy can be valuable and healing, but it must be done in a way that doesn’t violate the other participants. If you want to express anger and aggression, feel free to call one of us over, and we can help you find safe ways to do that. Yelling, cursing, and making noises is permitted in all cases. Chatting tends to pull people back into their conscious minds, disrupting their process, so please be aware of your surroundings if you want to talk.
We will do our best to allow any expression you want to enact. If we stop you, it is because we believe that there is a danger to you, us, another participant, or the facility.
If at any time we are working with you physically and it feels wrong, or you want us to stop, say “STOP” or “STOP, I MEAN IT.” If you say something like “No! No! or Go away!” we will likely assume you are speaking to someone in your internal vision or memory.
It is your responsibility to report any medical conditions to us, and relevant ones to your sitter.
Follow up – Your experience is immediate. This isn’t a yoga breathing technique to take home and practice so that you will see some results in ten years - it’s now! In fact, most people find that one session brings up material that might take cognitive therapy a year to uncover. Many people use Breathwork to uncover material, which they then take back to their therapist for integration. If you don’t see a therapist, you might find doing Breathwork with a friend and using each other for support/integrative help works well. If you prefer, you can make a private appointment with Jane for integration as well. Most of us find that each session brings up another issue or memory. Each session tends to bring us deeper. Once per month seems to be a good pace, unless you want to do very intensive inner work. It is extremely rare to find a person who does not have a deep and beautiful experience during Breathwork. Though from the outside it appears intense, if you ask the person after the session they are invariably surprised to learn about themselves, they feel light and enthusiastic, and are usually blissed out!
If you currently see a psychotherapist, and you would like Jane or Julia to communicate with your therapist after the session, ask your therapist for a two way release and fax it to Jane at 609 818-9206. Let us know that you are doing this.
After your session it is recommended that you refrain from making any major life decision for a few days. Drink plenty of water and be kind to yourself with rest and even a soothing bath.
If anything comes up after your session and you feel you need support, please call Jane 609-598-2182 or Julia at 609-933-0877.
Gentle Reminders - It isn’t recommended to practice fast and full breathing at home by yourself, until you have done at least 10 sessions with a facilitator AND have experienced going through anger, fear, and sadness and feel you will know what to do by yourself.
It is highly recommended to practice circular breathing though. Setting aside just 5-10 minutes daily, maybe at night before bed, or just upon rising, to just breathe fully, can make a huge difference in your life. Try practicing while driving. After some time your unconscious breathing patterns will become more full and smooth too. Keeping a tiny bit of attention on the breath at all times during the day is an excellent spiritual practice.
Research – To read about research studies done on Breathwork, visit www.grof-holotropic-breathwork.net/page/research-on-holotropic . This site is for a particular modality of Breathwork called Holotropic, which is similar to what we do.
That which is not breathed by the breath,
but that by which the breath breathes:
know that to be God, not what people here adore.