How Breathwork Literally Changed My Life

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Photo: Courtesy of Robin Benzrihem

I showed up one night to a studio with my yoga mat for a breathwork class. My friend, also a former client, was teaching the class. At this point in my life, I was sober 11 years, and I’d meditated for close to twenty years. I had practiced yoga, completed marathons, and trained for triathlons. I had engaged in kundalini yoga for close to six years and utilized a myriad of psychics, shamans, reiki masters, craniosacral, chiropractic, Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine, and many more healing arts. I’d built a successful consulting company and manifested things in my personal life.

While I have to admit that I did enter that breathwork class with a bit of skepticism – I thought that I had accessed all there was to experience – I was at a pivotal point in my life, which made me more willing, open, and ready to know myself and my path more profoundly and intimately. I was struggling in my marriage, questioning him, myself, and the nature of the relationship. I tried different forms of resolution, from couple workshops and therapy to focusing on myself and even ultimatums. We had circled the same issue with no traction. I felt fed up.

I was equally unfulfilled in a career that I fell into, succeeded in, and managed to create a level of financial security and comfort in. I was conscious of the limiting beliefs and knew that I wanted more, yet it felt so hard to leave. I found myself at this interesting crossroad that I’d experienced other times in my life during adolescence, college, and young adulthood. Everything looked good on the outside, but everything felt ungrounded and untethered on the inside. My experience was good, but I wanted great.

What I’ve discovered is that breathwork pulls at our untethered human thread and unravels the tight weaving of our programming back to its purest form of our soul.

I entered the breathwork class uncertain of what to expect. We laid on the floor. My friend explained the breathing technique and what would happen in the next hour before slowly dimming the lights and starting the music. I heard everyone around me: Deep inhale. Deep inhale. Exhale. It sounded like music and a portal into another world.

I judged myself because I couldn’t catch the rhythm that I heard around me. It felt counter-intuitive to take two breaths in and then exhale. Breathing through my mouth was hard. It took a few songs before I got the hang of it. I felt panic over not having control. I cried. My hands began to cramp. I realized how much I had been gripping onto life with unconscious white knuckles. I saw visions of women from ancient times. I received downloads that I was once these women. They told me it was time. No more filtering. No more chains. No more hiding. It was time, and it was safe.

My friend encouraged us to scream. A primal noise came out of my mouth that I liken to the release and moan when I labored and gave birth to my children. I cried and grieved. I felt fear, excitement, anger, and power. I considered leaving the class but kept going. Twenty-five minutes later, he told us to stop the breathing exercise and we meditated for ten minutes. Then, he turned on the lights and I walked out of the class. I didn’t talk to him. I didn’t speak to anyone in the class. I walked to my car and cried for an hour before I drove home. I knew something had changed forever, but I didn’t know what it was or how to verbalize it. I went home and signed up that night for the first of three layers of breathwork training.

I returned to his class for many weeks. Each time was the same experience. Cramping, tears, frustration, fear, grief, a release, and an opening. Each week, between classes, I changed without doing a thing. I left that stagnant career. My new business unfolded. I returned to writing my heart out. My marriage improved. I trusted that I had the answers. Similar to how a power higher than myself continues to work wonders in my sobriety without me getting over-involved, so does the breath. It reveals more of who I was, who I am, where I am, and what I am supposed to be.

What I’ve discovered is that breathwork pulls at our untethered human thread and unravels the tight weaving of our programming back to its purest form of our soul. To witness myself, and my clients move through this process, is what I had been searching for all along.

Gwen Dittmar is a California-based business, personal, and spiritual coach who helps high-achieving females reclaim their inner and outer freedom. She facilitates Moon Circles, breathwork classes, and private retreats.

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