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New Year, Same Me - The Path to Self-Acceptance
"Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are."
― Marilyn Monroe
January is the time we often make promises to ourselves about how this year will be different. That we're going to change and break old habits and become a new, better, more fabulous version of ourselves.
What if this year we decide, yes, we're going to do things differently. And accept our-self as the fantastic human we are: Flaws and all.
What if we accept our self as a person who knows from experiencing a pandemic, that "I can do hard things. I can keep going when things get tough. I'm pretty darn amazing." While at the same time vibe-ing with "' I'm a perfectly imperfect work in progress. And I love and accept myself, no matter what".
Self-acceptance is about accepting all facets of ourselves – the positive, negative, and every bit in between. Difficult? I think we can all agree on an "OHHH YEESSSS!" to that. Especially when most of us are spending more and more time confined at home.
Here's the thing – it's only when we fully accept ourselves, just as we are, that we can start taking action toward self-improvement.
Rather than attempting to make any big changes this January, let's keep it simple. Small changes that help us create a healthier lifestyle that lasts.
Feeling anxious? The start of this year may be bringing up more anxiety than usual for some of us. Holotropic Breathwork is a modality that could bring you some relief.
What is Holotropic Breathwork?
Holotropic Breathwork is a breathing technique developed in the 1970s by two psychiatrists, Doctors Stanislav and Christina Grof, in Southern California in the 1970s.
Dr. Stanislov Grof developed Holotropic Breathwork to help his patients achieve similar psychotherapeutic benefits that some other patients realised with the use of plant medicines, but without the use of psychedelics.
Holotropic Breathwork is based on the fundamental principle that we have all the answers we'll ever need inside our self.
Dr. Stanislov Grof's technique is said to use our own breath (practiced in a rapid, in and out way through only the mouth) while listening to evocative music (soothing, repetitive, and trans-like harmonised sound) to remove our ego and conscious mind long enough to access our own inner wisdom and guidance. Which is usually very difficult to access in our everyday life.
How does Holotropic Breathwork work?
- Sessions are usually practiced in groups lead by a trained facilitator, lasting 2-3 hours.
- People are paired off, with one person nominated as the "breather" and the other as "sitter." The breather is doing holotropic breathwork, while the sitter ensures the breather feels safe and supported.
- The facilitator guides the session by directing the speed and rhythm of the breather's breathing. The idea is to breathe faster and deeper with the mouth open while keeping the eyes closed. Important is to pay attention to keeping the breath even to avoid hyperventilating.
- The breather lays down on a mat for the entirety of a session, giving them the ability to move into whatever pose their breath takes them and make any sounds that arise from within.
- The music played is rhythmic and repetitive, encouraging the breather to enter an altered state of consciousness – much like having a vivid dream.
- The session is open-ended, meaning each breather can glean their own interpretation and self-discovery.
- Breathers and sitters then swap roles.
- Important is that there's no expectation of what must arise or what themes are explored within a session. Breathers work on whatever appears for them in their altered state.
Benefits of Holotropic Breathwork
By spending time in a trusting environment and immersing yourself in the idea that you have the ability to self-heal, suggests this technique could help release anxiety, anger, and stress. While at the same time building your muscle for relaxation, personal growth, self-awareness, and self-acceptance.
Does Holotropic Breathwork Pose Any Risks?
The open-mouthed "hyperventilation" breathing technique used in this modality can lead to dizziness, muscle spasms, weakness, and possibly seizures. And because this type of breathwork aims to address uncomfortable feelings, it can leave some people feeling overwhelmed.
This is why experts recommend that this breathwork is best carried out with a licensed facilitator.
Holotropic Breathwork May NOT Be Right for You If…
It's always a good idea to discuss alternative practices with your health care provider, mainly if any of the following conditions are true for you:
- Severe mental illness
- Panic attacks or psychosis
- High blood pressure, heart attacks, or cardiovascular disease
- Recent injuries or surgery
- Epilepsy, seizures, stroke
- Aneurysms or a family history of them
- Pregnancy or breastfeeding
Now, with all that said and the caveats for Holotropic Breathwork outlined, I’d like to share with you someone whose (more gentle) breathwork practice I have been doing myself. On my own at home, via a free mp3 download, on and off for over 18 months. No outside workshop required.
Her name is Bree Melanson, and I have found her practice to be a wonderfully nourishing and calming experience while at the same time cathartic and energizing.
Her technique also uses open-mouthed breathing (2 inhales, to 1 exhale) while listening to beautifully calming yet uplifting music. She has layered her voice over the top, giving you clear and straightforward guidance on how to breathe and what to expect.
While everyone's experience will be different, I just did the session myself again now – and my racing mind quelled and emptied. My body released the tension and anxiety it was holding, and I've gotten up feeling such peace and gratitude for this beautiful life. It was just 13minutes to the most blissful and magical feeling.
Small changes can be simple and feel easy. And breathwork like this can be done daily if you need it.
I cannot recommend Bree's free mini 13minute breathwork session more highly – here is her LINK again.
Have you tried any type of Breathwork before? What was your experience? Please share in the comments below. We'd love to know.
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