How to Manage Stress With The Power of Breathwork
by John Stamoulos - Master Breathwork Trainer
With each passing day, life gets more frenetic…more to do, less time to do it in, more complexity, more moving parts, the push-pull between work and family. In this seemingly impossible struggle, the effort required to keep up can sap your energy and stir the pot of your anxiety.
Begin with time constraints; work demands; family expectations and obligations; financial concerns. Add equal parts of the urgency to pay attention to your relationship as well as to attend to your personal needs. Stir in the omnipresent global firestorms that stoke pervasive fear about the ability to live safely and the pressure cooker that you are living in creates the perfect recipe for the silent killer, stress, in your life.
As the overwhelm builds and the stress cycle intensifies, you begin to feel it in your body – headaches, muscle tension, chest pain and fatigue; you might notice it in your moods – depression, anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation or focus, irritability or anger. You may even develop less than ideal behaviors – poor eating habits, drug and alcohol abuse or other mental health issues that keep your life off-balance.
Is There a Way Out?
How do you create a better work-life equality? How do you climb into the driver’s seat of your life and build resilience, emotional intelligence and techniques that will help you thrive rather than just cope? How do you find your way through the tangle of complexity? How do you discover peace in the midst of the unrelenting demands?
Understanding How You Got There…
It begins by understanding how we got started on this path in the first place. How did we all get to this frenzied place in our lives? Did it just creep up little by little as we matured and life got more complicated and busy?
Truth is, our stress responses began way earlier in our existence than we might imagine. In fact, they began at our birth! The birthing process is the first experience of pain and suffering we encounter as we embark on our human journey. The trauma of moving from a warm and comfortable environment in our mother’s womb, and unceremoniously and painfully being squeezed through the birth canal into the harsh and cold light of the world, stays with us in our cellular memory and feels like a brush with death.
From that moment of our birth through infancy, into childhood, adolescence and adulthood, our life mission is all about survival. Our cellular logic tells us that, in order to stay alive, we need to do whatever it takes to avoid the original pain, suffering and terror we first met at our birth.
Living Our Conditioning
In response to our instinctual desire to stay safe, we take on the values and belief systems of our families, culture, society and religious affiliation. We develop different masks to hide our vulnerability. We suppress our unacceptable behaviors and we bury our inappropriate emotions. External cues in our environment help us avoid pain of any kind but the price we pay for this avoidance is great.
The mounting inner conflict between our conditioning and our deeper desires creates the stress and anxiety that becomes our life script. We adapt to the immense pressure to perform and succeed, and we ignore what we intuitively know is our heartfelt truth. We become cut off from our authentic love, joy, bliss and peace and live in denial of the traumas we have endured even though they still affect our life.
Breathwork Is the Catalyst for New Perspectives
When the life pressures become too great and we finally decide that something needs to change, our breath is there to lead us to heal the ‘disconnect’ we have created in the name of our survival.
As a very powerful healing tool for shifting life direction, Breathwork provides a path for letting go of a lifetime of repressed thoughts, emotions, beliefs, negativity and pain. When these blocks are released, there is room for positive thought to fill the vacancy. A new view of what is possible in our life then has the potential to emerge and the stress of living in constant tension relaxes.
How Does ‘just breathing’ Create Healing?
Imagine the breath as pure crystal clear water being poured into a glass. At the bottom of glass is sediment and mud that has collected. Pouring the pure water into the glass stirs up the mud and causes the water to become murky…but…if we keep pouring that water into the glass, the sediment will eventually come completely out and the water in the glass will become crystal clear.
Similarly, Breathwork pours life-force energy into us and disturbs the issues inside. The technique itself requires simply breathing in and out in a controlled, cyclic fashion. There are layers of emotions and thoughts that our breath will clear out in a gradual process of release as we breathe in this way. It has the power to remove all the sediment from what no longer serves us. If we continue to pour the life-force energy of our breath into those hidden aspects of ourselves, we eventually will become like the crystal clear water.
When we get rid of what obscures our authenticity, we discover with confident clarity who we are at the heart of our being. That knowledge empowers us to freely make decisions that feel right for us. We are no longer dependent on external or unconscious conditioning and can act in our life aligned with our deepest, healed truth.
Breathwork connects us with our beautiful, loving essence and offers the exquisite opportunity to expand into authentic, undiluted love. It is a homecoming to our own joy, inner peace and bliss that has been waiting for us; a place where unbounded possibilities and potential can move our life in new and transformed directions; a place where we act free of victimhood and where we embrace a life of empowered action.
“Breath by breath let go of fear, expectation, anger, regret and frustration.”
Yoga Assist can be traced back to Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (1888-1989) – an Indian Ayurveda healer and scholar, one of the most influential Yoga instructors of the 20th century and “father of modern Yoga”. (...)