Breathwork Integration and Trauma

Breathwork Integration and Trauma

  • Post published:December 1, 2021
  • Post Category:Integration

The experience of a Neurodynamic Breathwork session doesn’t end when the workshop ends. To get the maximum benefit from your breathwork experience, it’s important to devote some time and space to your inner journey — this is the process that we call “integration.”  And, we believe we have one of the most robust integration support structures in the breathwork world. Also, we have some very specific recommendations below if you are working with deep trauma.

What is Integration?

It’s where the rubber meets the road. It’s where you take the things you learned about yourself in your session and “integrate” them into your overall being, so that they become an accessible part of you, rather than something you quickly forget. It’s the process of incorporating the experience into your life in a way that truly moves you forward towards your life aspirations.

Post-Breathwork Forgetfulness and State-Dependent Memory

Will your breathwork session catalyze real change in your life? It will, to the degree that you don’t forget it… to the degree that you “integrate” the experience. But alas, it’s very easy to forget your breathwork experience. Why is that?

Neuropsychologists have documented a concept called “state-dependent memory,” which is defined as “the phenomenon through which memory retrieval is most efficient when an individual is in the same state of consciousness as they were when the memory was formed” (Wikipedia). Simply summarized: If you study for an exam while you are drinking coffee, you’d better drink coffee when you take the exam! The brain stores memories not only based on the concepts remembered, but also the neuropsychological setting in which you remember them (which includes things like caffeine, or alcohol). This is why it’s much easier to remember things you did or said when you’re drunk when you get drunk again, but not so easy when you are in your normal consciousness.

As related to breathwork, the point here is that, to maximally benefit from what you experienced and learned during your breathwork session, you’ll need to make some extra effort to “translate” that experience back to your day to day consciousness and awareness and self.

Integration as Moving Towards Wholeness

Dr. Stanislav Grof is one of the foremost consciousness researchers in the world today and the pioneer founder of Holotropic Breathwork, one of the most well-known breathwork approaches in the world.  He’s been studying the benefits of breathwork and other consciousness-altering experiences for almost 60 years now!  Grof coined the word “holotropic” which means “movement  towards (trepein) wholeness (holos). Holotropic is a beautiful word to consider in relation to integration. One way to think about it is that, during the breathwork session, you “uncover” new parts of yourself, you become exposed to new (often fragile) aspects of your being that you may have forgotten, or that are new to your day-to-day conscious self. Think of these new parts of yourself as “pieces of your puzzle.” You need to bring those puzzle pieces back and plug them into your overall unfolding self puzzle — the one that matches your truest, most authentic self.

There are two types of integration.  In active integration, you make a conscious effort to work with your material through a variety of means, including such things as focused therapy, journaling, artwork, collage work, stream-of-consciousness, and much more.  In passive integration, the general idea is to simply create as much embodied presence and self-awareness in your life as possible after a breathwork session because the deeper your self-presence, the more you’ll be realigning with the state-dependent memory which you accessed during your breathwork session, which will lead to further insights and understandings about it, and the emergence of new puzzle pieces.  Passive integration can include such activities as meditation and yoga, walks in nature, massage and energy work, hot baths with candles, etc.

Integration resources that we provide to all participants

Creating a safe container is critical for participants to have transformational experiences.  And, part of that is offering a robust integration support structure.  We believe that we have one of the best in the breathwork world.

During the online session

a) one on one private interactions with a Certified Breathwork Facilitator are offered to all online breathwork participants via private chat on Zoom during the breathwork session for support

b) a sharing circle after the breathwork session is over to allow everybody to share whatever they would like to regarding their experiences and ask for additional support if required.  This sharing circle stays open for an unlimited amount of time until everybody is complete to make sure that everybody gets their questions answered and the support they need and a chance to ask for a follow-up contact form a facilitator if they feel it is needed.

c)  One of the techniques that the body uses to release tensions and bio-energetic blocks is to maximize the tension in a body part in order to then get the most effective release possible.  Occasionally, the body does not quite complete that process and we explain to participants how to do Neurodynamic Release Work on themselves to release any residual tension that is left in their body after the session that was not there before the session started.

After the session – 

a) a webpage on general integration practices

b) an integration support email (integrationsupport@breathworkonline.com) which we encourage you to use if you need it and, if necessary, a follow-up private Zoom call with a certified breathwork facilitator, to support you in integrating your breathwork experience

c) regular free “drop-in” online webinars to support your breathwork integration process.  For example, currently we have a twice-monthly drop-in integration group led by a skilled EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) practitioner.  We offer this class 100% free.

d) free private one-on-one coaching sessions for regular breathers

e) starting in January, a free webinar series on how to use the expressive arts as effective integration tools.  Modalities will include: journaling, mandala drawing, music/sound, music/dance, visual art and symbolism.

Additional resources for breathers working with trauma – 

People dealing with trauma can have profound healing experiences in breathwork  but it is even more important to have a plan for integration as breathwork can bring to the surface explicit or implicit memories that your psyche wants to process and release that may be quite uncomfortable and psychologically painful.  Trauma can be expelled through breathwork by releasing the tension and pent-up energy that is deeply rooted within the subconsciousness of the person. Through the deep and focused breaths, the powerful connection between mind, body, and soul can diminish trauma.  Although, the fact that it is coming to the surface means that your body wants to release the physical and psychological impact of these memories, we provide an extra layer of support and recommendations in these cases.

Online support group

 Trauma online support group with a trauma-informed moderator – starting in March 2022, we plan on starting an online support group for our regular breathers who are working through trauma so they can connect and share their experiences.

Trauma informed licensed professionals referrals

We refer to a trauma informed licensed professional who works with clients online and is also in our Neurodynamic Breathwork Facilitator training program.

Recommendations if you are working with trauma in breathwork  – 

a) if you have deep trauma, we suggest that you have a support structure in your life to turn to.  A support structure could include:

i. access to a trauma-informed therapist (ideal) and if you are in therapy, we suggest that you to get approval from your therapist to participate;

ii. access to a close friend who you trust and can share your experience with after the session;

iii. if it feels right, you can have someone physically with you during your breathwork experience, to hold your hand, or give you any support that you might ask for during the session above and beyond what is available by private chat with a trained breathwork facilitator.  This is optional – trust your intuition/”inner guiding intelligence” on whether this feels like something that would support you.

Example of a Neurodynamic Breathwork Online experience of trauma healing by a prior participant:

“I knew little about Neurodynamic Breathwork Online when I decided to take a workshop. Beginning with my first session, I was able to access a very deep place within myself where many important life lessons were revealed to me. I soon signed up for the all-access path and the work has since become an important and transformative part of my life. In my most recent session, I was able to confront an incident of abuse from childhood that I had been repressing. I was able to return, mentally and emotionally, to the place where it happened and radically transform my own interpretation of the experience. I remembered that during the incident, at a point when I was in mortal danger, I was overcome with a feeling of utter calm combined with the certainty that I would be OK. At the time, I understood how precious and meaningful this realization was, but in the days and weeks to come it was crowded out by feelings of intense shame and the urge to repress what had happened. During my most recent breathwork session (over 35 years later), I was able to reconnect with the sense of divine safety that I had experienced and to recognize what a wonderful gift I’d been given. A very deep part of me was in contact with something divine that day, and through neurodynamic breathwork, I am learning to revitalize and reinforce that connection. I feel excited, hopeful and genuinely optimistic in a way I haven’t felt in many years.” – Bryan, Oct., 2019

For more, check out our post on “Breathwork Integration Suggestions.”

To try out a 2 hour Neurodynamic Breathwork Online Session for free, go to https://breathworkonline.com and click on “Try A Free Breathwork Session”.

 

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