The rock-solid, number one most important concept to understand if and when you decide to try breathwork is: Trust the Process. It forms the bedrock of our role as facilitators, and it should serve as the primary guiding principle whenever you encounter moments of doubt or uncertainty while participating in a breathwork session.
“Trust the process” was the first three words that were spoken to me in my very first breathwork session (of the Holotropic variety) back in 1991. And this phrase holds the key to understanding breathwork. It encourages us to approach each experience with trust because our intuitive self knows the way. When you do this, let go of trying to control things from your ego-mind, and surrender, then ultimately exactly what needs to unfold will unfold. And everything will work out as it should.
This basic principle has proven true for me ever since my first breathwork. Those three little words capture the essence of all worthwhile breathwork sessions in which I’ve ever participated. And, I’ve seen the same principle work for thousands of participants over the years.
Why Trust the Process?
You have an inner guiding intelligence (IGI) inside of you, which always knows what your true self needs. There are many names for this, and you may be more comfortable with one or another of them: Higher Self, Inner Knowing, Inner Wisdom, Intuition, Inner Healer, Most Authentic Self, Deep Spontaneous Self, Soul, etc. It doesn’t matter what you call it, your first breathwork session and every session after it, is a lesson in practicing this principle.
Your IGI knows exactly what you need next for your soul’s development, growth, and healing. While your ego-mind may not agree, this instinct in you is always striving to return you to a state of equilibrium, homeostasis, balance, healing, etc. It knows exactly what your soul requires for optimum functioning in any given moment. Your job is to trust it and get out of your own way! Over time, I’ve realized that trusting the process extends beyond breathwork—it’s a vital life principle. And by following the ‘How-to’ guidelines below, you can integrate this principle into your life as well.
Like Plants Lean Towards the Sun
Think of your Inner Guiding Intelligence (IGI) like a plant bending towards the light to fuel its vital photosynthesis process, the very essence of its survival. Similarly, our IGI inherently knows the direction to lean in for its nourishment. Here’s the crucial part: Our IGI doesn’t originate from the logical left-brain thinking mind. We can only tap into it—aligning ourselves with the sun—when we cease our attempts to analyze and comprehend it through our thoughts. It’s when we place trust in our inner guidance that we effortlessly progress toward healing, catharsis, and release.
This presents the ultimate paradox—we’ve been conditioned to unravel life’s mysteries with our rational, thinking brain. Yet, accessing the IGI necessitates letting go of the constant stream of thoughts and judgments from the mind, often referred to as the “monkey mind.” In simpler terms, and as a paradox for those of us shaped by modern society: You cannot reach your IGI through left-brained, ego-driven thinking.
The Best Analogy I’ve Ever Come Up With To Describe How the IGI Works
When you cut your finger, you do not have to “think” about the healing of that cut! You do not have to actively send commands from your mind to your body: “Okay sound the white blood cell alarm! Tell them to congregate on the left shoulder and march down the arm together. They must all end up at the cut and start the healing process.”
NO — thank goodness we don’t have to do this! There is an innate healing system that is built into our body. It’s miraculous when you actually take a moment and think about it. Our bodies are innate mentally effortless healing machines! Imagine how much trouble we would get into if we tried to control this natural process with our minds.
Well, the exact same innate healing intelligence exists inside of us and works effortlessly for our psychological and emotional natures as well! It’s true. Every breathwork I’ve ever done, I’ve seen trusting the process of the IGI work. I’ve also seen it work for thousands of live in-person breathwork participants. And Dr. Stan Grof observed this principle in tens of thousands of breathwork and psychedelic sessions over his long and storied career.
How to Trust the Process
Step 1: Embrace the Full Catastrophe
There is a scene in the movie Zorba the Greek where the main character describes how he has embraced every one of the essential elements of life: “Marriage, having a house, having children, everything — the full catastrophe”. I think this is a useful analogy for us today. Our job in life is to embrace our own “full catastrophe” – to accept the totality of our human experience. That includes every joy, and happiness, and every uplifting moment and every loving moment. But it also includes every pain, every stuckness, every sadness, every moment of anger.
Put simply, life isn’t just about embracing its joys; it’s also about making room in our hearts to explore, permit, and acknowledge our own “full catastrophe.” This is also your “job” in breathwork: to release all judgment of your session experiences. Whatever your experience – “good” or “bad,” expected or unexpected, embrace it all because everything that happens is EXACTLY what you need in that moment.
Worth noting is that resisting something only prolongs its presence in your life. So by embracing all aspects of your experience, you enable the processing, release, and transcendence of emotions and issues that you may have been resisting, suppressing or struggling with for years (perhaps even decades). Moreover, there is a profound connection between painful and joyful experiences. The more we suppress our pain, the more we inadvertently stifle our capacity for joy. Therefore, by embracing our pain and allowing ourselves to fully experience it, we pave the way for more profound moments of joy and fulfillment in our lives.
Step #2: Release Judgement
Anytime a judgment arises during a breathwork session, where you want to experience something different than what you are experiencing e.g. “I wish I could experience a mystical state,” or “Everyone else is experiencing deep things except for me,” or “Nothing’s happening,” or “I can’t get out of my head,” etc., recognize that thought originates in your ego-mind (it’s the source of all judgment and resistance). The mind is NOT the IGI. So, in breathwork, your job is to practice letting go of all that and to fully trust and embrace whatever IS actually happening. You must fully accept whatever is happening in each moment, only then can you experience the full power of your IGI!
Trust the Process Summary
Some of us already live in a world of trusting the moment-by-moment unfolding of reality – of believing that things are unfolding just as they should. For the majority of us though, that’s a big leap from our everyday way of seeing things. It requires a leap of faith. Think of it this way: Every breathwork session you attend is an invitation to practice letting go of the mind and trusting your inner intelligence to instinctively take you exactly where you need to go. The more you practice this in breathwork, the more you can integrate this principle into your life.
The simple straightforward summary of Breathwork Law #1? Get out of your head. Stop trying to control your process. Stop wishing your process was something else. And practice Trusting. Trusting that you are exactly where you need to be and your IGI knows exactly what it is doing!
And that brings us to Breathwork Law #2: Loving What is (aka Surrender). More on that in our next post.
Experience the Incredible Power of Trusting Your IGI With a Free Month of Online Breathwork
We offer 2-hour online breathwork sessions several times throughout the week so that people can take a deep dive into their inner healing with a consistent practice. If you would like to join one of our transformational sessions, and partake in faster, deeper breathing to transcend your ego-mind and experience the deeply healing and transformative power of trusting your IGI, we invite you to register for free! After your first free session, you will receive an email with access to a whole month of free online facilitated breathwork.
Click here to find out more about our online breathwork process.