Breath and tension as the doorway

 

There are certain things that happens when mind identifies with images and thoughts, and creates beliefs. This is the doorway out of paradise, leaving a natural clarity.

And the reverse of these is the doorway back into paradise, into our natural clarity.

For instance, tension of certain muscle groups seems needed to support identification and the creation and maintenance of a belief. And release of this tension, for instance through neurogenic tremors, invites the identification to soften or release.

Likewise, shallow or held breath supports identification and beliefs, and a more free breathing – perhaps even an intentionally more full breathing – softens or invites the identification to release.

Releasing tension and opening the breath may support entering through the door again. And yet, something else is vital, and that’s examining the identification itself.

Mind identifies with an image or thought to protect the (image of a) me. By doing so, mind perceive, feel and act as if the identified with image or thought is true. It can only do so by not examining the image or thought very carefully for its validity. So the way back through this doorway is to examine the image and thought thoroughly. Is it true? Can I be sure it’s true? What happens when I believe it’s true? Who would I be without the belief? What’s the validity in the turnarounds of the initial thought – turning it around to myself, the opposite, the other.

This is why the simple process Barry and Karen shows people can be so effective. It includes sensations, breath, a natural relaxation, and noticing and taking a closer look at beliefs.

(1) Notice identification or contraction. (2) Bring attention to where it is in the body, to the densest and darkest parts. (3) Stay with the sensations, and breathe. Make the breath a little fuller. Notice if/how the sensations change over time. (4) Notice any images and thoughts behind the contraction. What does the fear say? Write it down, stream of consciousness style. (5) Look at these images and thoughts. Can you be sure it’s true? What would the divine/Christ (your higher self) say? Notice what happens when you believe it. Stay with the sensations and the belief in the knowing that the belief is not true. (6) Repeat. Find the place in your body that asks for your attention. Find the place that appears most contracted and dense.

 

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Breath as inquiry

 

Breath practice can also have an element of inquiry, either as a natural side-effect or as a result of more intentional focus.

Using the breath as an object of attention, attention is invited to calm down and stabilize.

In the process, I may quietly and wordlessly notice some of the dynamics around it

I usually bring attention to the sensations at the tip of the nose, but it could also be on the expansion of the belly front-and-back, the expansion of the chest, or the sensation of the cool air flowing through the nose and into the lungs.

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A felt-sense of ordinariness

 

See and knowing and recognizing that everything in me is universally human is one thing, loving it is another, and to have a deeply felt-sense of the same is again something quite different.

I see it more clearly, especially as I do different forms of inquiry, and there is often even a love for it. But the felt-sense is often less clear. Sometimes it is there, sometimes not.

Different forms of body oriented practices seems to help with a deepening into this bodily felt-sense of universality and ordinariness, and I have most recently noticed this through the transformational breath work.

After the sessions, and when I do it on my own, there is sometimes a dropping into a deep felt-sense of all of this being completely universal and ordinary, with no exception and no possibility for an exception.

With it, there is sometimes some fear and panic that comes up. There is still identification with an identity as someone intrinsically different, which seems to be an identity that is inevitably formed when there is a sense of I and Other, and this deep bodily sense of ordinariness goes counter to that attachment, which brings up some fear and panic.

For me, there is almost a sense of drowning into it when this deep bodily sense of ordinariness is there… a drowning of that particular identity as intrinsically different.

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Breathwork session #4

 

I had my fourth transformational breathwork session today, and each one is different as they say.

My initial one was torture, with tetany from head to toe and feeling quite sick for days afterwards. We took it a little easier during the following sessions, so they were more neutral, with some tingling, slight tetany, and other symptoms. And this fourth one was different again.

Some typical symptoms for me include…

  • tetany, especially during the first couple of session and less now
  • a sense of pressure in the solar plexus and belly area, with the two quite distinct from each other
  • tingling in arms and legs, and cheeks
  • nausea during and following the first session
  • following and between sessions, a sense of quiet joy/bliss throughout and in the body, as if inside of each cell

The most memorable part today was three brief periods with a very strong, almost unbearable experience. I cannot easily put it into words, but it almost seemed like emotions as infants or (say) a fish (!) may experience it. Proto-emotions. Each one with a slightly different flavor. It came up, was unbearable, and then released and dissolved as quickly as it appeared, and each time it was as if my hearing opened up. There was a distinctly different, and more open, experience of hearing.

It made me think of how emotions appear to be formed by stories, in at least two ways. They emerge as the consequence of different stories, and different stories create different emotions. And the emotion itself is labeled by a story, making it appear solid and real and easily identifiable. Maybe our early emotions are just proto-emotions, as the one coming up for me in the session, and these are then refined and differentiated through social interactions (learning from others) and stories later on. For instance, first just an undifferentiated ball of uncomfortable emotions. Then, refining these into the range of emotions we are familiar with, such as fear, anger, sadness. The stories help refine and develop them, and also help guide which one that is to emerge, and how it is labeled.

I also notice how these sessions help with a deepening into an easy, comfortable, bodily felt-sense of trust, and of being utterly ordinary, a seamless part of humanity. It feels very much like a reorganization of the body, releasing some of the patterns reflecting beliefs and reactive emotions.

Breathwork and mutuality

 

I have done two transformational breathwork sessions with a friend so far, with another one scheduled in a couple of days.

It is pretty obvious how breathing patterns reflect emotions and beliefs. As soon as there is a clash between how life is and how it should be, according to my stories about it, muscles tense up, there is a change in breathing patterns (for me, often more shallow) and emotions come up as well. There is a whole system of beliefs, emotions, muscle tension, breathing and behavior which all contribute to maintain a particular pattern. They are all mutually supporting of each other. It is their job, and they do it beautifully.

That also means that we can unravel that ball from any of those sides. We can investigate beliefs, be with emotions, allow muscles to relax, change behaviors, and we can also work with the breath. If a shallow and held breath contributes to those knots, then a more free, open and full breath allows the knot to begin unravel.

While those promoting transformation breathwork often have quite elaborate models of what is happening, what seems clear – even from my own limited experience so far – is that knots unravel. In a way, that is all I need to know. Breathe, and knots unravel.