4 Ways Breathwork Supports Your Nervous System Health: Guest Blog for Breath of Bliss
Dec 11, 2017
Has your nervous system ever been highjacked and left you wondering why you can’t get your emotions under control? Has your emotional reaction even been bigger than a situation merited?
Your nervous system controls much of how your body reacts to stress. In turn, the way we move through our day, lives and relationships depends on a healthy, open and resilient nervous system. But most of us haven’t been taught how to take care of this vital part of our well being. We suffer physically, emotionally and mentally because of it. Little do we know that the nervous system, like a muscle, needs training to become strong.
To break that down, in our most natural state when the body experiences stress (activation), we will feel the feelings associated with that activation. Then the body will regulate itself again by coming back to a resting state. When any part of this normal cycle is interrupted, the charge of energy gets ‘stuck’ our bodies. And the charge stuck in our systems will likely be triggered when in the future we encounter events, people, or things that remind us of the earlier experience that was never completed. In this way, our present lives are often colored by our past, often in a negative way, and we can’t be fully present in the present.
Breathwork, like what is experienced in Breath of Bliss, teaches you how to open the body/mind.Connected breathing trains the nervous system to go into deeper states of surrender. We actually have to train ourselves to handle the more open states we so wholeheartedly crave. The body has to first recognize that it is safe and can let its guard down so the nervous system stops flexing the sympathetic (flight or fight) response. We can then and only then enter into a process of healing from past experiences.
How exactly does Breath of Bliss breathwork work with the nervous system to create health and restore our bodies to a more natural state of ease and vitality?
1. Accessing deep parasympathetic states: Often through breathwork we can access a state of deep rest and relaxation that is entirely free of the tension and stress we carry in our daily lives. Through repetition, we create a neural pathway back to this state and learn to access rest on a regular basis.
2. Completion of incomplete autonomic responses. Breathwork often induces seemingly bizarre/erratic physical movements, contractions or “shakes” (similar to a stress response in wild animal). These physical reactions are, in a very real way, an embodied memory of unprocessed stress and trauma. Through breathwork, we deactivate the default mode network and allow our autonomic nervous system release stuck tension.
3. Auto-rhythmia. Rather than being driven by external validation you come to honor and feel what is needed/wanted in each moment from your body and nervous system. Basically, its doing what you want, when you want. We learn this in Breath of Bliss by surrendering to the natural flow of our breath and allowing our breath to “breath us” rather than having to consciously direct this automatic process.
4. Breath of Bliss breathwork sets a container of safety so your unconscious mind (reptilian brain) can stop asking “am I OK??”. Our knowledgable facilitators are trained to create a meditative, ceremonial space where there is a high level of attention on each participant and their process. So much of our unconscious stress/trauma comes from feeling like we were not witnessed or seen for our true selves in life. We take care to truly hear, see and value each experience and voice. This simple act can drastically rewire the belief of our intrinsic worth as sentient beings on this earth at a core, nervous system level.
As a therapist and Breath of Bliss practitioner, I have personally experienced much more freedom in my body/mind with breathwork. The way that my nervous system has rewired is unlike any other practice I have found. In the past, my fear of abandonment would often highjack feelings of safety in relationship and lead to their demise. I now watch similar triggers simply come and go in my nervous system. I experience the pain with a level of acceptance, allowing and detachment and realize that my primal protection is no longer needed. My mind AND my body feels safe enough to experience the pain without going into a trigger. Amazing!
My wish for you is that if you ever get hijacked by your emotions, you will remember that breath by breath you can guide yourself back to a place of loving, grounded resilience.