You Are Your Own Medicine!
May – June 2023 • Vol 4, No 4
Our breath is a precious gift, given to us from the moment of our birth. It keeps us alive without any conscious effort on our part. At the same time, it is a powerful tool we can intentionally use for healing and transformation on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels. Sadly, most people today live out their lives without ever being taught how to use the power of their breath. They never realize that the most potent medicine on the planet is their breath, available to them every moment they are alive. The current epidemic of anxiety disorders is evidence of this.
Approx. 31% of U.S. adults have an anxiety disorder at some point, and 19% experienced an anxiety disorder in the last year. In addition, nearly one-third of teens suffer from an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is “a mental condition characterized by excessive apprehensiveness about real or perceived threats, typically leading to avoidance behaviors and often to physical symptoms such as increased heart rate and muscle tension.” In other words, it induces a stress response in the body, complete with high cortisol levels, blood sugar imbalances, hormonal disruptions, and the shutdown of digestion and other processes not considered essential to the fight or flight response.
Chronic anxiety is ultimately a symptom of a dysregulated nervous system. And guess what? One of the largest contributing factors to nervous system dysregulation is poor breathing patterns! Did you know that the pattern, rate, and depth of your breathing are linked to your emotions? Your breathing patterns can create and feed into your emotions and vice versa.
Another piece that often contributes to nervous system dysregulation is trauma. Unprocessed trauma gets stored in the body and affects the nervous system. On the one hand, this can leave the brain and body in constant hypervigilance, overactivity, and anxiety. On the other hand, it can lead to a collapse into immobilization and depression.
Breathwork helps process and release trauma that is trapped in the body. Trauma-informed breathwork is especially helpful in that it uses specific breath patterns based on the state of the breather’s nervous system and emotions. It trains the breather’s body, brain, and nervous system to recognize what safety in the body feels like. This intentional, conscious use of the breath gradually expands people’s ability to remain fully present and deal with challenging or triggering situations.
We all experience stress, trauma, and stuck emotions throughout our lives to varying degrees. Using the breath to process and release them layer by layer is one of the best things we can do for our health on every level. Sometimes people are afraid that it will be too much. They worry they won’t be able to deal with the backlog of trauma and emotions stored up inside. The beauty of trauma-informed breathwork is that it taps into the body’s deep inner intelligence, which knows exactly which layers of stress, anxiety, or trauma are ready to be released at any given time. A skilled facilitator can create a safe container and guide breathers through the experience in a way that places them in control. This helps them reconnect to their body and feel their emotions in a way that feels safe and manageable.
For anyone suffering from chronic anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD, or just a general feeling of being stressed out all the time, breathwork is priceless. It is available anywhere, anytime, and empowers you to recalibrate and self-regulate at a moment’s notice. You can truly be your own medicine through the power of your breath!
If you are interested in trying breathwork for yourself, contact Sage Wellness Center today. One-on-one and group sessions are available in person and online. You can also join us in Whitehall on June 10th, or in Livingston on June 17th for a half-day, Integral Breathwork seminar led by Denis Ouellette. More info at IntegralBreathwork.com. (See next page… and be sure to pre-register.)