I found out the hard way that, even if we are doing all the ‘right things’ and have a solid spiritual practice, if we bypass emotional clearing or overlook our emotions, we can remain stuck and unable to manifest the desired results in our life. This is because excess emotional build-up is literally blocking up our energy system.
I had been practising and teaching yoga for well over a decade and meditating equally long. I’d always eaten healthily, exercised, and was as fit as a fiddle. I had read every self-help book under the sun and attended dozens of courses and seminars in personal development around the globe. But somehow things still weren’t flowing in my life: I kept having painful and unfulfilling relationships and some persistent health issues. I was in a lot of emotional pain, no matter how hard I tried to deny or hide it. I couldn’t work out why I was still struggling despite doing everything ‘right’. I still managed to make it all look okay on the outside, but inside I was a mess!
Then I came across cathartic breathwork and started unravelling my unconscious emotional baggage, beginning the most challenging journey of my life, which changed everything, everything, from the inside out.
What happens when you resist an emotion?
Problems begin to occur when we resist an emotion, make it wrong and hide it from ourselves or others. Eventually, when the pressure gets too high for the body and our nervous system to contain, the built-up emotions either explode at unexpected times in unexpected ways at people who have little or nothing to do with their origin – or they seep out sideways in less direct but equally destructive ways.
Many of us weren’t exactly encouraged to express ‘negative’ or painful emotions in our childhood. Maybe we were belittled when we were scared, told it is unacceptable to express our anger or not to be a baby when we cried. Culturally certain emotions tend to be more acceptable for women than for men, and vice versa. Maybe it simply wasn’t safe to express our feelings as we had to adapt to the feelings of our caregivers, or perhaps we experienced someone expressing their emotions in a toxic way and told ourselves we would never be like that, shutting down our own feelings in the process.
If these stuck emotional energies don’t find some way out, the only other way for them to go is to turn inward, showing up as anxiety, depression, chronic pain, self-sabotage and health issues galore.
These suppressed emotions also have a negative impact on our relationships, how we feel and how we perceive and interpret the world. They can keep us from having fulfilling, intimate relationships as we relate to others from behind a defence, finding it difficult to allow ourselves to be authentic and vulnerable, or to give and receive love.
What if I am just not that emotional?
Many of us have been conditioned to avoid being or appearing ‘emotional’ or letting our emotions lead us. Western culture favours thinking with our head instead of our heart and using logic and reason over feelings. Unfortunately this doesn’t make our emotions go away; it just means we hide them into our shadow self, that part of us that is unconscious.
What we resist, persists
The very emotion we try to avoid will hang around in our energy field and follow us around in different areas of our life. Because like attracts like, it determines what kind of relationships we attract, what levels of success we allow ourselves to have and, ultimately, since the physical body is the grossest manifestation of our energy, it affects our body. This is why we can experience miraculous physical healing simply as a result of our emotional healing – something I have witnessed again and again in my own life and relationships as well as in my work with people over the years.
Heavy emotions block your lighter ones
When the heavier, denser emotional energies of fear, anger and sadness aren’t moving freely through the system, they block the flow of joy, love, peace and other lighter energy frequencies as well. Once we get in touch with the deeper, more painful and difficult emotions we had tried to push down, we’ll soon find ourselves spontaneously experiencing more pure joy, bliss and love.
So how do we heal our emotions and raise our energy?
Since we are talking about excess energy build-up, the obvious solution is to release these stuck energies. The intelligent self-healing mechanism that the human body is has its own in-built mechanisms for releasing the stress, anxiety and built-up emotional charge that are at the root of most disease and unease in our lives. This means that there is nothing mystical about these practices; there is nothing to believe or not to believe in; it is the body’s own way of letting go.
The natural releasing may involve crying, sweating, shaking, using our voice or breathing in different patterns. Have you ever seen a kid having a tantrum and breathing fast and heavily? Or someone shaking and panting uncontrollably after a traumatic event? None of the above responses is dangerous, even though our reaction may be to try and stop them. They are just the body letting go of the excess energy charge. This is the innate release mechanism that breathwork harnesses, in a safe environment.
Swallowing your pain
Sometimes our emotional pain is simply too much to take. As a defence mechanism we learn to protect ourselves from our pain by actually swallowing it down, tensing our body, restricting our breathing and literally holding it in, which locks the energy into our cellular memory and nervous system. When energy is blocked (i.e. not moving in a part of our body), the flow of blood and oxygen is restricted and other body functions (i.e. digestion, metabolism) suffer. As a result we can start to experience physical symptoms such as pain or disease in that part of our body.
What is breathwork?
Simply described, breathwork therapy is emotional release work. It helps us let go of our stress and emotional build-up so that we can live free from the negative influences of past traumatic experiences and suppressed emotions and their long-term consequences. The technique works through a style of active, connected breathing through the mouth, which you do under the guidance of an experienced facilitator. Animals and children do this naturally to release their emotional build-up, but as we grow up we learn to suppress the response in order not to show others how we feel, or not to feel our own pain.
During a breathwork session you can have profound emotional releases and re-live previously unconscious and unresolved emotional memories from as early as birth, from the womb or even past lives.
The specific type of circular breathing stimulates the amygdala and the limbic system, the part of the brain that stores our painful memories. Our emotional pain is brought to the surface to be processed and released. Breathwork therapy includes conscious counselling and mental processing techniques that help us uncover and let go of the wounding and subconscious negative beliefs that keep unwanted patterns running and hold us back in life.
Talking about our problems in traditional counselling and talk therapy keeps us working in the cortex and neocortex part of the brain: the mental level, or story part. This is why the process can take very long and even after years of therapy we may not have discharged more than surface level emotional pain. Feeling and releasing these emotions through breathwork results in deep healing and permanent change much faster than analysing mental memories alone.
Emotional healing = physical healing
When we experience chronic pain, stress, anxiety or depression, it is a memory within the cells that is causing a reaction within the body. This applies to every aspect of a person’s life in both the physical and emotional level, meaning that cellular memory can affect our bodies physically in the form of sickness or disease, emotionally through our reactions and responses to events and relationships, as well as metaphysically through things we attract in life. The good news is that we can change the cell memory and release painful and negative memories for good. As a result, we stop re-creating and replicating these painful imprints and feelings in present-day life.
What are the benefits?
As the emotional and somatic / physical body clears, the whole nervous system undergoes a thorough cleansing and energy begins to flow freely again. You will find you have more energy available to take care of tasks in daily life –and do more of the things you love. Because we are psychosomatic beings, dealing with our emotional pain often results in the profound healing of many physical issues.
Besides offering significant relief from anxiety, depression and emotional issues, breathwork therapy results in improved relationships, more conscious relating and deeper intimacy. When we are no longer re-creating and acting from our past trauma, our relationships with ourselves and with others become easier. We are finally able to release our unconscious negative beliefs, break through repetitive negative patterns and exchange them for more functional and fulfilling ones.
Breathwork therapy is a fast and effective way to release stress, anxiety, suppressed emotions and negative cellular memory. It raises our personal energy vibration and clears emotional, energetic and subconscious blocks.
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