What Happens in a Breathwork Session?
The following description of the standard one-day/two-session workshop to be offered by this project is taken from the handbook "The Breathwork Experience", by Kylea Taylor (Hanford Mead, 1994: pp. 23-25).
"The workshop begins with introductions of the group members. Participants work in pairs, one breathing and one sitting in each of the two sessions, and each participant selects a partner.
"The first breathing session begins with one partner (the breather) in each pair lying on a mattress, on his/her back with eyes closed, the other partner (the sitter) alongside. The two have discussed the breather's needs; the sitter knows to provide help only when asked but otherwise not to interfere with the breather's experience.
"The facilitators lead a guided relaxation, at the end of which the breathers are instructed to breathe a little deeper and faster than usual."
Another writer, John Freeman, M.D., continues:
"At the conclusion of the relaxation, rhythmic and evocative music begins. As the breathers continue the conscious breathing, they begin, at their own pace, to enter a non-ordinary state of consciousness, a trance-like state which alters the usual relationship between the conscious and subconscious, allowing into conscious experience the subjective memories of childhood, memory experience which seems to be pre-verbal and pre-understanding; impulses to physical movement or modes of physical expression which, while they often do not seem to make sense at first in any logical way have a powerful heuristic and / or empirical value to the psychic process of people who allow them. People often experience, in a cathartic purge, long suppressed emotional responses to situations from the past, re-experiencing threats to their physical well being and releasing long held negative emotional residue; perceiving and experiencing archetypal imagery and emotions which can very rapidly alter one's concepts of the self and the world, and of the entire human experience."
It is through such powerful experiences that participants may literally redefine themselves. This redefinition often brings whole new levels of understanding into the decision-making criteria of the individual, which can result in significant behavioral changes.
The session continues for up to three hours or until each breather has reached a satisfactory conclusion. Participants are then asked to draw a 'mandala', a representation of their experience.
Kylea Taylor's description continues:
"When breathers are finished, there is a break for a meal before the second session in which the partners reverse roles; the breather becomes the sitter end the sitter becomes the breather. After this session, and another meal break, there is a group sharing. Using the mandalas as illustration if they wish, participants describe those aspects of their Breathwork experience they wish to share with the group."
The workshop is then brought to closure.