Breath in, breath out

I first was introduced to breathwork without even knowing that’s what I was signing up for. I was sitting on the couch one night scrolling Instagram, and a heavily tattooed, fashionably dressed-looking brother caught my eye. He was standing next to a guy I follow from the US, a man by the name of Aubrey Marcus, and he appeared warm and genuine. Quite out of character, I decided to give this guy (Lukis Mac) a follow. Maybe I could learn something from him? A few weeks later I saw a post in which he said he was currently in managed isolation in NZ, up until this point, I had no idea he was a Kiwi. He mentioned that he and his partner, Hellè, would be holding a workshop. I decided at that moment that no matter what the workshop was I would head along.

Flash forward a few months and I’m in a packed out room in the Ellerslie convention centre with 100 other people and still have no idea what I’m in for. I’ve seen a few of their videos now, people crying, screaming, and laughing, so I’m understandably quite nervous. Call it divinely guided, call it whatever you want, somehow I knew I was exactly where I needed to be.

Lukis and Helle are beautiful humans and equally amazing facilitators. It’s not often you meet people who can safely hold space for so many people and all manner of trauma. The two-day Owaken workshop was life-changing, and I don’t say that lightly. I learned a lot about myself with the guidance of the Owaken crew and their support team.

“I was able to feel into things from my past that were unresolved and finally fully process, heal and let go of the pain that was holding me back”. – Lukis Mak

In those two days of the Owaken workshop, during these consciously connected breaths (different to yogic breathing (pranayama), or Wim Hoff style), I cried, I laughed, I got t-rex hands (a common and kind of hilarious, albeit painful occasional side effect), met a guardian of the land, was visited by people no longer “with” us, let go of a lot of stuff (“stuff” that I didn’t even know I had!), and I connected more deeply with my intuition and purpose. One thing that came up was that while I was experiencing a great deal of physical pain, the thing which kept coming through was “this is how it feels to not be your true self”. It showed me that that constant pain in my chest I’d been feeling recently was a is a physical manifestation of the amount I hide who I am.

What I love most about breathwork is that it’s all you. You are at no point giving your power away to someone to “heal” you, and that alone is a profound knowledge. I would liken aspects of it to the depth you can reach with that of plant medicine, but the best part is, its all under your control, your breath dictates the depth you go, unlike plant medicine in which you are locked in for at least 6 hours you have far less control.

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Since the Owaken workshop, I’ve done three more journeys in Auckland, and look forward to doing more. I’ve also incorporated a daily breathwork practice into my morning routine. If you’re interested this can be found on the Owaken website here. It’s the 10min video halfway down the page. Essentially, while in a seated position with a straight back, you take ten conscious connected breaths through the mouth, then after the outward breath, hold your breath and pause for 10 seconds. Then 20 conscious connected breaths, followed by another pause for 20 seconds on the out-breath, finishing with 30 breaths then holding for as long as feels comfortable. Then just enjoy the ride, and maybe ask your intuition if there is anything you need to know. You can do this 3 times in a row to go deeper and is even more powerful if you practice it in nature. I love going out into the backyard, flicking my shoes off and, with the sun on my face, seeing how deep the practice can take me. That marinating at the end is always pure bliss.

As a side note, more recently I’ve learned that there are some under-qualified facilitators in the industry, those who feel called to help, but have not yet gone deep enough in their own journeys or have the skills needed to guide people safely through their suppressed trauma. Just something to keep in mind when looking to experience breathwork for yourself. When searching, recommendations are great, or if not possible, ensure you feel comfortable and connected with the facilitator. A few local facilitators I’ve worked with here in Auckland and can recommend, include Fiona Moore and Loren Honey. Feel free to message me if you like more information.

I love that as someone who has been challenged with asthma, the one thing that has had the most profound effect is using my breath. I have often felt this in yoga, while focusing on embodiment during therapy sessions, and even during my ayahuasca experience, but now even more so in breathwork.

Breathwork changed my perspective on healing. I’ve always been pretty cautious of the term “self-healer” but a breathwork session with an experienced guide will show you that you have all the tools you need to heal your life. And with the daily practice to help cultivate connection, you can keep doing the work on your own, you may not go as deep, but like water flowing over rock, it slowly washes away the hard shell of our deepest wounds.

“Breath in, breath out” – Ludacris

Update: I am now a trauma-informed breathwork facilitator, training with Lukis and Helle for 9 months. If you're interested in working with me flick me a message.

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