“So, what is Breathwork?” “Don’t we breathe all the time?” These are some of the questions I hear when I introduce Breathwork to the new clients at Beachway Therapy Center who aren’t familiar with this technique.
Breathwork is an effective tool that can be utilized in many therapeutic applications in conjunction with traditional treatment and therapies in the substance abuse treatment field. It is also a technique that can aid in relaxation, heightened awareness, improved mind-body connection and personal & spiritual growth. Simply stated, Breathwork is conscious, intentional breathing.
Breathwork has its origins in many eastern traditions such as Yoga (pranayama), Buddist Anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing), Tibetan Tantric Tummo and Kundalini Yoga, to name just a few. It was developed as a western practice by several different individuals using different names for variations of the technique, including Rebirthing Breathwork (Leonard Orr), Holotropic Breathwork (Stanislav Grof), Vivation Breathwork (Jim Leonard), Liberation Breathwork (Sondra Ray), Integrative Breathwork, Transformational Breathwork, Shamanic Breathwork, Breakthrough Breathwork, Clarity Breathwork, etc.
Related practices include Meditation, Relaxation techniques, Bio-feedback, Autogenics, Hypnosis, Yoga, T’ai Chi, Qigong, Reiki and some Chiropractic modalities such as Network Chiropractic. All of these and many other practices incorporate conscious, intentional and directed breathing in their processes and have a direct application in holistic substance abuse treatment.
Some of the many benefits of Breathwork are increased relaxation, stress reduction, increased energy, heightened physical & body awareness, mindfulness, cleansing and spiritual purification, increased somatic integration, reduced anxiety, increased trauma resolution, increased positive mood, improved impulse control and a general increase in greater well being. All of these benefits aid the recovering addict and alcoholic in their early recovery and beyond.
Generally, Breathwork can be practiced in a group or individually. It is most effective when guided by a professional trained in the process. It often incorporates music that can range from relaxing “New Age” music to rhythmic, energetic and provoking types of music. In a session, participants are usually guided to focus on their breathing and instructed in the specific type of breath. Lying on a yoga mat or seated in a comfortable position, the participant breathes in this manner, focusing on their breathing, for approximately 45 min. to an hour. This is typically followed by an opportunity to discuss the experience and verbally process any insights or feelings that might have surfaced.
Although not a recognized, evidenced based modality in and of itself, Breathwork is an effective tool that can be utilized in many therapeutic applications in conjunction with traditional treatment and therapies. It is used more and more frequently in the substance abuse treatment field as an aid in healing and an enhancement to traditional therapy.
As a Breathwork practitioner for over 25 years, I have seen remarkable results from this simple technique. I love sharing it in my weekly group with the clients at Beachway and hearing the positive experiences that they have. Clients comment that it helps them relax, sleep better and improves their focus and clarity. I hear comments like: “I was actually able to be still for an hour!” a feat that may not sound like much, but for many in the early stages of substance abuse treatment it is almost miraculous. The positive results experienced by most people can have on-going and increasing benefits when practiced regularly. Breathwork is truly a healing modality for substance abuse treatment!
Elizabeth Ossip, LCSW is a Primary Therapist at Beachway Therapy Center and has been a practicing Breathwork Coach since the early 1990’s. Contact Beachway Therapy to learn more about their substance abuse treatment or call 888-354-4202 to speak with a trained specialist.