In my years of experience working with breathwork I have had many people come to see me who are suffering from both anxiety and panic. I have seen that anxiety and panic has a big impact on the life of the person who is suffering with it. For many of these folk their world begins to shrink as they are increasingly afraid to be out in the world in an unfamiliar environment, or are terrified to do the things that many of us take for granted including catching a bus, train or airplane.
Some of the symptoms of anxiety include worry, stress, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, lack of sleep, and not being able to concentrate.
Sometimes the anxiety can develop into panic attacks where a person can experience the following: hyperventilation, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain, or shaking. This can be a shocking experience; and I have had a number of clients who have ended up in the emergency department in hospital with these symptoms because they have believed they were having a heart attack.
In my experience the symptoms of anxiety and panic come from a build up of both fear and stress in the body and mind. The Breathwork technique is one of the best modalities that I know of to address the underlying fear and stress and to bring about deep healing for those suffering from anxiety and panic. When a person comes to me with anxiety, I show them the deep breathing technique and I guide them through the breathing. It is truly beautiful to see people let go of their fear and stress, simply through deep breathing.
I work both distantly, over the phone, and also locally with a person lying on my healing table. I instruct the person breathing as to how slow or fast the rate of breathing is, depending on other symptoms they are showing up with. As the session progresses and the person continues to breathe, the breathing may become faster, panting, or simply long slow and deep.
What I find so interesting, and this is the basis of breathwork, is that as the breathing progresses, whatever emotions a person is holding onto start to rise to the surface so that the person can acknowledge, accept, and allow them to release. Once accepted and allowed there is a sense of letting go. In breathwork the body can shake, the hands feet and mouth may even begin to tingle or buzz, as the emotions and energy releases. Truly years of stress, tension, and dis-ease releases from a person, and the relief is palpable.
During the session I also work with my Shamanic and Cellular healing practices to assist the release. I work with the physical body; hands on to release the tension held in the body and the stress held in the brain, and I also work off the body in the energy field to help energies to release. At times this ‘off the body’ work involves the use of smoke to cleanse the energy field, as many indigenous peoples do, and also sound from instruments such as the Tibetan singing bowls, gongs, and the hoop drum.
What I have seen in my work is that suppressing emotions creates anxiety. In the case of anxiety the emotion being suppressed is generally fear. When a person is out of balance in their life, including overworking or not getting enough rest, fear can build, stress can build up, the energy gets stuck in the head and the worry starts. Once a person is worrying it is very hard for them to meditate and to let go of the thoughts. If a person is suffering from PTSD and the after affects of trauma then they will also be holding on to fear that needs to be ‘detoxed’. This is when intervention in the way of Breathwork, Shamanic and Cellular Healing is required.
With panic attacks the fear literally builds up until it begins to release in order to heal; the body is attempting to throw off the fear. If you are having a panic attack it is important to name this as fear, and to breathe long slow deep breaths into the belly and chest; belly breathing brings about relaxation whereas shallow chest only breathing increases anxiety. Accept the fear, know you are safe, affirm; I am safe, it is safe to let go of fear, it is safe to breathe. You may also want to affirm; it is safe to be alive (if you are suffering from the affects of trauma).
You can help yourself heal from anxiety by practicing some regular breathing exercises everyday. Long slow deep breathing into the belly and up into the chest will help to let go of the fear and stress. Be aware of the ‘uncomfortable’ feelings arising as you breathe deeply, totally accept them, and breathe them out. Your body will begin to relax deeply. Regular meditation will also help to let go of the stress on a daily basis. Remember to balance your life and get enough rest and relaxation.