In a recent post I mentioned that I had a pretty amazing reflective/healing experience, which included breathwork therapy (aka rebirthing) at a Cala retreat in Ibiza.

What is Breathwork Therapy / Rebirthing?

Rebirthing is not something that I had come across before. As a science graduate / atheist / Londoner I have a tendency to err on the side of caution (/scepticism) when it comes to alternative therapies, spirituality, meditation, holding hands etc. My experience at Cala has probably changed this part of me for life.

The power of working with the breath has been known for thousands of years but it was rediscovered in the 1960s when it was found that it was comparable / better than the popular drugs of the time, in terms of affecting consciousness in a positive way. Rebirthing is a healing method which works by bringing unconscious feelings and emotions into awareness, making it possible to consolidate and heal them, and free up emotional energy.

There are three requirements on your breathing:

  • Breathe in and out through the same air passage (mouth or nose);
  • Active inhale and passive exhale; and
  • No pauses between breaths.

Everyone’s experience is different, and even the same person will experience rebirthing differently on different occasions. We all have different issues and emotions hidden at different depths, and your experience may depend on your state of mind on any given day, or how willing and open you are to it. For me it was an extremely liberating and positive experience, although very emotional. It was far more effective than simply talking about memories, thoughts and feelings. Whatever emotional filters or defence mechanisms are normally in place were irrelevant.

How does it work?

Feelings? Emotional energy? Healing?.. Really? I have an irritating need to rationalise everything with scientific explanation so I’ll be the first to ask: er, how does it work? What exactly is happening physiologically? Scientific research, facts and published papers are not in abundance on this topic. As a biochemistry grad I covered some neuroscience during my studies: suffice to say that the human brain is the most complex living structure in the known universe, and that we (humans and specifically scientists) are not exactly brimming with detailed understanding on how things as complex as memory, emotion and conscious/unconscious thought actually work. What is known about rebirthing is this: by breathing continuously without break, your body takes in more oxygen than usual, which changes the CO2 level in your brain. Comparable to when you consume caffeine, alcohol or other drugs, it changes the chemical composition of your blood and within your brain, and you see and feel the affects in your thoughts and behaviour. In the case of rebirthing, this slightly altered chemistry puts you in a different state of consciousness, where you experience your thoughts and feelings differently.

My experience step by step

My rebirther, Purnima explained how to breathe, and that all I needed to think about was my breathing, that there was no other expectation of me. She said not to worry if my hands went rigid. She spoke very little throughout, only a few times to remind me of my breathing. I put an eye mask on and laid comfortably on the floor (with cushions and blankets). The eye mask helped stop me from getting distracted and looking around wondering what was supposed to happen and when. Initially I was simply concentrating on breathing deeply and continuously, which is harder than it sounds, as we’re not used to breathing like that for extended periods of time. After a short while I started to feel the physiological effects of this; a pins and needles sensation developed in my hands and a numbness in my feet. This continued for some time, I remember breathing for quite a while and my hands becoming rigid with that pins and needles sensation. I was completely conscious throughout, and my mind was active with normal thoughts (like is this working?).

At one point I got quite hot and flung the blankets off my chest. Not long after that, I experienced a chain of thoughts and emotions. I can’t compare it to hallucinating, or dreaming. I was conscious and my mind seemed to be producing thoughts as it normally would, however I seemed to be feeling those thoughts very powerfully, I was feeling everything about them. In part of my thoughts was a worry that I’ve kept for years. I felt all of the worst of it, I dwelled on it and let my heart break for it, and then I was flooded with a feeling of peace and positivity about it and my intentions and feelings about it were clear and bright. This feeling of peace and positivity stayed with me while my breathing slowly returned to normal. I had tears in my eyes but was smiling with a feeling of complete calm and clarity. And this feeling has stayed with me since. What was worrying me has been cleared away, it’s still going to happen in real life, I can’t stop it, but I feel at peace with it. I feel lighter and have a huge space for new and positive emotional energy in it’s place.

Rebirthing Emma Brewer Brewsker

11 thoughts on “Rebirthing

  1. I enjoyed reading this, I am learning some similar breathing techniques in a yoga class that I do with a group of chronic pain sufferers. I cannot do many of the yoga movements due to my pain and lack of mobility but the breathing is excellent for helping me to relax and destress

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s weird isn’t it. We all do it and for 99.9% of the population do it naturally as part of everyday life but don’t realise how with a few tweaks to the way they do it stress can reduce,business meetings productive and sunsets or rises special wherever you are. For me it helps me to come to terms with my disability and the frustrations of how inaccessible so many places of the world are in the 21st century!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing this. I appreciate your mentality (as I can be this way too) in terms of wanting work on logical sides of understanding certain things. But, it’s funny how, in the words of Albert Einstein, “Logic can get you from A to B, but imagination (& I would contend feeling/experiencing) will take you anywhere.”

    I also appreciate learning about this form of breathwork/meditation. I hadn’t heard of it quite like this before, though I’ve heard of and practiced mindfulness and even what’s known as focusing. So thank you for guiding me toward learning something today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is a lovely comment, thank you! We often blog/post/share to gain follows/comments/likes and you remind me that the real (and arguably only) value of blogging (and social media generally) is to share stories and lessons, to inspire and be inspired. To pass on goodness!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Very interesting and nicely written. I meditate regularly which makes me aware of just how much my mind wanders and how difficult it is to keep concentration on the breathe.

    I’m curious as to what the difference is between active inhale and passive exhale?

    In meditation the breathing tends to become longer & deeper but with a pause between the in breath and out breath.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jerry! It’s a strange sensation, breathing this way is actually quite laboured because you’re breathing deep and not allowed to pause. The exhale is passive because you’re not forcing the air out, you let the air escape at its natural pace without thinking about or controlling it.

      Liked by 1 person

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