Just Keep Breathing
By Trish Reyburn
The breath is both subtle and powerful. Basic respiration happens on its own, without our having to pay any attention whatsoever. And yet, when used in a conscious way, our breath can indeed be life-changing.
During an intensive retreat I participated in early in my yogic years, I had an experience of Rebirthing. They didn’t call it Rebirthing and I had never heard of Rebirthing anyway so it wouldn’t have helped me in preparing for such a profound experience. I rather think it was better that I went in totally blind.
After lunch one day our director announced,
I didn’t realize that I had been on-edge up until that moment, but in hearing those words everything in me settled down and softened a bit. Aaaaah, breathing, yes. I could breathe., I knew how to do that, no problem.
We were set up with partners and a coach on blankets across the room. The coach watched over four blankets and divided her time between them as needed. At the front of the room, our director stood near a large flip chart and gave the instructions:.
“One of you will begin as The Breather and the other will be support The Breather by slowly repeating these following phrases:
Just keep breathing.
You’re doing great.
I went first and laid on my back, covered with a blanket, and began the circular breath technique we were instructed in–breathing normally in and out of the mouth but without any pause at the top or bottom of the breath. It seemed easy and yet it proved to be incredibly powerful. As I continued the practice, I felt changes in my body. Down in my stomach area I could feel a ball of energy forming and with each respiration I could feel the ball move a little higher in my body until it came out of my mouth as a sound. When the sound released, another ball of energy would form and I would go through the process again and again. My partner and the coach helped me along through the process by repeating their catch phrases, “You’re doing great.”
I was conscious while this was happening and I remember thinking it was the very best type of therapy since it allowed someone (me) to release stored emotions without having to hash up all the old memories that might go along with them. It was both supportive and effective. But it was also very powerful. At some point, the practice intensified and all my fingerpads felt like they were glued together and I couldn’t pull them apart. I also began to have a psychedelic experience that I still remember vividly to this day. I was shooting through a vortex (hence the name “Rebirthing”). I was squeezed through some kind of cosmic chute and then I landed back on the blanket on the floor.
My partner mentioned that it looked like I had had a facial because my skin looked so vibrant and alive. I couldn’t walk on my own right away and needed her help to get up and exercise my body after the intensity. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
And it was just my breath.