Many events that are spontaneous body memories or regression are called panic attacks. Why?
Because an adult, capable person has been triggered, regressed, has gone back to a previous event when they were a different size and shape. This occurance is not always acknowledged with current mental health approaches. With this regression there may be very little witness or psychological perspective. The adult is back to another time in their life, accompanied by strong feelings and strong sensations in their body. There is panic because the body shape has changed. It can be so scary that the breathing starts to go into a panic breath – fast and short. Panic seems to “attack” this adult.
The panic, and the fast, short breathing and shock at the change can compound the experience – which can often be one of being very, very small. We were all once very, very small and had consciousness. There may be a sense of being in darkenss as well – even on a bright sunny day. The shock and strangeness of the event leads to more panic from the sense of loss of previous reality – ie being a capable grown up adult. Sometimes the capable adult has gone back to the overwhelming sense of helplessness which is the state of an infant, especially when it feels a threat. All infants are helpless and dependent. Threats to the body may be small, but the inability to move out of danger and speak about what they feel can seem life threatening at the time.
When the body memory comes unexpectedly for the adult, the fear and helplessness of the early event compounds and increases the panic and fast, short breathing, which brings on cramping and tingling which are not a usual part of life. The mind freezes. The body memory, the spontaneous regression, is not understood. The breathing can become hysterical breathing. No individual can have a panic attack of this nature if they are breathing long, slow breaths in and out the nose. If this panic attack happens in day to day life it can be scary and embarrassing. The individual retreats from life and limits their activities and enjoyment of living.
If this panic happens in the presence of a well trained breathworker in a breath session, the individual can let that memory come through with support, and in privacy, in a safe prone postion. With the right questions or silence that feels supportive, the individual client re-lives this previous event memory, which can be quite primal. Even if the client can hardly believe this event to be true, the body and the thought processes of their mind relax and open up to a new reality. It is authentic relaxation and it integrates a new perspective for the client’s life.
Most Individuals who undertake breathwork sessions come to realise that the panic attack experience was a spontaneous regression to a helpless infantile or foetal state. And the truth is that, at those times, we are helpless for the first year or more of our life. Our body does not function very well, we cannot say what we need or move away from seeming danger. Even after a year or more of growing, we as infants cannot walk or talk easily, and words to describe feelings and wants and needs are only just coming to awareness. We cannot run yet, or express. A lot of pain or trauma may have happened to the infant us during that time, by accident, by neglect or lack of sensitivity, through medical procedures or emergencies, and sometimes through deliberate harm to the infant body and deprivation of its needs. It is dependent to survive.
Adults who find themselves in this body memory, (it can be called a panic attack), may never want to find themselves that small and helpless again. They spend the rest of their life avoiding it somehow. This may result in a suppressed and lonely lifestyle run by fear of the regression, but without the realization its just a body memory. Individuals who undergo breathwork sessions may have this regression experience, lying down in a room with a seated professional who has had similar experiences themselves, is well trained, or has facilited the same for clients in safety, and with a positive outcome over their years of being in practice. The breathworkers are quite relaxed to know its just a body memory. The best part of this relationship is they know about the subconscious mind and the effect of intentions in life and in breathwork.
The well trained practitioner knows that the strong body memory is coming to the surface of their client’s awareness to be faced and experienced for release in a supported environment, instead of when client is by themselves, or driving a car, or out in public places, or about to deliver a speech or be a presenter at an event. And they know its coming to the surface because of an association triggering the body memory for the client or the client’s intentions that are bringing the memory to the surface to be released or resolved.
What is called spontaneous regression, and seems to be a panic attack, can be happening to many individuals on many days. It can be assumed it is triggered by current events similar to those about which individuals are unresolved. Or ….it is triggered by high energy places, like some points in nature, such as places of great beauty or spiritual power or sacred sites. The state of mindfulness, or mindful self awareness where there is witnessing of the change in breath and panic feelings in itself can allow the experience to be positive and long term breathwork increases mindfulness, in each and every session.
I have been in practise as a breathworker for a long time (since 1987), and i can see clients many different times over the years. I may be one of the longest facilitators of breathwork retreats in Australia. So i have a lot of examples. i facilitate course unit retreats of theory and practise and workshops and personal retreats one to one, mainly at Byron Bay, just 25 minutes from the Gold Coast. People drive from Brisbane, Gold Coast or fly from Sydney in a hour or so, and also come here from all parts of Australia. You are welcome to contact me through my website to ask personal questions about breathwork retreats in Australia, and what else i deliver overseas in Europe, and UK. Give me a few days to reply to you please.
One case study i have from some of the retreats beachside is that of a woman who was a homemaker for her husband and family in Sydney and later came to the beachside retreat location over a number of course unit retreats for training as a breathworker practitioner. Previously, at different times, in her life she had become so afraid that she could not be left home alone and she would sit in the car with her husband and drive around with him all day as he went about his work.
She later came to understand – through the work at the breathwork course unit retreats – that during that time she was not only feeling afraid at the time, she also felt really small. In her case, over the 38 personal sessions she undertook to become a breathwork practitioner, she had lots and lots of physical sensations only during those sessions. She had a major emotional release in her first session, and half way through the training for breathworker, she had a big crying and bliss experience during the Chakra Consciousness course unit on the day for Anahata, the heart centre.
After each retreat she felt better and better and stronger and stronger, as she started to move out of her role as homemaker, mother, into a career of her choice – Breathworker. In her case, she did not come to see what the cause of the panic attacks earlier had been. But the fear of them vanished as she saw other participants in the course retreats remembering past events, and sometimes rebirthing. In the 60s and 70s, the early days of breathwork many clients did regress to their birth and give themselves a new start – rebirth. The process of conscious breathing came to be called rebirthing for the first few decades until the more generic word breathwork took over.
For the homemaker to breathworker process, it was a slow steady strengthening. When she graduated, she moved straight into having clients. How? Her previously hostile daughter in law suddenly became interested in breathwork and organised lots friends for groups. It seems old material that was mental and emotional, moved out of the new breathworkers consciousness, from her going through body sensation changes during her training. Her relationship with her self changed so her relationship with others did also. This is an unusual case of clearing blocks by releasing on all levels, bit by bit, through physical sensations discharging while she did the conscious breathing technique.
For the full breathwork mastery technique and likely outcomes see http://rebirthing.com.au/about/rebirthing-breathwork/
Spontaneous regression or panic attacks, may also happen around anything to do with childbearing or lovemaking. Spontaneous regression is triggered by a song, a type of movie, most forms of drug taking, times of loss and transitions, some association to another trauma, and any social or work pressures.
How regressed can a client become?
When a spontaneous regression occurs, the breath panic sets in as the speed and length of the breath increases in an attempt to push away the cellular memory, and the old feeling or emotion that is surfacing. The actual panic feeling can be one of being taken over by an emotional force. Most panic attacks when facilitated by a well trained breathworker, turn into the full or part body memory of a birth recall, or a traumatic early event: like being locked in a cupboard by older children or being dropped on the floor as an infant. This recall can occur to a great positive advantage for a client, when in the presence of someone who can support the process and is quite allowing of what is actually happening to the individual.
In the Breathwork Mastery process, individuals all have differing experiences which are unpredictable. Some allow the memories up at the start of their retreat or early sessions or after a while of gaining confidence in the process. Some, like in the case study, process the past event just through body sensations coming and then fading, clearing from the system. It seems the trauma is held in the body as an electromagnetic charge. Conscious breath directly releases this charge, sometimes bit by bit and also as described previously – the experience of being taken over by an emotion and change in body sense which may take up just a few minutes of the usual ninety minute breathing cycle.
Pre-professional breathwork training
I deliver pre-professional training in breathwork mastery to support individuals to use their own breath with support from a family member or friend.
It is a twelve session training of experience and theory and it becomes the foundation for practitioner training. it is for personal or professional development for those who are working with people who are likely to be in highly charged states of emotion or reaction. Some of the professional groups I have identified as likely to benefit from doing this twelve session training are – health care workers, ie doctors – trauma and emergency workers like ambulance drivers, psychologists and counselors, mangers in all types of companies, sex workers, dentists, flight attendants, teenagers, parents and child care workers.
Choosing a support person for self clearing session
When you have noticed there is something to clear, and you intend to have a self session, a self clearing, you can breathe by yourself in the bath, or make your self comfortable in a room where you will not be interrupted.
You can ask a person who has done some Breathwork, Rebirthing or is in a supportive profession like heath care, or child care etc. You can ask other friends who support you in other areas of your life who you know would be willing to support you in this particular situation. Two or more persons could be there for you if it seems appropriate, as long as you know the situation is likely to be quite supportive to dealing with the issues you are intending to resolve.
RBM pre-professional support exchange or assisting mode of operating is
• Clarifying when to operate as support person/assistant at the pre-professional level or the professional level, under supervision for intention setting
• Operating at the level of pre-professional support/assisting, from listening-orientated, agenda-free facilitation.
• Operating at the level of support/assisting a practitioner under supervision, by providing questions and listening skill that supports others to shape their intentions, with agenda-free facilitation
• Respecting that others know what is personally important and relevant
• Being present to and listening to others or another who is already in a highly reactivated state of mind or emotion and looking after their immediate physical safety
• Sitting beside a practitioner/trainer’s client/participant and providing attentiveness to their physical needs and listening-orientated agenda-free support
• Operating from support/assisting a practitioner, under supervision in supporting the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual unfolding of the session
• Following instructions with accuracy, or clarifying what is the instruction if not clear
• RBM specific breath technique of 7 steps
1. Conscious breath
2. Full breath
3. Connected breathing
4. Relaxed or subtle breathing
5. Inhale and exhale from the nose until or unless it blocks
6. Breath remains linked to body sensation awareness
7. Awareness of variations in breath and awareness
• RBM specific questions, under supervision, if instructed by as the clients practitioner or trainer