Cathartic breathwork has come to mean breathwork techniques and approaches which emphasize and encourage emotional release each time – and place high value on it. I say nearly all breathwork can be cathartic if it means all breathwork can allow an individual to offload some emotional burden that has not been expressed. And it is a safe place to do this. The expression is best if it is authentic and true for the client. There are only a few leaders who say ” do not express – just keep breathing and stay on the edge of the emotion …” However i have found that if the client has really been overloaded with emotional responses and yet not free in their normal life to express those emotions safely, there is no way the client can not express those emotions in a breathwork session. Mainly because the session is usually felt as a safe and supported space to be real with oneself as a participant.
So i claim nearly all breathwork is cathartic if it means emotionally releasing. However certain breathing style will make sure that there is more likely chance of expression – and the use of the mouth for breathing. While using the nose and normal, but longer, conscious breaths – which is the style for Breathwork Mastery participants since 1988, will allow the nose to close if the emotional level arises for expression. Otherwise, the body sensation awareness focus along with conscious breath in RBM has the emotional level process out through the body sensation changes as the session progresses. Or the client goes into an authentic release of what could not be safely felt or released before. This is usually an early experience in breathwork, as its likey that the client finds themselves feeling “safe and supported ” to feel and/or remember.
Expression in words also processes a lot of emotion – as there is often feeling behind the fact or reality that a person was not always able to say what was true for them in their past.
After a lot of emotional release in a session, the breather/client is often in need of a lot of recovery time. Sometimes they describe their feeling as “exhausted”. However, if you as a Rebirther Breathworker ask a few questions about the “feeling” breathers agree it is a feeling close to being very tired from physical activity. However, they agree it is more like that they have a “blank slate” to draw on now, a feeling of new space or feeling literally “wiped out” in terms of having erased a long held energy (the held in emotion). So it is worth pointing that out.
Rebirthing Breathwork is actually not exhausting, except of unwanted material, which in itself is energizing. It takes a lot of energy to hold down and suppress emotional states.
Breathwork and Yoga/Meditation – the emotional level
In Yoga and Meditation, emotion is “neutralized” by witnessing it, stepping back from it, until it falls away.
In Rebirthing Breathwork the opposite happens. Breathers go right into it, amplify it, feel it, become completely present to it, get all the messages from it, in order to neutralize it, and release the charge.
Expressing – Sounding and Catharting
Emotion can be also released in a sound. The most powerful and integrated way for breathers to use sound is when the sound emerges as a feeling from the body, almost in spite of themselves, that is, spontaneously. This is called a cathart. A true cathart is only a few seconds long and feels like it goes through you if you are the Rebirther Breathworker.
There is also another type of sound that comes from a breather/client that is actually pushing the emotion away, not releasing it. It is best described as “acting out” the emotion (rather than really feeling it). This feels irritating and stuck to other people in the room. The gut feeling is “why doesn’t he/she get into it?”
The best way to support someone in that space, as a sitter or Rebirther Breathworker, is to ask them to take ten big connected relaxed breaths. (Usually they are suppressing and forcing the exhale to make the sound). This can change this pattern. Also ask the breather to breathe into whatever is happening in their body and see where that flow takes the breather.
Alternatively ask, “if you make a sound, let it come from the sensations themselves in your body, and put everything you have got into that sound.”
Summary – cathart, express, act out
Cathart is 100% spontaneous and often unexpected. The sense is it blesses you with its expression as the one who makes it, or another person in the room. It elevates the whole space, is not jarring, and sometimes comes as a surprise. A pure cathart cannot be made voluntarily by an individual and it cannot be stopped by that individual either. The definations of the word cathart found in references and dictionaries are not describing what i have experienced as a pure cathart. They are using a word that is closer to “express” emotion or feeling rather than the phenomena that is pure cathart. The sound seems to come out of the whole body, not the throat. it is not very long and it sounds like it is far away and yet near too. Expression is a great experience also. Cathart is a phenomena. Both have a valuable place in the breathwork process. Acting out is sometimes usefull if someone has been badly suppressed – a sort of “fake it until you make it”? It can play it’s part in the whole release and resolution process if it is part of the authentic process of admitting to oneself i cannot express or feel, so i will start by forcing some feeling out. For me it is only to be encouraged if the client is truly aware of just how suppressed and damagingly suppressed they have been, and in the session, maybe in a lot of physical pain. At that time, it may be compassionate to ask them to put that pain into a sound. To just use a session or a group process to have temper tantrum type acting out has a completely different feel and there can be the feeling that someone is actually suppressing more by “acting out” a feeling – its a sense of not being in touch at the time and closer to literally acting out frustration or rage to be approved of or get something. Like a spoilt child doing something to get something, a client acting out in a session creates a lack of empathy with those around them, while someone in pure cathart or authentic expression will make people feel themselves more and be touched, be more open hearted as well.
Emotional pain through the physical body
Any pain that is in the body can be released through sound. Often, in the first sound, it releases dramatically, then more in the second etc, until it is all gone. One of the valid pathways to release emotions and feelings is through the pathway of the body sensations – body pain, tension, cramping or spasms.
Individuals discover that all dis-ease or mild or chronic symptoms in their bodies are connected to an emotional or feeling response. This is also connected to a decision or thought, usually limiting to the individual.
Getting hold of the thought leads to resolution then or in the ensuing sessions or days/weeks.
Sounding in a session –
giving voice to or expressing the emotions or the pain works at the level of release. This resolves some or all pain or discomfort at the time in the body and therefore it is a healthy mechanism. In this way, individuals learn for themselves that it is ultimately more painful not to speak up or express themselves emotionally in their lives.
When as a Rebirther Breathworker, i ask, “what are you feeling?”, it is best that the breather or client comes up with a response on their own. If there is a slow or faltering response, i give prompts, a suggested range of emotion. But i tell the client – please give “any feeling” response. The prompts of the four emotions/feelings
asking “what do you feel – 4 prompts” – “or any other feeling”
is useful when there is no reply to the first question.
For some individuals, it is an education process to learn to identify what they are feeling as emotion has been suppressed or invalidated in the past. Remember that if the feeling or emotional pain is really, really repressed, it may travel into the physical body to release or even become tetany or cramping.
Tetany and Hyperventilation
“Tetany/Hyperventilation” are a whole subject for another blog. There are 4 ways to release tetany – which is cramping. It can become steely strong cramping as if the hands or band across the waist or mouth could snap. it starts as prickly tingling. it happens when the inhale or exhale or both have pressure or force added and the breath has speeded up and become short as well as fast. There is two hints as to how to release it.
Feeling and emotion – according to Webster dictionary
feel: to be sensitive to, to experience emotionally, to perceive by touch, to give rise to a definite sensation.
feeling: sense of touch, intuition, sensibility, sympathy.
Breathers respond to the question “what are you feeling?” more easily than to the word “emotion”. It seems emotion is more defined in our language as something stronger than feeling although feelings can become strong. “Numb” can be called a feeling and “irritated” also. They are seemingly milder emotions to fear, anger, sadness, or joy. These feelings can also be experienced intensely.
A wonderful book called “When Elephants Weep” is about animals displaying emotions. There are some interesting statistics on emotions – “one psychologist complied a list of 154 emotion names from abhorrence to worry. Theorists do not agree on which emotions are basic ones. Rene Descartes said there were six basic emotions: love, hate, astonishment, desire, joy and sorrow. Immanuel Kant found five: love, hope, modesty, joy and sorrow. William James defined four: love, fear, grief and rage”.
Relationship with emotions
As an individual, do you have emotions or have they got you? Or have you killed them off anyway?
How can you have a richer emotional life? How are healthy feelings a mark of wholeness?
The self-observation that is developed by practising Rebirthing Breathwork also expands an individual’s ability to identify immediately when they are reactivated in their daily life by events, situations and people, and how to be free of reaction.
Sublimation? – Emotion to devotion
In our lives there is also the facility of sublimation of emotion – for example, turning emotion to devotion. This is the path for some through religion, spirituality or devotion to some form or practice, which elevates the reactive emotions to devotion, thus sublimating them.
Sublimation is an authentic form of clearing, channeling, discharging or defusing reactive emotion. To sublimate is to transform some energy into a more refined energy, which in the case of emotional energy, involves reactive feelings to be transported to the higher expansive and more energizing feelings including bliss.
For example, a reactive feeling of rage, could be sublimated authentically into a physical activity like gardening or volunteering for a charity event or in a spiritual community. Certain lifestyles and activities also sublimate emotion and feelings from sport all the way through to knitting or certain repetitive activities or even model airplane building. Then there are the lifestyle practices like too much or too little sleep, exercise, fasting or not overeating, less than moderate use of mood altering substances including tea, coffee, tobacco, alcohol and many other items. Singing, dancing, all the creative arts are also able to sublimate, or make more sublime, our emotions and feelings.
Feeling and emotion – definitions from many places
ca·thar·sis [kuh-thahr-sis] -noun, pl.-ses [-seez].
1. the purging of the emotions or relieving of emotional tensions, especially through certain kinds of art, as tragedy or music. 2. Medical purgation. 3. Psychiatry. a. psychotherapy that encourages or permits the discharge of pent-up, socially unacceptable affects. b. discharge of pent-up emotions so as to result in the alleviation of symptoms or the permanent relief of the condition.
Origin: 1795–1805; < NL < Gk kátharsis a cleansing, equiv. to kathar- (var. s. of kathaírein to cleanse, deriv. of katharós pure) + -sis -sis
(Med.) A natural or artificial purgation of any passage, as of the mouth, bowels, etc.
(Psychotherapy) The process of relieving an abnormal excitement by reëstablishing the association of the emotion with the memory or idea of the event that first caused it, and of eliminating it by complete expression (called the abreaction). Related Words – katharsis, purgation, purge, purging
(Med.) Cleansing the bowels; promoting evacuations by stool; purgative.
Of or pertaining to the purgative principle of senna, as cathartic acid.
(Med.) A medicine that promotes alvine discharges; a purge; a purgative of moderate activity.
Related Words – abstergent, alleviating, alleviative, analgesic, anesthetic, anodyne, aperient, assuasive, balmy, balsamic, benumbing, carminative, cleaner, cleaning, cleaning agent, cleaning solvent, cleanser, cleansing, cleansing cream, cold cream, cream, deadening, demulcent, dentifrice, depurant, depurative, detergent, diuretic, dulling, easing, emetic, emollient, enema, expurgatory, holystone, laxative, lenitive, lotion, lustral, mitigating, mitigative, mouthwash, nauseant, numbing, pain-killing, palliative, physic, pumice stone, purgative, purge, purging, purificatory, purifier, purifying, relieving, remedial, rinse, shampoo, soap, softening, solvent, soothing, subduing, synthetic detergent, tooth powder, toothpaste, wash
Definition of cathart – to inject with libidinal energy.
Related Words – arouse, brace, energise, energize, perk up, stimulate
OXFORD dictionary – Nothing
Introduction to psychology by Hilgard/ Atkinson/Atkinson
Reduction of an impulse or emotion through direct or indirect expression, particularly verbal and fantasy expression
fantasy imagination: sometimes a consequence of frustration
used as a personality test in projective tests – projective tests – subjects reveal (“project”) themselves through imaginative productions – the test gives much freer possibilities of response than the fixed-alternative personality inventory
Search Results – psychology and cathart
Catharsis – What Is Catharsis
Definition: A catharsis is an emotional release. … More Psychology Definitions >> Psychology Dictionary … Psychology Guide. Sign up for my Newsletter …
Definition: A catharsis is an emotional release. According to psychodynamic theory, this emotional release is linked to a need to release unconscious conflicts. For example, experiencing stress over a work-related situation may cause feelings of frustration and tension. Rather than vent these feelings inappropriately, the individual may instead release these feelings in another way, such as through physical activity or another stress relieving activity.
psychology.about.com/od/cindex/g/catharsis.htm – 19k – Cached – Similar pages
Catharsis: Encyclopedia of Psychology
The term catharsis originated from the Greek word katharsis, meaning to purge, or purgation. In psychology, the term was first employed by Sigmund Freud’s …
The release of repressed psychic energy.
The term catharsis originated from the Greek word katharsis, meaning to purge, or purgation. In psychology, the term was first employed by Sigmund Freud’s colleague Josef Breuer (1842-1925), who developed a “cathartic” treatment for persons suffering from hysterical symptoms through the use of hypnosis. While under hypnosis, Breuer’s patients were able to recall traumatic experiences, and through the process of expressing the original emotions that had been repressed and forgotten, they were relieved of their symptoms. Catharsis was also central to Freud’s concept of psychoanalysis, but he replaced hypnosis with
Psychology Glossary. Definitions to psychology terms –
Catharsis: Catharsis is a psychodynamic principle that, in its most basic sense, is simply an emotional release. Further, the catharsis hypothesis maintains that aggressive or sexual urges are relieved by “releasing” aggressive or sexual energy, usually through action or fantasy. For example, a young male may watch a film in which an attractive woman engages in sexual behavior. The young male may become sexually aroused from this and subsequently frustrated because of his inability to act out his sexual desires. To release this sexual tension, the young male may go outside and play sports or engage in fantasies about himself and the woman.
Find a definition in the Psychology Glossary … Catharsis: Catharsis is a psychodynamic principle that, in its most basic sense, is simply