My Adventures in Breathwork – A Retreat in Brighton
Where do I begin writing this? I’m still integrating some of the teachings; I do feel like I have the words to describe some of the things that we did or felt, but here goes.
If you’ve been reading my blog, you will know that I embarked upon a 400-hour ‘Breathwork Facilitator’ training course in September, which teaches me all aspects of breathing and how to hold safe, powerful and genuinely healing breathwork sessions.
This was the first Advanced Skills ‘Breathing Space’ Retreat in Brighton. I jumped at the opportunity to go – not just to meet everyone who I’d only met through Zoom, but to experience live breathing sessions.
Why Am I Here?
Lying in a room full of experienced ‘breathers’ entirely in the ‘process’, some crying, some screaming, some speaking in weird languages, and some banging their fists or feet on the floor – I did wonder about my life choices that got me to this moment, and whether I could do this!
You learn from doing and experiencing, rather than reading about it in a book, and this weekend has been a compelling learning experience.
This quote from Jamie Catto is one that I love;
‘We are all of us guru’s with a lunatic in charge.’
How do we get the lunatic out of the way to access our deep all-knowing guru? Well, breathwork proves to be an effective method for doing just that. The problem is the ‘lunatic’ who’s in charge of us, most of the time’ doesn’t like letting go too easily.
We started on Friday night, setting our intentions for the weekend, and we got to meet everyone. Then we did a Conscious Connected Breath, led by Benedict, our course leader. Being in a room with experienced ‘breathers’, I was surprised at how quickly they could switch into the breathing process.
A big part of conscious connected breathing is the ability to let go and surrender to the process. Being in a room of other breathers is a powerful thing. It’s a collective energy that picks you up and carries you further than you would probably do by practising online.
The next day we started with a ‘Felt Sense’ masterclass. ‘Felt Sense’ is a way to get back to your body. We live so much in our heads that we never really connect back into our inner sense of ‘knowing’. The more you can feel in yourself, the more you can feel in others. It’s like tuning in to yourself, but it’s something that you have to practice regularly. It’s not just something that appears out of the blue. A bit like training your biceps, you can’t just do one bicep curl and expect your muscles to appear – you have to practice constantly and consistently.
Benedict gave us a great quote from his mentor;
“Breathing is not about making you feel better; it’s about getting better at feeling.”
That certainly resonated with me and is becoming my experience, and I feel things differently now after practising breathwork. It’s made me much more in touch with my other bodies – spiritual, emotional and mental, and it’s not all about the physical.
Look Into My Eyes!
We had workshops on ‘Angel Training’ (what we call a ‘helper’ during a session), touching and reSourcing. Resourcing is a way to bring you back to your presence. How do you self regulate and find that space within that will provide peace and calmness? We ended the day with my teacher Shakti, doing a full-on ‘spiritual AF’ session with her drum. I was honoured to be asked me to help and ‘angel’ for her, which was amazing – you could feel and almost touch the energy in the room.
It was a full-on day – lots of deep soul searching and staring intensely into each other’s eyes – something that felt uncomfortable at first, but by the end of the weekend, it just felt like the most natural thing.
The next day we started with ecstatic dancing, Sufi breathing and ‘mirroring’ – bloomin loved this; for me, the real power of breathwork comes when the body and breath are combined.
We then did a quick session on ‘Transmission’, which is about looking after your energy because you transmit it out into the world. Then we got to do pair breathing, which I thought I would hate, but I LOVED it. It was so powerful. You’re in a room full of others, but you have your facilitator guiding you and leading you. Honestly, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I was on another planet. Then we got to swap over, and I held the space for my partner, which was equally as powerful. I got to do mine with the lovely Sasha, who is one of our course mentors, she’s from Rotterdam, and just a fabulous person to be around.
The final session was ‘Mandala’ breathing, amazingly surreal and powerful. I can’t describe it to do it justice entirely. It involves one group sitting still in a circle and an outer ring moving around, so you have a different partner each time. You stare into their eyes and see various aspects of their soul. As I said, I can’t describe it thoroughly, and it sounds a bit woo woo – but it was awesome.
Would I do it again?
Travelling to and back from Brighton from the northeast was a bit of a chore; it’s a very long way and especially in pandemic ridden times. But I loved the place, it’s very bohemian with an ‘anything goes’ attitude about it, the people are so friendly. I will be back.
To conclude – I don’t think I’ve done the weekend justice with my words; it was amazing to meet everyone, so special to see our teachers and mentors in person. We shared a flat, and it was like being a student again. We laughed, cried, jumped around in ecstasy, ate some lush food, drank wine and just generally had a great time.
It’s also made me feel more of the wider breath work community, and equipped me better to become a facilitator. You can’t really describe the connections and deep learning that takes place from being in a room of like minded souls.
Was it worth it? Absolutely – I’ve met some friends for life, and it’s made me more on a mission to bring breathwork to our little corner of County Durham.