The Innate Breath
Restorative Breathwork is a guided meditation practice that focuses on cultivating an attentive awareness of the breath. This quality of awareness invites us to be mindful of the breath while simultaneously modifying the breath to open up its natural movements. It requires a presence of listening, opening oneself to being the “receiver” of the breath. In attending to the flow of the breath, we soon become aware that there is an innate wisdom, or intelligence, within our natural breath. We call this our “innate breath.” Our innate breath is our connection to the universal life force energy that infuses and vitalizes all of life. As we attune to the ever-changing rhythms of the innate breath, we attune to the very heartbeat of creation. Its rhythm is one of vitality and aliveness, inviting us upon an inner journey of healing and transformation. As our practice deepens, we experience the very essence of the innate breath itself—free, expansive, and intimately connected to the Divine.
Awakening the Breath
When we begin to cultivate an attentive awareness of our breath, many of us notice that we are unable to breathe fully, and that our breathing is labored and erratic. Most irregularities in our breath grow out of breathing habits caused by chronic stress and suppressed emotions. These tensions in the breath eventually block or impair the functioning of the innate breath; although still present, it now exists in a quiescent state. As we open up the breath's natural movements, old patterns of tension and gripping are gently released. In unraveling tensions in the breath, we awaken the innate breath from its suspended state, encouraging it to unfold its potential to activate and stimulate energy flow, revitalizing all levels of being—mind, body, and spirit.
As we learn to attend to the flow of the breath, we must resist the natural temptation to apply too much effort or force, because doing so can be counterproductive. We must constantly remind ourselves that we “allow” rather than manipulate or control the breath. It is about learning how to relax and "undo," going with the breath instead of trying to control it. We call this the yoga of "effortless effort." In cultivating an attentive awareness of the breath, we begin to become aware of those places within us where we hold back—where we find ourselves gripping. Learning to relax and receive the breath into those spaces of the body where tension arises invites us to be fully present, open, and receptive.
As tensions in the breath unravel, old emotions that have been suppressed may surface. Mindfulness plays a vital role in learning how to witness these emotions without collapsing into them or avoiding them. In our approach, the intention is to cultivate what is referred to as “emotional presence." Staying present when uncomfortable feelings are awakened and experiencing them with acceptance can initiate deep shifts in consciousness. These shifts in consciousness literally transform us. The ultimate goal is to stay present when emotional discomfort arises and experience the transformational power of non-resistance.
The Dance of Breath
In freeing up the breath's natural movements, we begin to develop a sense of our own unique breath rhythms. Opening to the natural rhythms of the breath is a dance between effort and surrender, between doing and undoing. As we learn to attune to the ever-changing rhythms of our breath, we find ourselves attending to the flow of the breath, in a manner that is unified, coordinated, and effortless. This rhythmic dance of the breath sequentially move us inward into a deep inner stillness, reconnecting us to the deepest part of ourselves. It is a dance of purification and renewal; it is the dance of awakening, it is the dance of breath.