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Breathwork is a developing therapy that draws on shamanistic techniques blended with specific breathing patterns to induce an altered state of consciousness. While in this altered state, the mind is opened to many things. A person may find the means of achieving deep personal healing, while others may find balance or inspiration. The experiences each person can have range greatly, and one cannot assume that each person’s experience will be the same.

When beginning the practice of breathwork, we must simply spend time becoming aware of ourselves. In today’s society, people do not get to spend much time on their personal issues, or exploring themselves on any level outside of what to wear, which route to drive, or what to eat. So, in the beginning, one must sit alone, and concentrate on the self.

In a quiet room that is comfortable, simply focus on your breathing. Listen to your body and how it sounds. Let your thoughts run rampant. If you wander too far off in your thoughts, gently come back to the breathing. This practice will open your mind to your body and your inner self, and will help you in pursuing this deep meditative practice.

Later sessions will include controlled breathing for periods of about 15-20 minutes. This breathing may focus on a particular area of the body or on nothing at all. As practice becomes more refined, certain types of music can be used to help induce the altered mental state desired. This could be drumming, soft music with nature sounds, or more popularly, trance music. Trance is more popular as it is created in a manner that it helps the brain trigger a release of certain chemicals that help induce trances.

Below is a sample of how a session may work:

Make the room comfortable. Think about what makes it cozy for you. Do you like the lights dimmed or the windows opened? Perhaps you like incense or candles.

Put in a piece of music designed to relax the body and mind. A piece with a bass line simulating a heartbeat may be a good recommendation for you. It is good to create a timed tape of about 20 minutes if you want to control the limits of your sessions. Towards the end of the session tape you may wish to include a particular song, or series of sounds to key you into the need to close the session.

You may then wish to sit, or lie down. Most people recommend sitting in a straight-backed chair due to the tendency to fall asleep while lying down. It is most important, however, to figure out what works best for you. Experiment with different positions until you discover what works best. Some people do not like sitting due to back troubles. Others do not like to lie down because it causes difficulty with breathing. Discomfort is not at all welcomed in the session.

Fall into the rhythm of the music and breathe. Focus on your breathing and the music. Begin slow controlled breaths. Start your breath slow, and build until your lungs are full and let it fall peacefully into an exhale. After repeating the breaths, you will find yourself experiencing relaxing and even a tingling sensation. Soon, you will achieve an altered mental state.

Listen to what your mind and body have to tell you. Do not force back any thoughts. Let things flow as they come. By forcing images back into the mind you are refusing to accept the peace you are hoping to attain. Sometimes deeply buried things surface, and it is difficult to face those things. However, healing cannot take place if the issues are not dealt with.

As your time draws to a close, come out of your meditation slowly. Simply jumping up out of the chair and continuing your day shocks the system. Spend a few minutes in silence to reflect on what you have seen, felt, experienced in any way. Perhaps you may want to journal your experiences so you may reflect on them at a later time.

If you are afraid to take on breathwork alone, there are certified professionals available to help you. Even psychologists have begun to look into the practice of breathwork. You are sure to find someone in your local yellow pages.