Reflections from my first Breathwork session

Afterthoughts: Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

Presence versus plugging into the world, what is the balance?

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Meditation is something I have tried to build a habit out of, but after participating in my first breathwork session, I feel like I have been short-changing myself.

The session itself was intimate with only 10 people including the instructor. We spent the first hour easing into the session, introducing ourselves to the rest of the group. In my head, this part took 5 minutes, but it ended up lasting an hour. Taking the lead from the instructor, internalising that we were all in a safe space free from judgement, people opened up in a way that I was not expecting. Vulnerability was the order of the day and there was a lot of it going around. When it came to my turn to share, I found myself babbling on about things that I have only confided to a handful of people. The ice was truly and devastatingly destroyed.

The next part of the session was what we all came for: to breath. We all lay down in a circle, wearing sleeping masks while the instructor alternated between giving gentle guidance and playing rhythmic, hypnotic music. It was honestly a profound sensory experience. The constant focus on breathing through the diaphragm paired with the eye masks and the hypnotic audio made it difficult for our minds to take control. I quickly found myself into a meditative state, my hands, arms, legs, and feet going numb and tingly. Physical sensations no longer a concern. I felt like I was floating or levitating, untethered from the world, and the only thing I could cling onto was the rhythmic breathing from the rest of the group.

In the moment, it felt like magic, having this profound sensory experience, and feeling more present in the moment than I have ever been. In hindsight, I realised it was largely because of the breathing and the culumative sensory effects meaning that all five sense were occupied. There was nothing else for me to do other than breathe and just be. It was bliss. I felt nothing but gratitude, so much of it. Gratitude towards the people in my life, to my current situation, and ultimately to the enormous amount of privilege that I have.

As the session came to a close, and we were encouraged to come back to the physical world, I realised how far removed I came from it. All of my extremities were numb and required a few minutes of active effort to get it feeling back to normal, opening my eyes and sitting up, a feeling of light-headed persisted for a little while, as if I had woken up from hibernation. It was at this point that I thought: “Wow, those 40 minutes went by super quick”. The instructor then mentioned he himself lost track of time and we ended going for 90 minutes. That is how present I felt, 90 minutes felt like they were only 20 tops.

The session closed with the sharing of our experiences. It was so powerful to hear the raw and authentic reflections from everyone. Tears were shed, hugs were had, and it was safe to say we all bonded deeply from the almost three hours we spent together. It was a truly beautiful experience, and I hope that I can encourage the people in my life to give this a shot.

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