Expanding My Comfort Zone With Breathwork

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Two weeks ago, I had my first experience with breathwork, via a recorded guided meditation from my friend Amy Kuretsky, an acupuncturist and health coach here in Minneapolis.

What is breathwork? In short, a repeated forceful breath pattern with 2 inhales and 1 exhale, but emotionally/mentally/spiritually so much more. I’m going to refer you over to Amy’s post for more on the experience and how to use it in your life, but here's what it was like for me:

Before starting, I was kind of freaked out about it, since this type of breathing isn’t exactly a normal state, but lying down in a safe place (my bed) made it feel more accessible. I felt tingling in my hands, feet, chest, and face (it felt like it was hard to smile), and felt increasingly less heavy and more light and floaty as the session progressed. Sometimes I felt like I needed to rest and stop the rhythm of the breath, but for the most part I was able to sustain it for the full 30-40 minutes.

Basically, you spend the better part of an hour getting strictly into your body, and your mind kind of turns off. Once we stopped the active breathing portion, I felt the sort of relief/exhaustion mix that you feel after a rigorous workout, but with more of a supported feeling from having listened to Amy’s encouragement throughout the meditation (which related back to setting intentions for the new moon). My conscious thinking felt slow to return, but I had some interesting realizations about the direction of my work/career, in a way that felt intuitively certain, and seemed to confirm that I’m headed in the right direction!

Right as the meditation was winding down, my cat Rusty came in, hopped onto my chest, and laid down, forcing me to stay in that longer and process a little more (he's really good at rest.) After a brief rest period, I still felt like I had been transported to another world, like I often do after a massage or acupuncture treatment, and I had a strong feeling of possibility and abundance.

Why am I talking about this on my music/creativity blog?

Engaging in a creative habit requires us to step out of our comfort zones, and we can practice this in any area of our lives. Also, as a busy person (that's all of us) whose mind is often spinning, I relish the chance to turn off my mind, and open up space for messages from my intuition (helpful for both life and creative process, and aren’t they just 2 sides of the same thing?) I’m really excited about the possibilities for using breathwork more often, both to aid in getting in a different mindset for writing music, and for staying aligned with my priorities (and developing creativity for myself and others is a big one!)

I just signed up for a New Year’s Breathwork Circle that Amy is hosting over at her lovely clinic Constellation Acupuncture in Minneapolis, which includes elements of group breathwork, journaling, and setting intentions for the new year - it sounds awesome. I’ll report back as I try more!

Have you ever tried breathwork? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments!

Rebecca Hass

Pianist and composer