Heal Your Headspace
LEARN THE SCIENTIFIC AND THE EMOTIONAL SIDES OF BREATHWORK
Left unsupervised, the mind will replay the past or devise the future, until we’re left without ever honestly experiencing the here and now—which is the juiciest part of life. It’s the part you can feel, touch, see, observe, and play in. You have the power to shift the focus, and one effective way is through meditation and breathwork. Through these practices, you can build an inner sanctuary that embraces presence and grounds you, despite the external forces vying for your attention.
You already have all the tools. There’s no commitment, no gadgets, and no expertise necessary. You need only the willingness to pause and focus solely on your inhales and exhales.
There's burgeoning science to bolster these ancient techniques, too. Fascinating studies abound tracking the connection between, say holding your breath and strengthening the cell's mitochondria, or how the mixture of cold therapy and deep, belly breaths can turn on anti-inflammatory cytokines. One thing is clear: the mind-body connection is potent, and through the alchemy of breath, your physical body and attitude have space to shift.
We chatted with two women whose healing modalities include Kundalini, meditation, and the power of breath: Lauren Spencer King, meditation teacher, artist, and creator of breathwork workshops; and Desiree Pais, Kundalini teacher, meditation coach, and founder of the Benshen course. Their healing wisdom will help ground you in the present, physically clear where anxiety hides, and relinquish stale narratives. These tips will carve space for deeper, richer breath that heals rather than distracts.
Steady, deep breathing is a healing, detoxifying act that wrings out stagnation, working like an oxygenated shower for the organs. By activating the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), it shifts the body from “fight or flight” mode to a calmer state of “rest and digest”. The PNS supports immunity, stress response, digestion—even protects DNA. Big, belly breaths from the diaphragm also stimulate the hypothalamus gland, which supports homeostasis, and controls important body rhythms including sleep, blood pressure, and heart rate. It also works in conjunction with the pituitary gland that releases oxytocin, the hormone that comes in waves after an orgasm.
The crying, the hard stuff. Let it come up. If this happens on a collective level we have the power to shift the planet.
Run Towards the Truth
Before you dive right in, take the time to acknowledge your headspace and emotional state. It is tempting to repress or skip over feelings, especially any unpleasant ones, and sail straight to the sweet, feeling good part. While well-meaning, “spiritual bypassing” might not help you reach calm and clarity. “We tend to jump over real feelings in an attempt to get to inner peace. That can only come when you accept the totality of what you are experiencing,” King says. Instead, before settling into an exercise of healing breath and silence, acknowledge the breadth of your emotions. “Stress and anxiety are naturally disconnecting energies. How can you expect to be in the moment in your wholeness if you aren’t including the whole of your experience?” she continues. “If you keep ignoring, it just runs the show completely. Accept that a part of you is in fear, or shock, or guilt, whatever it is. Then, allow yourself a chance to come out on the other side, with more truth, perspective, and clarity.”
Be a “Lightworker”
“We have to be the lightworkers on the planet,” says Pais. “I believe that every time we do some act of kindness right now, we are counteracting the situation at hand and maybe even accelerating the healing the planet needs. To get out of your ‘head’, search for the positive information that’s being spread around, not the fear.” If you have the luxury of additional time, Pais suggests letting your mind wander to allow your deeper desires to bubble up. “Now’s the time to ask, what dream life will I create? What’s important to me? What do I want in this short life? We’ve all been so busy that we’ve been bypassing the deep healing,” Pais says. “The crying, the hard stuff. Let it come up. If this happens on a collective level we have the power to shift the planet.”
Ground Into the Physical
After the emotional and mental pieces of the puzzle drop into place, it is time to oxygenate the body and heal through active breath. A “box-breath” is a great starting point for those who want to support their prana, or life force energy and activate the PNS. It is four counts through the nostrils, held for four counts, and exhaled out of the mouth for four counts. Set a timer for three minutes, and notice what is being flushed out—especially the frenetic feelings that leave you airy and disconnected. “The body helps you transform energy,” King explains. “As anxiety releases adrenaline, it helps to [redirect it] through grounding movement.”
Make It A Daily Ritual
Find Desiree Pais running Benshen course, the digital radiance and mind-training workshop that integrates Kundalini with immune-boosting breathwork. Lauren Spencer King is also offering free online breathwork workshops for any health care worker; the meditations focus on grounding, clearing, and balance.
More Ways to Connect To The Physical