Breath as Medicine: Exploring Conscious Connected Breathwork
What if you could heal your body, process deeply held emotions, and reach an altered state of consciousness, just by using your breath as medicine?
This is what the practice of Conscious Connected Breathing offers. And more.
Conscious Connected Breathwork (CCB) is growing in popularity more and more each year, as people are feeling the direct benefits that this transformational healing modality offers. Group Conscious Connected Breathwork sessions, often referred to as Conscious Breathwork Journeys, are popping up everywhere and becoming almost as common as yoga classes. And this is a good thing!
Our breath is a superpower, and when we tap into its potential, we are able to counteract the imbalance of stress that is prevalent in our everyday lives.
What is Conscious Connected Breathing?
Conscious Connected Breathing is a powerful breathing pattern that has the capacity to induce an altered state of consciousness, activate the body’s inner healing intelligence, expand awareness and relieve physical tension and stress in the body, as well as clear past trauma and release unprocessed emotions.
In this technique, the inhalation and exhalation are connected without any pauses in between, resulting in a continuous and rhythmic flow of breath. CCB is a strong breathing practice that involves taking deep and full breaths, with both the inhale and the exhale usually breathed through the mouth. This allows for a greater intake of oxygen and a greater release of carbon dioxide, which creates a powerful mechanism for healing.
5 Benefits of Conscious Connected Breathing
- Stress Reduction: Conscious connected breathing activates the parasympathetic, or ‘rest and digest’, nervous system. This can lead to improved mood, better sleep, and a calmer mind.
- Emotional Release: The practice can facilitate the release of suppressed emotions and emotional blockages, allowing for emotional healing and greater emotional resilience.
- Increased Energy: CCB enhances oxygen intake and circulation, leading to increased energy levels and improved vitality.
- Mind-Body Connection: Conscious connected breathing cultivates a stronger connection between mind and body, leading to greater self-awareness and embodied presence.
- Spiritual Exploration: Many CCB practitioners report experiencing altered states of consciousness and spiritual insights during conscious connected breathing sessions, leading to healing, personal growth and self-discovery.
What can I expect from a Session?
A Conscious Breathwork Journey may be held as an individual session or in a group. A session will typically start with an explanation of the breathing technique, as well as what one may expect, including potential side effects (see below). The majority of the journey will take place lying down, covered with a warm blanket, with the option to cover your eyes with an eye mask.
CCB Sessions are guided by trained facilitators and the way the space is ‘held’ will often determine your experience. An experienced facilitator will be ‘trauma-informed’ and resourced in how to handle the big releases that may happen in a session. With consent, a facilitator may also use specific hand placements to ground and support participants.
It is important you choose a facilitator who you trust and feel safe with in order to fully surrender to the process.
Music is also a big part of the journey, and may vary from gentle and melodic to tribal and active, depending on the preference of the facilitator and the type of session being offered. The length of time can range from 35 minutes of breathing to 2 hours, with a long period of integration that follows.
What will I experience?
Conscious Connected Breathing allows one to reach altered states of consciousness that many liken to a mild plant medicine journey. The main difference, and what is comforting to many people, is that because it’s just your breath, you are in control. This means when you begin to breathe normally again, you will return to normal. Unlike a plant medicine journey where you have to wait for the substance to wear off and just hold on for the ride!
It’s important to know that everyone’s experience will be unique to them, and each time you lie down to breathe, it will be different. When we tap into this higher realm of consciousness, we will always be given what we need. Sometimes it feels like more of a physical healing, sometimes it’s more of an emotional release and other times it’s more spiritual or even psychedelic. Sometimes the experience is mild and sometimes intense.
The Science – Breath as Medicine
The exact mechanism as to how CCB allows us to have what could be referred to as a ‘mystical experience’ is not yet fully known, yet it is thought that the increased oxygen levels and the decreased carbon dioxide levels changes the pH of the blood, which in turn causes certain physiological and psychological effects. Certain studies have also shown that CCB practices can shift us into alpha, theta, or even gamma brainwave states, those most associated with deep states of meditation and altered consciousness.
Effects (and Side Effects)
Using Breath as Medicine (Conscious Connected Breathing) provides a whole host of physical benefits for the body, which include increased respiratory function, boosted immune system, blood pressure regulation, enhanced digestion and more. During the actual session, however, there are a variety of quite unusual physical side effects that one should be aware of when going in.
These include intense tingling in the body, a dry mouth, a drop or increase in body temperature and most notably a phenomenon called tetany characterized by involuntary muscle contractions, which can lead to muscle spasms, cramps, and twitching, most often in the jaw, the feet and the hands. Most people have experienced a CCB session will attest to the bizarre ‘crab claw’ hands that come about during a session. All of these side effects will dissipate in the integration portion of the journey.
Conscious Connected Breathing can also facilitate the processing of deeply held emotions – often the ones we don’t even know are there. Breathwork processes emotions on a somatic level, meaning that unlike talk therapy or counselling, we don’t need to consciously know what’s being processed. More and more research shows that unprocessed emotions are held in the body, and so when we practice CCB, we activate a release process that brings them up to the surface to clear.
CCB offers an embodied experience of emotions as ‘energy-in-motion’, where during a session you may experience intense crying, laughing, anger, elation and more – for no apparent ‘reason’. It is this process that creates the feeling of ‘lightness’ after a session that so many participants report.
Real Life Participant Reports
As a CCB Facilitator I have witnessed the most incredible session outcomes. I have seen people who have not cried for years crying like babies, people who have felt numb to life in fits of hysterical laughter. I have witnessed accounts of creative solutions to long-held problems, the disappearance of physical pain, deep healing of grief through messages from loved ones passed, conversations with the inner child, connecting with the angelic realms and so much more. Breath as medicine is truly profound.
“I felt like I completely left my body, like I was floating above it in a space of peace and unconditional love”. – Rebecca
“I felt my heart burst open and the tears stream down my face, I’ve never experienced such a deep sense of love and acceptance for myself”. – Camilla
“My grandmother came to me, she told me that she’s a peace now and I don’t need to worry anymore. She is with me always.” – Steven
Experience it for yourself
The best way to experience Conscious Connected Breathing is with an experienced facilitator or guide, either in person or online. Yet if you want to experience a mild version of the practice, here is something you can try at home. **Please note the contra-indications below.
Active 3 Part Breath
This practice mimics one style of Conscious Connected Breathing, yet by breathing in through the nose instead of the mouth, the effects will be milder. It involves taking two inhales, followed by one exhale. You can do this practice either sitting up or lying down. Start with 2 minutes and build up to 10 minutes. A good way to guide yourself through this is to choose a song that is the length of your chosen duration and breathe through the song, with a relaxing song to follow for your integration.
- Start either seated or lying down
- Place one hand on your heart, at the centre of your chest and the other hand on your belly
- Take a few deep breaths, in and out through the nose, beginning to tune into the rise and fall of your breath
- Set an intention for your practice
- Start whatever timer or song you are using
- Take a breath in, into the belly, through the nose, feeling your belly expand under your hand
- Take a second breath in, into the chest through the nose, feeling your chest expand under your hand
- Breathe out through the mouth, emptying out completely
- Repeat the pattern for 2 to 10 mins
- Remove your hands from your body and lie in Savasana to integrate for at least 5 minutes.
**Conscious Connected Breathing is contraindicated for the following conditions:
- Cardiovascular problems
- High or abnormal blood pressure
- History of aneurisms
- Epilepsy or history of seizures
- Anyone on heavy medication
- Severe psychiatric symptoms, particularly psychosis or paranoia
- Recent surgery
About Olivia Moon
Olivia Moon is a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach, Conscious Connected Breathwork Facilitator, Yoga Teacher and Retreat Facilitator at Bodhi Khaya Retreat. She offers both online and in person Conscious Connected Breathwork sessions in Cape Town and Stanford, Corporate and Group Breathwork Workshops, as well as 1:1 Holistic Coaching. Visit oliviamoonwellness.com for more info or email email@example.com to get in touch.
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