Breath as a window into the subconscious
Breathing is something we all do and is one of the keys in tantric massage and tantric therapy sessions. On average, a person takes over 23,000 breaths in a 24 hour period. In many languages, the word for breath is the same, or connected to, the word or concept for soul. In Latin, the word ‘spiritus’ means both spirit and breath. The Sanskrit word prana refers to both breath and the life-force energy, similar to the Chinese word ‘chi’. In many Arabic and Slavic languages, the words for breath and soul have the same root. Breath gives life, and with life comes consciousness. One of the amazing things about breath is that it is one of the few functions in the body which can be done totally consciously or totally subconsciously. This gives a unique window of opportunity to bridge the conscious and the subconscious workings of the body and mind.
Benefits of conscious deep breathing
Conscious, deep breathing is especially beneficial to us because it helps to activate the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system. This branch is responsible for producing a state of relaxation and well-being in the body. When we breathe in a shallow way the nervous system responds as if preparing us for fight of flight; it is a more stressful breath. In addition, shallow breathing fills only around a third of the lung capacity. John Lukovich, an Integrative Breathwork facilitator says: “Shallow breathing doesn’t just make stress a response, it makes stress a habit our bodies, and therefore our minds, are locked into”.
Slowing down and practising conscious, deep abdominal breathing can help to cleanse the body of toxins, fill the cells with oxygen, reduce blood pressure, and help us to relax and sleep. Expanding the breath through deepening it by taking longer, slower and deeper breaths helps to improve both physical and mental health. More oxygen in the cells means that the cells are able to perform their tasks more effectively. More oxygen in the brain can help to make the senses more acute. It also helps to strengthen the entire nervous system.
Connection between breath and ability to feel
How we breathe and how we feel is connected. When we breathe in a shallow way, we contract and block access to our feelings. We do this in order to protect ourselves from experiencing those feelings which we perceive as unpleasant or dangerous in some way. If we do not fully feel them at the time, the energy of these unexpressed feelings can get trapped in our organs and nervous system. This leads to imbalances and dis-ease over time. We can change how we feel by becoming more conscious of breath, and changing our breathing patterns.
Coming into the present moment
When we focus on our breath in the present moment, it helps us to stop drifting off into thoughts about the past or future. In a lovemaking situation, it helps us to stay present with our self and with our partner. This way, we are less likely to drift off into fantasies or thoughts about something else. We are then more able to fully feel and experience everything which comes up. In the same way that deep and conscious breathing helps to release physical toxins, it also helps to release emotional toxins from the body. By feeling into all of the emotions which come up fully and breathing through the experience, we are able to let go of emotions which we may have been holding on to for decades. Read more about the role of mindfulness in tantric massage therapy.
Becoming aware of our breath is one way to become more aware of our bodies and ourselves. This can mean becoming more mindful of our body language, areas of tension in the body, and even thoughts and habit patterns which restrict us in some way. Once we become aware of them, we then have a choice to make different choices that may benefit us more, if we want to.
Healing through facing the subconscious
By focusing on breath, we are able to get a window into our subconscious. This can be a scary and unpleasant thing to do, because it can mean facing those parts of our self that we usually keep hidden away from others and even ourselves. It is these parts that we can often find difficult to admit or examine. By looking deeply inside, we may find shame, guilt, or feelings of unworthiness about ourselves. Consciousness helps us to feel and accept ourselves fully. This can allow some of these shadows to leave our life, freeing up more space and energy to feel love, peace and joy in our lives.
Breath is one of the main keys in tantric body therapy sessions. It helps unlock stuck emotions, along with using sound and movement to free the trapped energies, whilst powerfully combined with receiving deep tissue massage. Becoming conscious of breath can help to open up to more pleasure and overcome sexual dysfunction.
I offer tantric massage sessions in Teesside, North Yorkshire (within easy driving distance of Leeds, Newcastle, York, Durham) and in London. Read more about tantric treatments.