The most important tool in self-help is not only free, it’s a pre-req for living. Our breath is the most underutilized tool we have. Its rhythm shapes our moment to moment experience (and really, what else is there?).
The Power of Breathing
The breath is so powerful it can literally alter our reality. When psychologists like Stanislav Graf could no longer use LSD on their patients to access deeper realms of existence, they developed holotropic breathing and re-birthing. Both are forms of horizontal hyper-ventilation that create so much oxygen in the blood stream, that one can actually stop breathing and simply be, in a dream like state. That is, if you can get past the first five minutes of feeling like you’re about to die (I’ve done it five times and it never gets easier).
Ultimate Problem Solver:
If you get nothing else from this post, keep this in your back pocket :
If you are ever in a situation where you don’t know what to do, slow down your breath and focus on it. You will have your answer is less than 2 minutes.
The breath would be our main tool through the exercises. We learned the technique by first breathing into our lower belly, then our solar plexus (core), and then high into our shoulders (and then exhaling all that in reverse). Add a slight pelvic tilt to each breath and it feels like pure presence and power.
The Love Exercise
We sat men on one side, women on the other, and each man tapped the one in front of him in a game like telephone, reminding each other – “Breath deep.” David stood on stage and gave us a warning before the exercise…. “Now we’re about to go really deep. Do NOT go talk to this person after your exercise. if someone comes up to you and says, ‘(in sleazeball voice) Hey, I felt we had a really deep connection.’ – then you tell them to f- off. Of course you felt a deep connection, that was the whole point – People, do not turn this into a pick-up game. This is far too powerful for that.”
To say we were excited would be an understatement. What could be this powerful??? Half the men and women were instructed to stand up and go to find a partner. He said, “Choose the person you think would give you a hard time.”
Now, I have a rule for choosing in situations like this, or any situation for that matter. It’s based on the Paradox of Choice. You see, the more choice we have, the less happy we are. More choices means painful decisions, followed by second guessing, and finally regret. I have found that whether it’s for a partner exercise or deciding what to order at a restaurant, the first one I see is always the best.
I sat down in front of the first woman I saw and jokingly said, “I thought you’d give me a hard time, so here I am.” She had a cold look on her face as she said, “You have no idea what you’re in for.” Part of me felt like I was about to be killed, but I grinned because I love a good challenge.
We sat right in front of each other, knees practically touching. We closed our eyes, went into deep breath, and then opened to the two eyes staring right at us. My first reaction? I had to use all my energy to stop me from laughing. I must have looked like my face was going to explode because every part of me was giggling inside, probably due to a combination of nervousness and excitement. But since the whole room of 300 people was dead silent, I did my best not to ruin the moment.
“Men, start to mirror her breathing,” David said. “As you get in sync with her, take her slightly deeper with each breath. If you mirror her, then lead her, you can actually breath her body.”
I could feel our breath getting deeper, and my insides started to light up, but not in what might be considered a “good” way. More like the scene in Star Wars where R2D2 is lit up because he’s getting electrocuted. I grounded the energy, and as I looked at her, she seemed to be saying, “You are not strong enough for me. I will destroy you. You are like every other man out there who has hurt me, and I will no longer stand for this.”
Now, when you’re less than a foot from someone’s face, breathing as deep as possible, in a staring contest that’s not ending… this isn’t so much an “intellectual” exercise. I’m a trained Reiki practitioner, and when I work on someone who has a lot going on, I feel this tingling work its way up my arms. It’s not a good feeling. It feels like it could knock me out. In Reiki I have ways of diffusing the energy. But here all I have is my breath, and my entire body was radiating like I was about to have a panic attack.
Mind you, we’re almost a half hour in by this point.
Then I feel the shift in her. Her eyes soften. Her whole body softens. My heart slows down. While we said nothing, I could see this renewed faith in men and love in her eyes. David had us each say phrases of love, and he was right. I was barely attracted to this woman and yet the I could feel the full emotions of wanting to spend the rest of my life with this woman.
I realized how many times I’ve been in a relationship where I turn away, where I go unconscious, where I check out physically, emotionally, spiritually. For me this was like a military-grade bootcamp in energetically staying present with a woman, for as long as she needs it.
We bowed in gratitude, closed our eyes, and I turned to face the front. As we left for the break, I was on a high – the kind of peaceful high where nothing in the world could have bothered me.
Again, I could have left at this point and felt I got my money’s worth. But that was just the “love” exercise. Little did I know, we still had the “sex” exercise, the lover’s feedback, and… the dark energy.
Next, Dark into Light (Part 5)