Through my Breathwork Therapy training and practice over the last 10 years, I have come to understand that the most common benefit to my Breathwork Therapy clients, and those I have assisted in trainings, is the overall life-long benefit of building resilience. I include myself in receiving that benefit!
I recently became aware of the work of Hugh van Cuylenburg, and his book and enterprise, ‘The Resilience Project’. I devoured his book in a day - which is extremely unusual for me! His book tells his story of discovering how practicing Gratitude, Empathy and Mindfulness (GEM) are 3 simple ways that can build resilience over time and how it can make significant changes in people’s lives. I was already aware of these practices as being beneficial to spiritual, emotional and mental wellbeing, and Hugh’s stories highlighted how these practices work. (I can highly recommend the book, attending one of his talks, and the tools on offer!)
It was the perfect timing. I was already in the process of understanding why the work I was doing was also such a positive tool to building resilience. I knew Breathwork Therapy worked in so many ways for people and was wanting to put it all into some sort of perspective around resilience.
The key to practicing Gratitude, Empathy and Mindfulness is mostly about working in the present, because that is the only time we can actually control in any moment. Great stuff – and whilst not new information to me, Hugh’s story and journey is a great way to begin your own journey to greater resilience.
So how did this fit in with me working with Breathwork Therapy?
Resilience is the ability to withstand or recover from adversity or difficult situations. The more resilient we become, the faster, and stronger we can bounce back, and better able to cope with future adversity.
Recovering from adversity builds resilience. Building resilience makes it easier to cope with future adversity.
Building resilience from where we are now is the best place to start, but it is not the only place we can work from. It is possible to go back and do some ‘catch-up’ work!
Whilst practicing GEM works in the present to build resilience from where we are now in readiness for the future, Breathwork Therapy works with building resilience using our past adversities and bringing resilience learned from those experiences to the present.
Through Breathwork Therapy we can discover any conscious or unconscious past adversities or life experience that may still be having a negative or restricting impact on our present. Through this process we can acknowledge, assess and reframe them to the reality of the present. As we resolve each of these experiences, we build further resilience so that we may no longer be triggered, or be less triggered, now and in the future.
An example of this may be a person who is struggling with unresolved grief. Any hint of a thought/memory about someone lost, or even a loss of any thing (phone, pet), or a relatively minor incident, such as a minor car accident, may set them off in an extended bout of sadness, which may be misdiagnosed as depression/anxiety. Even using current coping mechanisms, the person still may take weeks to recover sufficiently from ‘depression/anxiety’, when it may actually be just unresolved grief/sadness, the origin from which they are not aware of.
Through Breathwork Therapy, it may be found that when they were very young, their parents thought it wasn’t good to take the young children to the funerals of their beloved grandparents, or covered up lost pets with stories or ‘going to a farm’, or replaced them with a similar one with the hope they didn’t notice!
Whilst the parents may have been acting in good faith and intentions, it denied the young child to learn about and experience grief and loss. They didn’t get to learn that it is a normal process of life, so that now as an adult, they may not recognise the emotions for what they actually are, and therefore not knowing what to do or how to deal with them. They may lack the understanding that though grieving, we allow our emotions to be processed, and have the knowing that all will be okay again eventually.
Once they do have the realisation of the source of their current reactions, their resilience to future loss would have been built from their past experience, rather than waiting for the next similar life experience. They may be not triggered as easily, or triggered less often, and any recovery will be faster and easier in the future. This demonstrates that they have become more resilient.
This is just one example of how working through a past experience can build resilience in present time. Imagine the impact of working through many past experiences!
Whilst we may have missed opportunities to build resilience in the past, it doesn’t mean we can’t build resilience from our past.
There is no single or ‘best’ way to build resilience. All factors, processes, and practices are beneficial, and we will need to use more than just one to get the best results for ourselves.
In the meantime, some key factors to be mindful of that can get you started today include :
· Understand that shit will happen in our lives! Adversity does not discriminate!
· Be flexible and open-minded to new ideas, opportunities and solutions
· Practice Gratitude, Empathy and Mindfulness – and be kind to yourself too!
· Find meaning in all of life’s experiences, put them into perspective.
· Don’t believe everything you think!
And, of course - BREATHE!
For more information about David and Breathwork Therapy, go to his website, Mind Peace Breathwork Therapy at www.breathworksa.com.au