I was introduced to conscious, connected breathing at 30 years of age, when I was still figuring out my career, what I was really looking for in a relationship and how to handle the dysfunctional aspects of my family, myself included. I had highs and lows, as I assumed everyone does, and the lows were pretty awful. If I stayed busy and distracted, life was good.

Until it wasn’t. Until life took tiny, not-so-ideal twists and I overreacted with anger that burst forth like champagne uncorked. I blamed my rage on other people and hormonal imbalances and continued on with my life as best I could until the next trigger jerked my anger awake again. Eventually my ability to blame diminished. I began to see that perhaps there was a connection between my unresolved past and my present-day dissatisfaction. Despite this connection, healing wasn’t something I thought I needed. I had good health despite some minor issues — an underactive thyroid, eczema, headaches, poor circulation and shoulder tension. Nothing major. I slept well, had high energy and rarely got sick.

But when a friend of mine was hosting a German woman who guided people through breathing sessions, she strongly suggested I do a session while the woman was in town.

So I did.

The session was long and exhausting and emotional and cathartic. The breathing was fast and intense and difficult.

And magical. And amazing.

The experience was a game changer for me. It helped me discover that I had bundled up each trauma and pain I’d ever experienced and neatly tucked it away in my mind and my body to never dredge up again.

I found out that doesn’t really work so well. Our human bodies aren’t great storage vessels for excess garbage. At 30, I was already dealing with minor side effects of my long-term storage. At 60, I imagine the side effects would be increasingly worse.

But during that session, I unleashed some of those neatly packed-away bundles. I’m not entirely sure what I was releasing. Perhaps it was a childhood spent tiptoeing around my father’s quick temper. Or the depression I’d had in my early twenties. Or the time I barely escaped getting raped in a foreign country. I don’t suppose it matters what things were leaving. What’s important was that they were leaving. They didn’t need to be locked inside me anymore. My physical body didn’t need to be burdened any longer. My mind didn’t need to keep them locked down. My emotions didn’t need to be fastened like a corset around my pain.

With every conscious, connected breath, I became freer. My breath expanded. I could feel energy surging through me. My mind grew quiet and clear. I felt connected to something bigger and deeper and more infinite. Something powerful.

I continued the breathing sessions and got to the point where I could do the sessions for myself. Over time, I healed more. Some things were physically tangible — no more headaches and no more need for thyroid medication that I was told I would be on for life. Some things were more subtle. I was calmer. Less reactive. Less angry. More content.

The time, money and energy spent doing the breathing sessions was worth it. My life transformed for the better. Although I don’t know what my life would look like on the path that doesn’t include the breathing sessions, I can guess that I’d still be trying to figure out my career or what I wanted in a relationship. But what I do know is that the many conscious, connected breathing sessions I’ve had have ushered me to where I am today — happy for no particular reason, married with an amazing son and two incredible stepsons, and getting along with my family — despite the dysfunction.

My life improved so much that I became a breathing practitioner so that I could guide people on their own healing journey. After working with people for more than 15 years, my passion has intensified for the healing potential of the breath.

Nearly every one of us is dealing with something — divorce, illness, loss and trauma — and carrying a lot of pain. And aside from dealing with our own issues, we also share in the trauma of our parents, our partners and our friends. We live in a society where our lives intimately intersect, yet we don’t encourage utilizing the tools to fully resolve all of life’s traffic jams. Our society isn’t touting the importance of self-care and taking healing into our own hands. Instead, it encourages prescription medications — supposedly helping us to continue functioning but not encouraging us to thrive.

But we can thrive. We can have the best life imaginable — when we create the freedom inside of ourselves by releasing the past that weighs us down and holds us back. We don’t have to examine it — nor talk about it — nor relive it. We just have to exhale and let it go. Then we can inhale and draw in the joy and peace we want more of in our lives. Every breath can create a shift for us and move us forward on the path that we were meant to travel.

And what you release for yourself — you release for your children, your significant other and your friends. Because the less pain you’re shouldering, the less pain you bring with you into every interaction.

The easiest and simplest shift you can take right here and right now is right under your nose.

It’s time to thrive and heal.

It’s time to breathe.

Deanna Reiter
Deanna Reiter, MA, has helped individuals worldwide resolve personal issues through conscious breathing. She is a Rebirthing Breathworker, Certified Personal Trainer, Yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi Instructor, a USA Track & Field Certified Running Coach and a Master Trainer for the National Exercise Trainers Association. She is the author of Qi Breathing: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times, Dancing with Divinity: Positive Affirmations for Any Situation and The Nine Scoundrels: How to Recognize and Release Subtle Patterns of Sabotage. Deanna offers individual and group breathing sessions, as well as breathing workshops. She can be contacted at Deanna@ExperienceQiBreathing.com.

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