A few notes from David Parker . . .
As many of you know, I’ve been involved with Somatic Breathwork for over 30 years and always seeking new arenas to work in with Breathwork. When I started Breathwork in 1988 it was seen as a New Age modality, slightly ‘off the wall’ back then, dealing with Birth Trauma under the title of what was called Rebirthing.
The Rebirthing process of 20 individual sessions healed my physical, mental and emotional maladies so I took Practitioner Courses with The Loving Relationships Training ( LRT ), working with this American concept for 3 years, birthed out in California but trained in London & Madrid.
Thirty years later, neuroscience has proved that we really were onto something, as Breathwork now enters mainstream methods of healing. Almost 20 years into the new century, trauma & addiction have bedded into epidemic proportions now these subjects are openly discussed in print, tv and social media. Time to drop the shames, hurts, emotional wounding and silence that hoard our lives and begin to BREATHE again.
This first weekend in September 2018, South Derbyshire, LEAP Trainer Mike Delaney and I engineered a unique powerful dimension of experience to Trauma work and Addiction Recovery in the UK. LEAP is not only the leading EFP Training Programme in the UK but THE FIRST Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy Programe in the World to marry up ‘Conscious Connected Breathing’ Groupwork before participants work with the horses in the fields with EFP.
On the One Day Workshop on Saturday we breathed a group of fully qualified EFP Practitioners, 8 in all, who had never used ‘Conscious Connected Breathing’ before, so it was a new experience for them.
The TeePee allowed 8 to lie on the floor, on yoga mats into a rounded star shape, heads in the middle, with cushions and blankets for support. After the 1 hour breathing session, where emotions were released, silence was the order of the moment, no verbal processing, then they were led, still a bit spacey into the fields of horses. . . .
After this 45 minute space of silence with the horses, a group share confirmed the power of combining Breathwork & Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy.
After a lunch break we repeated the process with horses first, then ending with another 1 hour group breathing session, this time away from the previous star shape. The teepee just managed to place all participants in a traditional ‘side by side’ format, with ease of movement.
This was my first time working in a rounded teepee shape, so had no idea, until we laid people down how many we could get in. It worked well with me leading and Mike assisting.
Feedback from LEAP participants this inaugural weekend has been amazing, leading us into plans for 2019 and beyond.
The following day Sunday 2nd September was the Graduation Ceremony of those completing a LEAP EFP Practitioner Training and I was invited to breathe 10 of them in the teepee ( who did not breathe the day before ), the results of which were equalling astonishing. Requests for more were vocal to say the least.
Mike Delaney continues with his responses . . . .
Having had life-changing experiences at two of David Parker’s Morocco Breathwork Retreats, I felt very strongly that there was a synergy between what he does through breathwork and what I do through working with horses.
I wasn’t sure what it would look like or how it would work but I knew it was something that we had to explore and our ideas came to fruition yesterday, 1stSeptember 2018, when we facilitated the worlds first Breathwork and Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy Workshop.
Following the morning “breathe”, and without verbal processing, the 8 participants remained silent and entered the fields of 8 horses, taking with them the energy and feelings which had emerged during the 1hr Breathwork Session.
Having done this work for many years now, I was first struck by the focus of all of the horses on the tepee and the curiosity they held for what had been going on inside. As the participants wandered into the herd, various horses gently approached each of them and gently nuzzled or nudged. At no point did any horses move away or become energized by 8 strangers wandering into their space. They positively welcomed it and actively sought out human contact. It was very beautiful to watch and is not the normal reaction to a human invasion of the field.
It seems to me that the breathwork cleared channels and released negative energy for the participants, bringing them fully and completely into their bodies. The non-verbal rule meant that they had to hold the experience and this is what the horses sought out. Within minutes, the horses were in a similar state of relaxation as the humans, as if they had absorbed the special energy of the breathwork and they loved it!
The participants spent 45minutes with horses, in silence, and at no point did I have to intervene, or manage any horses behaviour, either with humans or with each other. For the most part they stood still and enjoyed the experience with their visitors. It truly was a very special connection for everyone.
Sarah, who had been outside during the Breathe, said that when we were nearing the end (She was unaware but we asked participants to lie on their sides in the foetal position and breathe normally) EVERY horse in the field stopped and looked towards the tepee, clearly sensing a shift in energy.
At the end of both sessions, it felt like horse and human had become absolutely happy and contented in the beautiful new, calming energy.
I feel that we are in the early stages of a new and developing therapeutic combination which can benefit the emotional well-being of the horses as well as the humans and this fills me with hope and excitement about what the future may hold.
Mike Delaney MBACP RNMH RMA
Mental Health/Addictions Specialist