Treating PTSD with connected breathing: A clinical case study and theoretical implications

European Journal of Trauma & Dissociation

Volume 5, Issue 3, September 2021,

Extended connected breathing (Rebirthing-Breathwork) has been popular as a self-development tool for more than 4 decades, but has been subjected to minimal scientific research. Similarities between connected breathing and two therapeutic modalities used to treat <a class="topic-link" title="Learn more about posttraumatic stress disorder from ScienceDirect's AI-generated Topic Pages"

href=”https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/posttraumatic-stress-disorder”>posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)—Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing and Somatic Experiencing—suggest connected breathing to be efficacious in treating PTSD.

The underlying theoretical model in these three approaches suggests that trauma is a result of the blocking or repressing of spontaneous somatic and cognitive processing. This study investigated the efficacy of connected breathing to treat PTSD in a firefighter.

Pre- and posttreatment measures consisted of instruments to measure PTSD symptom-severity, anxiety, depression and heart rate variability (HRV). After 8 connected breathing sessions the participant’s PTSD and comorbid symptoms were in complete remission. Subjective reports and HRV data-analysis support the blocking/repression theory and suggest a role of the parasympathetic nervous system in the blocking of spontaneous trauma processing. In this case the original trauma appears have been a traumatic birth.

Tales of the Unexpected

Tales of the Unexpected was a UK 1970’s telly series that was a mustn’t miss weekly event. It told a different story every week and each episode was introduced by Roald Dahl himself sitting in a comfy armchair. Dahl wrote Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, Matilda and other classic children’s books, but also became a master of short stories for adults, most were very dark and had a twist in the tail. And that’s precisely what this series was based on – the UNEXPECTED. 

And so is LIFE.

In mid July I had a few blips going on with my heart, low heart rate mainly, called Bradycardia which needed A&E attention. A need for a pacemaker was discussed but not carried through as more tests were required over a period of time. A week away from August I collapsed at home and ambulanced into a truly unexpected dilemma that was certainly not part of my plan.

I was due to be in Athens early August for starters on a 10 day break. I didn’t make it. Nor the Athens 10 day trip in October. The Universe had other plans.

After a few days of observations, scans, X-rays and the like I was whisked off to Barts Heart Centre in Central/East London for a more detailed angiogram examination where I was told I needed triple heart bypass surgery within 48 hours to avoid heart attack. Thus began almost 3 months of complications, starting with another heart operation 2 weeks after the first. The whole scenario became a lesson in powerlessness, vulnerability, trust and avoidance of projection, keeping it all in the day, hour, minutes. I am only just coming out of it, knowing it will take a while to recover fully and start a 3 month Cardio Rehabilitation Programme next week. Game ON.

Meanwhile in November I will be gradually getting back to clients and small groups which is manageable carefully paced, doctors suggest going back to work or other practices after 3 months, so here I am with clients already on hold booking in. Group dates for Nov, Dec & Jan will be up in a few days.

BESPOKE COACHING & BREATHWORK assists dealing with the unexpected. Coaching can unravel what to do next in emotional circumstances – loss of a job, a sudden health diagnosis, relationship difficulties or compulsive habits of escape – food, booze, recreational drugs or sex addiction. 

SOMATIC EVOLUTIONARY BREATHWORK EXPERIENCE : I have practiced and taught for over 30 years assisting those with trapped emotional trauma, shallow breathing, anxiety, depression and anyone stuck in a rut. Breathwork unblocks thoughts, habits and realities freeing up the body and mind to experience less worry and more joyful conscious living. You deserve it.

So do check out blogs and pages on this site for solutions, and how you can switch from panic REACT to healthily RESPOND to unexpected scenarios, learn how to handle life’s twists and turns more ably. Oh and have regular BP and Heart checks. You never know. 

Kundalini Ecstasy

I am one of the few Breathworkers in the UK specialising in addictions, including recreational drug and alcohol abuse, in fact TIME OUT London Magazine called me ‘CLUBLAND’S THERAPIST’ in Millennial year 2000 due to my clientele using club drugs like coke and ecstasy ( MDMA ).

https://www.talktofrank.com/drug/ecstasy

Not all clients arrive with these issues, relationship stuff, including codependency or stuckness in some way, is the number one problem.

Achieving a HIGH somewhere, is an example of success for many, a result, an intention to remove oneself from depression, life struggles or the need to ‘get out of it’, especially in tough economic times but continuous demand for entering an altered state of consciousness can create a habit. A second bottle of wine, a spliff to wake up to, a valium to get to work and a line at lunchtime to cope, are not unusual companions in urban Britain.

Having experienced drug addiction myself ( my last drink, drug and nicotine hit was October 25th 1982 ), all on the same day, not recommended without emotional and physical support, but I missed the HIGHS, escape routes and the RELAXATION of it all. So quick, so easy, so fulfilling.

Six years clean of all mood altering substances I came across ‘Conscious Connected Breathing’ while residing in Australia for 3 months. Then called REBIRTHING. I came back to to the UK and found myself a Rebirther to work with, and over the recommended 10 sessions to clear baggage, discovered ECSTASY in the form of emotional release and healing the body.

What a natural HIGH.

Ironically, this being 1988, ECSTASY the Love Drug arrived in Clubland and many of my future clients were taking it. Even now clients will often say “this Breathwork feels like taking Ecstasy”. With no comedown I might add, or the consequences of habitual drug use. 

I am blessed having Gunnel Minett as my mentor since 1994. Gunnel came to Rebirthing in 1978 and I started my training a decade later with Diana Roberts under Sondra Ray’s Loving Relationship Training ( LRT ) from America.

Gunnel has given me permission to reproduce sections of her book  the definitive BREATH & SPIRIT / Rebirthing as a Healing Technique published in 1994, including this chapter on Kundalini, a natural exploration of ECSTASY, so do give it a read and find out what Breathwork is about.

Kundalini

There is, as yet, no scientific explanation for the reactions which occur during conscious breathing sessions, or for what controls the length of the energy cycle. The closest we can get is to compare rebirthing phenomena with the reactions described in the various Eastern breathing exercises. So far, we have looked at some Chinese Chi Gong exercises. The other great area for comparison is yoga.

One major purpose of yoga exercises is to awaken the body’s in a life energy – the kundalini. in order to expand consciousness and reach a higher state of mind, the body’s own life energy has to be awakened and activated. According to Indian tradition, a person is not ready to experience altered states of consciousness before the kundalini is awake and allowed to flow freely in the body. The yoga trainer has to prepare the body and psyche to adjust properly to this expansion beyond the normal. The exercises of hatha yoga (physical yoga) and pranayama (breathing exercises) are specially designed for this purpose.

The word kundalini comes from yoga, but there a similar concepts in most breathing techniques. The awakening of life-energy is an important factor in the various physical and psychological cleansing processes. When the body and mind have been cleared of blocks and ‘impurities’, the person will enter a new phase where body fluids flow so freely that more life-energy can be absorbed. this leads to an awakening of the body’s kundalini, which in most adults is dormant. when the kundalini is released it produces an expansion of the mind, often resulting in the development of ‘supernatural’ abilities. This can include physical changes, for example less need for sleep and food, greater physical endurance and a capacity for self-healing.



Most descriptions of the awakening of kundalini are very similar, regardless of the cleansing method being used. The process can take anything from a couple of months to several years. One effect of the process is the experience of non-normal states of mind. These experiences go totally beyond everyday mental life, though they rarely result in loss of contact with reality or disorientation severe enough to be called psychotic.

Accounts of the awakening of kundalini have many similarities with the reactions observed during rebirthing sessions. Several scientific studies of the body’s reactions to yoga exercises have been published. Here we will not, however, go into detail regarding the physical changes in the body. (Those interested should see, for example, James Funderburk, Science Studies Yoga, 1977.) we will concentrate here on descriptions of the various physical and psychological phenomena reported from the process of awakening kundalini in various yoga practices.

Many of the symptoms and bodily reactions connected with the awakening of kundalini have been described by Sanella (1977). all of the following bodily sensations have also been observed in somatic conscious connected breathwork, and may occur from the very first session.

Experiences of expanded consciousness e.g. (visions, sounds, out of body) normally occur only after a person has completed at least ten sessions, and often at an even later stage. A precondition is the one should have cleared out a substantial part of biographical memory experiences. This normally involves having had at least one experience of birth memories. The examples listed below range from physical experiences to ‘supernatural’ phenomena, but they do not necessarily appear in this order.

Body Movements 

The body often starts to move spontaneously. The movements vary greatly from person to person. They can be soft, curling, jerking, twitching [sic] or vibrating. the physiological explanation is that the breathing exercise affects the cerebellum, the part of the brain that coordinates muscular movement.



Breathing 

So-called spontaneous rebirthing, with rapid shallow breathing, deep powerful breathing or spontaneous breathing patterns, occurs frequently. The practice of various breathing exercises may trigger and natural breathing cycle, which will normally be completed before returning to normal breathing. This spontaneous breathing reaction is originated in the hypothalamus, which monitors and controls the blood and its oxygen content. It does this by regulating the impulse to breathe. 

Cramps 

Various states of cramp occur often, affecting all parts of the body. They can last for short period or persist over a longer time, affecting mobility. States of cramp are normally preceded by fear or hysterical states. This is often referred to as tetany in other Breathwork publications and with an experienced breathworker as breathing coach it soon passes.

Body Sensations 

The skin or the whole body is often felt to vibrate or itch. It is usually described as ‘bubbles’ in the body, or stitches and bubbling. Sometimes these experiences are perceived as sexual, similar to pre-orgasmic feelings. A physical explanation is that this is mainly caused by stimulation of the sensory cortex. The vibrational sensation often moves from the feet upwards (the way the kundalini is said to move through the body). The left big toe is often said to be the starting point. This toe has a direct link with the cerebral cortex. (The big toe plays a special role in yoga exercises. Hindu mythology states that the holy River Ganges emerged out of the big toe of the Creator.)

Changes in Temperature 

Body temperature can rapidly change from very hot to very cold. Sometimes, this is purely a subjective experience but there may also be objectively measurable changes in body temperature. A possible explanation is that when the kundalini force encounters a blockage in the body, friction is generated leading to localised temperature rise. This affects the hypothalamus which, in turn, will have effects on the body temperature as a whole, causing rapid changes.


Experience of Pain 

Sudden pain may be felt in the head, eyes, spine or other parts of the body without apparent reason. The pain usually remains for only a short period. A traditional explanation is that the kundalini force becomes intensively concentrated when passing through a ‘blocked’ part of the body. People who resist the process with a subconscious wish to retain control over the body are likely to experience these phenomena as painful.

Light and Sound Experiences 

There are many descriptions of a wide range of light and sound experiences: colours flowing freely, illuminating or flowing from various parts of the body; voices, music, whistling or strong roaring or hissing. These phenomena may be caused by wave movements in the ventricles (cavities of the brain). This area influences the auditory cortex in the back lobe of the brain, which controls hearing and vision.

Emotional Experiences 

Most emotional experiences are very intense, ranging from anxiety, fear, hate, depression and confusion to states of total bliss. The negative feelings are mostly experienced in the beginning of the session. They are later normally replaced by feelings of peace, harmony and love, at the end of a completely worked through session. It is influence on the thalamus which probably causes these intense emotions. This area transport information to various centres in the cortex, in cooperation with the reticular and limbic systems. The latter has great impact on the emotions and motivation.

Thought Experiences 

People often report a change in the thought process itself. Thoughts pass through the mind faster or slower than usual and thought can even stop completely at times. Thoughts can also appear irrational, strange or unbalanced. These states can sometimes resemble mental illness, trance, impulsive actions or confusion. 

Distancing 

Another common experience is a feeling of separation from the actual event. ‘What is happening has nothing to do with me’. This can also be described as being outside, observing the events, thoughts and feelings. This is known in yoga as ‘witness consciousness’. In some cases, especially when there is an underlying imbalance in the person, this state may resemble schizophrenia. With the right type of guidance, it usually disappears rapidly and completely.

   Out of Body Experiences 

In this kind of experience one’s own body appears distant. There is a feeling of being outside the body and the person can experience moving to various places while leaving the body behind. This is a sharp distinction between this type of experience and ordinary dreaming. The person can actually ‘see’ their own body from the outside, and be able to describe places without having physically been there. This distinguishes the phenomenon from dreaming or visualisation.

Supernatural Experiences 

In the latter stages of the kundalini process a capacity for ‘supernatural’ skills often appears. The most commonly occurring skills are clairvoyance, clairaudience and the ability to see the aura (the body’s energy field) but other, even more remarkable skills may develop.

 

And here we are in June 2019 experiencing the kundalini of REAL LIFE

Gunnel Minett & David Parker with a selfie.❤️

 

 

 

Urban LifeClass Breathwork Coaching comes to Athens 27th April 2019.

Easter Breathe : Saturday April 27th.  4 – 8pm 

Venue : A Beautiful House in Creative Akadimia Platonos

Urban LifeClass is a London UK based Not-for-Profit Breathwork & Coaching Programme led by David Parker, incorporating Codependency Recovery, Relationship Reviews and breaking addictive patterns – including thoughts. Thought is creative but ACTION has more power, which is why we focus on affirmative ACTIONS not just affirmations. 

We also don’t use fancy language or special clothes, come as you are and speak as you do, we find this more authentic.

The Athens Team below are an eclectic bunch, inter-generational, highly creative, non-judgemental and as you can see we LOVE what we do. No team member gets paid, your monies goes toward 2020 when we expect the need for a larger venue and a bigger programme of events.

In the meantime we give service to serve you, so you can serve yourself, learn to breathe more productively and maybe support us in growth if you like what we do and the progress you make. All sexualities and genders welcome.

We have 3 INTRODUCTION WORKSHOPS for 2019, – April, June & December, with an Autumn one pencilled in, depending on David Parker’s travel schedule. You can read about him here. https://rebirthyourlife.me/globalcoaching-experience/  

All workshops are in English with Greek translation if required.

So escape from your mind into your body, feel lighter, clearer and breathe out stress with experiential Somatic Evolutionary Breathwork. Each Workshop is for 10 participants MAX, so personal attention can be given.

Easter Breathe : Saturday April 27th 4- 8pm 

Venue : A Beautiful House in Creative Akadimia Platonos

Read testimonials and blogs on this site https://rebirthyourlife.me,

sign up for this adventure with just 20 Euros for a 4 hour Introduction to Breathwork.

That’s all you need to do 

There is no sign ups or obligations to continue with anything after, we just ask that if you can’t make the workshop you booked or you can’t transfer your place to another – we hold the 20 Euros as a donation.

Loads of info can be gathered from our Team Members in Athens

 Organiser/Producer – Patricia Photiou +30 6949826260

Experienced Breathworker over 3 decades – Yiannis Vousvoukis

mob 6945 900 310

#breathe

Check out the URBAN LIFECLASS site too: https://urbanlifeclass.me    

 

 

 

A Deeper Reflection

Feedback from Spike Mclarrity a participant of :

IMMACULATE PERCEPTIONS – Spiritual Hoovering and a Blissful Path To Creative Release.

Dickie-Beau_CJP12061A weekend workshop with Rebirthing Trainer David Parker & Performance Artist Dickie Beau funded by The LIVE ART Development Agency. At Chelsea Theatre Kings Road London October 5/6 2013.

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Monday begins with a fresh smile on my face, a deep sleep been had, and all my doors and windows are open to allow the fresh air flow through the house as I breath in the optimism, possibilities and the sense of being awake.

Caroline-Howell-window-fresh-air-blogI hadn’t truly thought about what the weekend would bring, and somehow was distracted by other things, and so the word Re-birthing escaped me, I suppose I was looking forward to seeing what Dickie would look like as I have only ever seen him in drag, and from friends feedback on working with him in the past, I knew that something will happen but not quite sure what.

That aside and your workshop began I found myself on familiar territory, though I hadn’t done a rebirth session for a few years, and each session is unique on its own, but the fact here it was not on a field or in some alternative centre or commune, but within a live art building!

That’s was refreshing in itself. My own experience was deep, profound, and challenging, the letting go, facing fear and panic that surfaced..(to my surprise)

I know it was just yesterday and my body and soul is still digesting the information, but to wake up this morning I felt I was greeted by an old familiar feeling of myself! It had been lost in thought, emotions, anxieties, distraction, confusion, hatred, yearning, blame, shame, and a mass of other shit, anyway here I was, me, laying there, feeling my body, feeling my breath, BREATHING!!!!

Yes my breath, the life source.

For myself it was a wonderful reminder of the life I seek, the one that makes me feel alive, to live everyday breathing in the air around me, breathing in my history, my story, my life, my friends, my family and the love and healing that I am surrounded in.

It was like being on a fast fair-ground ride not knowing what emotions that will surface, but the reminder of my mother, the one that carried me, the one that fed me, the one who’s heart beat I felt from inside her body, the woman who gave birth, who held me, who breast fed me, who heard my first cry, wiped the shit from my arse, bathed me, loved me.

imagesThis was a new image of her, one that I had never seen. I only ever saw the sad life she lived, the external life around her, not my connection with inside her body, now that was profound. I saw for a moment, whether in my imagination, never the less there I was breathing, sweating, my body filled with intense heat flowing from head to toe, toe to head, and I could feel the umbilical cord attached to me, I was floating, I could hear a heartbeat, hers, her mothers, her mother’s mother and mine, the connection was strong, pounding on my chest it was extraordinary.

I have done many self-growth workshops, pushed many boundaries entered into the places I resist, ignore, I fight myself on a continues struggle, but here I was with a simple technique that embraced me with a hug, with gentleness that it introduced me to my mother, it enabled my primal self to let go of the holding and allow the self to be mothered, to return to a place that I never thought I would remember, the place of safety that I was born from.

15515664-mother-babyIt was a moment with me and my mother, not about hang ups, or frustrations, anxieties and all the other baggage I carry, this was about a mother and a son re-uniting, through a heart-beat, through time, through love.

I thank you for this it is one of the most precious gifts that have I have been given recently.

At this point I wanted to say how structured and relaxed the whole weekend was, you took care of us, you reassured us, you fed us, you became our parents, gave us a safe place to become a child, to become ourselves, to be ourselves.

This was really important especially in a theatre for live arts! ( a difficult place to turn into a safe haven and a womb ). For me the crossing of my two life styles, bringing two practices together, helping me to realize it need not be separate. I know the fact that you cannot teach live art, but it is the tools we work with that can help every individual to become themselves within their work and the re-birthing strangely can work, especially in my own practice, reminding myself to breath and to stop being bitter about what I think isn’t happening, but to enjoy, embrace, dance, breath, live, love and appreciate the gift of life.

Thank you

Spike

(below is a picture of my mother holding one of my older brother’s, I wasn’t in the picture yet! I was in the second five born after.) I wanted to share this. xxxxxxxxxxxx

spike GIF

A Tyrolean Breathe

Rebirthing new people is always exciting.

One never knows how they will take to being out of control with controlled conscious connected breathing. I am always surprised how young clubbers are eager to drop a pill from a dealer without question in a club but fear breathing deeply on the floor fully focused without chemical support. If only they knew that the end result of a breathe has been described as coming up on an ‘e’, they would do it more and fear less. Natural highs contain spiritual ecstasy – not chemical con tricks.

Innsbruck in the Austrian Tyrol has an active snowboarding, skiing and extreme sports day time calendar and at night, bars, clubs, alcohol and other youthful distractions make for messy times. In London my market is music, clubs, fashion & media but when I lead Rebirthing Groups, Seminars and small groups around the globe the demographic is more mixed and good that it is.

I have been asked several times to come to Innsbruck in Austria to start REBIRTHING GROUPS but it never felt right. There is something to be said for not grabbing at every invitation that comes along. South Africa has asked me to come to Johannesburg in 2011, but detail needs to be done, those days of flying across the world because ” the invitation came ” are over. Some practitioners still think that it’s not spiritual to turn away a client away ( because higher energies have delivered them to you ), but experience has taught me that NO is the most satisfying word in the english vernacular. Detail is more important than acknowledgement of work. I haven’t said NO yet to SA because the countries issues interest me : drugs, crime, poverty, HIV/AIDS regarding releasing blocked emotional trauma, but without conscious detail, intuition and breathwork have no bedrock.

Next month January 2011, I begin working with an established Breathwork Centre in Casablanca Morocco, and said YES straight way, when invited, simply because the detail was there from the beginning and working with family dysfunction recovery in North Africa holds my creative attention. 2011 seems to be my year for Africa.

CODEPENDENCY Recovery depends on clearer boundaries and communication and it remains my next task to focus on South Africa and it’s opportunities. In the meantime Innsbruck, Austria is new to REBIRTHING BREATHWORK and a small group gathered for the 1st group on Thursday, with the view above from the patio, a blissful surrounding – we have another on Monday. Without another Rebirther to hand I only work with 6 new participants in a group, this way I can offer full attention to individuals while serving the group as a whole.

. . . and yes breathing new people is exciting.

Set for 3 hours, the group stayed for another few hours to eat and socialise. Most of them expressed tearful emotions during the breathe and felt wonderful, according to phone and facebook messages the next day, so the job was done. How this work will be developed here I don’t know yet, but Innsbruck has localised networking and yoga groups to start the ball rolling. Here is the band of breathing pioneers from the 1st Alpine Breathing Group in Innsbruck.

The next batch of 6 arrive on Monday.

So organising for me may just mean finding 6 people, then another 6 to make the trip financially eloquent. It can be in your home, if suitable. Then a One Day Seminar or a Weekend Training in a chosen venue. But the real essential is detail and clear communication.

This is the only vision I focus on.

The Connected Breath

From her book SECRETS – Christina Thomas describes THE CONNECTED BREATH

“Now I will describe the actual rebirthing or connected breath. Let us use mouth breathing as an example. Open the mouth rather wide and draw in with intention and willpower on the inhalation : then immediately EXHALE, just allowing the breath to fall away. You will not “follow the breath out” or blow out or control the exhalation or try to make it the same duration as the inhalation. Just let go and allow it to fall away as if you were dropping a ball off a cliff. This is a vital point. Many people will attempt to control the outbreath in some way, as they probably attempt to control your own lives. If the exhale is controlled IN ANY WAY, it is not a rebirthing breath.

Next point : No pauses before or after you inhale or exhale. This is another way some people unconsciously attempt to control the process. Initially, you may have many random thoughts and all are OK. You may feel that you are taking too much time, that you don’t how to do it right, that this isn’t going to work, that you are hungry, thirsty, wish this was over, feel really weird, wonder if you’ve gone crazy, feel like your throat is too dry etc. And none of those thoughts matter at all because this process happens outside of the mind. Sometimes the mind is involved, but it is not required to cooperate in the rebirthing process, which is why the breath is more powerful”.

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Re-reading this from way back when I read it first in 1989, highlights what happens to us when we stop and feel. Codependents are DOING people not BEING people. This is why the affirmation ” I do enough, I am enough, my presence is enough ” saved my arse more than once. In order to recover from any addictive compulsive behaviour like chronic helping, one needs to stand back with the Highway code. STOP, look, LISTEN and Speed-bump your life. Think it, but don’t act it out.

So it’s little wonder that once left to ourselves and the breath we try to fill that ” God slot gap ” with hunger pains, negativity and restlessness. If only we could give that level of care and attention we give to others, to ourselves freely, the divine gap of the breath will EXPAND into peace, bliss and eternal safety. You can with Breathwork Coaching- it’s simply spiritual hoovering of body and soul.