A Breathwork Ceremony
A group of people doing breathwork together is often called a breathwork ceremony(watch the video at the bottom of this post!). There’s usually an altar or centrepiece of some kind and the breathers may be arranged in a circle around the centrepiece or simply in rows throughout the room.
In the Breath of Bliss ceremony there was a beautiful arrangement of flowers, crystals and other objects of sacredness. I’ve also seen stunning mandalas; elaborate crystal grids arranged in sacred geometrical shapes, and in the other cases nothing at all.
At the Alchemy of Breath session Antonio guided the participants through some conscious breaths much like I’ve described above. After setting some context about what to expect he invited everyone to lie down and begin breathing.
It’s worth mentioning now that as people begin to “breathe” – i.e. commence a cycle of conscious, interconnected breaths, a range of experiences arise which are unique to every individual. Commonly people will experience sensations in the body, including clenching of the muscles in the fingers and hands or the jaw. Tingling, shaking, jerking of the limbs or rhythmic rocking also happen, and sometimes it simply looks like people are pleasantly asleep with their mouth open and a smile across their face.
A range of emotions are expressed too, and this is why a master facilitator will set a context for the ceremony whereby all emotions are welcome and encouraged to be expressed – including not expressing anything at all!
Christabel had us do a range of exercises before her ceremony which she describes as “priming the pump”. Designed to explore certain themes of the soul such as love, trust, anger, grief or any of range of emotions we pass through during our life, the exercises she lead served as an invitation for us to connect to what is really alive in us.
It’s perhaps a symptom of the modern world that there are a range of emotions that we are not supposed to feel – things like anger, rage, sexuality, loss, grief, you name it, at some point you’ve probably felt something bubble up and had a person look at you and go “shhhh”. Or maybe you did that to yourself on the inside first so nobody would notice.
In any case, a breathwork ceremony is not that place for that. The interesting thing is, once you are “riding the breath” and your cyclical breaths are happening more or less automatically, any internal nagging or thoughts of saying “shhhh” to yourself happily disappear.
So What Happened?
The Alchemy of Breath workshop was hosted by Anthony and a group of supporters usually known as Angels. It was accompanied by live music played by the talented John Duncan and the sumptuous Amma Sophia Rose who is a well known breathworker and sound healer herself.
After all the participants had settled on their mats, Anthony began leading people into an awareness of their breath, encouraging them to begin the cycle of continuous, interconnected breaths, and the journey began.
Intuiting the mood, Sophia and John reflected the rhythm and pace of Antonio’s hypnotic stories, words and invitations to follow the breath. The music and mood swelled, moved and varied like a symphony, ranging from calm, peaceful and spacious to intense and jarring, yet always carried by a deep rhythm which echoed that of the breath.
Every person had a unique response. Some simply lay there looking peaceful and unmoved for the entire time. Others were rocking and rolling, writhing and crying. Some were laughing, some were weeping, and one individual who shall remain nameless looked like she was enjoying the best sex of her life.
Everything is welcome in a breathwork ceremony, which can be such a blessed contrast to our contracted, modern range of “acceptable” emotions.
After the music and energy reached a peak, the denouement was a beautiful, tranquil period of spacious music as people returned to a normal state of breathing. Lying contented in a blissful state most people were relaxed, looking flushed and with a far-away, transcendental look in their eyes.
Breath of Bliss
At the Breath of Bliss workshop we were fortunate enough to be graced with a group of Balinese students from a local tourism school. It was a serendipitous meeting of cultures which were to be united by one of the many things we have in common – the breath.
For most of them it was their first experience in what is primarily a western modality, and they made up about a quarter of the 270 people who attended.
Christabel started the ceremony with some gentle exercises to get us in to our bodies and connect with each other. This was followed by a beautiful piece where we chose a partner and had asked them to embody many of the things we didn’t like about ourselves, and then we bowed to that person in gratitude. It was deeply moving, and followed by some Qi Gong taught by Amma Sophia who taught some ancient techniques to open up our energy channels.
With our pumps fully primed everyone was invited to return to their places and lie down to begin the ceremony. Christabel’s intention was to have a fairly upbeat, fast paced ceremony, and certainly the next hour was an intense journey through a range of emotions as she held space and guided people through the deep experience of their breath.
Anthony and Christabel were both supported by a group of Angels whose job was to move through the ceremony assisting people to breath correctly and gently tending to them when it was intuited. As one of the angels I can say it was a profound role to play. The internal experience of breathwork can be profoundly moving, and to have the reassurance of gentle touch along the way invokes a feeling of being supported and unconditionally loved through whatever you may be feeling.
As the peak of the ceremony curled like a storm then gently passed away to leave clear skies in its wake, the music, mood and emotion were guided brought back to earth under Christabel’s calm direction. As people lay relaxed, restful and in various stages of integrating their experience they were encouraged to reach out and physically connect with another person – in other ceremonies this often ends up as a giant puppy pile of humans.
At the end of both ceremonies a few people were invited to share their experiences. While every person had a different story to tell and a unique insight which they gained, every one expressed profound gratitude for the experience and deep appreciation for the facilitators and their team of Angels.
Written by : Russel Price