LETTING GO, The Pathway of Surrender
What follows are my highlights of Dr. David Hawkins’ book titled Letting Go, The Pathway of Surrender. He very often mentions “God” but to me he could have said Buddha, Lao-Tze, Jesus. Mohammed, Krishna, Meher Baba, or who or whatever one feels a supreme being is or could be. My goal is to share with you what stood out for me. You will have your own “highlights” thus I hope this will encourage you to get the book as well as my C34 Better Breathing Exercise #1 audio exercise where I simplify the letting go process in a guided by my voice audio exercise. I created the audio in 1993 but never really knew how powerful letting go can be until I READ THIS BOOK, 27 years later.
“’The letting go mechanism does not conflict with any religion or spiritual pathway or self -improvement program, nor does it disagree with any philosophy or metaphysical position. It entails no spiritual teachings of its own. Instead, it provides a mechanism for self- understanding and removes the blocks to spiritual advancement. It is also compatible with the humanistic movement.
Surrender also facilitates the basic teachings of all the world’s great religions.
Forward (by Dr. Hawkins)
This book provides mechanisms by which to unlock our innate capacities for happiness, success, health, well-being, intuition, unconditional love, beauty, inner peace, and creativity. These States and capacities are within all of us they do not depend on any outer circumstance or personal characteristics; They do not require belief in any religious system.
Perhaps you’ve seen that the more you pull on the rope to hitch yourself up to where you want to be, the more frazzled and frayed it becomes.
Spiritual teachers have emphasized the cultivation of inner peace as the only real solution to personal difficulties, as well as collective conflicts: inner disarmament first, then outer disarmament. The Dalai Lama or Ghandi “be the change you want to see in the world”. The implication is clear because we are all part of the whole, when we heal something in ourselves, we heal it for the world. Much like the rising of the sea level lifts all ships, so the radiance of unconditional love within a human heart lifts all life.
Philosophical systems, metaphysics, a multitude of holistic health techniques, self-improvement courses, spiritual pathways, meditative techniques, and other ways to expand one’s awareness.
How to handle the vicissitudes of ordinary life, with its losses, disappointments, stresses in crisis? How to be free of negative emotions and their impact on health relationships and work? How to handle all the unwanted feelings?
Letting go technique is a pragmatic system of illuminating obstacles and attachments.
Research has shown the technique to be more effective than many other approaches currently available in relieving physiological responses to stress.
Because most people throughout their lives repress, suppress, and try to escape from their feelings, the suppressed energy accumulates and seeks expression through psychosomatic distress, bodily disorders, emotional illnesses, and disordered behavior in interpersonal relationships. The accumulated feelings block spiritual growth and awareness, as well as success in many areas of life. The elimination of suppressed emotions has a positive health benefit. It decreases the overflow of energy into the body’s autonomic nervous system, and it unblocks the acupuncture energy system which is demonstrable by a simple muscle test. As a person constantly surrenders, physical and psychosomatic disorders improve and frequently disappear altogether. There is a general reversal of pathological processes in the body and return to optimal functioning.
It used to be that we could count on social institutions, but they have had their day; Nobody trusts them anymore: nobody has time for the patients and they get lost in the shuffle. Look down the corridors. There are no doctors or nurses. They are in the offices doing paperwork. The whole scene is dehumanized.
“Well,” you say, “ there have to be some experts who have the answers,” when upset you go to a doctor or psychiatrist, an analyst, a social worker, or an astrologer. You take up religion, get philosophy, take the erhard seminars training (EST), tap yourself with FT. You get your chakras balanced, try some reflexology, go for Iraq you puncture, do iridology, get healed with lights and crystals.
You meditate, gentle mantra, drink green tea, try the Pentecostals, breathe in fire, and speak in tongues. You get centered, learn NLP, try actualizations, work on visualizations, study psychology, join a Jungian Group. You get Rolfed try psychedelics, get a psychic reading, jog, jazzercize, have colonics, get into nutrition, aerobics, hang upside down, wear psychic jewelry. Get more insight, biofeedback, gestalt therapy.
You see your homeopath, chiropractor, naturopath,. You try kinesiology, discovery or any a gram type, get your meridians balanced, join a consciousness raising group, take tranquilizers. You get some hormone shots , try cell salts, have your minerals balance, prayer, employer comma and beseeched. You learn astral projection. Become a vegetarian, eat only cabbage. Try macrobiotics, go organic, eat no GMO. Meet up with Native American Madison men, do a sweat lodge. Tried Chinese herbs, moxibustion, shiatsu , acupressure, Feng shui. You go to India. Find a new guru. Take off your clothes. Swim in the Ganges. Stare at the sun. Shave your head. Eat with your fingers, get really messy, shower in cold water.
Sing tribal chants . Relive past lives. Try a hypnotic regression. Scream a Primal Scream. Punch pillows. Get feldon Christ. Join a marriage encounter group. Go to unity. Write affirmations. Make a vision board. Get reimbursed. Cast the eaching. Do the tarot cards. Studies in. Take more courses and workshops. Read lots of books period do transactional analysis. Get yoga lessons. Get into the occult. Study magic. Work with the kahuna. Take a shamanic journey. Sit under a pyramid. Read Nostradamus. Prepare for the worst.
Go on a retreat. Try fasting period take amino acids. Get a negative ion generator. Join a mystery school. Learn a secret handshake. Tried toning. Tried color therapy period try subliminal tapes. Take brain enzymes , anti depressants, flower remedies. Go to health spas. Cook with exotic ingredients. Look into strange fermented audities from faraway places. Go to Tibet. Hunt up holy man. Hold hands in a circle and get high. Renounce sex and going to the movies. Where some yellow robes. Join a cult.
Try the endless varieties of psychotherapy. Take wonder drugs. Subscribe to lots of journals. Try the Pritikin diet. Eat just grapefruit. Get your Palm read. Think new age thought. Improved the ecology. Save the planet. Get an aura reading. Carry a crystal. Get a Hindu sidereal astrological interpretation. Visit a trans medium. Go for sex therapy period tried tantric sex. Get blessed by a Baba somebody. Join an anonymous group. Travel to Lourdes. Soak in the Hot Springs. Join a Rica. Wear therapeutic sandals. Get grounded. Get more product and breathe out that stale black negativity. Try Golden needle acupuncture. Check out snake gallbladders. Try chakra breathing period get your aura cleaned. Meditate in Cheops, the great pyramid in Egypt.
You and your friends have all tried all of the above, you say? Oh, the human! You wonderful creature! Tragic, comic and yet so Noble at Commission point such courage to keep on searching! What drives us to keep looking for an answer? Suffering? Oh, yes. Hope? Certainly. But there is something more than that.
I, Mike White, consider myself a seeker. Today is my 79th birthday.
I had tried most of the preceding underlined, italicized, bolded paths. Many seemed helpful or beneficial and a few were profound but something seemed to always elude me.
A dear friend had given me a Tibetan Singing Bowl and I liked the way its sound made me and how my voice got deeper and I felt more relaxed, I figured if one was good, maybe more was better so I created a collection. The calming energy I felt from striking the bowls guided me to use a recording I had made of them as background sound for what turned out to be the Surrender Breathing Meditation exercise later named Better Breathing Exercise #1.
My first experience doing the exercise found me on my back on the floor doing spontaneous cat stretches for over two hours: They just kept coming. In retrospect I was releasing some of the tensions of a lifetime allowing me to let go, and the majority of unsatisfied sense of self, backed away. At that point my life was about doing stuff I just liked to do such as joining a choir, helping others, studying breathing, creating a book called The ABCs of Breathing to Awaken the Breathing Consciousness of the world. I starting to develop a website that I spent tens of thousands of hours over the next 23 years and counting. I now had a purpose. Studying and teaching breathing became my reason for being, my spiritual path. I had no clue that it tied into what you will soon discover is about letting go and surrendering. Thank you higher power and David too.
I joined a group in Walnut Creek, California called the Health Medicine Forum. It was composed of leading edge traditional and alternative health practitioners including TCM, Ayruveda, psychology, internists, chiropractors, clinical nutritionists, naturopaths, osteopaths, oncologists, Qigong and Tai Chi teachers and even shamans.
I learned that these practitioners respected breathing, but only knew about it from an illness perspective and not really about what good, healthy optimal breathing looked, felt and functioned like. How it might simply be measured as to progress or digress, moment to moment.
Variety being the spice of life, I eventually discovered that as profound as one exercise could be, that just one lacked variety and this led to borrowing and developing the 35 plus exercises in the Optimal Breathing Kit. Now back to David.
“Intuitively, we know that somewhere there is an ultimate answer. we stumble down dark pathways to cold and blind alleys; We get exploited and taken, disillusion to come with fed up, and we keep on trying. Where is our blind spot? Why can’t we find the answer? We don’t understand the problem. That’s why we can’t find the answer. Maybe it’s ultra simple, and that’s why we can’t see it. Maybe the solution is not out there and that’s why we can’t find it. Maybe we have so many belief systems that we are blinded to the obvious.
You will find out for yourself what is real and what are just the mind’s programs and belief systems. Eventually it will discover your inner self. There is nothing to learn or memorize. You will become lighter and happier as you read it (and practice C34). You’re in for some happy surprises about your life! Things are going to get better and better. It’s OK to be skeptical. We’ve been taken down the Primrose path before, so be as skeptical as you like.
Indeed, it’s advisable to avoid gushing enthusiasm. It is a set up for a let-down later. Therefore, rather than enthusiasm, quiet observation will serve you better. Learn this by using your breathing as a pathway to discovering your inner self.
2 The Mechanism of Letting go.
We carry around with us a huge reservoir of accumulated negative feelings, attitudes, and beliefs. The accumulated pressure makes us miserable and is the basis of many of our illnesses and problems. We are resigned to it and explain it away as the human condition. We seek to escape from it in myriad ways. The average human life is spent trying to avoid an run from the inner turmoil of fear and the threat of misery. Everyone’s self-esteem is constantly threatened both from within and without.
It is not thoughts or effects that are painful but the feelings that accompany them.
Thoughts are filed in the memory bank according to the various shades of feelings associated with those thoughts. Therefore, when we relinquish or let go of a feeling, we are freeing ourselves from all the associated thoughts.
What is the surrendered state? It means to be free of negative feelings in each area so that creativity and spontaneity can manifest without opposition or the interference of inner conflicts. The pressure of suppressed feelings is later felt as irritability, mood swings, tension in the muscles of the neck and back, headaches, cramps, menstrual disorders, colitis, indigestion, insomnia, hypertension, allergies, and other somatic conditions. Of these mechanisms used by the mind to keep the feeling repressed, denial and projection are perhaps the best-known methods. As they tend to go together and reinforce each other.
Instead of feeling it, we project it onto the world and those around us. We experience the feeling as if it belonged to them. They then become the enemy and the mind searches for inference and justification to reinforce the projection. Blame is blamed on people, places, institutions, food, climatic conditions, astrological events, social conditions, fate, God, luck, the devil, foreigners, ethnic groups, political rivals, and other things outside of ourselves. Projection is the main mechanism in use by the world today. It accounts for all wars, common strife, and civil disorder. Hating the enemy is even encouraged in order to become a “good citizen “. We maintain our own self-esteem at the expense of others and, eventually, this results in social breakdown. The mechanism of projection underlies all attack, violence, aggression, and every form of social destruction.
This is a very important point to understand for many people in society today believe that expressing their feelings frees them from the feelings. The facts are to the contrary. The expression of a feeling, first, tends to propagate that feeling and give it greater energy. Second, the expression of the feeling merely allows the remainder to be suppressed out of awareness.
Freud pointed out that suppression was the cause of neurosis; Therefore, expression was mistakenly thought to be the cure. What Floyd actually said, and classical psychoanalysis, was that the repressed impulse or feeling was to be neutralized common sublimated, socialized, and channeled into constructive drives of love, work and creativity.
People are terrified of facing themselves. They dread even a moment of aloneness. Thus, the constant frantic activities the endless socializing common talking, texting, reading, music playing, working, traveling, sightseeing, shopping, overeating, gambling, moviegoing, pill taking, drug using, and cocktail party and. enormous amounts of energy are required to keep down the growing pressure of the suppressed and repressed feelings. The accumulated pressure begins to decrease as we constantly let go. Everyone knows that, when we let go, we immediately feel better. the body’s inside Physiology changes. There are detectable improvements in skin color, breathing, pulse, blood pressure, muscle tension, gastrointestinal function, and blood chemistries. The basic rule is that we focus on what we have repressed. It is not the external stimulus, then, that is the cause of stress, but the degree of reactivity the more surrendered we are the less prone we are to stress.
Many stress reduction programs offered today often missed the essential point. They try to relieve the aftereffects of stress rather than remove the cause of the stress itself, or they concentrate on external events. It is like trying to reduce the fever without correcting the infection.
Letting go involves being aware of a feeling, letting it come up, staying with it, and letting it run its course without wanting to make it different or do anything about it. It means simply to let the feeling be there and to focus on letting out the energy behind it. The first step is to allow yourself to have the feeling without result resisting it, venting it, fearing it, condemning it, or moralizing about it. It means to drop judgment and to see that it is just a feeling. Feelings you resist tend to persist.
The letting go process undoes the programs passively. Through that process, the underlying motive behind the feelings becomes more and more apparent. You become progressively primarily the witness rather than the experiencer of phenomena.
Letting go of negative feelings is the undoing of the ego, which will be resistant at every turn. This may result in skepticism about the technique, “ forgetting to surrender, a sudden upsurge of escapism, or venting feelings by expressing and acting out. The solution is simply to keep on letting go of the feelings you have about the whole process. Let the resistance be there but don’t resist.
the resistance. Let’s not forget that we are letting go of all the programs that have made us a slave and victim for a long time.
Letting go is a natural ability. It is not something new or foreign. It is not esoteric teaching or somebody else’s idea of a belief system. We are merely utilizing our own inner nature to get freer and happier. When letting go, it’s not helpful to “think “ about the technique. It’s better simply to just do it.
We’ve had the experience of being totally absorbed in what we are doing, when we are scarcely noticing the passage of time. Bites are like beta fish; If we bite at them, we get cut.
There is always a feeling of being let up and surrendered. When we are feeling good the emotions are merely subtler.
It is often beneficial to look at some commonly held beliefs and let go of them right at the beginning, such as #1 we only deserve things through hard work, struggle, sacrifice and effort; #2 suffering is beneficial and good for us; #3 we don’t get anything from nothing; #4 things that are very simple aren’t worth much. Letting go of some of these psychological barriers to the technique itself will allow an enjoyment of its effortlessness and ease.
3 The Anatomy of Emotions
Thoughts are engendered by emotions and, eventually, emotions become shorthand for thoughts. Thousands and even millions of thoughts can be replaced by a single emotion. Reason is the tool the mind uses to achieve its emotional ends. There is a simple way to become conscious of the underlying emotional goal behind any activity through use of the question, “what for“with each answer “what for“? Is asked again and again until the basic feeling is uncovered. An example would be the following. A man wants a new Cadillac. His mind gives all the logical reasons, but logic doesn’t really explain it. So, he asks himself. “ what do I want the Cadillac for? “Well he says it is to achieve status, recognition, respect and solid citizen success status “ again what do I want status for? “respect and approval from others” and “he might say to ensure that respect in. Again what do I want respect and approval for?
Every activity or desire will reveal that the basic goal is to achieve a certain feeling. There are no other goals than to overcome fear in achieving happiness. Emotions are connected with what we believe will ensure our survival, not with what actually will. Emotions themselves are actually the cause of the basic fear that drives everyone to seek security constantly.
On the map of consciousness, the chakras calibrate as follows Crown 600; 3rd eye 525; throat 350; heart 505; solar plexus 275; sacral or spleen 275; base or root chakra 200.
Consequently, there is a scientific basis for the observation that self-awareness is increased much more rapidly by observing feelings rather than thoughts. The understanding of the underlying emotion in its correct handling is, therefore, more rewarding, and less time-consuming than dealing with one’s thoughts.
If the feeling has been totally surrendered and let go, usually all thoughts associated with it will have disappeared entirely and be replaced by a concluding thought which handles the matter quickly.
Immersion can be reduced in intensity by sharing the feeling with close friends or mentors. By merely expressing the feeling, some of the energy behind it is reduced. (Mike refers to that as breathing through it). It is also alright in this circumstance consciously to utilize escape mechanisms, such as going out in a social situation to get some distance from the upset, playing with a dog, watching television, going to the movies, playing music, making love, or whatever one’s habit is under the circumstances.
As we come out of the overwhelm, it will be remembered that a certain portion of the emotion was purposely suppressed or escaped. It can now be re-examined, so that it no longer does residual harm, such as ending up in bitterness, unconscious guilt, or lower self-esteem.
When we look at our lives, we will see the residual of past life crises which are still unresolved. Now that we have some mechanisms by which to handle these residuals, they can be uncovered. The residual feelings can be investigated and let go of so that a healing can take place.
It is said that most people spend their lives regretting the past and fearing the future; Therefore, they are unable to experience joy in the present.
One of the most effective tools for handling the past is the creation of a different context. What This means is that we give it a different meaning. We take out a different attitude about the past difficulty or trauma, and we acknowledge the hidden gift in it.
The shadow is all the repressed thoughts, feelings and concepts about us that we do not want to face. All that is necessary is merely to recognize that we have certain forbidden impulses, thoughts, and feelings. now they can be handled with a “so what”? (Mike got a lot of “SO WHAT is WHAT’S SO” in EST.)
Fear of life is really the fear of emotions. It is not the facts that we feel that our feelings about them. Because fear is the basis of all inhibitions, mastery over fear means the unblocking of whole avenues of life experience that previously had been avoided.
Will we choose to be healed, or will we become one of The Walking Wounded?
The corollary to letting go of negative feelings is to stop resisting the positive ones. (Reich referred to increased “toleration” Gay Hendricks called it “raising your energy thermostat”.
When we let go of our negativity and choose to be letting the; We are the ones who benefit. When that inner emptiness, due to lack of self-worth, is replaced by true self love, self-respect, and esteem, we no longer have to seek it in the world, for that source of happiness is within ourselves.
4 Apathy and Depression
Because in the unconscious mind there is no such thing as time, we can choose at any time in the present to heal a past event.
The benefit here is on the psychic level of consciousness, and there is a transfer of positive energy in relating of one one’s own latent positive thought forms. In some self-help groups this is called getting it by osmosis. It is not necessary to know how it happens, but merely that it does happen.
If we find ourselves in the state of apathy, we can discover the underlying program by asking ourselves what we are trying to prove. Are we trying to prove that life is rotten? That this is a hopeless world? That it wasn’t our fault? That one can’t find love? That happiness is impossible? What are we trying to justify? How much are we willing to pay to be “right “? As we acknowledge and let go of the feelings that arise in response to these questions, the answers begin to appear.
The persistence of a feeling is due to the resistance to allowing it to be relinquished.
The psychological basis of all grief and mourning is attachment. Because what we hold in mind tends to manifest, the fear of the loss can, paradoxically, be the mechanism of bringing about that loss. What we see is what we get.
The greater our attachment to that which is outside of ourselves comma the greater is our overall level of fear and vulnerability to loss.
We can learn another one of the laws of consciousness: fear is healed by love. The value of the surrendering mechanism is that, by letting go of the blocks to love, a capacity to love increases progressively, and loving energy has the capacity to heal ourselves as well as others.
Unconditional love has the greatest power of all, and that love is the power of the celebrated Saints. The most fortunate thing that can happen to us growing up is to be our mother’s favorite child.
Everybody secretly harbors the fear that they are dumb, ugly, unlovable, and a failure.
We can take the same protective actions out of love rather than out of fear.
99% of guilt has nothing whatsoever to do with reality. In fact, the most pious, meek, and pious individuals are often riddled with guilt. Guilt is self-condemnation and self- invalidation of our worth and value as a human being. Guilt is as prevalent as fear, and we feel guilty no matter what we’re doing. That part of our mind says that we really ought to be doing something else. Or whatever we are doing actually at the moment, we ought to be doing better. We should be getting a better golf score. We should be reading a book instead of watching television. We should make love better, cook better, run faster, grow taller, be stronger, be smarter, be more educated. In between the fear of living and the fear of dying is the guilt of the moment. We seek to escape it by remaining unaware of it through suppression, repression, projecting it onto others and escapism. Remaining unconscious of guilt (repression) however does not solve it. The guilt reemerges in the form of self-punishment and through accidents, misfortune, loss of jobs and relationships, physical disease and sickness, tiredness exhaustion, and the multiple ways the ingenious mind figures out how to bring about the loss of pleasure, joy, and aliveness.
Once we have looked deep within ourselves and found that innate inner innocence, we will stop hating ourselves. We will stop condemning ourselves and stop buying into the condemnation of others and their subtle attempts to invalidate our worth as human beings. It is time to re-own our own power and stop giving it away to every passing scammer who jiggles our fears and shakes loose some money out of our pocketbook or enslaves us to their cause, living off of our energy. It is easy to get away from all that fear because we have the power of choice now. What is the truth about this voyage? The truth is that, as we go within and discard one illusion after another, one falsehood after another, one negative program after another, it gets lighter and lighter, the awareness of the presence of love becomes stronger and stronger. We will feel lighter and lighter. Life becomes progressively more effortless.
As the quantity of guilty fear and the energy cap accompanying it by relinquished, we will notice that physical diseases and symptoms begin to disappear. what is important to notice is that the alleviation of guilt is accompanied by a resurgence of life energy, well-being, and physical health.
Cannot consideration for the feelings of others replace guilt as a motivation for appropriate human behavior?
When we become totally aware of the bill of goods that we have been sold, it is very likely that we will feel anger in a strong desire to become liberated from the constraints of negativity.
The more we hang on to our negativity in the small self-image that results, the less we think we deserve, and we unconsciously deny ourselves the abundance which flows so easily to others.
The impossible becomes possible as soon as we are totally surrendered. This is because wanting blocks receiving it and results in a fear of not getting it. The energy of desire is in essence, a denial that what we want is ours for the asking.
People now seek our company, not because of what we have, not because of what we do and society’s labels, but because of what we have become. Because of the quality of our presence, people just want to be around us and experience us.
They are only interested in whether we have achieved certain inner goals., such as those of honesty, openness, sharing this, loving this, willingness to help, humility, genuineness and awareness. They are interested in our quality of beingness.
Glamour is a very useful subject to understand. Once we understand it, it greatly facilitates the letting go of desires.
We have projected onto a thing in magical quality that somehow leads us to believe that, once we acquire it, we will magically achieve some higher state of happiness and satisfaction.
Men are attracted by personality, not the brand; Thus, the cowboy represents the glamorized male who is rugged, cool, swab, and in control.
Much to our surprise, we will find repeatedly that the desire was attached to the glamorous fantasy; there was no reality in it in the 1st place.
The way to become that exciting person whom people want to know is very easy. We simply picture the kind of person we want to be and surrender all the negative feelings and blocks that prevent us from being that.
Instead of the motivation of selfishness and desire, we can much more effortlessly bring into our life that which we want by envisioning what we wish to have happened. We do this by declaration of our intention, by acceptance, by decision, and by the act of consciously choosing.
The quantity of suppressed anger in the population can be verified quickly by seeing how popular violence is in the media, where the viewers are presented with the vicarious experience of letting out their anger in the form of beatings, shootings, stabbings, lynchings, killings of various “bad guys“.
The expectation of others is a form of emotional blackmail.
Chronic, unrecognized anger and resentment re-emerge in our life as depression, which is anger directed against oneself. If pushed further into the unconscious, it can re-emerge as psychosomatic illnesses. Migraine headaches, arthritis, and hypertension are frequently cited examples of chronic suppressed anger.
Anger kills the angry person, not the so called “enemy “.
Many people try to substitute pride for genuine self-esteem; however, genuine self-esteem does not actually arise until pride is relinquished. There is a tireless preoccupation with appearance and what other people will think, so there is a constant vulnerability to the opinions of others.
Is there such a thing as “healthy“ pride? When we talk of healthy pride, we are referring to self-esteem, an inner awareness of one’s true value and worth. This inner awareness is different from the energy of pride. Self-awareness is one’s true value as characterized by a lack of defensiveness.
The more we surrender our negative emotions, the less we will rely on the crutch of pride. In its place, there will be a quality that the world calls “humility“ and that we subjectively experience as peacefulness.
The reason that pride arouses attack is because of the inference of being “better than“ which is part and parcel of pride.
If we don’t take a prideful stance about our opinions, then we are at liberty to change them.
One reason for the need for humility about our opinions is because our opinions change as we get deeper and deeper into any given subject or situation. All the politicians can truly promise us is that they will use the best possible judgment for the good of all, as they get deeper into each matter.
When we are open-minded, we are admitting that we are not in possession of all the facts, and we are ready to change our opinion as the situation unfolds. Scientific opinion, much to the surprise of laypersons, is also subject to fads, passing popularity, paradigm blindness, and political pressures.
Because of inner self confidence, we are much less concerned with security. This involves a capacity to admit mistakes without indulging in guilt and self-recrimination. On this level, statements of intention and purpose are much more powerful in envisioned results tend to manifest.
A paradigm is a whole worldview, and it is only limited by what we view as possible. As old ways of looking at things or challenged, our worldview begins to stretch and expand. That which was previously considered to be impossible becomes possible and eventually is experienced as a new dimension of reality.
In courage there is an overall sense of strength and well-being.
With the correct facts, education, and orientation, sooner or later most problems can be worked out satisfactorily. There is greater satisfaction and gratification because there is a greater reward with less effort than that which would be required to overcome fear. There is a much greater capacity not only to seek help, but to be able to utilize it and benefit from it. There is an awakening of consciousness and the realization that our beliefs and views are now the result of a choice, not just a result of previous blind programming.
Our capacity to love is now much stronger, and it has the power to support and encourage others, lending strength to that which is positive and constructive in them.
Everyone is doing the best they can with what they have at the moment. In the state of acceptance, it is possible to forgive our own past, as well as that of others, and to heal past resentments.
All negative feelings are our own problem, and there is no longer looking outside of ourselves for their resolution.
Our letting go of the lower energies of guilt, fear, anger come and pride has alleviated the weight of the past and cleared the clouds of the future.
Love is a way of being. It is the energy that radiates when the blocks to it have been surrendered. It is more than an emotion or a thought —-it is a state of being.
Typically people think of love as “romantic“ love, as in “ honey “ and “ sweetheart “. But romantic love is only a minor part of a human lifetime. There are many types of love other than personal, romantic love and they infuse our everyday experience: love of pets, love of family and friends, love of freedom, love of purpose, love of country, love of attributes, love of creation, love as virtue, love as enthusiasm, love as forgiveness, love as acceptance, love as motivator, love as appreciation, love as kindness, love as essence of relationship, love as group energy (for example Alcoholics Anonymous), love his admiration, love as respect, love as valor, love as fraternal bonds of unity, love as friendship, love as loyalty, love as affection, love as cherishing, love as self-sacrificing, maternal love, love as devotion.
Once you become loving, there are certain things you can never do again. And there are certain things you can do in the energy field of love that are impossible otherwise. Sometimes, it is best not to tell people that you love them because they’ll get scared and think that you have designs on them or you want something from them. Love is the energy that silently transfigures every situation.
Because of the inner quiet, we have the ability to perceive the thoughts and feelings of others on a nonverbal level. While functioning in the world is still possible at the higher vibrations of love (high 500s) we may end up leaving the ordinary arena of commerce and abandoning our prior social milieux and occupation. The development of a spiritual ego is avoided by the realization that the phenomena are a gift from beyond our personal self; we were only the channels of love, not its origin. Spiritual progress is known to be the result of grace, not the result of our personal endeavors.
When we have become loving, we have no limitations or demands on others that they should be a certain way in order to be loved.
When love is unconditional, there is no attachment, expectation, hidden agenda, or bookkeeping of who gives what to whom.
Eventually, we surrender the very idea of forgiveness. To forgive someone implies that we’re still seeing the person or situation is wrong and therefore in need of being forgiven. True surrender means letting go completely of seeing it in such a way. When we surrender our perception completely, letting go of all judgment, then the whole situation is transfigured, and we see the person as lovable. Since all judgment is really self-judgment, we have liberated ourselves in the process.
Breakthroughs of great serenity and peace may also occur after prolonged periods of continual surrender. At one point, being in a state of constant joy, an event occurred which brought to awareness a conflict that stemmed from the deepest way in which we can relate to others. It was difficult to look at and experience out, but because the prevailing state had known so much energy, so much high-energy to it, it was possible to let the inner conflict come up and let it run its course, to resolve once and for all. For a while the inner conflict seemed as if it would be unending; However previous experience with the surrender process had confirmed that every feeling sooner or later runs out, if we just keep letting it go.
In peace, there is no longer any conflict. There is a total absence of negativity and an all- encompassing lovingness that is experienced as serenity, tranquility, timelessness, completion, fulfillment, stillness, and contentment.
With continual surrender, we begin to experience these states of peace with ever increasing frequency. The person who has found inner peace can no longer be intimidated, controlled, manipulated, or programmed.
It’s because this energy of peace is transmitted outward into the world that mankind is still active. It would have destroyed itself a long time ago without this energy to counterbalance it.
1/3 way up the mountain is through the mechanism of surrender, and each of us, therefore, has the opportunity to verify for ourselves the ultimate nature of reality itself, which is the same as that revealed to the Mystic or the physicist. We can envision that with each and every surrender, we take another step up the side of the mountain. Some of us will ascend until the deal gets better and choose to stop there. Others will go still higher. And then, there will be those of us who will not be satisfied until we have reached the very peak and verified it for ourselves, although, at that point, there is no longer an individual person to verify anything, or it has been surrendered completely.
14 Reducing stress and physical illness
The more emotional pressure that is surrendered and let go, the less vulnerable we are to stress response and stress related diseases.
There is an emotional-psychological component in all diseases, and, because of this, it is possible to reverse the disease process by removing the internal stress factors.
Acknowledging and letting go of suppressed feelings progressively reduces a person’s personal stress proneness, thereby lowering the vulnerability to stress related problems and illnesses.
Unpublished research studies during the 1980s, for which I served as clinical advisor, showed a greater effectiveness of inner techniques in contrast to purely medical methods of stress reduction.
15 Relationship between mind and body
Fearful thoughts are reinforced and given so much power that epidemics are actually created by the media. The fear based “warnings” about health dangers actually set-up the mental environment in which the very thing that is feared will occur.
Another clear demonstration of this law of consciousness is observed in people with multiple personality disorder. Once thought to be rare, it is now found that multiple personality disorder is relatively common; And so, research into the phenomena has become increasingly prominent. Has been shown that the different personalities in the one body have different physical accompaniments. There are, for instance, changes in the Electro encephalographic brain waves, as well as changes in their handedness in handwriting, pain thresholds, electrical skin response, IQ, menstrual cycles, cerebral hemisphere dominance, language abilities, accent, and vision. That’s when the personality that believes in allergies is present, the person is allergic; But when another personality is present in the body, the allergies disappear. One personality may require glasses, and another may not. These different personalities actually have notable differences in intraocular pressure and other physiological measurements.
Sir John Eccles, Nobel laureate, stated that after a lifetime of study it became apparent that the brain is not the origin of the mind, as science and medicine had believed, but the other way around. The mind controls the brain, which acts as a receiving station (like a radio) with thoughts being similar to radio waves and the brain being similar to the receiver.
There are numerous disease prone beliefs. P 216-217.
Without a change of consciousness, there is no real reduction of stress. The conscious use of the mechanism of surrender is more effective in addressing chronic stress related illnesses. Illnesses begin to heal spontaneously because the underlying emotional cause has been removed, and further treatments often become unnecessary.
16 The benefits of letting go
Don’t look for answers; Instead, let go of the feelings behind the question.
The more we let go, the more loving we become. More and more of our life will be spent doing things that we love to do, with People for whom we feel increasing love.
In general, letting go is often more rapid than psychotherapy. It is often more liberating and stimulating to the growth of consciousness and awareness. Psychotherapy, however, is better designed to elucidate underlying patterns. The 2 may work well together. The mechanism of letting go facilitates and speeds up psychotherapy, and it elevates its goals. Psychotherapy may be more gratifying intellectually because of its verbal nature and it’s focus on the “whys” behind behavior. However, that is also its limitation. Too often intellectual insight is all it’s really achieved, and the emotional working through is slow, often painful, and ultimately avoided.
It’s not necessary to probe the “why“ of depression to become free from the “ what “ of it.
In therapy, there is dependence on therapists and their training and techniques, and there is also reliance on a psychological theory to which the therapist and the patient both subscribe. Scientific research reveals that the results of therapy are not related to the therapist school of psychotherapy, training, or technique; Instead, the results are related to the interaction between them and the degree of the patient’s desire to improve, as well as the patient’s faith and confidence in the therapist. Therefore, psychic factors are operating of which psychotherapy is unaware
Since the purpose of most psychotherapy is a well-adjusted ego, there is no conception of what is beyond the ego.
The purpose of letting go, in contrast, is the elimination of the ego. As for efficacy, psychotherapy is like a horse in a buggy, while the mechanism of surrender and letting go is like a spaceship. In the time it takes for therapy to slowly poke about a limited area, letting go has already moved far beyond it into a whole new dimension.
As far as fear is relinquished, all fear is diminished non dash specifically.
Letting go, however, is designed to undo the underlying causes of all neurotic formation. It undoes the basic structure of maladaptive feeling and behavior. Psychotherapy seeks for an improvement in neurotic balance. Letting it go, however, eliminates it altogether.
The limitation of most psychotherapeutic frameworks is that the therapist is constricted to what the world calls a healthy, functioning ego with all its restrictions. In this paradigm, the healthy patient is considered to be one who shares the same illusions and limitations condoned by society and the therapist. By contrast the purpose of the mechanism of surrender is to transcend the illusions of the world and reach the ultimate truth behind it —-which is self- realization and to discover the right basis of the mind itself, the source of all thought and feeling.
The goal of letting go is the elimination of the very source of all suffering and pain.
When the pressure behind an emotion has been let go, the emotion no longer occurs.
The goal of surrender is transcendent. Psychotherapy accepts levels of behavior as healthy that from the viewpoint of total freedom, are unacceptable. Beyond the “acceptable level of functioning “awaits our greater destiny: total freedom.
Although letting it go seems simple and easy, its ultimate effects are profoundly powerful.
The proclivity of mind to discount inner progress is sometimes quite comical. For instance, a man who had been stuck in the same job position for 23 years begin using the technique of letting go. Within a couple of months, he suddenly jumped to the position of vice president and, by the end of the year, he was president of the company. When asked if he was pleased with himself about what he had accomplished by using the letting go technique, his mind totally discounted it and ascribed his gains to “ shifts in business patterns “. His marriage had also improved and the mind, again, ascribed the improvements to external reasons: “ my wife’s attitudes finally changed “. The relationship with his son also improved, and the mind again circumvented the inner transformation and said it was due to the fact that his son was “getting older“.
We will also notice that, as the mind contrasts the lower level of life with the higher level, a peculiar resistance to description of a higher level of functioning will occur at times. You can tell yourself right at the beginning that these high levels of functioning are not only possible, but they are in an inherent birthright. They are the natural state of which you have been deprived by all the programming that the mind has been subjected to since birth.
As we have seen from previous discussions, these vulnerabilities are merely the product of the mind, and the body will react to what is held in mind.
A helpful way to phrase it to ourselves is, “I am an infinite being, not subject to blank ”_____ “ we put into the blank space whatever disease or substance that the mind has been programmed to see as a possible “danger“ for us.
Doctor Hawkins says on page 242 “a surrendered person can eat anything or go anywhere. It is no longer subject to fears of contaminants, pollutants, drafts, germs, electromagnetic frequencies, carpet, smoke, dust, animal dander, Poison Ivy, pollen, or food dyes.”
‘I totally disagree with this and if you look at a video of him in his 80s (he died age 88) with his wife talking about maintaining relationships, you notice awful looking skin and general unhealthy-looking features and deduce that he could have paid a lot more attention to what he ate or didn’t eat and how he might have detoxed. Certainly, a mindset can influence diet such as anxiety/histamine/allergy connections but to say “surrendered person can eat anything” is to me over the top mental/spiritual with too little regard to the physical/biochemical.’
The persistent surrender of negative feelings and attitudes means that the associated guilt is also being constantly relinquished.
Let’s say that, behind the desire for money, we discover that one of our goals is to be respected and valued. In that discovery, we have just found out that it isn’t money itself that we are interested in; Rather, it is our self-respect and a feeling of inner worth. We see that money is just a tool to achieve something else and that, as a matter of fact, it isn’t money that we want at all but the self-respect and esteem we thought it would bring us. It would also dawn on us that our goals which we thought money would bring us can be achieved directly. The higher our inner self esteem, the less we need the approval of others.
It might be said that the smaller we feel inside, the greater amount of power, money, and glamour must be accumulated to try and compensate for the inner smallness. I’m reminded of Donald Trump.
The person who suffered from inner poverty is relentlessly driven to accumulate on the material level.
It is very common for people who use the letting go technique suddenly to come into abundance.
Soon, because of a lack of inner clarity about goals, there is confusion leading to self-pity, envy, and further resentment. Self-condemnation gets endlessly projected onto the world, taking the form of condemnation from others, which increases further the guilt and feeling of smallness.
For some of this, the only escape is through grandiosity, intolerance, bigotry, arrogance, and anger, which take the form of cruelty, overbearingness and brutality, an insensitivity to the feelings of others. Because of this inner chaos, the average person must of necessity stay unconscious at all times. (Enter the political dragon. mgw)
The franticness of the struggle is not really realized until we are suddenly forced to discontinue it by some external event.
There is nothing wrong with any of these activities in and of themselves. What we want to examine is only the state of consciousness, the state of awareness, and the manner in which the activities are perceived, pursued and experienced. In a state of inner freedom, these same events and experiences take on a totally different significance.
The more we let go, the more we deglamorized the world. The more it is deglamorized, the less it runs us. We are no longer at the effect of an Inter need for approval from others.
In the surrendered state, we are independent of the outer world as the source of satisfaction because the source of happiness has been found within us.
As more feelings and belief systems are surrendered, there eventually comes the awareness, ”I am not the mind either, but that which witnesses and experiences the mind, emotions, and body. “
The silent state of awareness that underlies all movement, activity, sound, feeling, and thought is discovered to be a timeless dimension of peace.
What often passes for love in common human understanding is primarily attachment, dependency, and possessiveness.
As we shall see, all emotions toward others involve the basic belief that we are incomplete within ourselves and, therefore, others are viewed and utilized as a means to an end. Although we may not be able to influence the other person in the way we would like, the utilization of the other person still occurs on the level of fantasy and expectation. We also discover that much of what we experience in a relationship is happening only in our imagination.
Our feelings and thoughts always have an effect on other persons and affect our relationships, whether these thoughts or feelings are verbalized, expressed, or not.
We find that often the set of feelings we hold about another person is mirrored back to us by their attitude and that, when we change our inner attitude about them, their attitude changes abruptly.
The Course in Miracles is based on the precise process of changing our view of a situation by the willingness to see it differently and to be forgiving.
When we shift out of a lower to a higher energy pattern, we create a protective shield on the energetic level, as it were, and we can no longer be psychically vulnerable to that other person.
If we are feeling guilty because of lateness to an appointment, that guilt will frequently elicit a critical response from the other person.
If we want others to stop being critical of us in attacking us, the answer is to begin letting go of guilt in all the feelings that have brought it about.
The energy of fear generates an inner focus on all the negative things that could happen, and that focus can coalesce the appearance of the very events that we fear the most.
If we look at pride, we see that it’s often a substitute for genuine self-esteem.
When we have adequate self-esteem, we are motivated by inner humility and gratitude and therefore we have no need for the constant eliciting of strokes and pat from others (or God)”.
All the negative feelings are essentially forms of fear.
Fear of loss of self-esteem by ourselves or others, or fear of not surviving and loss of security.
Before searching ourselves for negative feelings, it is best to remember that these feelings are not our real inner self.
To be surrendered means that we are willing to relinquish a feeling by allowing ourselves just to experience it and not to change it. Existence is what keeps it there in the first place.
As we relinquish the negative suppressed feelings from all the programs we have internalized, they are automatically replaced by the higher ones. We become happier and lighter and so do the people around us.
It is obvious that higher states of consciousness have a profound effect on our relationships, because one of the laws of consciousness is like goes to like. The more we love, or we find ourselves surrounded by love. The replacement of a negative feeling by a higher one accounts for the many miracles one can experience in the course of life. These become more frequent as one continues to surrender.
The goal is to let go of all those feelings until you can go up to a positive thinking feeling space about the matter.
Emotions are really subtle attempts to force others and impose our will on them, which they unconsciously resist.
Facts in and of themselves are neutral things. The power we give them is due to our attitude of acceptance or not acceptance and our overall feeling state.
Besides the increased emotional pleasure of freedom of expression, letting go brings a change in the sensory experience itself.
If one breathes slowly and deeply, smiling instead of grimacing, the fear will become conscious and can be surrendered.
19 Achievement of vocational goals
Because feelings determine thoughts, and the thoughts we hold in mind determine outcomes, it is important to clarify the relationship between our feelings and the freeing of our abilities so that they result in successful action.
Negativity does not exist within a situation or event; Rather, it resides in our reaction to the situation as we see it. When negative feelings are acknowledged and relinquished, the situation can rapidly change in appearance from impossible to easily manageable, workable, and even quite useful.
Positive feelings flow naturally when negative feelings are not in action.
The impossible becomes possible as soon as we totally surrender to the situation. Often, surrendering to what appears to be an impossible situation quickly turns into a positive experience. A mind that is concentrated on a positive thought has the power to increase the likelihood that the positive thought will materialize in the world of events.
20 Physician, heal thyself.
The scientific ideal is objectivity. Objectivity means an absence of emotion. The achievement of this ideal is clinical and scientific work necessitated a suppression of feelings. This was especially intense given the nature of the clinical practice, which was with severely ill people. The mounting pressures of suppressed emotion in all areas of life obviously contributed to the multiplicity of illnesses.
There was also the discovery of a disdain for feelings. Anger surfaced at the imposition of feelings, which can make a person feel like a “victim‘‘ do a left brain orientation where feelings were the opposite of reasonableness, logic, and rationality. Superimposed on this was the male chauvinist idea that emotions were for women, children, and artistic types. Feelings had been primarily a matter of intellectual understanding and clinical analysis. When they came up internally, they had been labeled, pigeonholed, and filed away.
When a feeling is let go, thousands or even millions of thoughts that were activated by that feeling disappear.
21 Questions and answers
To remind the reader, the letting go mechanism does not conflict with any religion or spiritual pathway or self -improvement program, nor does it disagree with any philosophy or metaphysical position. It entails no spiritual teachings of its own. Instead, it provides a mechanism for self- understanding and removes the blocks to spiritual advancement. It is also compatible with the humanistic movement.
Surrender also facilitates the basic teachings of all the world’s great religions.
It is obvious that letting go of negativity facilitates the very direction that all religions and spiritual pathways vary just to take.
The letting go technique brings resolution to longstanding inner conflicts, both to the atheist and to the believer.
When the feeling behind the train of thoughts is located and surrendered to, then that entire train of thought instantly stops.
If you surrender the obstacles to the affirmation, you will notice a rapid increase in their effectiveness.
Enlightenment is not something that occurs in the future, after 50 years of sitting cross legged and saying “OM“. It is right here, in this instant. Let go of anticipating the next moment, trying to control it, trying to hang on to the moment that has just passed. Let go clinging to what is just occurred. Let go trying to control what you think is about to occur. Then you live in an infinite space of non-time and non-event. There is an infinite peace beyond description. And you are home. “
I recommend my Better Breathing Exercise #1. It used to be called The Surrender Breathing Meditation and is now included as a separate audio exercise product and a separate audio exercise in the Optimal Breathing Kit).
Breathing Work, Breathwork, Breathing Exercises, Breathing.
What’s the difference?
You can learn to positively affect every aspect of your life and transform your way of being into an increasingly joyful and nurturing existence in space and time. The foundation for this is in intentions, commitments, habits, food choices, internal cleansing, environment choices and the way you breathe.
It is going to be helpful in the future to think of basically three schools of breathing: 1. breathwork, 2. breathing work, 3. breathing/pulmonary/rehabilitation.
Pulmonary rehabilitation is what you get from the hospital. They are masters at keeping people alive in the surgical arena. But due to their audience being largely comprised of sick people, they rarely get the opportunity to work with optimal breathing techniques, exercises and nutrition. So their clinical research is centered around illness instead of wellness.
Breathing is hopefully just “natural” effortless breathing. Breathing work is more about the mechanics of the way you breathe. Breathing exercises can be both breathing work and or breathwork. They both include specific things one does to affect specific changes.
Breathwork or connected breathing is more about the Energetics as related to altered states of consciousness, spirituality and rapid personal transformation. Each contains aspects of the other.
You might say that breathing work represents the body, and breathwork the body/mind/spirit, but we know that the body and mind and spirit are not separate; to work with one is to work with the other. It is a matter of priorities; energy creation and distribution. What are the goals and needs of the breathing person?
I classify the breath in five major categories. There may be many more levels or sub-levels but this is as far as I have gotten at present.
Passive; Semi active; Active; Extra-active; and Super-active. There is something of an energetic hierarchy to this. From receiving passively (Reiki) to actively doing it by oneself (Opera singing, Rap, or Heavy metal shouting/screaming). Some schools of the breath include all these levels and often advocate their school as the superior school, i.e. Secret or Magic or the “this” breath or the “that” breath.
All systems I’ve come in contact with need to add key breathing pause and reflex insights that are the basis for effortless lung volume increase, diaphragmatic rise (excursion) and deep relaxation.
The Major categories of Breathing from a volitional perspective
Passive would be walking through the forest and not doing anything with the breath whatsoever. The trees breathe. The plants breathe. Everything in life has a pulsation, an expansion and contraction. Even the entire earth expands and contracts approximately two feet each day.
Walking down the beach with the ebb and flow of the surf and all those wonderful negative ions. Totally relaxed body positions that speak to an unhindered inhale and unobstructed energy pathways. Majid Ali might call this Limbic Breathing.
Passive exercise positions such as the reflexive breathing in The New Optimal Breathing Kit including the Secrets of Optimal Breathing Self Help Manual and proper chairs that facilitate a bigger, easier breath.
Imagine the breath as it ebbs and flows like the ocean surf. Watch the body breathe as in a breathing meditation. You do influence the breath just by watching it as in Vipassana™, or even keeping your eyes open.
That’s why it is more accurate to measure someone’s breathing than to have them do it themselves – this is a good way of exercising for focusing and concentration. My favorite breath observing exercise/meditation is The Watching Breath™, a four thousand year old Himalayan practice.
Here we consciously trick the body to create a natural breathing reflex that allows the rib cage to open more readily than it would by trying to effort the response. This technique is extremely calming and can rehabilitate a non existing pause (inhale, exhale and pause is the natural breath cycle).
This has tremendous implications in health and longevity matters as it actually increases breathing volume and ease and the “breathers” can be easily trained to do it, providing they are flexible enough in the rib cage. It is the type of exercise that needs to be introduced into the hospital pre surgical and recovery wards. See the New Optimal Breathing Kit. to be published early 2009.
Hatha yoga may be included here depending on the stretch. Actually Yoga is probably represented in all the levels though I am not familiar with any in the semi active category. Weight trainers, some “hard way” martial artists and barrel chested public speakers and emphysema victims may have difficulty with breathing reflexes but they are well worth the extra time needed to develop them and let them guide the workouts and Katas..
Also techniques that press on the ribs that precipitate an exaggerated breathing reflex. Bodywork, massage, chiropractic, acupressure kinesthetic sensing; how the breath feels and noticing its changes and subtleties, expansions and contractions that result from slight changes in movement or posture.
Middendorf, Speads, Rosenwork, Dennis Lewis’s Authentic Breathing and first and foremost The New Breathing Development Fundamentals series and the New Secrets of Optimal Natural Breathing™ manual speak to this level.
Conscious control of the breath to create and direct mostly gentle and manageable energy for self healing or specific methods of communication as with regular speaking. Extending the exhale, extending the inhale, holding the breath, and breathing coordination. Removing the blocks in the throat caused by breath holding.
Most yoga includes pranayama, chi kung (Qi Gong), asthma and emphysema techniques. Bioenergetics, Yoga, Tai Chi and Chi Kung.
NOTE: When you try to take a deep breath as with many breathing “exercises” you actually tighten the rib cage a little or a lot and restrict the easy in-breath. This can create breathing problems over weeks and months of repetition. The breathing tests help you gauge your progress or digress.
Some Qigong and pranayama techniques such as chanting and breath of fire for high energy creation, experience, containment and guided or controlled expression. Singing, both classical and popular as with the Bel Canto school; voice coaching and public speaking. Special techniques for removing leg, pelvic, belly, solar plexus, chest, sides, back, throat, and jaw blocks or energy excesses to natural full self expression.
This involves what I call “cathartic breathwork”. High intensity connected breathing to create radically altered states of consciousness for the experience of “breakthroughs” of emotional stuckness and mind bending states of high intensity energy ranging from enlightenment, ecstasy and incredibly rapid growth transitions to stark mind splitting terror. Included here are Integral Breathwork, Reichian Therapy, Rebirthing, Radiance Breathwork, Holotropic Breathwork, Radix, Shen, Vivation, and Optimal Breathing’s “Advanced Working Breath”.
Due to the opening up of deep emotional issues that may need professional counseling and processing, this work necessitates a skilled facilitator and preferably one with many, many years of training and or a professional mental health background including working with the breath. Gifted non-academically trained facilitators exist but are a rarity.
All of the above influence endogenous (internal cellular) breathing and exogenous (external) breathing which are whole separate subjects in of themselves and not a part of this article.
A recent addition by colleague and world class breathworker Denis Ouellette.
“Dear Breathwork Friends,
This is a well done article on the limitations of cathartic breathing that appears in the latest edition of Breathe Magazine, a publication based in the U.K. published by a colleague and friend, Robert Moore. (He has printed several of my articles.)
This article, which refers to my PTSD article, “Getting the War Out,” is by Austrian psychotherapist, Wilfried Ehrmann. I have scanned this from the magazine to share it with all of you, and for you to use as you see fit in your trainings and breathing work.
The author makes a very important point that needs to be well understood by all breathworkers, that it’s not the intensity of the breathing or of the emotions that make a good session. The true goal is the relaxation, so the body can heal itself slowly and safely, under guidance and care.
There are many ways to work with the breathing, and in bringing up the intensity of it, it must be done advisedly and gently, especially when there has been trauma and injury still locked in the past and in the body.
It’s the reason why we have developed Integral Breathwork as we have, and it shows the forward moving evolution of breathwork practice in the world. And why cathartic breathing should be considered part of the experimental past as a sometimes non-productive way of using the breath.
It’s good to see the breathing community, mainly via psychotherapists in Europe, agreeing with what Mike White and I have been concluding here in the states with Integral Breathwork. We assess and correct the breathing dysfunctions first, and focus on fuller, slower, more relaxed, diaphragmatic breathing. This smooths the way for the healing to take place.
Wilfried Ehrmann was a keynote speaker at this year’s Global Inspiration Conference (GIC) in the U.K., a worldwide gathering of breathworkers sponsored by the IBF. Mike and I presented at the 2006 GIC in Canada.
Enjoy the article… and thanks for being a part of our breathwork family.
Pass it around to anyone who wants to learn about proper transformational breathwork.
Gratitude to the author, Wilfried Ehrmann, for his great work in Austria!
Cathartic Breathing & Its Limitations
Editor: Some schools in breathwork focus on creating intense emotional experiences as a way of healing. This article, by a keynote speaker at this year’s GIC, looks at the value and the limitations of this approach.
Why Does Intense Breathing Cause Intense Feelings?
One explanation for the often dramatic results that can be achieved through intensive breathing can be found in the fear centre of our brain: the amygdala. This small organ, the size of an almond, situated deep down in our brain, is developed in the third month of pregnancy and works as an accurate storage of all events that caused fear and emotional overwhelm.
It works totally unconsciously and has no reference to chronological time. This means, for instance, that the amygdala stores the memory of a barking dog I perceived as dangerous at the age of one, without taking a note about the time. So, the same fear, with the same intensity as I had experienced it in early childhood, is produced when meeting a barking dog in an adult age.
The task of the amygdala is to react within a very short time to sensory data from outside that indicate a dangerous situation. This is why the connection from the ears to the amygdala is extremely short. A signal that is coming in from the ears needs to jump over only three synapses to reach the alarm center in the brain, and these three jumps do not need more than eight milliseconds.
Consequently, the amygdala is able to set off the complex stress reaction immediately by activating other brain centers, mainly the hypothalamus. Thus, an overall change in the whole body, including intense breathing, is triggered. All the body’s resources for “fight or flight” are mobilized so we can face challenges in an effective way.
Intense Breathing and Fear
In a breathwork session, we usually start with relaxing the body. It is important for the client to let go of obvious muscular tensions, so that the breath can start to flow easier and deeper than usual.
Then, the breathing can be intensified by will and encouragement up to the point where the amygdala is reminded of a danger in which this form of breathing had appeared spontaneously in any former time in the history of the person.
At that point, the amygdala starts the stress reaction in the body similar to the past traumatic experience. The client experiences strange body sensations, bizarre movements, and intense feelings of fear, anger, or sadness up to the point of cathartic release.
The amygdala also connects to the other memory storage in the upper regions of our brain, the cortex. The connection is mediated by the hippocampus, which is our unconscious organizer for conscious memories.
In this way, sensual memories from the past are activated and can be experienced as images, sounds, or body sensations, which come along with the intense feelings created by the amygdala. Past situations of traumatizing power will arise and can be faced consciously until we are ready to integrate them.
The Amygdala, Memories & Time
We can understand the fact that memories come up often far beyond the range of our conscious memory storage, because the memory capacity of the amygdala reaches back to the earliest time of pregnancy.
The visual impressions that come with it may not always be accurate, since they are formed by the associative cortex, under the governance of the hippocampus. Their production does not follow a strict rule and principle, yet it can provide a lot of relevant details.
Our brain does not work like a historical scientist, who carefully separates facts from fiction, but more like a poet, who creates images with complex meanings. (This is the area where false memory syndromes can come in.)
The memories from the fear storage are provided in a different format that is simple and accurate. This information is far from being complete or objective. It is like a database with very few parameters and it focuses on detecting dangerous signals in the environment quickly and precisely. For example, if I got hit by a red car years ago, the same color in a tiny spot in my vision could trigger the original panic reaction.
Due to the early development of our anxiety memory, we can recall information about danger starting from the first stages of pregnancy, around birth, and up to the early phases of infancy. But this information is stored in simple detail, always connected with emotion, and with very limited knowledge about circumstances.
Detailed knowledge is organized by the hippocampus, which starts to develop some time after birth and matures a few years later in childhood. The data is stored in our conscious memory (declarative memory) that is situated in large areas of the associative cortex.
The memory storage of our amygdala seems to be the source for early memories that can come up in breathwork sessions. They often arise as strange body sensations or bizarre movements and evolve into intense feelings and cathartic release.
Just bringing up fearful information does not help to heal it. On the contrary, it would intensify and strengthen memories in the sense of retraumatization (c.f. Denis Ouellette: “Getting The War Out” in Breathe Magazine, #109, 2008). But if the client can maintain a relaxed state, in which the body reprocesses the traumatic memories along with a sense of safety provided by the therapist, then they can integrate the memory.
Integration means that the fear, stored in the amygdala, is strongly linked to a time frame from the higher regions of the brain, so that the client is able to allocated the fear far back in the past, while able to experience the present as safe and trustworthy.
Here, another important center of the brain comes into play-the prefrontal cortex (PFC). This is our agent for reality checking and responsibility. It matures during adolescence. The PFC is able to quiet our fearful amygdala when old memories are brought to consciousness.
It assures us that old experience was very frightening for us, but now that we are grown up, we are no longer in danger. (This is called top-down-control.) But the PFC needs calm circumstances, because when anxiety prevails, its reasoning is set aside by the alarm centers.
One client of mine came to a breathwork session because she felt highly disturbed after a breathing session in a group, where the person who was assisting her became unsafe to her during the process and could not give her the support she needed to integrate the emotions that came up. So she needed careful attention to work through and integrate this disturbing experience.
When the right circumstances are provided, the client experiences the intensity of the emotion and feels safe enough to face it and to cope with it. She stays consciously focused on the breathing, so she cannot be totally overwhelmed by the emotion as in the traumatic situation of the past.
The therapist is present and aware of the needs of the client, encouraging the client to experience the feelings and to stay aware of their breathing. He serves as a grounding anchor and a connecting bridge to present reality.
When daily life provides another situation that could trigger a pattern of fear that came up in the session, it is much less likely that the fear will arise as intensely as before. After some time, the person will be able to stay calm and not even think of being afraid.
Limitations of Catharsis
Cathartic breathing has some limitations we should be aware of when using it as a therapeutic method. One limit is that strong emotions from past trauma can arise too quickly for the organism to integrate them. This brings the danger of over-stretching and damaging a fragile ego structure.
This could cause severe disintegration and decompensation, resulting in psychosis. People with a fragile personality structure and a weak social background should not be guided into intense breathing sessions.
They have to become acquainted with their body and their breath in the first place. When they have learned to feel grounded in their bodies and to relax with their exhalation, they can slowly be led toward increasing the volume of their inhalation.
Another limitation can be found in the learning abilities of the amygdala. When exposed to frightening signals over a period of time without anything dangerous happening, the signal loses its frightening character-when we hear a car alarm going off every two minutes, we stop listening.
Similarly, after some experiences with intense breathing, the amygdala stops getting anxious when the breathing rhythm intensifies and the pauses of relaxation are omitted. It has learned, with the help of the prefrontal cortex, that there is no real danger in the situation.
The client has learned to integrate her fears to a certain degree and has strengthened the top-down control to tame the lower emotional center to fire off unnecessarily all the time.
We observe that most clients who come to breathwork on a regular basis, reach a level where they can breathe strongly and intensely in a connected rhythm without producing intense emotional responses or outbreaks.
This does not mean that all their traumas are healed, but that their body, including their brain, has managed to cope with the changed breathing pattern and is ready to move on from that level.
At this point, the method of cathartic breathing has reached its purpose and needs to be changed. Working with relaxing the breathing, especially the out-breath, combined with a full volume, can provide deeper levels of healing.
Still, not all issues of suffering can be eliminated by conscious breathing. We need complementary approaches to access these ailments. This can be emotional-level breathing, systemic breathing, interactive breathing, or any other approach in breathwork or complementary therapies, which open the door to the different levels of the soul.
The Drama-Resolution Cycle
Some therapists and some clients become disappointed at the point when cathartic breathing fails to produce remarkable and sensational results. As we know from wave theories, even the strongest waves cool down and disappear after some time.
When the client and the therapist associate therapeutic success with high waves, they think, after a smooth and quiet session, that something essential is missing. When dramatic breakthroughs are considered to be at the core of the therapy, with intensity as the marker for success, the lack of intensity can appear to be the sign of failure.
The therapist will transfer his concept to the client, whether it is shared verbally or not. Both, therapist and client become addicted to a drama-resolution cycle-a drama is needed to obtain freedom, so dramas have to be created to gain the benefit of a feeling of resolution.
This would be like seeking the experience of how good we feel after recovering from a severe disease. But it would not be considered normal to acquire intense illnesses just for the sake of the nice feeling we have after recovery!
If the therapist feels stressed to deliver dramatic results, she will look for new means of producing such. Ways to provide a high level of excitement and dramatic tension can be with interventions on the physical level. Applying pressure on certain points of the body will inevitably produce strong emotional reactions.
Some breathworkers claim that more breathing is better breathing. They motivate their clients for intense breathing and assume automatically (and incorrectly) that less intense breathing indicates psychological resistance. More breathing is equated with more life energy-this is often stated as dogma.
But those therapists do not consider that the level of energy that the body can withstand from our breathing metabolism does not depend on the quantity of air taken in, but on the ability of the body to integrate the oxygen. Simple measurements can show that strong and rapid breathing takes more energy from the body than it adds to it.
The question is whether any further healing can happen under such manipulative and ideological circumstances. Healing cannot be measured by the quantity of dopamine in the brain, which is likely to be high at the end of a cathartic session.
Becoming addicted to emotional arousal is bound to create more suffering and to deepen neurotic patterns. When therapy turns into a sportive exercise, it would be better to tell the client to do an hour of running instead of the session-probably giving the same or even healthier results.
Good Breathing Is Relaxed Breathing
In many cases in breathwork therapy, catharsis is useful used to open up the blocks that stand in the way of gaining more relaxation. This is, however, an episode along the way. Learning to intensify the breathing is needed and can be used up to a certain point, which is different for each person. When this point is missed, the deepening of relaxation is blocked and the craving for tension becomes an addictive pattern.
Therapy should result in weakening and dissolving patterns of dysfunctional behavior, in reducing underlying fears, and in enlarging the opportunities for relaxation in daily life. A healthy life can have its intense moments but they should not arise from stress, fear, or craving. They should be associated with joy and pleasure as in the playful side of relaxation.
A good breathing pattern is a sign of a healed body-mind system. In my view, a good breathing pattern can be measured by the amount of relaxation in the breathing muscles, and not by the quantity of air flowing in or out.
A relaxed breathing rhythm is flexible and can adjust to different situations, calming down to slower breathing when the circumstances are pleasant and free of challenge, and speeding up when things need to be done. It provides the minimum of breathing activity that is needed to fulfill the actual demands of reality.
Wilfried Ehrmann, Austria
Reprinted from Breathe Magazine (UK) Issue #110, May-August 2008.
Dr. Wilfried Ehrmann is Vice-Chairman of Atman Association. He is a Trainer for Integrative Breathwork in Austria, a psychotherapist, author of “The Manual of Breath Therapy” (in German) and advanced trainer in Hungary, Italy, and Greece. He is the author of several articles on breathwork in English and German, and has contributed to Breathe Magazine over the years. His contact email is email@example.com.
Formed in 1991, the Atman Association is an Austrian association for integrative breathing and spiritual growth. It is a professional association of Austria’s breathworkers and breath therapists. The aim of Atman is to “promote the harmony of mind, soul and body through techniques of breathing, meditation and breath therapy.” See: http://members.aon.at/atman.at/.
The amygdalae (Latin: also corpus amygdaloideum, singular amygdala, from Greek, “almond, tonsil”) are almond-shaped groups of neurons located deep within the medial temporal lobes of the brain in complex vertebrates, including humans.
Shown in research to perform a primary role in the processing and memory of emotional reactions, the amygdalae are considered part of the limbic system. [Wikipedia]
How long one can go without breathing (our breathing tests stats say maybe 30 seconds on average-one day being 86,400 seconds).
How long without water, (maybe 2 weeks 86,400 x 14 days = 1,209,600 seconds ) then how long without food (breatharians -I find hard to believe but they DO have some great spiritual principles-aside perhaps 6 months – 86,400 x 180= 15,552,000 seconds). What percentage of 15,553,000 is 30?
Actually the answer is more than 99.99999 percent for breathing, not 90%, but 90% makes it too hard to believe as in hyperbole and probably not enough percentage (respect) for the idea of food and exercise.
I try to keep breathwork out of the world of hyperbole, even if some of the awesome results are possible but may or may not be probable. Science likes to control and replicate and be “dependable” ad infinitum ad nauseum.
Most breathwork often does not and can not be in control of what presents and though it greatly errs on the good side it still can present the bad. To me it needs more grounding. This aspect inspired me to co-create a new world breathwork paradigm called www.integralbreathwork.com . Getting the War out
With Optimal Breathing Work as a factor we try to be more in control but without controlling. Call it advanced breathwork if you will. You out there may be doing similar work but not call it that. I rely on your integrity to discern that for yourself once you have learned more about Optimal Breathing®.
OVER THE TOP EXCESSIVE AND SOMETIMES HARMFUL
My advice is to begin working with your breath by first releasing your breathing. See the below testimonial of what may occur.
Removing the obstacles to self realization and peak performance: breathing as a metaphor for living.
“I spent four days in private sessions with Michael White. My breathing was fast (23 to 28 breaths per minute) and I was having a very hard time catching my breath without using muscles in my core and shoulders to consciously draw in the inhale. My girlfriend tended to feel anxious around me and wanted to break up. Decades of breathwork and other somatic processes helped improve my confidence and joy in my life, but the mechanics of my breathing had not improved. I went to North Carolina with the following goals:
1. Improve breathing mechanism to catch my breath and breathe naturally and automatically.
2. Relieve “body armoring” from emotional traumas.
3. Have a deeper inner peacefulness.
4. Improve my relationship with my girlfriend.
5. Hike and run without inflammation in the lungs (chest) area.
6. Learn to sing in a way that sounds good and is enjoyable.
Mike made me feel very welcome and comfortable. We got right into some baseline testing followed by a wide variety of exercises and bodywork techniques. After four days, my normal breath rate was down to 10 to 14 breaths per minute (from 23-28). could take a full, satisfying breath most of the time. My inhale started to occur automatically, without using my core and shoulder muscles.
More important to me, is that my girlfriend is excited about the new me! I backed off on my running a bit with the intention of adding it back gradually being careful to avoid lung inflammation. I bought a karaoke machine and have been using it and enjoying it. I had considered myself “tone deaf” and only sang (traumatized myself) once in public as a child 40 years ago.
I have to admit that it took me several days after returning home to gradually add some of the Optimal Breathing exercises back into my routine. I realize that it will be a process to fully transform my life and breathing and heal my lungs. But thanks to Mike White, all of my six goals have started to come to fruition!”
TURBO OXYGEN TESTIMONIALS
By the way, breathwork can be thought of as a form of exercise including passive aerobic exercise. As an exercise it might be more understandable/acceptable to the “must have science” community.