The intensity and how we tolerate emotions is directly related to the depth, ease, balance and flow of our breathing. Restrictive breathing patterns support our subconscious defense systems by stuffing down unpleasant emotions – so is it any wonder that when we are dealing post-traumatic stress, constricted breathing becomes the norm?
When it has become the norm, even if not a constant, it makes getting in touch with pleasant emotions quite difficult. Try holding your breath and imagining intense happiness. It is impossible.
While we’d like to employ EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) to quickly resolve those stuffed down emotions, frequently our defense system stands in the way. Being mindful of breathing and other related physical responses is of the utmost importance if we are to achieve the greatest success. It can open the pathway to greater relaxation, as well as physical and emotional resilience.
Below is a brief excerpt from an actual session.
Due to the nature of the issue being addressed, Sue found herself suddenly struggling to catch her breath. She was stunned by the intense level of resistance to breathing she was experiencing physically and emotionally. It felt that if she dared to breathe naturally, she would be consumed by emotions, completely losing control. In that moment, the idea of relaxed breathing meant abandoning defenses, leaving herself open to heaven only knows what. This is not an uncommon phenomenon.
We began to tap:
Even though a part of me is afraid of what’s happening – fearful
– I am letting go of all my defenses, it is frightening, I have
every right to feel uncomfortable, every right to twitch, I’d like
to be able to trust, I’m safer than I dare to imagine.
This part of me, afraid I’m letting go of my defense.
And it is really truly frightening
I have every right to feel this way.
But somehow I’d like to trust it might be ok to trust
That a much better defense system is forming for me now.
You’ve got to be kidding!
I can’t let this go
Because I don’t know what to expect
Fearful, my whole world could fall apart
How will I defend myself?
I’m loving and respecting myself anyway
Respecting self – trusting body, mind and spirit are working with me and won’t let me down.
Gently working to weave in some positives, I the used the words: “They all know..” to which Sue quickly and loudly responded: “Hell NO!” actually believing that’s what I had said!
Because incorporating client words, staying with them exactly where they are is essential to success, we immediately switched to:
Can’t imagine it
How do I dare trust?
Can’t do that
Won’t do that
You can’t make me
I might start to feel too comfortable
Afraid to feel to calm,
Afraid to feel too good
Something bad is bound to happen
I’ll let my defenses down
But maybe I could
A little at a time
As it feels right to me
She was now twitching and had involuntary head shaking indicating “No!”. She reported “If I breathe deeply I’ll connect too much with my emotions. It is like an endless pit of despair and anxiety – the feelings I don't want to feel!”
We began to tap through Sequence Points:
Even though I am terrified of breathing deeply
Because it puts me too in touch
With my body
And with all these feelings inside
This bottomless pit
Of despair and anxiety
Loving and accepting myself anyway
Even though I am terrified to breath deeply
Because it makes me be in touch
And feel these feelings inside
At this point there was a huge sigh and she said: “I wince every time I breathe and it is painful.” We continued:
This painful wincing
This part of me that doesn’t want to feel these feelings
That doesn't want to connect with that bottomless pit of despair,
anxiety and pain.
This painful wincing, this constricted breathing,
This fear and twitching – (client adds: “and all this itching”)
Too close for comfort
Itching – (client)
Too close to the core
And a part of me still thinks I need to hold on
To all that despair and anxiousness
It keeps me safe
Or maybe it doesn't
It keeps me safe
Or maybe it makes me miserable
And maybe holds me back
From enjoying my life to the fullest
This painful wincing (sighs)
This part of me that doesn’t want to be in touch with my body,
And all the memory and emotion still stored inside.
This constricted breathing (sighs)
This fear of breathing
All this discomfort in body and mind
I’d like to begin to let it go right now.
We continued with the session………
While we had been tying emotions and physical responses together before the above, as this demonstrates, things can change in a nano second. Follow the trail as it presents itself. Keep in mind as well, that no matter which particular aspect you are tapping on, internal borrowed benefits are taking place. Those stuffed emotions which may have been the original focus, tend to lessen in intensity at the same time.
Your comments and questions are welcomed and appreciated.