I see Transformational Breath® as a technique connecting mind, body and soul in a way that can be experienced by anyone.
Breathing points me to the connection between my physical body and the emotions I am just not aware of most of my daily life. It makes me experience energy on a very real, graspable level — as the purest of bodily sensations.
In a sense, it works like I imagine psychedelic drugs to work — although I have never tried any. Practising Transformational Breath triggers an altered state of consciousness which, if approached with curiosity, can be an invaluable source of knowledge about myself.
One Transformational Breathing session in particular made me realize that energy is the underlying current to everything that exists. And that’s after so many years of believing that people who work with energy are either scammers or crazy.
What is Transformational Breath?
Rinpoche Tulku Thubten referred to the Transformational Breath as something that “you may call […] a shortcut to enlightenment”. The few scientific studies that cover the impact of Transformational Breath on healing medical conditions, often point to the physically beneficial effects of heightened oxygenation. People who experienced it first-hand talk about Transformational Breath as something that either saved their life, cured them of cancer, brought relief from long-held grievances or allowed them to experience energy flowing through their body (among many other things).
This holistic healing and self-discovery technique was developed by Judith Kravitz, who started working with conscious breath in the mid-70s. She first explored a practice called Rebirthing and, gradually, received insights on how to make breathwork have more lasting and powerful effects in healing and resolving traumas. To establish Transformational Breath as it is known today, Judith has incorporated elements of Kundalini Yoga, sound healing, breath analysis and other practices into one integrated modality.
So what does one do exactly during a Transformational Breathing session?
First and foremost, it is about breathing consciously and without pausing, into the abdomen area (diaphragmatic breathing) and through the mouth. The encouraged technique is taking deep in-breaths and then letting the air out — without controlling the out-breath. Additionally to the breathing, facilitators use hands-on techniques throughout the breathing session, to locate tension points (i.e. places where energy is stuck) in the body of a practitioner. By having specific energetic points on their body pressed while breathing, the practitioner is empowered to release tension — both on the physical and the emotional level.
On top of that, toning and pounding may be encouraged by the facilitators at certain points of a session. This also supports the releasing of charged energy (which we often interpret as “negative emotions”) and enables participants to express themselves freely. Affirmations are often used by the facilitators to support adepts on their inner journey throughout a breathing session.
The group sessions I have experienced lasted around two hours — including preparation time, sharing intentions prior to breathing, the breathwork part itself and then the final relaxation which brings everyone “back to reality”.
What I really want to talk about in this article is what exactly happens during a breathing session in the inner realm.
Transformational Breath claims to be a tool for “resolving traumas” or “integrating charged emotions” — but what does that actually mean on an experiential level? How can conscious and continuous breathing impact our wellbeing, lead to self-realisation and even provide a spiritual breakthrough?
The only way for me to talk about it is to share my story. I believe that this is the best I can do, for there is no generic or usual experience of something like breathwork. For me, each of the Transformational Breathing sessions I have attended so far was a journey in itself. A journey through feelings — but also towards the realisation that there may be something beyond the material surface of the world, as we perceive it every day.
Each of the sessions left me feeling lighter and calmer, on a very profound level. Each of the sessions also made me discover something new within myself.
The experience of breathing is so personal that the only way I can convey it is by recounting it systematically and step by step, just as it has unfolded for me. This story is about my by far most profound Transformational Breathing session.
Let’s dive into it.
Preparing for the breathing journey
I go to the breathing session in Edinburgh, or the Burgh of Eden — where else? For many years now it has been the home for my soul, the place of transformation, the city of higher awareness. But not because someone said so. It’s rather because each time I went (or lived) there, the city had something new for me to explore. The breathing sessions were just pieces (albeit important ones) in a complex jigsaw puzzle of my inner growth.
When I arrive as the first of the six participants, I feel afraid. I have done this before and I remember each of the sessions being so powerful, so eye-opening, that I couldn’t possibly hide from what greeted me the moment I started breathing.
Breathing for real. Consciously. Without holding myself back and without trying to cover up the exploding emotions.
I assume that this time will be very similar — at least in this respect. I will experience something unusual, intense and most likely — uncomfortable. Something that I might have been hiding from for a very long time. I expect the session to be difficult, even painful. No pain, no gain, they say. And I believe it to be true.
But then I start chatting to the facilitators, and they remind me about the power of intention which we will set for tonight’s journey in just a few minutes. The intention can be to experience something positive, something empowering, something sacred — they remind me. Breathing has the power to invite any experience from within. It’s a matter of reconnecting with what I need just now.
If there is one rule to remind you about — they say — it is this: no matter what, keep breathing. The breath needs to be through the mouth and ongoing, without pauses. To achieve this, I know I have to pay close attention to it — holding my breath without noticing is very common in my experience. But the facilitators will be there to keep reminding us all to breathe.
Gradually, other people begin to arrive. Everyone greets everyone and someone hugs me — even though I haven’t seen him for over a year, it feels like we are friends. We all come here for our individual reasons, but at the same time, I am sure we have a common interest — to grow. Whatever that means to each one of us.
We start sharing the intentions as to what we need from tonight’s session. Sitting in a circle and passing around a heart-shaped stone as we speak has a form of a ritual. People need rituals — I know this for a fact now. I also realize that there are not enough authentic rituals in the modern culture I was born into.
But here we are, bringing a much-needed ritual into the shared space of the breathing room. A ritual of purification and renewing our energy, but also — at least for some of us — of connecting with the Divine.
The ritual of coming together to just breathe.
The first step is opening ourselves in front of others and being heard. It requires becoming still, looking within and recognizing what is it that shows up at this particular point of our lives. It also requires others to be there for us, holding space and receiving us exactly as we are right now.
This is what setting an intention for the session is all about.
To me, it is the first session after a long break, during which I travelled extensively and found myself in all kinds of circumstances. As I surrounded myself with different people in various places, I realised that, as much as I try to always be myself, it doesn’t actually happen all that often. More typically, I put on one of my masks suited to the circumstances. A mask to protect my ego from any possible external threats.
In other words: the mask supports the self-image that I carry around in my head and, usually, try to maintain at all costs.
So I phrase my intention for tonight as follows: I now allow myself to be myself. I know that being myself has to do with embracing each and every part of my experience. Blending the sadness and happiness, ecstasy and anxiety, and allowing them to be incorporated into my life as a whole.
This wholeness (holiness) is a possibility that, I believe, exists. And that’s what I intend to touch upon tonight.
After everyone has expressed their intentions and we have become a group — we are ready to work together through anything that is going to arise this evening. We begin to prepare our mats and pillows to lay on; soon we will be breathing together.
Experiencing my body
Before we lay down on the pillows, we do the Kundalini breath — a practice which transits us from the ordinary and restrained breathing pattern into breathing fully and with awareness. The facilitators put on a happy, energetic song, and we all begin to jump and dance around. This is meant to intensify our breaths in a natural, organic way.
For me, this is a happy and playful moment — as well as a glimpse into the experience that is just beginning to unfold. The first step into the freedom of being myself. I make an effort to jump intensely through the whole song and breathe as much as I can. When the song comes to an end, I am panting heavily, tired and smiling. Without further ado, I make myself comfortable on the mattresses and cover my body with a blanket.
The first few minutes, I am just really focused on maintaining my breathing intense and on-going, without giving in to the temptation to slow down as my body begins to rest. I know there will be resistance to continue breathing, as I will approach the moment when my limbs start feeling a bit odd. And indeed — the resistance appears just as I anticipated. But how grateful I feel that I was already prepared for this and that I am able to keep breathing! This is not so obvious under these circumstances, as I can already feel the intensified breathing puts me into an altered state of consciousness. This is scary, at first.
The usual ability to control my experience is gone.
I can hear the facilitators taking care of the others now (there are just two facilitators for six participants — which means that they need to take turns in assisting people) and gently affirming their intentions to them. At the same time, I begin to feel the consequences of intensified breathing in my body. The first sign is tingling. Initially, it appears around my mouth and nostrils, as if the air around my face was beginning to vibrate. Then, the tingling reaches my limbs — and in particular my palms and forearms. There is certainly an energy field I can perceive there, which makes my hands feel like they are not entirely my own anymore.
I am not very much concerned with this sensation, as I have experienced it before — I know that it is the heightened oxygenation impacting me on the physical level. What’s new to me is that my palms have also become stiff and my fingers contracted. without my intention to be so. It seems like they became frozen in a weird, crooked position — and I am not entirely sure if I would be able to straighten them. For now, I choose to leave it be, and I start scanning my body in search of other tension points. My breath remains deep and intense.
My face and neck — these are the areas that are certainly holding a lot of tension. I am able to relax them, but the contraction inevitably comes back as soon as I start paying attention to something else. This is nothing new to me. I suddenly realise that the tension in my face is there most of the time — it’s just that, more often than not, I am not aware of it.
This tension is precisely the mask I put on so often.
What is there that I am still not aware of? Where is my body holding even more stress? I look for more contracted muscles but I don’t find anything. At this point, I almost manage to convince myself that I have just explored all the major areas of stuck energy.
And then a facilitator approaches to show me what is it that I haven’t been paying attention to. My belly. The ever-controlled area that I have trained myself to be super self-conscious about. The centre of digestion and the core of me.
The facilitator pushes some points below my ribs that prove to be extremely painful and tense. I contract in pain, still breathing, but not able to release the out-breath as freely as before. He bears with me and tells me to work through it. What I need is to accept the pain and relax the breath regardless. But that’s not easy to do. This is when toning and pounding become my assistance.
To release the pain in my belly, it is not enough to just breathe out and let go. Encouraged by the facilitator who is now guiding me, I replace the regular out-breath with a long and loud tone, accompanied by pounding my legs and arms on the floor. This experience is intense and requires me to let go completely of the fear of looking or sounding “ridiculous”. This is simply a tool to help me release. A useful tool at this point of the session.
I let out a scream at the top of my lungs and I give it all to the floor by hitting it rhythmically with my limbs. I go on until I need another breath. Then I repeat.
With each round of toning and pounding, my belly is softening and the pressure created by the facilitator’s hands ceases to bother me. I begin to accept his fingers digging in my abdomens, as I realise this is not harming me at any level. I am increasingly more at ease with breathing in a relaxed manner, no matter what. And as soon as he realises that his hands are not triggering any discomfort in me anymore — he walks away, leaving me to integrate the lesson.
Experiencing my soul (also known as “feelings”)
Physical sensations are one level of the whole breathing experience. The more I become used to feeling my body differently, the more I approach the emotional realm. Allowing myself to be myself is mostly about that — discovering what is it that I really feel, and letting myself feel it without self-judgement or victimisation.
Another facilitator helps me go there, as she approaches me with affirmations of my intention. Her voice blends into a gentle and supportive stream of words, from which I can now only remember a few: worthy, divine, free, beautiful. She reaches out to me, to give me the permission that I have been struggling to give to myself.
Be a child. Feel whatever there is to feel. Cry if I want to and laugh if I want to.
I acknowledge that going there is a gradual process, which first required me to feel light in my body. This was what the beginning of the session was about — releasing energetic burden from the body and creating space to feel whatever is present within me now. But it is only towards the end of the session that I can open myself to that.
As the music quiets down, I mentally recognize that we are probably approaching the closure. At the same time, this is the moment when my inner child wakes up and wants to cry. My first instinct is to shut her down and proceed to finish the session — apparently, the time has come. I am still breathing deeply in an attempt to feel calmer and come back to my “normal” consciousness.
For a few moments, there is silence — and I think that the most intense part is already over.
But actually, I am just about to discover what it means to feel everything — the wonder, the desire, the sadness, the emptiness… What it means to feel alive and connected. This happens when I hear one of the men next to me beginning to cry.
He is a strong and mature man, someone I wouldn’t expect to cry very often. This image of him is what intensifies the effect his crying has on me. I don’t merely hear it — I can feel this man surrendering to himself on the other side of the room. Surrendering — but not giving up. Opening himself completely and coming to terms with what is. And I pick up on his state of soul.
I pick up on it so much.
The Universe suddenly opens. All my feelings that were kept beneath the surface throughout the whole session (and probably during the preceding months) are suddenly presenting themselves to me. So I let them come.
I let myself cry in awe, knowing that I am a part of everything. A part of the world’s suffering and a part of omnipresent joy at the very same time. But time actually ceases to exist. Everything seems to be happening all at once.
What I feel are not numerous, separated feelings anymore. I cannot refer to them as grief, anger or compassion. It’s more like every emotion that I used to name and classify as ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ has blended into a profound sense of being one with everything else. With the people around me and everyone beyond this room. One with my past, my memories and my fears.
Feeling it all at once is ecstatic because it points me to another dimension of experience — one that seems completely inaccessible in everyday life.
In this moment, I couldn’t be more certain that I have a soul. How else shall I call everything that I am vibrating with? Physical reality that I thought I knew so well suddenly becomes just a symbol, a manifestation of one and ongoing current: the ever-changing, fluid vibration that I am. There’s no time right now — and I don’t just believe it. In that moment, I know it.
I am moved to tears and I start to sob. After a while of internal struggle, I let myself sob for as long as needed— even though it is not easy, as I have the awareness that the facilitators are attempting to close the session. But I know how important this moment is — important enough to allow myself to live through it. Therefore I cry, I cry, and I cry a bit more, feeling the company of the man who is going through a very similar experience.
Nothing is more important right now than to feel the gratitude, the nostalgia, the emptiness and the expansion of my experience. I feel like a baby — helpless to do anything about what’s happening to her. The only reasonable choice is to give in, trust and go through it without resistance.
One of the facilitators comes to hold my hand and he dries the tears running down my cheek.
I now allow myself to be myself.
What else is possible to experience?
Eventually, a moment comes when the energetic storm in the room comes to an end. The only thing to do now is to rest and collect myself, before going back to the ‘real’ world of matter. However, I am not so sure which world is more real now — after all that I have just gone through.
Coming back to myself, my body feels cool, light and empty — in a pleasant, reassuring way. It takes me a while to remember that I have my very own body which I can have control over. I somehow got used to the idea that my consciousness was immersed in an energy field, rather than being associated with a body.
The facilitator gently touches my feet, which makes an electrical current go through my entire being. It recharges and soothes me at the same time. I know I have gone through a lot. I feel so much love and gratitude to the whole world — especially to the people who have just been on this very special trip with me. At this point, explaining what I experienced seems to be way out of the capacity of language.
Yet — as you can see — I somehow found the words to describe it. I felt I needed to, because this experience called to be verbalized. Even if flawed, language gives me an opportunity to share it. And while I realise that my description of it is far from perfect — I still know that it was worth a try.
So, here I am, standing in front of you, having released not only the tensions during my breathing session — but also the memory of it here, in this article. And I am left with nothing but one question, which I also want to leave you with.
If all the above was possible to experience, here, on Earth, in this life — what else might be possible?
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