Hey there, friends. Today, I'm diving into a personal journey marked by fits, a desperate need for control, and the transformative power of conscious connected breathwork. Inspired by Bessel van der Kolk's revolutionary work, "The Body Keeps the Score,"I'm peeling back back the layers of how trauma shapes our beliefs, and how practices like breathwork and self-compassion can liberate us from the chains of the past.
The Early Years: A Cry for Control
My mother tells me that as a young child, my abominable fits reached a point where I'd beg her to hold me down—a manifestation of my early struggles with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). While I may doubt the details, there's no denying that these episodes happened. What's more striking is how I internalized the message that for change to occur, I needed to be held down. Over the years, I learned to orchestrate my own version of being held against a wall by immersing myself in busyness and frenzy. Change only seemed possible when desperation reached its peak.
The Middle Years: Like 4 Seasons In One Day
"Finding that wherever there is comfort, there is pain," sings Neil Finn. Yes, I'm quoting Crowded House. I am, after all, a child and teen of the 80s and was pretty in love with Neil-- I spent many of those years half-drunk, half-dazed and confused to push down the wave of insecurity and anger and rage and loneliness I felt. I had zero tools, save poetry, David Bowie, Crowded House, and a few friends who somehow stuck around despite my unpredictability. Even then, the belief that I had to do, do, and do more (even if that meant do crazy sh*t), was ever present, ever pushing me.
A Crazy Realization:
And as time wore on, and the impossibility of my situation became unbearable, I got sober. And found mindfulness and breathwork, and running. And these saved my life--as did meeting and falling in love with my husband. But even after of a decade of sobriety and a whole big beautiful life, I still led my life that my worthiness solely to ceaseless productivity. No surprise after a law school education and living in the States.
So more work. Unraveling this complex pattern required years of hard work in 12-step programs, therapy, EMDR, and meditation and yoga breathing. It wasn't until I embraced conscious connected breathing that the depth of this pattern became clear, sparking a journey to release this story embedded deep within my neural pathways and body.
Understanding "The Body Keeps the Score"
Before we explore how breathwork became a game-changer, let's touch on what "The Body Keeps the Score" is all about. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk's work sheds light on how trauma shapes both body and brain, compromising capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust. It's a journey into innovative treatments and the tremendous power of relationships to hurt and heal.
Breaking the Chains with Conscious Connected Breathwork
Now, back to my journey. The relentless pursuit of productivity and the struggle to hold myself down—a cycle I couldn't break until conscious connected breathing entered the scene. This intentional practice became a key to unlocking the stored memories and emotions bound within me. I'll be honest--when I first discovered this style of breathing, I was pretty skeptical. I wondered how breathing for an hour could make any difference at all, let alone unlock stored trauma to be released into the ether, leaving me free and whole. No longer chained to the belief that worthiness required ceaseless productivity, I found liberation through breathwork.
As I delved deeper into breathwork, complemented by mindfulness practices and coaching, a profound shift occurred. Stuck energy released, and the nurturing support of mindfulness practices paved the way for self-compassion. Breathwork became the bridge to an authentic, purposeful existence.
Living a Purposeful and Meaningful Life
Van der Kolk's insights and the transformative power of conscious connected breathwork propelled me into a life marked by purpose and meaning. These days, I am still busy, and often have to recognize that old saboteur--the one that tells me I must keep pushing forward to be worthy and loved--and give it some love. That is afterall, what the saboteur is looking for--love, belongingness, connection. So I put my hand on my heart like Kristin Neff guides us to do. I acknowledge the pain. I connect to the part of me who knows others are feeling that pain too, just like me. And then connect with the wise woman who lives inside and knows it's going to be alright. Because it always is. And then I breathe. And I breathe. And I breathe.
Invitation to Transformation:
If my story resonates with you, if you're navigating your own journey of self-discovery, let's take that first step together. Unlock the door to fulfillment, authenticity, and the joy of being truly present. Breathwork transcends trauma, offering a pathway to healing, self-compassion, and a life that goes beyond the burdens of the past. Join me on this journey, and let's rediscover the beauty of living a purposeful and meaningful life, inspired by the wisdom of "The Body Keeps the Score."