Level 1 is a personal journey and we don’t assume that you are definitely going to the next levels of training to become a breathwork therapist – However you will get experience in holding space for your buddy.
This is so valuable for your own breathwork because you can see what it looks like, and see what your partner is going through. You will develop more courage because you are having to be there to support someone else, hold space for them and see that it can be so much more than being about you.
Your first breathwork facilitation
It’s normal to feel uncomfortable to hold space for the first time. Just know that you don’t need to try and make it a perfect session for them. Everything that happens is a valuable learning experience. Just be fully present, support your buddy to keep breathing.
Key points for beginner facilitators
Absolute first priority – Your Buddy or training client has filled in the intake form and signed it and you have had a discussion about whether Breathwork is suited to them.
Make sure that your buddy / training client has been to the bathroom before you start the session. It is practically guaranteed that if they don’t, they will need to go during the session!
Take a few moments before you begin to help get your buddy (or training client) into their body.
Get them to connect with their body by asking them to tune into their feet and take a deep breath in, right down to their feet. The below PDF can help you with what to say at the beginning of a session.
You can breathe with them as you take them through their body and get them to breathe into each major part of their body from the feet to the top of the head.
Use the below script to help start off your first session
“Tune into your feet and breathe deep down into your feet, Bring your focus to your legs and breathe into your legs Take a deep breath into your hips and your pelvis Tune into your lower back and breathe deep into your lower back (Gently remind your buddy or training client to release and let go with the out-breath – surrendering and softening with every out-breath), Tune into your belly and breath deep into your belly and relax, let go Breathe up into your chest – expanding your chest with your in-breath, then relax and let go Breathing into your shoulders, relax and let go Breathe down into your arms and down into your fingers, relax and let go Tune into your throat, breathe into your throat, opening up your throat with your breath, letting go of any tension in your neck. Breath into your mind and your thoughts, let them all go with your out-breath straight back in with the in-breath, relaxing out – then straight back in with no break.”
Encourage your breather to remain still – it is so common that as soon as people lie down, everything gets itchy, things ache and they want to have a scratch, and move their feet.
This is actually a distraction. You want to make a pact with your buddy / client – ask them to spend a minute getting comfortable – and then get them to commit to: “I am not going to move!”
Why am I recommending that you really try to remain still during your 1 hour of connected, conscious breathing? It is because of the real origin of the sensations that are coming up during the breathe. Every one of the itches, the aches, the tensions have a cause. They are frequently arising from different kinds of energy getting shifted by the breath. These will become released emotions and they will become the breakthroughs.
If they / you continually scratch and move, you won’t get those breakthroughs. You don’t give the breath a chance to work through them. Resist the urges to scratch and to move – and breath through every feeling and sensation. Then they / you will get the breakthroughs.
My teacher Leonard Orr was very prescriptive about staying still and just using the breath, because he believed this is how you transmute everything.
There is a lot of value in mastering the stillness, breathing through the sensations in stillness. There is absolute magic in what can happen. I’m not saying to try not to feel what is coming up. Don’t ignore the desire to fidget or scratch or move, but just keep breathing into it. You might find that it builds, and builds – the sensation might get more and more and more – explore it – be curious – see what it transmutes into – because it will transmute if you keep breathing.
Important side-note: This prescription for staying still doesn’t hold for cathartic breathwork, that is different. In cathartic breathwork there can be allowance for physical expression of the energies that get released by the breath. We will be looking at this later in the training.
When you are holding space, you can be observing the space between the in-breath and the out-breath. When that space gets wider – it can be a sign that your breather is about to knock out.
If this keeps happening, if they keep knocking out – you can let them go and find their own way back – or you could sit them up and bring them back.
This is a call that you get to make as a facilitator and you will get better at working intuitively with more experience.
You can keep guiding them to keep breathing deep on the in-breath and breathing straight back in. Keep them in the conscious breath.
If they get a good momentum going, you can stop guiding and just leave them for a while, just observing.
Never touch a buddy or a client without asking first
If they are knocking out and you choose to sit them up to help them keep breathing, always tell your buddy / client that you are going to put your hands on them, or sit them up before you do. Always! No matter how deep in they appear to be – always ask them.
Say to them, “I am just going to put my hand on your shoulder or back and help you sit up”” – and then you can guide them to get back into the breath.
Some personality types, (We will explore the personality types more in level 2), might knock out more frequently and you will find yourself needing to step in and get them back into their body, and back into the breath.
If I have sat someone up to get them back into conscious connected breathing, once they have returned to a strong connected breath – I will lie them back down.
Other people might charge with the breath and want to go hard and you might need to get them to soften a bit. You may need to guide them to soften the out-breath, to let the out-breath just happen naturally, and help them surrender on the out-breath.
A final note for new facilitators / supporters: I can’t emphasise enough the importance of letting go – not just for the breather – but a letting go for the facilitator.
When I first started, I was so concerned to try and make sure that my clients had the best possible, most amazing session. I wanted them to be healed as quickly as possible and I was pushing them to try and get results.
I was standing them up and sitting them up and breathing with them and I was just getting exhausted with all the pushing. Leonard was always teaching, that the less you do the better. I think there is a balance to be found. If you are wanting something to happen, wanting to see some bell and whistles, or you are feeling a bit useless – then that’s not the right motivation for intervention.
If it’s about you – then don’t do it. But if you keep getting a message that you should keep doing something – then you could listen and act on that.
But remember that while you are training, you are exploring, you are trying things. You might learn from seeing how it goes if you just sat with the person and let them do their thing for an hour. If they are just falling asleep, maybe you could let them sleep. That is putting the responsibility totally onto the other person, and maybe they could do with some support from you to keep them in the continuous and conscious breath.
In my experiences being supported in breathwork sessions as a client, there have been many times that I have been so grateful for being kept present, for being brought back. I have personally experienced some amazing breakthroughs from being supported to stay with the conscious, connected breath.
Use your time in training to explore and try different approaches with your facilitation. Ideally you are learning to work more and more intuitively.
Generally I work with people, more than being a passive observer. But I always check-in whether it’s about my need or something that I am doing for them and getting an intuitive hit. That is something which comes with practice.