...my journey as a Breathwork Facilitator? 

As I'm writing this, we are 10 days into the group facilitator training at Breathing Space. But if my story as a facilitator is to begin right here, right now, then it's essential that I write the prologue first.

The Breath of Life

The first thing we do when we are born is to take a breath. Within ten seconds of being born, we've tapped into the very thing that gives us life.

In that first breath, perhaps the most challenging breath of them all, our tiny bodies physically change to adapt to the world we're born into. 

And from then on, we unconsciously breathe for the rest of our lives, and most of us don't even notice it. It's just a thing our body does to keep us alive, and there's no need to change it or take note of what it does.

I was that person once, too. Unaware of the significance breathing has on other aspects of life, beyond the keeping me alive part.

So picture me, tootling along in life...

...until two things happened that made me very aware of my own breath and breathing patterns.

The first was being diagnosed at age 8 with exercise-induced asthma. Asthma that is triggered by any unusual physical exertion, and as I grew older, triggered by allergies too. I had to become aware of my breathing whenever I was doing anything physical or around anyone's pets and make sure I was still breathing right.

The second is when I began singing lessons at age 15 - my first teacher was very strict on breathing exercises that I had to practice every day. What an intro to breathing consciously!

I was already on the path to noticing breathing patterns in myself before I turned 16, without even realising the significance of it.

Lets fast-forward

I have done many things in my life, but the most important and life-giving thing I've ever done is sing. I love singing, it gives me life and meaning and I simply cannot imagine my life without it. And of course when you sing, your breath is super important. Without the breath, there is no singing. There's no voice, even. Your breath is literally the energy force that causes your vocal folds to vibrate and make sound. Even without dedicated breathing exercises, if you can speak, you can sing.As a voice teacher, I started noticing other people's breathing patterns when they were singing. And by slightly adjusting the depth of the breath, or by bringing their shoulders down, or switching between mouth and nose breathing, it positively influenced my student's habits. Winner!

With this new awareness, I also began to recognise the bigger anxiety signals in some of my students. That snagged my full attention, and led me to do academic research on performance anxiety in singers, which is now one of my specialties. My research showed me so many modalities and coping mechanisms, but my attention was always subtly drawn back to the breath. Because of course, changing breathing patterns is one of the most effective solutions to anxiety - it physically and mentally switches your body from the stress response to a resting condition. And for singers, we need to be mostly in that resting condition to really sing at our best.

(Are you seeing the same pattern here that I am?)

So I kept tootling along in life, adjusting breathing patterns here and there, seeing great results for both me and my students. I started really dipping my toes into the psychology of performance anxiety and learned and taught coping strategies that still work beautifully to empower my students. But I wanted more, and in summer 2022, I tripped and fell into a call with Jamie Catto, landing on my feet into Bring It! - his facilitator course for leaders, healers, coaches and clowns. By joining the course, I was hoping to learn to be a facilitator, by learning new tools and processes to bring to my current work and expand beyond 1:1 sessions. 

(What I actually got was a permission slip to step into my power as a facilitator and leader, not to mention a hefty dose of personal shadow work along the way! But that's a story for another time.)

And in the process of Bring It, I met Ben - Jamie's Course Captain and founder of Breathing Space. Ben's energy and passion for breathwork is completely infectious! The intro to the sessions he started was to simply arrive and take a breath, and sometimes he introduced a breath in the middle of session, allowing us all to recalibrate. By doing so, Ben showed us the power a single conscious breath can hold in a moment where a pause is needed. That was the turning point for me... 

I got curious. 

Curiosity for me is about poking the thing (sometimes repeatedly!) until it pokes back. And if it pokes back, I'll know whether it's right for me to pursue. A few months into Bring It!, Ben was posting in the group chat about the free weekly breathwork sessions he runs at Breathing Space, and I decided it was time to attend one. 

Step one - poke the thing.

I had no idea what to expect, but showed up anyway. And then, I was already there, so I decided to go all in, because how else could I satisfy my curiosity? It's only breathing - there were several get-out clauses if I didn't like it, and it's not like I'm going to do myself any damage by breathing.

Step two - it poked back

And oh boy did it poke me back - right in the intuition of deep knowing. I was meant to do this. I was meant to experience this particular breathwork style at this exact moment, and more than that, I was meant to be a facilitator, too.

Oh Gods - cue the panic!

I have a very efficient mental protection squad, and they burst onto the scene where my intuition was waving it's flag and yelling this at me, and rugby tackled it right to the ground. In almost the same moment, that golden glow of intuition was replaced by the red light of panic. 

And so it went on for a few months - the mental back and forth of whether I wanted to pursue it, or whether I should remain just a student. Could I fully commit to it, and am I the right person for this? And all the while, from underneath the boots of the protection squad, my intuition was shouting "you were born for this!" 

By now, I was conscious of my breath, using simple techniques I'd learned and I'd attended some of the conscious connected breathwork group sessions at Breathing Space, too. I negotiated with my mental protection squad, and they relaxed enough for me to start talking to my friends about my experiences, and I actually wondered aloud if I was right for this work. My best friend simply said to me 

Sounds like you've already decided to do it, what's stopping you?

And I had no answer to that question beyond some total crap about not being good enough. Which of course was efficiently dissected (with the help of my friends) until there was no conviction left in it, and I was left with the simple choice - listen to my intuition or ignore it.

My intuition won.

After a call with Ben, I signed up to the facilitator course in March 2023. Between then and now, I started paddling in the pool of the breathwork world, trying different techniques and meeting some wonderful people at Breathing Space. Experiencing the power that conscious connected breathwork has on my life has made me even more sure that this is the path I am meant to be on. And in writing this blog, I realised,

I've been hearing the call for a long time, I just didn't understand the language it spoke. 

So here's to the journey. To the journey of being a breathwork facilitator, to bringing the power of the breath to where it is needed and where it is meant to go. And here's to my own personal journey- if I felt a change in a few months of just being a student of breathwork, where am I going as a facilitator? I guess we'll find out.