[Breathwork was originally and often called Rebirthing]
This is a very good and thorough article I thought you might like from Deike Begg, Rebirther and Rebirthing Trainer, Psycotherapist, Author of Rebirthing-Freedom from Your Past, and Astrologer based in London.
Rebirthing is about rebirth of the soul. In Rebirthing you are taught how to consciously connect to your soul by connecting with spiritual energy and drawing it inside yourself with the breath. The effects of this are immediate and permanent. Every little step of progress is irreversible and every little step is an initiation for the soul.
Essentially, Rebirthing is a breathing therapy in which you consciously connect to the divine power of the universe so that it will cleanse and transform you. It is not first and foremost concerned with the birth process and reliving the birth trauma. There are many people who have never experienced a rebirth in that sense during their sessions.
The Rebirthing process itself is based on a very specific advanced breathing technique. Developed in the early 1970s, mainly by the American Leonard Orr, it can have the most amazing results physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Although it is safe to practice and powerfully life-enhancing, you should not attempt to do it on your own at first. The changes that could occur during a session including variations in body temperature and strange feelings and visions, for instance need to be facilitated by a trained practitioner in order to provide you with the fullest benefits and lead you through to the final high point when you can experience your own bliss, inner light and union with a greater whole.
There are many misconceptions concerning Rebirthing. It is not a form of hyperventilation, quite the opposite in fact; nor is it primarily a form of relaxation. We don’t smother people with pillows or restrain them in any way. The individual lies down on a mattress and will breathe in a certain way for about an hour. During this time the most extraordinary things can happen.
We must remember that we exhale approximately 70% of body waste. Only 3% is discarded by defecation, 7% by urination and 20% through the skin. This means that during a session of deep Rebirthing, when we breathe in a certain way, and when the breath reaches deeper into our cellular structure than anything else we know, a profound cleansing of our being takes place. One belief is that we store memory (of traumas, accidents, shame etc) in the body as chemicals and when these get released through the cleansing breath they leave the body and can no longer affect us in negative ways. So in that sense after each Rebirth one is a different person. Although Rebirthing is not a quick fix, because you need to do the breathing, which can stir up all kinds of blockages, it is the fastest working therapy I know.
How I Developed My Rebirthing Work
My Rebirthing work developed out of my rich psychotherapeutic training background, with a sound grounding in Psychosynthesis, Jungian psychology, Gestalt therapy with its emphasis on voice dialogue, past-life therapy and astrology. For 17 out of the past 26 years I have undergone various types of psychotherapy myself. They were an adventurous journey and a wonderful opportunity for self-discovery. (Psychotherapy is not to be confused with psychiatric treatment, which often only employs the use of drugs.)
I particularly took to guided imagery and Gestalt therapy. In guided imagery a person is taken on an inner journey, for instance up to a mountain top where they might meet their Higher Self in the form of a wise being, or into a cave deep within the bowels of the Earth to encounter a lost and perhaps long-forgotten fragment of themselves. Guided imagery, properly used, effectively employs the imagination to access memory. But on its own, without conscious connected breathing (the Rebirthing breath), it cannot bring about the physical cleansing process of the cells nor the brilliant and supernatural visionary experiences encountered in Rebirthing.
Gestalt therapy also uses the body as a sounding board and as a link to hidden fragments of ourselves, but here the eyes are generally kept open and one experiences oneself as one is in the very moment of therapy. It is a ‘here and now’ therapy. Much attention is given to body language, quality and tone of voice, tightness of muscles, etc., and the client is encouraged to go along with the fantasy they are having in the here and now and to act it out in the session. The therapist then guides the client, through various techniques to discover that all his or her conflicts rest somewhere within their own nature, and gradually, psychic contents that were previously disowned and projected onto other people, are re-owned and subsequently integrated.
My Rebirthing technique rests on the shoulders of these two therapies because both are ideally suited for use for breath work. Without their deeper dimensions breathing therapy can be shallow, meaningless and dull.
It is also important, if one wants to work in this meaningful way with the breath, to have an understanding of other cultures, of mythology, fairy tales and astrology. The imagery that can emerge during sessions is often of an archetypal (collective) nature, belonging to ancestral or racial memory and frequently of cosmic dimensions. It is a region diametrically opposed to our ordinary conscious world, a region that is inhabited by strange beings, shapes, colours and lights. It is useful for the Rebirthing therapist therefore to know, for instance, that a snake is a symbol of wisdom, as well as a frightening image for some; that a spider, as Maya, is also the great celestial spinner of illusion and fate, even for those with a spider phobia.
During Rebirthing people frequently see images of various planets, stars and constellations, and knowledge of astrology can be invaluable for the practitioner. The birth chart not only tells me much about a person’s character, but also reveals the current cosmic conditions with which they need to co-operate. It can tell me whether a person is about to have a nervous breakdown or a spiritual emergence. It is interesting how many people come to Rebirthing when their birth charts are ‘activated’ by one of the outer planets, i.e., Uranus(sudden, unexpected changes), Neptune (dissolution of former way of being, sacrifice and renunciation) or Pluto (death and rebirth and empowerment). Certain planets promote a rapid Rebirth, others indicate that major blocks to the flow of energy to and from the soul exist and need to be dealt with and dissolved. This might take two or more sessions.
The bodywork of Gestalt therapy has proved immensely helpful during breathing sessions, whilst guided imagery not only makes it a joy to work with people’s emerging stories but also enables me to guide them more deeply into their inner worlds. And my work with sub-personalities (different aspects of ourselves that co-exist within us) greatly facilitates the process of integration of different parts of one’s being.
With Rebirthing breathing you enter totally new territory, a terra incognita. You find yourself in the strangest lands and circumstances. Whilst you will not lose your connection with the world you live in here and now, you can at the same time have experiences of another world, a different dimension and time. The ‘trick’ in Rebirthing is to allow yourself to dwell in that unknown world for long enough for a transformation to occur. That world lies in what Deepak Chopra in his book Quantum Healing calls the ‘gap’. In this gap creativity, inspiration, super-intelligence and supernatural visions have their abode.
You would not set out on a journey through unknown terrain without a map or a guide. It would be foolish to start out on your own without someone who knows what lies ahead, knows the road and knows how (but not where) it might end. The same applies to Rebirthing; you need a skilled guide to help you over tricky hurdles and to hold your hand or encourage you when you feel stuck or think you cannot go on. It is the consciousness that we bring to breath work that is the determining factor. Also, during the first few sessions you may need a great deal of encouragement just to keep breathing, for if you don’t breathe properly nothing will happen. After several years of Rebirthing I still prefer to do my breathing with someone else present, if only to keep me breathing and from dropping off to sleep. If you are willing to do the work, to breathe as never before and trust the transformative powers of the breath, you will make contact with universal forces.
The Buddha taught that conscious inhalation and exhalation leads eventually to the knowledge of liberation. When we breathe consciously we become aware of that which is normally unconscious. If we change the rhythm of our breathing we change our minds and the way to change the rhythm is to give conscious attention to breathing. When we give attention to breathing and rhythm we transform air into magical essence.
In order to get the best out of a Rebirthing session you will need to suspend your disbelief in a force greater than yourself. You will need to remain open to the incoming breath, keep breathing calmly and ‘wait upon the will of heaven’. If you breathe, relax and allow things to happen, rather than trying to control them, you will have a Rebirth. You will come to a natural end of the breathing cycle when you either open your eyes spontaneously or drift into a gentle ‘yoga’ sleep, but before that you will have had one of the most astonishing experiences ever.
Sometimes the most amazing images of brilliant colours and patterns appear before your inner vision. Sometimes there is a very bright light, so bright that it ought to hurt your eyes but doesn’t. Sometimes your whole body can feel as if it has become infused with this light, causing you to lose all sense of normal bodily awareness. (You have probably heard and read much about the divine light. Well, this is the only way I have ever been able to ‘be in the light’ and to have the light enter me.) Sometimes a numinous figure, a wise or even Christ-like being appears. Aldus Huxley, in The Doors of Perception, talks about similar experiences but with the help of hallucinogenic drugs, and puts it like this:
“Sometimes people see visions, which may be of Christ Himself. Sometimes they hear the voice of the Great Spirit. Sometimes they become aware of the presence of God and of those personal shortcomings which must be corrected if they are to do His will.”
For some of you what I have been talking about here is familiar, but for those who have not yet had an experience of entering that other dimension all this will have little meaning. I do hope, however, to have aroused sufficient curiosity for people to experiment, if possible, with a skilled Rebirther who has already visited transpersonal realms.
Deike Begg, D.F.Astrol.S, Dip.Psych.&Ed, UKCP, FAPAI, APAI