The Power of Awareness: A Journey Through Breathing

Every year or two I get a cold which turns into a cough which turns into bronchitis.  Until it hurts to breathe, I don’t pay much attention to my breathing on a day to day basis.  Same is true for most people …  Unless it affects our quality of life, we take breathing for granted.  Yet we do it– inhale and exhale—20,000 or so times a day. I found that figure astonishing when I first read about it.  Is there anything else we do that frequently, ever? …Approximately 70 percent of our body’s waste is excreted through our lungs, breathing affects all sorts of physical conditions from Renaud’s disease to blood pressure and breathing expands inner awareness to the point where it becomes a form of psychotherapy. Read more about the power of our breath in The Power of Awareness – A Journey Through Breathing in Sibyl Magazine May edition.


Body and Breath: Two Gateways to Healing

Two of the most powerful and effective tools of healing are the ones the client brings to the therapy session themselves:  their body and their breath…Two modalities that put the body or the breath as an equal partner with the emotions and the mind are Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and Rebirthing Psychotherapy (breathwork).  Read about how body awareness and breathing can transform therapy sessions and help people move through difficulties quickly and safely.  Body and Breath:  Two Gateways to Healing by Catherine Dowling and Brenda Doherty in Inside Out, the journal of the Irish Association for Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy.

A Trip to Disneyland – Show (Part 2 of 2)

stage, backstage, lights, performance, actor, chorus line, director, dancers

Backstage at Disneyland, the vast, electronically managed costuming system is not pretty.  But every day it churns out the thousands of costumes that make the Disney show happen.

And every day our back-stage mechanisms create the ‘show’ we present to the world.  If we don’t like the audience response, it makes sense to follow the Disney practice and  go behind the scenes to tweak the technology rather than criticize the audience.

Awareness is a skill that improves with practice.  High skill levels mean we can do a lot backstage by ourselves, but at some point most of us need some support with the tinkering.  If we have the humility to recognize this, our first port of call is often a friend.

In friendship, it’s easy to translate support as agreement, AKA ‘collusion’ in psychotherapy-speak.  Our friends can join us in blaming the audience, which is often just what we want to hear.  I come away from such conversations reassured, comforted, yet feeling strangely cheated and guilty.  I struggle with how to handle the balance between comfort and collusion when I’m in the supporting role myself.

The audience may well be the wrong one for us.  They may well be unappreciative or downright hostile, even dangerous.  But unless we go back stage and examine our own mechanisms, our opportunity to learn and grow and even to move on to a new more appropriate audience is decidedly limited.  That kind of conversation is not so comfortable.

How do you balance comforting a friend with honesty?  Leave a comment.

The Great Divide – Psychology and Spirituality (Part 1 of 2)

Separated 1941 – Istvan Farkas

We humans have analyzed ourselves into our component parts – we’re a body, a mind, a soul, a spirit.  Depending on where we’re coming from, one or the other of our parts takes precedence.  For an old school allopathic doctor, the body is the primary focus.  The mind is the focus of a psychotherapist, the soul comes under the remit of a priest and the spirit dwells in the world of a guru or a New Age shaman.   

This causes artificial divisions within our world view.  We are a body and a mind and a soul and a spirit and a lot more besides.  It’s all one package.  And the fullness of life can be accessed through any and all of our component parts. 

Traditional religions have condemned the body as the enemy of spirituality.  Yet in tantric traditions the body is the gateway to the divine.  New Age theory often sees the mind as the enemy, but the mind and the suffering it creates can be our most immediate opening to the world of spiritual awareness. 

The study of spirituality is as old as history.  The study of human behavior is just as ancient, but it became an independent discipline called psychology only in the 1870’s.  Before that it was seen as a branch of philosophy.  That separation, which allowed the study of human behavior and thinking to develop as a science, also creates an artificial divide between spirituality and psychology.   This is a gap we need to close because spirituality and psychology are a seamless whole.   Growth in one area immediately affects awareness in the other and limitations in one area immediately handicaps us in the other.

Everyone has something to teach.   Share your wisdom – make a comment.