Sandra awoke at 2am drenched in sweat. Her breathing was erratic, her stomach in knots, she wanted to scream but was too afraid to make a sound. John her husband slept soundly beside her. (The names have been changed).
Sandra was in the grip of a panic she could not control or understand. Her life was sliding out of control. She had been experiencing these panic attacks for the last 6 months and they were becoming more severe and more frequent. John would tell her to pull herself together and get over it. He could not understand why she was acting like this, she didn’t have any worries they had been happily married for 17 years, two healthy children and were financially well off. Sandra also didn’t understand why she was feeling this way, but her feelings were real.
A friend recommended she see me for counselling. Sandra looked distracted and tired she was not sleeping well because she was afraid she would experience the panic attacks in her sleep, and her fear was stopping her from sleeping soundly. After an initial counselling consultation, I recommended we try a rebirthing breath session.
I explained to her that there are four things to remember in rebirthing. The first is the breathing, rebirthing is a dynamic breathing technique. You lie on a bed and breath without pausing, it is called connected breathing. “But wont I start to hyperventilate” she asked. “No” I said “hyperventilation is uncontrolled, non-voluntary and fearful, while rebirthing was controlled, voluntary and relaxed”. The purpose of the connected breathing is to increase the energy flow in the body and unblock the acupuncture meridian channels.
The second thing is to relaxed, allow your body to be heavy and relax the exhale of your breath. Relaxing the body improves the breathing and helps the emotions and memories come into awareness.
The third thing in rebirthing is to stay awake. At night you breathe deeply and relax, that’s called sleep but it’s not rebirthing and it’s not transformative.
The fourth thing is your attitude. By taking personal responsibility for the circumstances of your life you empower yourself to change those circumstances. The problem that arises for many people is they may intellectually accept that they are responsible for the things that are happen to them, but do not know how it is happening and how to change those things. The job of the rebirther (the supporter) is to help you understand how you are contributing to those circumstances and change the unwanted behaviours.
Sandra lay down on the bed, I covered her with a blanket, she started to breathe and I turned on the Enya CD. During the first ten minutes she relaxed and her breathing became deeper and more rhythmical. After about twenty minutes of connected breathing her cheeks flushed, the breathing was labouring, hands were tightening up and she was becoming tense. This tension continued for about a further fifteen minutes before she released it. The breathing returned to a normal, the hands softened and she looked peaceful. I said she could stop the connected breathing and rest for a few minutes.
In her debrief afterwards Sandra said had felt very tight and tingly in the hands, had become very hot and remembered an incident as a child with her grandmother who had been living with her family. Her pet rabbit had died, Gran had told her not to be stupid and to stop crying and had told her mother that she was spoiling the child for comforting her. In Sandra’s family when she was a child it was not OK to show any feelings.
Consequently as an adult Sandra thought she could not show her feelings and found it difficult to communicate what she really thought and was often prepared to put up with situations she did not like. She had became emotionally constipated, having no way of releasing her tension until it became too much and had developed into panic attacks. Its like a time bomb, all the emotion that is felt and not expressed is stored in the body waiting for something to trigger it off and explode.
After the initial rebirthing Sandra experienced an immediate easing of the stress she had been carrying. Over the next ten months Sandra saw me another twelve times, gradually feeling calmer and more confident. The frequency and severity of the anxiety diminished. As well as releasing the pent up emotions she realised the need to also change her behaviour and attitude about expressing her feelings. I saw Sandra two years after the initial series of consultations and she had not had a re-occurrence of the panic attacks.
Rebirthing uses the breath to vitalise and energise the body, emotions and mind. As the organism is energised there is often a healing crises, the past memories and emotions are reactivated and come into awareness. This is only a step on the way to healing, the next step is a rebuilding and repairing of what has been damaged and finally transformation, a letting go of the past with a new orientation for the personality, a new sense of what self is. Rebirthing’s ultimate goal is meditation. Most people come to rebirthing to resolve a problem, some take it further and use the technique as a breathing meditation, a pranayama.
Rebirthing was rediscovered by Leonard Orr in the early 1970’s, while meditating in a hot tub he had a spontaneous healing release. Initially he thought that it was the hot water in tub that was the key factor, later he realised it was the breathing. These days most rebirthing takes place on a bed with the rebirthee (the breather) being supported by a rebirther .
Leonard called the breathing technique rebirthing because he believed in order to heal the personality you had to release and re-experience your birth memory, and with the letting go of the old emotional and mental conditioning you are symbolically reborn. Since that time we have learned that birth is only one of a number of significant factors that determines personality and some people don’t have any traumatic birth memory to release because their birth was easy and loving. The personalities of your mother and father, and the first seven years of life are just as important in developing your personality. But the name rebirthing continues because so many people recognise it, even though there are numerous other names for the process, such as Holotropic Breathing, Vivation, Breathworks, Conscious Connected Breathing and Breath Therapy.
The technique has a very long history it was used by the ancient yogis of India. On several trips to India Leonard Orr under the instructions of his teacher Babaji refined and simplified the technique. The mystic alchemists of the Middle Ages also used a similar breathing technique to “strip the base metal (the ego) of its dross and transform it to gold (spirit).”
Rebirthing’s primary benefit is to release and re-balance the emotions. Any condition where you feel stressed, over emotional or incomplete with a past experience can be released with rebirthing. My clients include people who are having a relationship break-up, death in the family, guilt about a past event, severe accident, difficult relationship with mother or father and those searching for meaning in their lives.
The breathing technique is accompanied with a counselling because as well as releasing the emotional tension it is beneficial to understand the patterns of personality that are at play in the current situation. I also emphasis that the client must take responsibility for their healing and I spend a certain amount of time teaching the underlying methodology so that they educate and resource themselves to become their own therapist. I may see someone for two hours a fortnight while they live with themselves 24 hours per day.
A rebirthing consultation usually takes two hours and charges are about the same as a clinical psychologist. The process is very personal and it is good to find someone you feel comfortable with. A short conversation on the phone will give you a feel for the person, if you can get a personal recommendation from a friend then that is even better. You can write to me, Michael Adamedes at PO Box 935 Rozelle NSW 2039 and I will supply you with a current list of practitioners. A stamped self-addressed envelope would be appreciated.
Leonard, Jim and Laut, Phil Vivation 1983. Trinity Publications
PO Box 8269 Cincinnati, Ohio 45208
Sisson, Colin P. Rebirthing Made Easy 1985 Total Press, Auckland
Ray, Sondra and Mandel, Bob Birth and Relationships 1987. Celestial Arts. Berkeley
About the Author:
Michael Adamedes consciously began his inner journey in 1978 when he met and lived in Morocco with his first teacher Ahmid Sufi – an American Negro born in Harlem, New York. In 1980 he became a swami with the Satyananda Ashram. In 1981 he learned rebirthing from Ahrara Carisbrooke and later took over Euroa House to establish the Balmain Euroa Centre. Michael has practiced and taught rebirthing for 20 years, running the Rebirthing Certificate and Diploma Courses, training more than 600 rebirthers.
He has studied Inner Child Work, Voice Dialogue, Sand Play, Jungian Dream Analysis, NLP and Bioenergetics. Russia, New Zealand, USA and Nepal are amongst the ten countries in which he has studied and taught.