Rebirthing – or Breathwork reloaded

I’m writing on a little series on breathwork. Starting with “rebirthing” is probably not an easy entry, but let’s try 😉

Rebirthing therapy is a powerful tool for self-discovery and healing. It is also possible to define it as a spiritual psychology practice.

The procedure of rebirthing is easy, everyone can do it without any prior knowledge. Of course it is recommended to do it in a safe space and under professional guidance. You inhale forcefully and fully and then, without a pause between the inhale and exhale, you exhale fully. Then you inhale again and repeat. First, through the nose for 5 to 10 minutes and then through the mouth for another 30 minutes. Upbeat music can help you in maintaining your rhythm of breathing and in keeping you awake. After 35 to 40 minutes of heavy breathing, you start breathing normally again, relax and observe what is happening to your body, mind and soul.

While the action is easy, rebirthing itself might not be so easy for everybody.

A rebirthing session can have two different effects on your body:

On a physical level, through the strong inhaling and exhaling, you expose your cells, tissues and organs to an excess supply of oxygen. It could be defined as a mild and short-term form of hyperoxia. After some minutes of heavy breathing, you might feel a tingling or tickling sensation in your extremities, your feet, legs, arms and hands. You might feel a tingling sensation in your face, above the lips, on the forehead and your cheeks. You can notice some cramping in your hands and feet or get a feeling of partial and temporary paralysis. The sensations get more intense with heavier breathing, so you can control the intensity on some level. If it feels creepy, you can stop the heavy breathing and breath normally again. After a while, the sensations will fade away.

On an emotional level, it can get heavy. People can have all sorts of “trips”, similar to those you could have on some drugs. I heard from people who felt like they melted through the ground and were flying through universe. Some people felt an intense sensation of happiness and bliss that made them cry. Others got scared by visions and felt their fears more intensely. A few others felt an agonizing pain leaving their body, which was eventually relieving. Most people will experience this as a positive effect.

But these two effects don’t have to happen for everybody. Some people just fall asleep. Others don’t feel anything at all (probably they didn’t breathe as indicated). Some only notice the physical changes, like the tingling sensation or cramps, but don’t have any spiritual voyages.

Most importantly, remember to relax. If your hands cramp, that’s ok. You can stop breathing heavily anytime and the feeling will go away.

Rebirthing breathwork was invented by Leonard Orr, who was of the opinion that breathing can cure diseases, relieve pain and be used to heal traumatic and suppressed childhood memories. He apparently relived his own birth while taking a bath and that’s why it’s called rebirthing. Interestingly, some people have relived their own birth during the session as well. One woman felt like someone was pulling her feet and it turned out that due to complications during her own birth, the doctors had to pull her out of her mother’s womb feet first. Another woman felt like someone was strangling her. During her birth, the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. One man felt very connected to his mother during the session.

Rebirthing is also characterized by some as crazy, culty, non-scientific and bizarre. It might be a bit crazy. But if it works? I think we shouldn’t judge so easily but be more open to different methods of therapy and healing.

What do you think?

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