Stepping into the shoes of a Breathwork Facilitator
As part of my facilitator training, over the last couple of weeks I have been running 121 breath work sessions. I am absolutely loving being in this position to lead people into their own body and mind with their breath. This for me has been the most daunting, yet rewarding part of my training so far. I have found that creating and allowing the space for others to feel, connect, share, be with themselves and their thoughts is such a wonderful experience.
'Holding space' means being present for someone else on both a physical and emotional level. Whilst being present, it means you listen and witness without judgment, or asking for anything in return. I am learning the importance of empathy, and compassion when creating this space for others to feel safe and supported when diving into their own feelings and emotions. I am beginning to feel confident in being present without adding my own thoughts or opinions to the situation.
Stepping into the shoes of a facilitator for the first time reminded me of when I first started teaching yoga. Although I personally feel that breathwork facilitation is completely different. Stepping into something new brought feelings of vulnerability. I knew that I was ready to hold the space for someone else, but I was nervous as well as excited. Stepping up to the challenge of something new comes with fear, fear of the unknown; Am I going to do this right? Will I be able to cope with this responsibility? What if something goes wrong, what if I say something stupid! I am a perfectionist and I put huge amounts of pressure on myself, with high expectations of wanting things to be right the first time I do it, even if it's new to me.
The worry of doing something is always far greater than just doing it! My first 121 facilitation was such an amazing experience. It felt safe, I felt in control and able to hold the space for someone else. My nerves were pushed aside by my drive to do the best job that I could in creating connection and trust with someone else so that they felt comfortable and safe, leaving my own worries and discomfort outside of the space.
I also learnt that the silence and space is so much more powerful than words could ever be, for the participant to feel and integrate their experience within their body and breath. I started to realise that when facilitating Breathwork for someone else, it's not actually about me. This really helped me to grasp the concept that I am just here to safely hold the space for whatever the other person or people need in that moment.
Not just within facilitation, but how we show up for others within our day to day life is also so important. I listened to a really brilliant podcast with Breathcast - TAKE A DEEP BREATH interviewing Max Strom discussing the importance of breath for healing when navigating through, anxiety, stress and grief. There was a part that really resonated with me how Max explains how people in general don't know what to do or how to act around others in times of struggle. We often avoid the situation and hold back because we are afraid of making it worse, being awkward or feeling uncomfortable. He says, "When someone is going through an emotional crisis, they don't expect you to fix it. They don't even expect you to feel better. But it is meaningful to them to just have you sit there in silence with them." So true, no judgements, no expectations, in that moment your presence is often all they need and they can appreciate just that.
Most of us look to feel safe, secure and stable in our lives. Group or 121 breathwork sessions are exactly that; time to be present and seen, be honest and unfiltered, be brave and accepting within ourselves. There is something incredibly powerful in the energy between people and however that safe space looks - being held doesn't have to be physical, through touch, it's the energy and connection which is most important. Being connected through a breathwork encourages those feelings of safety, support, feeling held. We are trusting the person leading us not only with our feelings and emotions but to fully dive into the unknown within ourselves. It's empowering to be given the space as a breather to explore what we need to and each time we dive into our breathe we experience and feel such different things.
We all have our own stuff and this is another huge part of my learning. We need to be willing to go to these vulnerable and raw places within ourselves before we can hold others. I was, and sometimes am still worried about my own emotions and experiences being triggered by what comes up for others but I am learning to be more confident in accepting my own feelings, remembering that there is no necessarily good or bad parts of my emotions and I'm becoming less critical of myself through the process.
Not letting what arises consume or affect us as a facilitator is really important. Creating a safe space and simply being within the moment with others, listening without the need to react with empathy and compassion is the most we can do and remembering, that is all that is asked of us.
When we hold space for ourselves, it is integral to give that same support, compassion and kindness that we would others. We allow ourselves a place to be. Inviting our own awareness to be able to check in, without trying to edit or adjust, just observe to better understand ourselves through our inner landscape. Meditation and breathwork, or doing something mindfully without getting caught up in distractions can allow us to create space.
As I continue to hold space for both 121 and group breathwork sessions I'm excited to see what I will learn from my experiences. Being with others and learning from others has been such a vital part of my training so far and it makes me realise that we are all looking for some sense of connection... to ourselves, to others, to our bodies and breath. I feel that we need to do this with authenticity and courage, whether we feel brave or vulnerable, the most important way that we can show up for ourselves and others is with acceptance and compassion.
If you would like to know more about how, when and where you can breathe with me, please feel free to get in touch, you can send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org. I am planning on hosting some online group breathwork sessions for Make Some Breathing Space and will share this information on my newsletter and on my social pages.