lettinggoAs a Transformational Breath therapist I show clients how they can let go of emotional baggage that they may be holding onto in their body from the past. By clearing restricted breathing patterns we can let go of emotional drama and trauma we are holding onto. As human beings we all have a story and through the breath we can release it and let go of negative thought patterns. Maybe an old pain from childhood, a hurt we carry inside us, a hurt arising from an incident we have never been able to look in the eye. We can also learn how to respond to situations rather than react out of fear, anger or other emotions.

With breathwork we can make positive changes in relationships with loved ones and family, we can reduce stress levels and have deep acceptance and unconditional love of self….and others.

“If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace.” ~Ajahn Chah

Eckhart Tolle believes we create and maintain problems because they give us a sense of identity. Perhaps this explains why we often hold onto our pain far beyond its ability to serve us.

We replay past mistakes over and over again in our head, allowing feelings of shame and regret to shape our actions in the present. We cling to frustration and worry about the future, as if the act of fixation somehow gives us power. We hold stress in our minds and bodies, potentially creating serious health issues, and accept that state of tension as the norm.

Though it may sound simple, Ajahn Chah’s advice speaks volumes.

There will never be a time when life is simple. There will always be time to practice accepting that. Every moment is a chance to let go and feel peaceful.

You are changing. The world is changing.  Just because something was right for you in the past doesn’t mean it still is.  This could be a relationship, a job, a habit, etc.

It happens to you slowly as you grow.  You discover more who you are and what you want out of life, and then you realise there are deliberate changes you need to make to keep up with the changes happening around you and within you.

The lifestyle you’ve been living no longer fits.  The specific people and routines you’ve known forever no longer align with your values.  So you cherish all the memories, but find yourself letting go and moving on.

If you’re currently dealing with this process you may feel a bit awkward, and that’s OK.

Scan your body and notice the most uncomfortable feeling or sensation you feel.  Focus on this area of your body, and feel exactly whatever is there.  For example, if you’re annoyed you might notice a tightness in your chest and a warm feeling in your throat.  If you’re worried, you may notice a tension in your forehead muscles and shoulders.  Ultimately, our emotions are experienced in our body as specific sensations such as warmth or coolness, tightness or relaxation, sharp or blunt, etc.  As you notice uncomfortable sensations in your body, try to be aware of the resistance you have to experience these uncomfortable feelings.  Instead of avoiding or pushing away the discomfort you feel, simply allow the sensations to be there.  Give yourself full permission to feel whatever is going on in the present moment.

We live in a time of brushing things under the carpet. We also live in a time where people are really beginning to understand the importance and benefit of letting go of internal emotion and pain.  We are holding back tears and internalising our stress.

We clench our fists and and keep our lips tight. We hold our breath and cause restrictions in our flow. Sometimes, it’s anger. When someone says something or does something cruel. Or perhaps it’s a lingering sadness. Something unsaid, or an opportunity missed. For a brief moment, we can feel the emotion within us. We have a choice then, in that moment—to feel everything or to hide it away somewhere deep inside, where it will sit and grow, until one day, it erupts, into a volcano of words and energy and negativity.

Repressed emotions do a lot of damage, both physically and mentally. We aren’t built to handle constant, internalised stress. When emotions are constantly internalised, our bodies think that we’re under attack. We go into “survival mode,” and everything that doesn’t need to be working, stops working—like our immune system and our digestion. We hold onto our breath, we even forget to breathe. The feelings don’t just dissipate into the universe. They’re there—in the marrow of your bones and the lobes of your lungs and the cells of your brain, the fibre of our being. They might make you perpetually achy and have unexplained pain in your joints. You might feel unstable, unbalanced or foggy.

So what can be done to release these repressed emotions?

Firstly it takes courage to move out of a pattern that has been helping you cope for all this time, so be gentle with yourself.
Find a comfortable place, and a comfortable posture, and stay present with your in breath and your out breath. Find silence, and space away from the hustle & bustle of your daily routine. You might even lay in the bathtub, or get cosy in bed.

First, recognise the emotions. As they come, allow yourself to feel them. Feel how much the sadness tugs on your heart or the anxiousness creates a knot in your tummy. And breathe….stay present with breath. Allow yourself to be present with the emotion but not to entertain it. Breathe through it so that the breath can release the emotion.

Feel powerful, for you are a force of nature. You are a beautiful being of both light & darkness, and for one to exist, the other must be recognised, and embraced.

If you would like to take more control over your mind, the best practices I know are breathwork and mindfulness.

First, accept that in order to become more mindful, we must recognise that we are solely responsible for the thoughts our minds produce. While we can’t stop our minds completely, we can take control over them and create moments of peace for ourselves.

Second, when thoughts or fear arise, try to do the following as soon as you are aware of what’s taking place in your mind and body:

Take a long, deep breath in and out. In your mind say “I” as you breathe in and “let go” as you breathe out in order to ground yourself in the present moment.

Then, feel the ground beneath your feet. Notice the way your clothes feel against your skin. Listen to the birds singing, the rain falling around you, or the ticking of a nearby clock.

All this will ground you in the present moment. Even if thoughts want to drag you away with them, coming back to recognise the breath will give you the control you need to prevent this from happening.

Follow these steps until you feel that the thought in your mind has moved on, or until you feel that the pull of your thought or fear has dissipated slightly.

Once you feel you are present and back in the moment notice how your breath feels. Breathe into your stomach and allow the abdomen to rise and fall with each breath. This will help you to feel more grounded, present and centered. Think of it as recalibrating your system and resetting your thought process. Every time negative thoughts re-enter your mind gently let them pass like clouds in the sky but stay present with your breathe.

It’s also quite possible that even once you’ve covered these steps, you will still get lost in your thoughts and fears by comparing yourself to others.

Whether you do this or not isn’t the point. The point is that you’ve finally managed to sit back and look at your thoughts and fears. Once you have done this, you’ve begun the process of taking back control of your mind and your life.

As long as you notice then you’re on your way to conquering your mind.

The more you practice, the better you will get. The key to all this is not giving up.

Can it really hurt? Well it might, but it’ll hurt for all the right reasons.

The more you release these emotions from your body and mind, the more you will feel freer and lighter and ultimately more content.

About the Author:

Rebecca Dennis
Rebecca Dennis is a published author, qualified Transformational Breath Facilitator and Workshop Leader. Rebecca runs retreats, workshops and 121 sessions at Indaba Yoga in London.