Updated: Feb 4, 2020
(Written by Madeline Stephenson)
A few years ago, I attended what I thought was a business and personal development seminar, dragged along by a friend and happy to have a weekend away from home as a stay-at-home mom. On the second evening, there was an extra session planned, and my friend insisted that it was the best part of the whole event. It was here that I experienced Breathwork Retreats for the first time. I knew I was ready for change, and as the breathwork experience was explained, I knew that despite my fear of physical repercussions (migraine), I knew that I had to experience it fully. I threw myself into the breathing and I allowed myself to do something that I had never done before...to completely and totally do whatever it was that my body and soul wanted without concern for what anyone else would think. Thank goodness for the blindfold! It was magical. I cried, I danced, I visioned and discovered that breathing, that simple thing that we do every day without thinking, was magical beyond words.
I discovered myself...and a deep well of power that I never realized I had access to, and that I knew I couldn’t deny again. Afterwards, despite being nervous, I introduced myself to the strong and magnetizing woman who was facilitating the event, Melanie Lighthouser, and I discovered that she lived and worked not far from where I lived at the time. I was elated...this form of Breathwork was not something that I was to experience only once, but I could come back to it again and again...and I did. And I have never looked back.
Throughout the past few years I have “breathed” with Melanie numerous times, and more recently with my fellow Breathwork practitioners. Every single time has been different. I have cried, I have screamed, I have howled like a pack of wolves with everyone else in the room, I have laughed hysterically at myself, pounded the floor, danced my heart out, merged with my spirit animal, flown through the universe, and danced numerous tribal dances around a fire in an unnamed jungle. I relived my childhood the way it should have been, released fears and an immense amount of grief that I believed that I was not allowed to experience as a child. And through it all, I have become me again...minus the fear and with a much larger inner strength and confidence that previously I had only dreamed of.
This type of Breathwork has been the vehicle for an immense amount of change for me… physically, emotionally, it is what brought me to yoga, and it’s also the impetus for the work that I do with my partner in our business, Biocentrik.
Facilitating Breathwork retreats is easily the most rewarding part of my work. Every month I hold space for numerous friends and new faces I am happy to welcome into the fold and into the breathwork family. I create a safe and magical space in which I hold those who need to feel loved, play drums, chimes, shakers, a magical instrument called a systrum, and occasionally the gong (Thank you, Brooke!). I do energy work for individual people as well as the group, I dance with those who dance, and I dance and scream and shake for those who cannot. And every time when I see sad or worried faces in opening circle, I look forward to the time a few hours later when, again in circle, they appear happier, lighter... and I rejoice in knowing that, as they share the portions of their experiences, that they are more connected and have a deeper understanding of themselves, and that they are indeed walking out with a lighter load on their backs.
If had to summarize what breathwork has t