Breathwork (New Age)

(Redirected from Rebirthing-Breathwork)

Breathwork is a term[1][2] for various breathing practices in which the conscious control of breathing is said to influence a person's mental, emotional, or physical state, with a therapeutic effect.[3]

A breathwork exercise

Background and rationale edit

Edzard Ernst writes that breathwork (or 'rebirthing') is a form of alternative medicine first devised by Leonard Orr in the 1970s.[4][inconsistent]

Breathwork is the use of breathing techniques in order to achieve altered states of consciousness and to have a variety of effects on physical and mental well-being.[3] Breathwork has been seen as derived from multiple spiritual and pre-scientific traditions from around the world.[3] According to Jack Raso, breathwork is described by proponents as a multiform "healing modality" characterized by stylized breathing. Its purported design is to effect physical, emotional, and spiritual change. Such a process can allegedly "dissolve limiting programs" that are "stored" in the mind and body, and increases one's ability to handle more "energy".[5][full citation needed] Breathwork practitioners believe that an individual's particular pattern of passive breathing can lead to insights about their unconscious mind.[3]

Practice edit

During a breathwork session, individuals will typically lie down and be instructed to breathe using particular methods, depending on the sub-type of breathwork.[6] Most breathwork sessions last around an hour.[6] Alternatively breathwork is advocated to be done by individuals alone, for shorter periods.[7]

Sub-types edit

Holotropic Breathwork edit

A practice that uses rapid breathing and other elements such as music to put individuals in altered states of consciousness. It was developed by Stanislav Grof as a successor to his LSD-based psychedelic therapy, following the suppression of legal LSD use in the late 1960s.[8] Side effects of the hyperventilation aspect of holotropic breathwork can include cramping in the hands and around the mouth.[3] As the expressed goal of holotropic breathwork is to attain an altered state, it should not be attempted alone.[3] Following a 1993 report commissioned by the Scottish Charities Office, concerns about the risk that the hyperventilation technique could cause seizure or lead to psychosis in vulnerable people caused the Findhorn Foundation to suspend its breathwork programme.[9]

Rebirthing edit

A process described as releasing suppressed traumatic childhood memories, especially those related to one's own birth.[10] Orr proposed that correct breathing can cure disease and relieve pain.[11] Orr devised rebirthing therapy in the 1970s after he supposedly re-lived his own birth while in the bath.[10] He believed that breathing techniques could be used to purge traumatic childhood memories that had been repressed.[10][12] There is no evidence that individuals can remember their births.[13] Memories of one's birth that appear to resurface during a rebirthing-breathwork practice are believed to be the result of false memories.[14] Rebirthing-breathwork is one of the practices critiqued by anti-cult experts Margaret Singer and Janja Lalich in the book Crazy Therapies: What Are They? Do They Work?[11] Singer and Lalich write that proponents of such "bizarre" practices are proud of their non-scientific approach, and that this finds favor with an irrational clientele.[11] In 2006, a panel that consisted of over one hundred experts participated in a survey of psychological treatments; they considered rebirthing therapy to be discredited.[15]

Sitters edit

In addition to a practitioner, breathwork sessions will often have "sitters" present. Sitters are individuals who provide emotional or physical support to those practicing breathwork.[3]

Side effects edit

Some common side effects include "sleepiness; tingling in the hands, feet, or face; and a sense of altered consciousness that can be distressing to some."[6] Breathwork is generally considered safe if done with a skilled practitioner, but there are contraindications such as cardiovascular disease, glaucoma, high blood pressure, mental illness, severe asthma, or seizure disorders, among others.[3][6]

Efficacy edit

Limited research data edit

A 2018 review found that research to date had been limited, and that studies showed "limited evidence of a relationship between physiological parameters and psychological/behavioral outcomes in healthy subjects undergoing slow breathing techniques."[16] A 2023 review said that results showed that breathwork may be effective for improving stress and mental health, but urged caution until more research has been done.[17]

Possible areas of efficacy edit

Breathwork may be helpful for relaxation and stress in a similar way to meditation.[6][18] Anxiety may be helped by breathwork.[19]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ De Graaf, R. (2024). Architect, Verb: The New Language of Building. Verso Books. p. 214. ISBN 978-1839761928.
  2. ^ "Can You Really Use Your Breath To Reduce Anxiety?". British Vogue. 9 April 2020. Retrieved 2024-03-01.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Young JS, Cashwell CS, Giordano AL (2010). "Breathwork as a therapeutic modality: an overview for counselors". Counseling and Values. 55 (1): 113. doi:10.1002/j.2161-007X.2010.tb00025.x.
  4. ^ Ernst E (2019). Alternative Medicine: A Critical Assessment of 150 Modalities. Springer Nature Switzerland. p. 189. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-12601-8. ISBN 978-3-030-12600-1. S2CID 34148480.
  5. ^ Jack Raso M.S., R.D.: Quackwatch March 25, 2007
  6. ^ a b c d e Ades TB, ed. (2009). "Breathwork". American Cancer Society Complete Guide to Complementary and Alternative Cancer Therapies (2nd ed.). American Cancer Society. pp. 72–74. ISBN 9780944235713.
  7. ^ "Relaxation techniques: Breath control helps quell errant stress response". Harvard Health. January 26, 2015.
  8. ^ Cortright, Brant (1997). Psychotherapy and Spirit: Theory and Practice in Transpersonal Psychotherapy. SUNY Press. p. 100. ISBN 978-0791434666.
  9. ^ Stephen J., Castro (1996). Hypocrisy and dissent within the findhorn foundation : towards a sociology of a New Age community. New Media Books. ISBN 0-9526881-0-7. OCLC 1203447030.
  10. ^ a b c Radford B (2000). "New Age 'Rebirthing' Treatment Kills Girl". Skeptical Inquirer. 24 (5): 6.
  11. ^ a b c Carroll, RT (2011). "Psychotherapies, New Age". The Skeptic's Dictionary: A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions. John Wiley & Sons. p. 317. ISBN 978-1-118-04563-3.
  12. ^ Turner, S (30 May 1988). "Echoes of the age of Aquarius; Festival of Mind-Body-Spirit". The Times.
  13. ^ "Can a Person Remember Being Born?". HowStuffWorks. 2008-05-06. Retrieved 2022-02-28.
  14. ^ Gardner, Martin (May–June 2001). "Primal Scream: A Persistent New Age Therapy" (PDF). Skeptical Inquirer. pp. 17–19. Retrieved 28 February 2022.
  15. ^ Norcross, John C.; Koocher, Gerald P.; Garofalo, Ariele (2006). "Discredited Psychological Treatments and Tests Delphi Poll". PsycTESTS Dataset. doi:10.1037/t24920-000. Retrieved 2021-12-24.
  16. ^ Zaccaro, Andrea; Piarulli, Andrea; Laurino, Marco; Garbella, Erika; Menicucci, Danilo; Neri, Bruno; Gemignani, Angelo (September 7, 2018). "How Breath-Control Can Change Your Life: A Systematic Review on Psycho-Physiological Correlates of Slow Breathing". Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 12: 353. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2018.00353. PMC 6137615. PMID 30245619.
  17. ^ Fincham, Guy William; Strauss, Clara; Montero-Marin, Jesus; Cavanagh, Kate (January 9, 2023). "Effect of breathwork on stress and mental health: A meta-analysis of randomised-controlled trials". Scientific Reports. 13 (1): 432. Bibcode:2023NatSR..13..432F. doi:10.1038/s41598-022-27247-y. PMC 9828383. PMID 36624160.
  18. ^ Dolan, Eric W. (2023-02-06). "Breathwork shows promise in reducing stress, anxiety and depression, according to a new meta-analysis". PsyPost. Retrieved 2023-02-10.
  19. ^ Leyro, Teresa M.; Versella, Mark V.; Yang, Min-Jeong; Brinkman, Hannah R.; Hoyt, Danielle L.; Lehrer, Paul (March 1, 2021). "Respiratory therapy for the treatment of anxiety: Meta-analytic review and regression". Clinical Psychology Review. 84: 101980. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2021.101980. PMC 8302658. PMID 33540222.

Further reading edit