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Using breath to clear panic w/ Josh Solar

Josh Solar

No one on earth has ever scheduled an interview and been like, ‘Oh hey, what if we record on a day that waves of fear and panic about a pandemic are dropped across the planet?’

But if you could have the ideal guest for such an occasion, it’s breathwork wizard, meditation guide, and reiki master Josh Solar.

We’ll help you navigate the panic of a pandemic — including a trusty breathing technique that will calm you anywhere, at any time, for any reason, for free.

Mentioned in this episode of the podcast, you’ll find lots of breathwork practitioners, including: Josh Solar himselfPick up his breathwork class (which he scores and then records because he’s a musical GENIUS) here.  <– This class is fantastic and I do it regularly!

We also mention The Softness Sessions, which are Breathwork 101, in which I’ll help you ease into a breathwork practice!  We start on 3/19/20.  You can pick up your seat here.

As for other practitioners!  Both Josh and I are trained in breathwork with David Elliott, Erin Telford, and Wim Hof.  Josh mentions Dr. Belisa’s book, too!

So long as the world is stuck inside, pick up Glennon Doyle’s Untamed, which I’ll read a portion of in this podcast.  It’s soul food at the deepest levels, particularly for those who are a 4 on the Enneagram.

Please listen in and learn how to make simple breath modifications your default panic-management technique.

P.S. Nourishing or numbing?  One question to shift it all.

How to Update Your Emotional Operating System

I’ve recently rediscovered the work of Fred Rogers — Mister Rogers to those of us in the States who grew up with him — and the work of his foundation as well. One of the core values of The Fred Rogers Center is ‘The Deep and Simple.’ To quote their brochure:

Whether you are a child or an adult, substance and authenticity still have a place in this world.  We develop meaningful programs that emphasize the importance of connecting with children and families.”

The Deep and Simple is such a helpful articulation of what I’ve been trying to do for a long time now: not to give you easy-to-follow-but-ultimately-unsatisfying advice, but to help you access your own Deep and Simple bits with me.

I’m gonna talk all about the ways breathwork, my regular Deep and Simple practice, has continued to shape my life, and how it can help to shape yours, too.

Listen in to the podcast below, or keep reading for the shorter, transcript-ish version.

But first! Let’s talk about your default Emotional Operating System.

We humans get a default Emotional Operating System installed long before we ever go to school or even learn to speak. As infants and toddlers, we pick up on the unexpressed emotions around us and within us. We learn to cower at loud noises, or we learn to make loud noises as a means of self expression. Bear once said something like, “I can just picture you banging pots and pans as a kid” and I was like, “YUP, that was my favorite game!” He grew up in a household in which noise was swiftly punished, and can’t imagine being able to haul out every single pan in grandma’s kitchen to bang away with a wooden spoon for hours on end.

We figure out what makes adults respond to us kindly and not-so-kindly. We learn that it’s okay to feel our feelings, or it’s most definitely not okay to feel our feelings.

I learned that adults liked me better when I was silent before I went to Kindergarten, so I did my best to be as silent and studious as possible throughout my school years. They never said, “Please be silent Kristen, we prefer you that way,” but I was emotionally intelligent enough to notice that I got compliments for sitting quietly, for paying attention quietly, for reading quietly, and for holding my big questions inside because they made adults uncomfortable.

I also internalized the message that feelings were bad, and therefore when I had feelings *I* was bad. As an Enneagram 4, I have so many feelings, which means I spent a lot of time labeling myself as ‘bad’ for the first few decades of my life: if feelings are bad, I must be the WORST HUMAN ON EARTH.

Most of our Emotional Operating System goes online before our memory kicks in, so often we can’t access its nuances via means like talk therapy. It’s both pre-verbal and subconscious.

Further, ancestral trauma can set us up with deeply held, nearly uncontrollable reactions to various stimuli. In studies of generational trauma in rats, two generations of animals cower at the sight of the tools used to torture their grandparents, even though the tools have never been used against them. Terrifying, right? No matter our family of origin, we have painful and subconscious reactions to certain stimuli locked into our DNA. The female inheritance on both sides of my family tree is enduring an absolutely joyless existence in a loveless marriage, but I should shut up about it because there are more miserable people than me somewhere else.

Soooo….how do we come into the present reality? How do we undo the damage caused by the emotional wiring locked into our DNA?

When we find a Deep and Simple spiritual practice that resonates with us, we can begin to access and update our Emotional Operating System.

I’ll use breathwork as an example because that’s what I’ve used to do the work of rewiring my patterns over the years.

If you’ve found meditation or yoga or knitting or chanting to be the way you do your Deep and Simple work, FANTASTIC. And keep going!

Breathwork is ideal for those of us who have a history of abandoning our bodies in times of stress or difficulty (see: the long journey to the body), who need a tool that’s still doable on days with low energy (see: running a business with depression), and who prefer to do our biggest work privately (see: Introverts at Work).

At the beginning of a breathwork practice, we’re making pretty big shifts with each session. We’re taking on pretty massive updates each time we do the work. It’s incredibly intense because, in Emotional Operating System terms, we’re moving from Windows 95 to Windows 10. That’s a twenty year leap in technology, minus any helpful programming notes or instruction manuals.

As we see progress, we’ll naturally have clunky bits and awkward phases. Some settings disappear or get rearranged as we continue to do breathwork regularly. We all have our Windows Vista phase, when it feels like everyone has turned on us and nothing is quite right.

Slowly, though, we get to the latest operating system. We have updates that go from build 10.1 to build 10.17; in geek terms, those are relatively small changes that aren’t nearly as complicated or major as they were at the beginning. With time we get to the fine tuning details phase, not the Throwing Out Societal Systems One By One phase.

Over time, breathwork becomes less about producing big breakthroughs and more about maintaining our day-to-day emotional wellbeing.

Now I’m gonna explain this in personal terms, ’cause that clinical ‘Emotional Operating System’ term sounds really nice and lovely and easy, doesn’t it?

We all know that updating our hard drives or computers or phones is ALWAYS going to be ‘really easy’ and only take 3 minutes…right up until we’ve been on the phone with tech support for hours, we’ve lost our license key for that really expensive software and have to buy it again (Curse you, Photoshop programs I’ve repurchased over the past decade!!!!), and we have to do a bunch of work all over again because it mysteriously vanished from existence.

It’s a real pain in the ass, and we all know it, but also we get new features and new possibilities and apps that make our lives easier when we bother to update everything.

Breathwork is like that. It isn’t easy, but it is WORTH IT.

A bigger example: a few years ago, when I discovered breathwork, I was certain I’d be depressed forever. It seemed to be a strange-but-integral part of my identity. (I wrote about it over and over, sharing the tidbits I’d learned as time went on.) My mom has been depressed all her life, as has my father. It streams down both sides of my family tree, and there didn’t seem to be any escaping it.

For a long time, I had trouble imagining a day in which I would have enough energy to shower, brush my teeth, and leave the house. I was completely seduced by despair, and I couldn’t imagine being free of depression. It runs in my family and it’s taken over many years of my life, so I’m stuck with it, right?

Breathwork helped to create space within myself to do the work necessary for getting free of depression.

It helped me find a little more energy each day. A little less fear of delving deep into my emotions. A little more freedom to explore possibilities. A little more insight into my own life, including my future. A little more room to observe and have kindness toward that sad, miserable version of Kristen who had given up on life.

And now.  Little by little.  Years into practicing, with the rest of my life to keep practicing…

I wake up feeling like my default is neutrality — if not joy — on any given day. If you’re used to waking up and proceeding to calculate precisely how many hours you have to function before returning to bed, as I did for many years, this is nothing short of a miracle.

After 18 years of taking a pill each morning, I’m tapering off of depression meds with the help of amazing medical professionals. (Of course I can’t promise that breathwork will be the cure for whatever is happening within you. But I can share my story, as I’ve been doing for the past decade, and trust that it will help those it’s meant to help.)

Further! I used to be triggered by specific phrases those close to me said, or slamming doors, or being unable to resolve conflict within 3.4 minutes of its start. Now, I can often hold off the emotional avalanche and articulate precisely why that avalanche threatened to start. (Not all the time, but often.)

Over the years, and because of breathwork, I’ve grown kinder and softer than ever before. I’m able to hold bigger and bigger amounts of space for people to see what they see, know what they know, and feel what they’re feeling. I have less vested interest in specific outcomes.

I freak out less about dumb shit that doesn’t matter, mostly because I’m too busy working on important things that do matter.

Finally, I’ve got some serious freedom as an empath. (If you’re a person who feels what other people are feeling, often against your own will, please check out for more insights — and the Empath Beginner Kit is free when you join my email list!)

Where before I would cry because someone in the room was crying, I’m now able to hold my energy and emotions in such a way that you are free to cry, and I am free to cry OR NOT. For the first 35 years of my life as an empath, that ‘OR NOT’ wasn’t even an option.

You’re sad? I’m sad.

You’re mad? I’m mad.

Breathwork has helped me to regulate my emotional volatility — enneagram 4 here, emotions are what I *do* — in such a way that I feel out of control or like I’m ‘too much’ far less than I did in the past. Emotions provide useful information, and I’m free to engage with them, but they don’t run the entirety of the show.

This hasn’t been pretty progress.

I’ve gone into my breathwork practice with dread, despair, fear, and rage on many occasions. I’ve wailed and screamed and kicked and wept and cried so hard I did that gulping-for-air-fish-out-of-water move more times than I’d like to recall.

I’ve shouted out my too muchness and not enoughness. I’ve fought for my right to be on the planet, both literally and metaphorically. I’ve used breathwork to tame asshole brain, to go to the heart of suicidal ideations and dispel them, and to uninstall bullshit rules society has handed me over the years.

It’s been intense and awful and painful and beautiful and transcendent and weird and spunky and courageous and fearful and messy and gorgeous and WORTH IT. Every damn time.

You begin to trust breathwork to do the work you need, even if you can’t articulate what you need when your session begins. Trust means the practice stirs up less resistance over time.

And! Asshole brain has calmed the fuck down. It pipes up less now, and when it does it’s more and more obvious. When I hear, ‘You’re a no good sack of shit and everyone hates you’ internally, I wave hello to asshole brain. Good try, but that was really obvious.

My breathwork practice has beaten back asshole brain thoughts by 70% on the regular, and by about 90% on the best days. (I started writing this in November, before the move to Portland, so from a few months in the future I’ll say that breathwork has helped me to regulate asshole brain significantly. These amazing, I-beat-asshole-brain stats dip significantly when I’m sick and can’t breathe and can’t work and can’t remember my new zip code when quizzed about it on order forms. Given a few milligrams of the right allergy meds, the ability to breathe reliably, some time to learn my zip code, and the ability to work again, the stats are back to the reported levels.)

Breathwork has helped me get freer than ever, is what I’m saying.  And it can help you do the same.

I can’t promise that it will be easy to start or to continue a breathwork practice. I can’t say that you’ll immediately experience magical shifts or emotional movements. I can say that every single person I know who has stuck with this practice has grown bigger, more magical, more joyful, and more self aware over time.

In a world that values dollars and prestige and awards over nearly anything else, internal progress might not mean much — but to me, growth, magic, enjoyment, and self-knowledge are the name of the game.

If you’re curious, I’d be happy to show you how to take up a breathwork practice — slowly, slowly — through The Softness Sessions.

In The Softness Sessions, I’ll walk you through an incredibly-challenging-yet-universal life lesson I’ve faced, then sit with you as you breathe. I’ll introduce the breathing pattern each time, and we’ll breathe together for increasing periods of time over six weeks. (Also I spent *months* encapsulating each lesson into a single, highly repeatable and helpful nugget of wisdom.  Deep and Simple x6 sessions!)

The Softness Sessions are Breathwork 101 and would be awesome for you…

If you know you’re running a broken Emotional Operating System.

If you’d love to loosen your ties to asshole brain.

If you’re ready to create healthy new emotional patterns.

If you’re tired of letting your ‘too much’ness or ‘not enough’ness stop you.

If you’re curious about breathwork but don’t want to dive in the deep end to start.

The Softness Sessions are for you.

This is the most powerful and direct program I’ve ever made, and it’s $88.  You can pay in 3 monthly payments of $29.69, so you’ve got one less excuse to skip this one.

Buy The Softness Sessions

I should absolutely charge more — and if I was a passive-income-obsessed douchelord trying to get you into a funnel and then upsell you to a $$$$$$$ program full of systems and hacks, I would — but *I want to make it as easy as possible to say yes to doing this work.*

Breathwork isn’t sexy and often isn’t fun, but it IS beneficial in the deepest, truest ways possible.

Buy The Softness Sessions

Also, my telling you all these things has no doubt freaked you right the fuck out.

I’m telling you breathwork will help you feel things, and you don’t WANT to feel things.

Most people are afraid of feeling what they’re feeling.

Maybe you live in a constant state of fear that your feelings, when felt, will cause the destruction of everything on earth and possibly take out a few neighboring planets. Imagine all-out Kali-goddess-like no-holds-barred decimation, then take it one step further, and that’s what you picture happening if you feel your rage/upset/disappointment/fear for even a few moments.

So you push the feels down. And down and down and down, growing more fearful of them all the time because they grow in intensity as you add to the not-felt pile. Life is like trying to hold a feelings-laden beach ball under water at all times, and the minute you stop actively wrestling it the ball pops up again. (Generally this popping up happens at incredibly convenient times, like when you’re grocery shopping or when a kind stranger makes eye contact.)

Or maybe you’ve learned to numb your feelings with the speed and dexterity of an Olympic athlete. You use food or alcohol or screens or [insert habit here, I won’t judge] to avoid feeling much of anything.

YUP I’ve done that, too. Numbing can mean that you’re eating a whole pie in one sitting, but it can also happen with the flip of an emotional switch. I literally said to myself, “I’m never going to feel this way again,” and shut down my heart to such an extent that I married the absolute wrong person and stayed in a relationship with him for a decade. As always, there’s no judgement for the dumb shit you’re doing right now, ’cause I’ve usually done that dumb shit myself. (Remember how my parents’ families are full of joyless, loveless marriages? I repeated that pattern, 100%. And then I chose something different. You can, too.)

Whether locked or numbed, your feelings are inaccessible to you. You’re running a clunky Emotional Operating System. <–Please note that YOU are not clunky or broken or whatever you say about yourself — it’s only a function of crappy foundational programming.

Every feeling you’ve stuffed isn’t going to magically disappear without your conscious effort, just like that old computer from 2007 hasn’t magically updated its hard drives or processors while sitting in the closet over there. <– THIS IS THE MOST FRUSTRATING THING ON EARTH BUT ALSO TRUE. Unfelt feelings and the lessons they have to teach us don’t disappear.

Breathwork can help you begin to process those unfelt bits in a safe way. Only that which you’re capable of handling will show up in any given session. You won’t have to dive into that big traumatic event in your life on Day One.

You can wade into the waters s l o w l y.

This is a process, and as you learn to trust the process — and me — more will be revealed and released.

The other option is to keep shoving and numbing forever, growing more unfeeling and fearful as the decades roll on. As Brene Brown says, “The body keeps the score, and the body always wins.”

You can access and begin to change your Emotional Operating System.

The Softness Sessions make the beginnings of that effort as gentle, enjoyable, and sacred as possible.

I’d be honored to help.

Join us now.

Buy The Softness Sessions

Details!!  The Softness Sessions — i.e. Breathwork 101 — start on March 19th and last for six weeks. Each session is released to my teaching portal on Thursdays and is about an hour long.  We wrap up with a live group breathwork session on April 30th.

You’ve got access to all the sessions and the live class in downloadable form. You can repeat breathwork sessions as you see fit.

BONUS ALERT: If you hop on board now, you’ll get an actual real life snail mail book/journal combo to use alongside the audio. The book is perfect for recording your experiences!

If you sign up after the 17 remaining books are gone, you’ll still get the digital version and can print it on your own. Early birds get those bookish worms! Get your spot!

If you’ve got any questions whatsoever, email me:!

Ready to do this? Grab your spot!

“It’s not the honors and the prizes and the fancy outsides of life that ultimately nourish our souls. It’s the knowing that we can be trusted, that we never have to fear the truth, that the bedrock of our very being is firm.” — Fred Rogers

P.S. Softness is the secret.

A breathwork practice is accessible to anyone who doesn’t have significant lung problems or a respiratory illness. Being able to breathe is the only requirement for participating in class.

Since the West Coast move led me to acquire allergies so debilitating that I couldn’t reliably breathe, I repeat: PLEASE don’t attempt this if you have asthma, ongoing lung issues, or uncontrolled medical conditions that affect your breathing.

If you can breathe without issue, hop in The Softness Sessions now!

Nourishing or Numbing? One question to shift it all.

I’ve been hitting you with deep questions and lots of self aware examining in longer-than-usual podcasts — so this week I thought I’d include a single question reframe for your whole life.  Enjoy this episode of That’s What She Said!

Is it nourishing or numbing?

This question applies to each and every habit, task, relationship, boundary, pattern, or activity you complete.

Consider your commute, your screen habits, your food habits, your travel habits, your self care routines, and your time spent with those you love: nourishing or numbing?

At a deeper level, consider your business practices, the information you consume, the books you read, the shows you watch, and the people you interact with on a regular basis: nourishing or numbing?

The goal, of course, is to do less numbing and more nourishing.

Only of course it’s not that simple. We humans don’t magically switch off our numbing patterns just because we realize they’re numbing, nor do we naturally move toward genuine nourishment until we are in deep, nearly unspeakable pain. For me, seeking nourishment only took losing 40 grand, going through a divorce, battling depression for two decades, and waking up every day feeling like I was being suffocated by despair, as well as my thyroid giving out in a spectacular way. We’re pushed toward fast and quick solutions when we most desperately need deep care, deep rest, and deep understanding.

When we’re malnourished — whether at the physical level or the soul level — our brains send signals to get us some quick fixes and some time off.

We often reach for more and more numbing agents when we need nourishment most.

The more stressed or tired or depleted or frustrated we are, the more numbing we do — and repeat, and deepen the cycle, and repeat again, but this time with more retail therapy! And pop-up sales and coupons and free shipping! BEHOLD, I HAVE A WHOLE NEW WARDROBE AND MY SOUL FEELS FIIIIIIIIIIINE. ISH. (FINE-ISH. I’ll just be over here, weeping into my new sequined jumpsuit.)

Life can quickly become a numbing pattern spread across every waking moment, only now we need to find a way to numb the discomfort that comes with mounting credit cards bills as well…

How do you begin to build more nourishing habits, patterns, practices, and activities into your life?

You properly identify an activity as nourishing or numbing.

Only that identifying bit is really, really tricky.

Most activities can be nourishing or numbing, depending on circumstances and context.

Take, for example, dessert. If you’re working on your fifth gallon of ice cream this evening, we both know you’re numbing. But if you’ve been working incredibly hard to eat the most nutrient-dense foods on earth and you’re celebrating a milestone of some kind, that same ice cream can be absolutely nourishing.

This is why self care and soul care can be so tricky. We humans are smart enough to disguise numbing agents as nourishment, and we can use nourishing activities to numb when we do them excessively.

When you obsessively check email but don’t process it — meaning that you read but don’t respond to messages — you’re numbing. And probably working yourself into a panic, besides.

This also happens with marketing activities and making asks, which can be numbing when you turn them over and over (and over and OVER) in your mind instead of actually doing them. But when you show up, make asks, provide simple calls to action for your peeps, and stand in your worth (without making your work your worth)…that’s nourishing for your work all the way down.

Likewise, watching Brene Brown’s special on Netflix is nourishing AF. (If you haven’t yet watched it, HALT YOUR LIFE AND DO THAT NOW PLEASE.) Watching 22 episodes of anything back to back while lying on the couch and consuming DoorDash’s parade of fried foods, not so much.

A hot bath: nourishing. Hiding from your family in the bathroom for 6.3 hours during Christmas, armed with a bag of Doritos and your sound-proof headphones: numbing.

Getting 6-pack abs would be nourishing for me, since that would be making wildly new life patterns and choices, while it would be numbing for someone who has had an eating disorder and workout addiction.

You get the idea.

As you go about your day, take note of what is nourishing and what is numbing.

If you ‘don’t have time’ to notice, you’re numbing exceptionally hard today.

Days ‘off’ are not necessarily nourishing.

Days ‘off’ often involve doing work that isn’t done during the usual work week, so days ‘off’ are really catch-all times for doing chores offline.

On a recent ‘day off,’ I did five loads of laundry, cleaned the bathroom, went grocery shopping, hit up the pharmacy and the co-op for a few items, walked Neville, vacuumed my car, cleaned the kitchen, cooked dinner, and picked up my neighbor’s mail because they were on vacation. And I don’t even have kids.

That workload gets ever more unwieldy as you add more people to the mix, whether they’re friends, kids, relatives, roommates, or pets!

When was the last time you had a full, no responsibilities day off?

Can you schedule one right now for the near future, even if it’s simply sitting at home and kicking everyone else out of the house so you can hear yourself think?

How can you consciously create — and then protect — space to simply BE in your life without having to do a long list of chores, tasks, or errands?

Your brain will probably pop in with simple solutions and half-steps, here. What if we got rid of that one chore? What if we allowed ourselves twenty whole minutes to breathe some fresh air outside?

Please, please, don’t fall for the half-steps that don’t offer any long-term gains and only keep you paddling along, just-barely-not-drowning, at the surface.

You deserve better than an inner auction of your own time and value that ends in compromising all over the place.

I asked you how you can get a day to yourself — and your brain immediately called that impossible. It probably offered a few minutes as a compromise.

I asked when you can simply BE in your life — and your brain suggested you download some kind of app and start a new practice, which is one more thing to check off of your to-do list and/or beat yourself up for not doing.

Being — or practicing the art of being present — is a completely free, no apps required activity that involves no screens and probably your pets. When I say ‘being,’ I mean stepping outside and feeling the air on your face. Possibly looking at the sky, or maybe sipping a beverage, but not if that’s too much work or if you don’t feel like looking at the sky today.

To put this another way: it doesn’t count if you don’t enjoy it.

Busyness is often a numbing mechanism.

You eventually become afraid of slowing down, since you know that there’s a shit-ton of unprocessed emotion waiting for you in the silence. At some level, you don’t WANT to hear your thoughts or notice your feelings.

Maybe it’s a conscious decision to speed up and stay in motion, or maybe it’s a subconscious fear that if you actually listen to yourself, you’ll have to make some changes. Small changes, like scheduling yourself to have a little more time that’s not ‘on,’ or big changes, like ending a relationship or quitting your job.

LOOKING busy is also a numbing mechanism.

When you force yourself to sit at a screen and ‘work,’ even with nothing in particular to do, you’re feeding the part of your brain that’s been conditioned to tie your work to your worth, and numbing the Very Much Alive parts of you shouting that your work is done for today, and you’re free to move about the world as you please. (We’ll talk about that in detail in next week’s podcast!)

Where are you remaining busy to avoid feeling your feelings or having a confrontation with another person?

Where are you remaining busy in order to ‘put in your time’ for all those friends who work corporate jobs and don’t have the freedom to walk away from their desks right now?

When do you consciously slow down, and how often does that happen?

What would halting the busyness in your life look like if you started with being 10% less busy?

What would you cancel, ignore, or stop doing if I said your busyness would cost you $1,000 a week? $10,000?

(I’m making up that $10,000 number so you can see exactly how much would be *on the table and scheduled for deletion* if you had to pay a great deal of money to remain busy. Your priorities: in order.)

If you chronically describe yourself as ‘busy,’ slowing down is the first step. Only HOW do you slow down and it’s SCARY and UGH I have to much to DO, Kristen — I know. That brings me to my next point.

Breathwork is nourishing because it’s soul care and self care, combined.

It maxes out at taking an hour of your day and can only be done once per day, so it can’t take over your life. Breathwork is a little like going to the gym or eating well or going for a walk outside even though the weather isn’t perfect — you’ll feel better in the end. But brain is like, NO EAT THE ICE CREAM.  AND SIT HERE UNTIL THE END OF TIME STREAMING MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY FILMS IF THAT’S WHAT YOU REALLY NEED.   

I double dog dare you to pop your email in the box below and let me send you a free breathwork class! 👇🏻

Hiding isn’t the answer. (I wish it would be, though.)

Hiding isn't the answer // podcast by Kristen Kalp

Before we dive in to this week’s podcast episode, I’d like to acknowledge that the lessons here have taken a bunch of years to condense into anything even remotely resembling words. My first impulse when it comes to facing the world is to hide 100% of the time. I prefer to hermit and retreat and withdraw. Those are tendencies I actively push against and question on an almost-daily basis. So.

I know, you’d rather hide.

At a business level, it’s scary to let your work be seen. You’ve heard that ‘if you build it, they will come,’ and they’re not coming. Maybe you should…build it again? Pin ever-more-complicated options to Pinterest and save up to give someone ten grand and solve it for you? Hope for the best and get a second job?

Or you say you’re ready to take on more clients or sell more work, but you can’t bring yourself to respond to emails, phone calls, or inquiries when they come in.

What’s wrong with you, and with your business? There must be something so secretly, desperately wrong that everyone but you can see it, right?


You’re probably a master of hiding.

Here are some really fun, reaaaaaally smart ways I’ve hidden my work:

For years, only print versions of books were available, even though ebook versions are easier for me to host and sell — and also more profitable. (Pay what you can for any of my books here.)

For (again) years, I consistently forgot to read my poems on the podcast or share them anywhere at all. Did my bio identify me as a poet? Yup. Did that translate to my sharing more?  Not without effort.

I used to mention something once or twice, casually, and then assume it was a failure because it didn’t sell out instantaneously. LOOKING AT YOU, EVERY ENTREPRENEUR EVER!

Repetition is a kindness.

Everyone has too many emails, too many mundane tasks, too many notifications, and not enough brain space to see, love, read about, and buy a product in one fell swoop.  It’s often the third or fourth mention that garners any real interest, and only firm deadlines that make people respond in a decisive way.  (Also if you’d like to break up with your phone, meet Space, a 21-day email class to help you do just that!)

I used to think no one wanted to hire me if they didn’t respond to my offerings immediately, even after I began repeating myself again and again.

I routinely have people sign up for coaching who tell me how many years they’ve been following me. Current record: nine.

It’s a long game, people. (Also, check coaching out and then talk to me about working together, okay?

For years, I ended my talks about things for sale in question marks (I’m coaching?) and only noticed it later when listening to the podcast.  I. AM. SO. AWESOME.

I also used to rush sales talk and then relax when I got to the free stuff. Only That’s What She Said is an ad-free, not-sponsored podcast, so I have every right to talk about how to hire me and purchase my work within it. (You have the right to do the same with the things you offer, too.)

Here are some ways you might be hiding in business:

? Can I easily locate buy now, book now, or e-mail me buttons? Is there an easy way to purchase what you’re selling?
? Can people figure out where you’re located easily, particularly if you have a local business?
? Do you have a separate sales page for each product or service you offer, or are you hiding your best one with a ‘coming soon’ placeholder and/or outdated information?
? Are your current products prominently placed or featured in menu bar?
? Can we easily access the work you prefer to be paid for doing?
? Can people sign up to hear more from you through an e-mail list?
? No really, an e-mail list: can you access people in their inbox at a time of your choosing? (Need help? Zero to email list in 15 minutes.)
? Do you actually send e-mails to the people who have signed up to hear more from you? (Need help? How to F*&*ing Communicate is for you.)

At a personal level, hiding gets worse.

You want to hide from the globe (see: systemic oppression, Amazon fires, melting polar ice caps, rise of fascism, etc, etc, etc…), and then from your life (see: never-ending productivity and routine and WHY AM I NOT ON A TROPICAL BEACH WITH MY OWN PERSONAL BUTLER RIGHT NOW) and then from yourself (despair? Nipping at myyyyyy heels? No, never!).

But you tell yourself you have to keep going.

So you shove down the despair, show up for work, watch the news, contribute to campaigns and causes like a good citizen, and feel…not one iota better.

Why do you still feel like a bundle of yuck?  Because step one was shoving down your feelings.

It was labeling one particular emotion ‘bad’ or ‘unproductive’ or ‘negative’ or simply not allowed, and then plowing over it with your everyday activities and hoping it wouldn’t return. But of course it returns, so you shove it down HARDER, like a kid trying to hold bigger and bigger beach balls under water for days and then weeks and months at a time. Of course it’s not working, but you just have to try HARDER, right?

Just try harder and harder and put in more and more effort and hope no one notices how you’re getting more and more dead inside. OR you can start to come out of hiding.

Ways you might be hiding in life, sourced from my own hiding places:

? Do you talk about things that matter to you or try to keep conversation easy breezy, no big deal?
? Do you admit your desires and dreams and the ways you want to make meaning in the world to yourself? …to others?
? Are you consistently turning down the volume on yourself so as not to be seen as ‘too much’ of something?
? Are you consistently turning up the volume on everyone else so that you can no longer hear your own tiny whispers of identity and intuition?

I’ve been there and tried alllll the tactics to just shut the hell up and be less sensitive.

They failed. Miserably.

What if…you let yourself feel what you’re feeling?

What if you let yourself feel the despair and the hardship and the pain and all the things you cannot change — and then let those particular pieces of pain go, simply because you cannot change them?

Not because you don’t care or don’t try or don’t have enough useful and intersectional beliefs, but because you are one single human.

Just one.

No matter how much you try or how many ‘you have the same number of hours in the day as Beyonce’ memes you consume.

You’re just one person.

How can you begin to make peace with a.) the fact that you can’t change everything,
but b.) you can absolutely change SOMEthing, when you decide what that something is?

You start with your own interiors.

When you decide to stop hiding, you begin to navigate through the loneliness and mess and doubt that lives within you, and come out the other side better and lighter and more joyful than you’ve ever been.

That sounds impossible and silly and GOD YOU’RE SO NAIVE KRISTEN and also…don’t you hope that it’s possible?

To be able to sit with despair and then rise up and do your work.

To look the messes in your life in the face without fear or judgement.

To face the loneliness within your heart and hold it tenderly, without trying to make it wrong or bad or a sign that you’re broken.

To catch doubt doing its asshole brain thing — and then to keep going, without believing a word it says.

That’s my hope for every human on the planet — that you’ll find a method, a practice, or a way of being that helps you give up hiding from yourself first, and from the world second.

For me, that practice is breathwork. I held a live breathwork session in Philly this week, and I was amazed by the amount of energetic and emotional clearing we completed in about an hour. Eight women laid down on the floor of a knitting shop, were introduced to the breath, and got to work.

They ranged in age from their twenties to their seventies, and each one wiped her eyes and thanked me when we finished breathing. They let go of shame and doubt and rage and grief and pain, and they also laughed and giggled and smirked and shook their hips and got freer than they had been a few hours earlier. They all reported that time got wobbly, and that they’d never experienced anything quite like it before.

Breathwork is work, yes, but it’s also a no-accessories-needed way to come home to yourself.

You lie down, you do the breathing pattern, you come back to reality a short time later as a lighter and freer human.  (For you: a whole podcast episode about breathwork.)

If breathwork seems like diving into the deep end — that’s exactly what it is.

Starting a breathwork practice can be scary for lots of people, which is why The Softness Sessions are a slower, steadier entry point for giving it a try.

In The Softness Sessions, you’ll hear me talk, podcast-style, and then we’ll do a short breathwork practice. It gets longer every week for six weeks, and then we’ll finish with a full-length live session for everyone in the program.

If you’re scared of your own interiors because you’ve been ignoring them for a long time (or possibly forever);

if you’re curious about breathwork but are afraid this won’t work or you won’t get your money’s worth or you haven’t found a practitioner you love;

if you’d like to find out if those things I said about loving yourself through mess and doubt can be true for you;

if you’d like to continue to explore what’s going on within you instead of shoving your emotions into tiny containers and hoping they disappear;

The Softness Sessions are for you.

They’re for coming to terms with your own humanity softly, and slowly, and with great care.

I know you’d rather plow ahead and do everything ever, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, because the world is literally on fire, and overachieving tendencies die hard. (Also: feelings. You have too many of them and you want to ignore them entirely. I’ve been there and committed myself to that for A WHOLE DECADE and can report that Try Not to Feel Anything Experiment as Failed. Completely.)

I know you’re not sure you can make any sort of difference because you’re just one human and you can’t keep your car clean, so how are you supposed to make some sort of global impact.

I know you’re tired of being tired, and I know you know the answer isn’t adding butter to your coffee or taking 16 new supplements.

There’s a place of deep rest and peace within you.  Promise.

You can access it any time you like through breathwork.

That’s scary, yes, and intimidating, yes, and also wildly freeing and gorgeous and stunning and lovely, too.

Hiding isn’t the end of your story. It’s the beginning.

Because when you stop hiding — well, that’s when things get way more interesting.

We’ll use breathwork, writing, poetry, podcasts, art, and intuition to free you from the alluring and seductive chains of invisibility. It’s time to be seen, already.

Let’s start with you seeing yourself clearly.

Join The Softness Sessions now.  We start March 19th, 2020, and the Early Bird rate is in effect!

Buy a seat in The Softness Sessions

P.S. Softness is the secret.

Why breathwork?

Why is breathwork helpful? What does breathwork do? How do you do breathwork? All great questions! Click through an find out why I swear by breathwork and how it changed my life!

A dear friend pointed out that I’ve said lots about breathwork and how great it is on the regular, but haven’t gone into the ‘why’ of it at a deeply personal or professional level. So, let’s talk about it!  Let’s dive into WHY you should take up this wondrous practice that is never further away than your own breath.

This is episode #173 of the That’s What She Said podcast, so listen in or keep reading if that’s your preference!

In 7 words: breathwork is a doorway to the divine.

In way more words:

Imagine your interior life as a house. Most rooms have life and movement. They’re brimming with activity and there’s sunshine coming through the windows.

There are also dark rooms.

Boxes, locked. Tucked away, dusty places.

Spaces full of “I’m never going to feel that way again.”

We all lock parts of ourselves away, until eventually we end up living in cramped quarters.

It can be like an episode of Hoarders in there, complete with twenty-five-year-old broken trinkets and crumbling papers we REALLY REALLY need, dammit.

Add the current goings-on of the global theater — news, crises, and tragedies blasted at us on screens 24/7 — and our houses are filling up with debris faster than ever.

Breathwork unlocks the rooms in your house, one by one, as quickly as you can safely go.

In other words: breathwork helps you reclaim your own interiors.

Done monthly-ish, you unlock boxes, clear old furniture, and reclaim a full emotional range. When you’re willing to explore your tucked-away doubts and fears, you’re rewarded with the ability to feel more joy. Every single time.

You’ll no longer be afraid of those darkened rooms because you’ve worked through the detritus and faced your fears. You’ve felt the feelings that were locked in you, and you’ve let them move through you instead of trapping them in your body.

The breath does the work.

But…why breathwork?  Why not yoga or chanting or volunteering or the other thousands of ways we humans enter into the spiritual aspects of life?

I’ll start with personal reasons, then move on to universal reasons you may find breathwork helpful. If you’ve been following along, you’ll recall the general thyroid-y brain ooze I’ve been emerging from over the past few months. In case ‘ooze of brain’ doesn’t conjure a vivid image, let me explain.

Words go away in brain ooze. It’s not that you don’t have thoughts or that you are a zen master who is suddenly enlightened and sees only love and light everywhere. It’s that you are incapable of words. Answers to even the most basic questions take a great deal of time.

“What kind of tea do you want?” is an impossible question.

“What do you want for dinner?” is an exercise in futility.

Harder questions and issues, like everyday business matters, financial matters, and emails, are accessible for a few peak minutes a day — half an hour, tops — and the rest of time is spent shuffling around in wordlessness, trying to get your bearings.

Words and wordlessness exist on a spectrum. We humans spend most of our time in Word World, which is how we do things like write books and share podcasts and build relationships and gather support for causes and create infrastructure for everything from apps to institutions.

When you are forced to exit Word World by force, you have no choice but to explore wordlessness.

Losing my ability to communicate in the way I know best — i.e. words — is one of the single most terrifying things I’ve ever survived.  (I made it out with tiny, annoying progress.)  When you make a living from stringing sentences together for yourself, for clients, and for the world in general, losing that ability stirs up fear at an existential level.

Here’s what I learned from the muck of the Deep Down, from the place beyond words that can only be related in retrospect.

Breathwork is a reliable way to enter into wordlessness.

It’s a way to cultivate the knowing that can only come from the place beyond words. You’ve probably visited that place already. It’s common to enter it after a glass of red wine, during sex, while turning your face to the sun on a spring day, or when you have to close your eyes and enjoy a meal instead of talking because anything less would be doing the food a great disservice.

Sometimes, wordlessness is a natural response to the world.

It’s often undervalued, and trying to enter into it on purpose can be tricky.

Traditional Sit-Very-Still-and-Focus meditation is extremely difficult for me in any capacity. Sure, I value wordlessness, but my brain turns up the volume on my thoughts anytime I try to be still and thoughtless and wordless. I’ve taken meditation classes and tried it on my own and it’s only led to beating myself up about how wild and crazy and unmanageable my thoughts are at any given moment.

Breathwork is a surefire way to bypass your thoughts.

I still have thoughts as the practice starts, but those are quickly bypassed with the help of the breathing pattern. I become a feeling animal, not a thinking one, and that break from the endless BLAHBLAHBLAH in my brain is priceless. This is a breathwork universal: when you’ve given yourself to a half hour of the breathing pattern, you’re far beyond words and exist deep in your own consciousness, where the passing of time and ordinary reality doesn’t exist.

Connecting with your wordless center is a fantastic reason to start this practice.

You can do breathwork even when you’re absolutely exhausted.

I spent a great deal of the past year fighting fatigue. The days are endless when you’re incapable of doing brain work (no words) or physical work (no energy). Last winter, breathwork was the only thing I could possibly check off my to-do list lots of the time.

We do what we can with what we have, where we are — and for a long while, breathwork was all I could manage at a soul level.  (More about the four kinds of tired here.)

You can do breathwork lying down, being still on a bed with the curtains drawn. The breath will never leave you. It is always accessible.

You can be held without leaving your house.

Lest you think you’re a hermit who can’t possibly add one more thing to your list of outside activities, fear not! You can stay at home and do this work with fantastic results. I’m awkward in my body and generally don’t like to be seen when I’m moving, dancing, exercising, or doing anything ‘spiritual.’ The first time I did breathwork in public with other humans, I was training to be a teacher of it. I had been at home doing recordings every other time. Which is to say: the practice had shaped and changed me without my ever having breathed in person with another soul.

This practice is powerful without your having to go anywhere at all. You can be held without being physically present with your teacher.

It’s incredibly intimate at a cosmic level, but from the outside looking in, you’re just listening to a recording in bed. Also, my hermit-y tendencies have diminished since I started doing breathwork! When you feel whatever is locked in your body at a cellular level, you give your energy and your spirit permission to get bigger. Much bigger. The bigger you are, the less bothered you are by other’s energy, and the easier it is to be in public as an empath.  (Related: how to not hate being human and thrive as an empath.)

You come home to the divine within.

I grew up in very churchy Christian churches (here’s where I came out of the spiritual closet) and never understood the bits about the divine living within you. It was out there, wasn’t it? In the sanctuary or the communion wafer or the ether or the hands of those who knew better – but certainly not within me, within my body.

Breathwork provides entry into the divine shelter that lives in each of us: the thread of all that is that flows through us. No one can be excluded. By definition. Because we are part of all that is.

You tune into your innate knowing.

That part of you that’s busy doubting whether what you know is ‘real’ or whether you should override your instincts? It’s time to silence that part of you. The part of you that needs pro and con lists, when really you’ve known what you were going to do the whole time. The part of you that trusts ‘experts’ because you’ve given up on listening to yourself. The part of you that is always looking for an easier or different way, even when every part of you is screaming about what to do next in that particular way.

The part of you that denies your intuition, that doubts your basic instincts, and that enters into knowing wordlessly dies in breathwork. It gets beaten back from pure instinctual knowing, from connecting with your most primal and innate energies, and from sinking into the beauty of the cosmos, too.

In other words: breathwork helps you defeat asshole brain.

The small, scared, shallow part of you that pumps fear into your ear 24/7 cannot survive a sustained breathwork practice. It has no choice but to give up and pack it in when you spend time with the divine within you. There’s no holding you down anymore. The jig is up. And all you have to do is breathe.

Breathwork has strengthened my coaching work at a deep level. To help you listen to yourself, I have to keep listening to myself. The practice has helped me make new things, get rid of old things, clarify goals, and make pertinent decisions without going back and forth in if/then land or logic. I just…know. Choices in Word Land are easier because I’ve spent so much time in wordlessness.

You always walk away lighter.

I have breathed through depression and through the misery of feeling bereft of energy. I have breathed through the news of a friend’s recent rape, through Supreme Court nomination hearings, and through the changing, increasingly hateful rhetoric of those emboldened by the current U.S. administration. I have breathed through financial struggle, through the death of a beloved pet, and through relationship hiccups of all kinds.

I come away from those heavy, heavy things lighter.  Every. Single. Time.

I’m actively processing life instead of pushing it into my cellular pockets and carrying it around for the rest of time. When there is nothing at the surface weighing me down, I’m processing decades of living on earth as a human and all the interior debris that entails.

When you walk toward a hard thing willingly, you’re able to move through it and come out the other side a bit lighter. We all have places where words fall down and fail us completely. We’ve all built flimsy little structures full of hurt within our souls.

These are the places where breathwork moves into the body and helps. We can deconstruct the tents and lean-to’s full of pain. We can knock down the walls we’ve built within our hearts, brick by brick. It leaves us inexplicably healed and freer each time.

To recap:

Breathwork is a way to actively enter into wordlessness.

You can do it even when you’re absolutely exhausted.

You can be held without leaving your house.

You come home to the divine within.

You tune into your innate knowing.

You always walk away lighter.

Also, breathwork comes with a trippy spiritual high. Your body floods with what feels like pure light.

The free breathwork practice I’ve got for you is called…Lighter. And dammit, I hope you’ll try it.

P.S. Go check out past breathwork classes and get your free one!