Why breathwork? - ⚡️Kristen Kalp

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!