I Tried To Breathe My Way To More Self-Love — Here's How It Went
Who couldn't use some more self-love, right? The way we relate to ourselves and trust our own intuition affects virtually every area of our life. As such, finding new and powerful ways to flex your own self-love is so important.
So, when I saw that breathwork teacher Gwen Dittmar's mindbodygreen course, The Ultimate Guide To Breathwork, included a breathwork exercise for self-love, I was eager to give it a try. And I'm so glad I did.
What the breathwork felt like.
Everyone's experience with breathwork will be different, and it's not uncommon for strong emotions and physical sensations to arise once you start controlling the breath in a new way.
To kick off my personal self-love breath practice, I set the intention to let go of any negative beliefs I was holding about myself, along with the negative stories I had been telling myself about my own worth.
As Gwen explains, we carry wounds, often from as early as childhood, that affect how and when we love ourselves. Things that happened when you were a child, such as the way you were parented or treated by peers, can leave a lasting impact. "The love we have for ourselves is often a reflection of the love we received as children," she notes. And that's where the breathwork can come in.
As I moved through Gwen's seven-minute guided practice, I experienced some of the common sensations of breathwork like lightheadedness, tingling in my hands, and a whole lot of emotions. Once I was done, I had a deep sense of compassion for myself. In short, it was awesome.
How to try the practice for yourself and unlock others.
You'll want to find a quiet, comfortable, and private space to do this breathwork routine. Set the scene by having all the elements present (think a dish of water, candles or incense, maybe some crystals, etc.) and get clear on what your intention is going into the breathwork.
In this case, the object is to help you release stories that aren't yours and connect more to your own self-love, and that will mean different things to everyone.
- Lie down, get comfortable, and close your eyes. Gwen recommends using an eye pillow or mask to allow yourself to go deeper within. You're ready to start.
- The breath goes like this: Using your mouth, breathe into your belly, then into your chest, and exhale it out. Inhale. Inhale. Exhale.
- Keep going, and you'll soon start to feel the effects. Your mouth or throat may first get a little dry, and you might start feeling some slight tinging or lightheadedness. That's OK! Gwen notes that from a spiritual perspective, mild lightheadedness is your mind essentially realizing it can let go a bit. (That being said, if it ever becomes uncomfortable, know that you can always stop, return to a normal breathing pattern, and ease back into it later.)
- Try to stay focused on the sensations and emotions that come up for you, sticking with the breath, with the knowing that you have the ability to move through any discomfort. Once you get into the hang of the rhythm, bring your awareness back to your intention.
- Really focus on that second inhale right in your heart center, and let loving compassionate energy in with every breath, releasing the rest on the exhale. Show love to anything and everything that may come up. Gwen suggests internally saying, I love myself; I am enough; I accept myself; I trust myself.
- By the end of the seven minutes, you should feel newly energize and, hopefully, a bit more loving and trusting of yourself.
This is just one of many breathwork techniques that Gwen shares in her comprehensive class that's designed to help us use the breath to move through the stress and overwhelm of modern life with more grace, ease, and power. Perhaps the best thing about the healing course is that you can take it from the comfort of your own home and refer back to it whenever you need.
When paired with other self-care practices, breathwork can help boost overall well-being and sense of self-love. Give this routine a try anytime you're in need of some love from your number one: you.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.