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How Breathwork Healed My Anxiety

September 1, 2020

blog post illustration

How Breathwork Healed My Anxiety

I tried it all. Therapy, medication, EFT tapping, EMDR, weighted blankets, you name it. I changed my diet to consist of fatty, grounding foods, I gave up watching television and started meditating instead. I stopped ingesting caffeine. Nothing worked.

September 1, 2020


photograph of Tiffany Curren

Tiffany Curren

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I tried it all. Therapy, medication, EFT tapping, EMDR, weighted blankets, you name it. I changed my diet to consist of fatty, grounding foods, I gave up watching television and started meditating instead. I stopped ingesting caffeine. Nothing worked.

I was living in anxiety and it was ruining my life.

I'd been anxious for as long as I can remember. It began with near paralyzing OCD and only got worse. I experienced some pretty intense trauma, and that maximized my fear. I spent nearly all of my waking time either thinking about or experiencing anxiety. I drove myself to the hospital countless times, believing that I was dying, only to realize I was actually having a panic attack. Xanax helped, but my dependency on it became so overwhelming that, finally, my doctor took notice and said I needed to find a new way to manage.

I'd heard about breathwork a year prior, but had never tried it before. Frankly, I was afraid. Every possible scenario popped up as a ‘what if’ including "what if it works?" I wasn’t even sure what life felt like without anxiety. Even that made me anxious. So terrified, I laid down to experience breathwork for the first time. I questioned everything - my breath, my body, my safety, it's purpose.

The experience was mind-blowing. I don't like to share the details of my experience, since everyone's is different and I don't want to create the expectation that it will be just like mine, but I will say this: I knew it was the path forward. Breathwork is magical healing work, but it's still work. It's the greatest thing I've ever experienced in my life.

I've said it a thousand times, and I'll say it again: breathwork saved my life. It helped me to live free of anxiety, and I believe that it can help you too. Here are a few reasons why I have fallen in love with breathwork.

1. Breathwork is the messenger, sending calming signals to our body.

The way that we choose to breathe well, or don’t, sends messages to our bodies. A long exhale says to the nervous system, you’re ok. A two part breath takes us on a ride into the body on a journey of personal discovery. Any conscious awareness of the breath builds emotional resilience. When we choose to guide ourselves by way of our breath, we take the driver's seat.

2. Breathwork allows me to release old trauma, stories and negative habits that keep me stuck.

Worry goes hand in hand with anxiety. When we have uncomfortable or even traumatizing experiences, we not only internalize them but we pack them away. We believe that we are learning a lesson in how to behave, respond or react and prevent it from happening again, but really, we are holding the fear and the pain. We create energetic blocks in our body that prevent us from living our true life. Breathwork lets it all go.

3. When we breathe, we let go of self-judgement.

Breathwork allows us to tap into the past, recognize it's over, and release it. Between the breath and the vocalization exercise (we incorporate a primal scream), we can release feelings of self-judgement and see ourselves in a new light. Think about how much better you could feel if you released all the bottled up feelings of self-judgement and self-criticism. The breath is the fast track to getting there.

4. The effects are both quick and lasting.

I did 28 years of therapy and still had anxiety, yet after six months of breathwork, my anxiety was gone. Breathwork bypasses the thinking mind to get into the subconscious mind and energetic body. We face the old parts of ourselves and are able to see what does and doesn’t make us feel at peace, and then we’re able to release the things that keep us from feeling that sense of peace.

5. I remembered the past without allowing it to define me.

Breathwork allows us to travel through time, see the past, and disconnect from its old energy. This is important, because so often our anxiety is triggered by who we think we are, not who we really are. When we remember things that have kept us small, for example not being invited to a party and feeling alone, it brings clarity to the root of our personal path of loneliness, and we can see from adult eyes that the story we've created doesn’t have to define us. We can let go and shift our paradigm. Like unpacking a backpack, we clean out and discover new space.

6. Breathwork didn’t come with the complications I often associated with medications.

Unlike medication, the breath doesn't have the many negative side effects associated with prescription meds. It's just you, breathing. Your body will always protect itself, so the breath will only go as far as you can handle. After breathwork, even when it’s intense, you'll feel a deeper connection to your body and a deeper sense of peace.

7. Breathwork allows you to reprogram your emotional responses to triggering situations.

Breathwork has reprogrammed my emotional body. It walks us into the fire and shows us the way through. As we experience this time and again, we become accustomed to the physical responses that are associated with breathwork, which can also be triggered in anxiety (quick breath, emotional release). As we learn to move through that space in a grounded way, we begin to replicate it in life. This has personally been the greatest gift for me. If I ever begin to feel activated, I place a hand on my heart, slowly inhale through my nose, and take a long deep exhale through my mouth while thinking "you're safe." My body does the rest.

8. We discover our true selves and learn to trust ourselves.

Anxiety is the fear of not knowing what's happening, what's next, will I be safe? We spend our lives walking around reacting and responding. It's not often that we allow ourselves to uncover and rediscover who we really are, how we were as children, and what our hearts want. When we do breathwork, we bypass the thinking mind and allow ourselves to see the beauty that is uniquely ours. Our belief systems were learned and absorbed, but we never questioned if they were true for us. When we discover who we are, we can trust that we will make decisions that are good for us, and we can rest easy in that knowledge.

9. We learn to love all the parts of ourselves.

A big cause of anxiety is the way that we self-monitor our behavior for maximum acceptance. This is especially true with social anxiety. When we allow the breath to show us who we really are, we accept all the parts of ourselves. We realize that the traits we thought were faults weren't faults at all, but are things that make us unique. As we begin to feel self-love and acceptance, our anxiety begins to dissipate.

10. The breath shows us that this too shall pass and we have the emotional resilience to make it through.

As we breathe through the timeline of our life, in short impactful sessions, we see that we have been on a bumpy, windy road our whole life and we've always made it through. We can release the fear that comes with not knowing what's next. We can handle what comes up. Each of us are survivors of pain, loss, unrequited love, and grief, and we have endured that which we've been handed. In the breathwork we are able to witness our strength and see that we can truly handle whatever comes our way.

I have witnessed so many people experience the beauty of this practice, time and again, always finding themselves amazed at how much they learned through this simple practice. I would love to hold space for you and witness your journey. Join me at Frequency on Tuesdays at 9am EST and Sundays at 9:30am EST on Zoom.

updated on May 26, 2021


photograph of Tiffany Curren

Tiffany Curren

Tiffany Curren believes that you are the magic, and that everything you need is within you.
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