By Stefana Serafina
What was about to happen was inconceivable.
“You have no idea what you are about to experience,” Julia said before we took our spots on the yoga mats aligned on the floor. “Remember: your breath knows what’s best for you. Just let it guide you.”
None of us could have suspected that just a few minutes later, while lying flat on our backs, arms spread to our sides, and doing nothing but breathing, we would be transformed.
Julia Mikk, a devoted healer who had been teaching the power of breath for over 10 years, was about to guide a dozen of us through our first Breath of Love experience.
“Give yourself the gift of one hour with no mind. This gift is only yours.”
We obeyed, breathing in and breathing out, dissolving what came to mind into the gentleness of quiet music, vaguely aware of each other’s presence, and giving way to the power of breath.
Julia had shown us the simple technique that was to take us on a journey within the self: quick, deep breath, filling the chest, and then exhaled back out freely, at once, as if we sighed with utmost relief.
As soon as the breath starts raising and dropping my chests, something about the way my body feels begins to change. Trying not to focus on any particular sensation, like the tingles surging up my feet and my hands, I keep breathing. Soon, I still feel the prickles, but they’re virtually detached from my body and my lower legs and forearms are numb. My heart races, and I want to get up and go, bail, get out, run away….
Sensing my inner turbulence, Julia comes to me tiptoed, kneels down and puts her hands on my face: “It’s all right”, she says in my ear, “you’re safe”, and I don’t believe her. “It’s ok, sweetie,” she whispers, ” Keep breathing. You’re safe. You’re taken care of. It’s going to go away,” and just when my mind wants to get really angry at her for not understanding, she points at what’s obvious in her gentle, caring whisper: “You’re just breathing, remember? What can possibly happen to you?” and I realize that I’ve let fear stand in the way of what wants to flow in the body freely. I resist my own healing, because I fear it.
I remember what Julia has said before we started and repeat her words in my mind like a mantra: “Just remember, it’s all energy. The more you resist it, the more difficult you make it for yourself. Just know that whatever you experience, it’s okay.”
It’s all energy, it’s all energy, it’s all... In. Out. Inhale. Exhale.
“You have absolutely nothing to do. Let your breath do the work,” Julia’s voice reaches me from an undefined dimension.
I loose the grip of the mind, the one that craves to be in control always, forever….I think no thoughts. I follow the breath without controlling it. Are my limbs still tingly? I don’t know because I don’t think and I don’t care. I trust the breath and let it breathe its miracles.
And magic’s on. The breath goes deep and it feels like it moves layers of energy inside me, as if tectonic plates in earth’s crust, rearranging, resurfacing, pushing, flowing, and– most of all– releasing. Letting go.
And in this I’m not alone. All around me, there are sighs and sobs, and gasps, and even weeping, and each exhale seems to bring freedom to those breathing. Every sigh is the sound of letting go, of saying goodbye to something that has long needed to go.
What am I letting go of? I have no names, no labels, no words. I have no visions, past life flashbacks or resurrected childhood pain. But the very practice of this type of breathing brings the unspeakable sensation of enormous relief, of breaking through my deepest, and letting loose.
“When you throw out a bag of garbage, you don’t look inside, you don’t go through what’s in there. You just know that it’s time to take the trash out,” Julia has told us earlier, remembering another teacher’s wisdom.
Breath by breath, magic is taking place. There is the profound feeling of something extraordinary deep and amazing happening. There are the tingles, now going into my chest and my face. There are the surges of intense anxiousness followed by pure bliss.
There are the waves of heat flashing my body and, as I sweat, I become aware of how inseparably connected the physical body and the psyche are and of the way they experience change and motion as one. Every muscle, nerve, and joint in my body is a little storehouse, holding information of anger, trauma, joy, and sorrow.
And I let go, I let go, I let go.
When Julia invites us to slowly come back to physical reality and move gently, an hour has gone by. Moving feels bizarre and unnecessary. Everyone takes their time before returning and so do I. The exhale keeps coming in quick, short sighs and I hear my voice sounding each sigh-, free and unembarrassed.
Suddenly, there are the tears. They emerge from my center, surge to my chest, up my throat, and out, out, out…. Pouring, spilling, gushing, releasing. Out. Oh, how much I’ve needed this, these tears of relief, of gratitude, of letting go, and…downright disbelief.
I rise from the floor slowly, my hands tingling, I realize that I have just returned home. Home to my real senses, to the pure, newborn me that is always there and I’m so often out of touch with. The me who doesn’t think, doesn’t judge, doesn’t want, doesn’t anticipate, doesn’t fear. The me with no past and no future, the me here now. The infinite, pulsating essence of being.