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  • Alessandra Cossu

Circular Conscious Breathing and Elements of bioenergetics

Dernière mise à jour : 22 déc. 2022

Circular Conscious Breathing is a powerful method used to revitalize and re-awaken blocked physical, mental, and emotional energy which builds up over time. It is deeply healing and activates a process of purification of negative emotions, limiting thoughts, and tensions resulting from the events of our past. As a result, we can open up to living with more vitality, clarity, creativity, enthusiasm, and confidence. Breathing that is carried out in a conscious and circular way, can help us bring it back to its natural function, which is integrating our human experience with pure awareness. The technique itself is simple, just as its name suggests: Circular - without pause between the inhalation and exhalation, and between the exhalation and inhalation Breathing - the action itself In addition to being an instrument of purification, the Circular Breath is also an intense practice of awareness through attention, helping us to be more present and mindful in our lives. Breathing is Life Breathing is Potential Breathing is Opening Breathing is Energy Breathing is Renewal Breathing is Growth

Elements of bioenergetics

The close link between vital energy, breath and emotions has been extensively studied by bioenergetics, a discipline that aims to restore the normal flow of energy within the human body. Bioenergetics has clearly understood how the repression of emotional impulses takes place. Muscle stiffening leads to desensitization of the affected part. Block the impulse and freeze the feeling. In this way the stiffening contains both the past history of the block and the original meaning.

Bioenergetic exercises have precisely the purpose of dissolving these blocks and restoring the free flow of vital energy. By unlocking the chronic muscle contractures, the original meanings and memories are also released. Circular Conscious Breathing does not act specifically on specific blocks. The breathing technique naturally releases blockages and the bodily intelligence guides the process.

However, I find it useful to mention bioenergetics in this article because it allows us to understand the structure of resistance. Resistances are meant to block vital energy. The sum of the resistances leads to an alteration of the body image and posture. By adding up all the blocks and the resistances, what is defined as characteristic armor is outlined.

A configuration is structured in the body that reflects the psychological structure of the person. It is the so-called psychosomatic armor.

It has been seen that the human being has specific segments in which blocks are manifested. These are seven and are termed rings or segments.

1- The ocular segment. The eye, eyelid and forehead muscles appear fixed and blocked, a stillness that represses expression, fear, anger and crying.

2- The oral segment. In this area, crying, screaming, the desire and the request for sucking and nourishment are held back and inhibited.

3- The cervical segment. The spastic contraction of this segment including the neck and tongue creates a detachment from the rest of the body. Head-mind control over body-sensations.

4- The thoracic segment. The immobility of the chest, shoulders and arms, the blockage and superficiality of the breath hold back desires, conflicts and frustrations, inhibit reaching out and embracing. Corresponds temperamentally to self-control and emotional withdrawal.

5- The diaphragmatic segment. Seat of instinct and passion. The blockage of the diaphragm prevents the expansion and upward wave motion of the breath.

6- The abdominal segment. Seat of visceral emotions and source of tenderness, openness, desire, pleasure and laughter. The abdomen and intestines undergo anxiety, stress and somatisation.

7- The pelvic segment. The rigid and lifeless pelvis prevents the flow of sexual energy and the perception of sensuality and excitement. Rigidities are the effect and cause of the anguish of pleasure and angry feelings.

Acting on breathing proves to be the fastest way to restore the natural flow of vital energy in the body. By breathing in a circular and conscious way, the emotional experiences connected to the blocks in the various segments are reactivated. Generally the breakouts are in the reverse order of their formation, even if the process is certainly not linear.

More than 70% of toxins are expelled from our body through breathing.

The remainder is expelled in sweat, feces and urine. The breath is therefore revealed as the preferential way for physical purification. In a Circular Conscious Breathing session we trigger a profound process of body purification. But not only. The breathing technique purifies the psychophysical structure as a whole. It means that we will purify, in addition to the body, also the emotions and the mind.

Let's first give a definition: what is a toxin?

What does it mean to purify?

A toxin is something that interferes with the normal functioning of the organ or function we are referring to. A physical toxin is a substance that has built up in the body because it was unable to dispose of it when it entered the body.

An emotional toxin is a frozen emotion, blocked at an energetic/somatic level according to the scheme we have seen before. A mental toxin is any rigid thought pattern. The human mental function is by its nature flexible. A fixed thought pattern is a mental toxin, because it hinders its normal functioning.

From the definition of toxin, that of purity is revealed in a specular way. A thing is pure to the extent that its functioning is uninterrupted, free from obstruction. Circular Breathing proves to be a powerful physical, emotional and mental purification technique. The purification takes place either through the expulsion of the toxin present, or in the energetic integration of that non-integrated part. Physical toxins are expelled from the body through the breath.

Through the strong integrative movement generated on an emotional level, physical resistance and energy blocks are dissolved, anxieties and fears are dissolved, fixed thought patterns and one's own non-integrated parts are integrated on a mental level. The speed with which these toxins are expelled is astounding. Ancient energy blocks dissolve within a few sessions.

The person regains possession of his own vitality: after removing the toxins that prevented the natural flow of vital energy, it starts flowing again. The body becomes healthy and vital again, emotional feeling is amplified and the mind is once again free from ancient rigidities, opening up to the new.

The physiology of Circular Breathing Through the technique of Circular Breathing on a physical level we are going to cause a series of significant metabolic variations. These persist for the duration of the session, then the organism resets itself on its ordinary functioning.

We immediately specify that these are completely safe processes. There are no negative physical consequences, although the intensity of what happens on a physical level, especially the first few sessions, can sometimes lead one to think otherwise.

What happens in a Circular Breathing session goes far beyond this physiological modification, but it is useful to have a general picture of what happens on a physical level. A greater knowledge of the processes in progress is useful for being more serene in experiencing the session.

What happens during the Circular Breathing ?

The frequency of respiratory acts is generally regulated autonomously by mechanisms which tend to maintain a quantity of carbon dioxide expelled through respiration such as to balance the pH of the blood. pH is a measurement that refers to the acidity or alkalinity of the blood. This must remain within very narrow parameters, to ensure the survival of the organism. To be precise this value must be 7.40.

The human body acts through buffer devices to keep this value constant. What is called respiratory alkalosis occurs, which is slightly shifted towards alkalinity. By altering the respiratory rate we increase the amount of carbon dioxide expelled. This causes a change in blood pH. The blood tends to become more alkaline.

Alkalize the body with breathing Alkalosis leads to a reduction in the concentration of calcium in the blood, defined in technical terms as hypocalcemia. Calcium plays a decisive role in the transmission of impulses of the nervous system. A decrease in calcium concentration causes hyperexcitability of neurons and muscle fibers. It means that they are activated even in the presence of a stimulus that is not normally registered. This is the element that most interests us regarding the integration of muscle stiffness and emotional blocks.

At the time of "construction" of the blocks, the Nervous System put in place a resistance against a feeling, which at that moment was not tolerable. Gradually the Nervous System got used to keeping that resistance active.

That's exactly what they say: habituation is a phenomenon that has been known for some time. The Nervous System in a nutshell no longer detects that it is keeping that block active. We keep it active anyway, and this consumes energy, but we don't realize it because it has gone "below the threshold", or below the threshold in which we can consciously notice it.

The hyperexcitability of the nervous system caused by hypocalcemia causes all these subthreshold stimuli to come to the surface again. This explains the resurgence of physical and energy blocks. The Nervous System's actuation towards the blockages dissolves, and emerges with all the resistance associated with them. They emerge and are finally integrated through the breath.

The hyperexcitability of the breath initially brings out a series of pervasive tingling sensations. You feel the body pervaded by an "electric current" sometimes pleasant and sometimes so strong as to be unpleasant. This tingling has a technical term: it's called paresthesia.

Due to the effect of paresthesia, one can also feel one's own deformed body image, with some body segments larger than others, or more sensitive or more painful. Again due to the same phenomenon of hyperexcitability, the phenomenon of muscular tetany can occur. Muscles that are generally not contracted at rest also contract in the presence of the stimulus at rest, precisely because they are more easily excitable. Muscle tetany can be uncomfortable and sometimes even painful. Some muscles are felt excessively contracted and it is not possible to intervene to release this contraction.

If this phenomenon should occur, it is useful to remember that everything returns to normal the moment you stop breathing in a circular way. After a while the tetany disappears. Generally tetany is concentrated in some specific muscle groups: hands, mouth, legs.

Tetany disappears when the person integrates the resistance that keeps it active.

Once the energy block is dissolved, the resistance towards that particular feeling, located in that specific act, is integrated, the tetany dissolves. Not just for that session, but for subsequent sessions as well. It doesn't come back anymore.

The reduction in the concentration of carbon dioxide causes a further phenomenon: the cerebral arteries narrow. The arteries that carry blood to the brain are narrower and consequently the brain receives less blood, and therefore less oxygen. This state is called hypoxia, and clearly remains within the limits of total safety for the organism. Hypoxia causes a lowering of the electrical activity of neurons in the brain. The brain goes into a “rest” condition. Hypoxia and blood pH variation cause the release of beta-endorphins, which mainly serve to regulate the respiratory act, but they intervene in the person by activating a cascade of positive effects.

These substances are called endogenous opioids: they reduce painful sensations and give a pleasant sensation of well-being and relaxation, often even euphoria. They also stimulate positive affect towards others and a phenomenon that those who practice Circular Breathing know well: they stimulate hunger.

Endorphins, associated with other neurotransmitters, favor sinking into a meditative state and deep introspective concentration.

Therefore, if after a session of Circular Conscious Breathing you find yourself in a state of "high", euphoric, particularly sociable and hungry, know that this is completely normal: it is the effect of a greater quantity of endorphins that you put in circle. Globally, the effect of Circular Breathing is paradoxical: on the one hand it deeply relaxes, on the other it energizes the entire psychophysical structure.

Text by Mario Santoni

Tristan’s Ascension” (The Sound of a Mountain Under a Waterfall) (2005) by Bill Viola

Photo © Courtesy of David Parry / Royal Academy of Arts

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