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Breathe to Heal

By: Alona Metz, Thrivacious Founder

I recently attended a breathwork therapy session for the first time. After observing me breathing, the therapist, an incredible woman named Maxine who is well-known and highly recommended in the Tel Aviv community, told me that I wasn’t breathing into my chest – at all. I wasn’t surprised. In fact, I don’t think I’d taken a deep breath into my chest area in about 5 years.

Obviously I’ve been breathing enough to stay alive. But it wasn’t until Maxine taught me the technique of circular breathing that I really understood what breathing is supposed to feel like. It was refreshing, releasing and healing.

Let me start by explaining how I ended up in Maxine’s clinic. For the past few months I’d been having this weird tightness around my chest and throat. I was convinced that something was medically wrong with me because a) the symptoms felt real and b) after you’ve had cancer it’s kind of hard to ignore aches and pains, especially when they persist for an extended period of time. But none of the doctors could find anything and my blood tests were all normal. Hmmmm, frustrating!

Several friends mentioned that breath work had really helped them so I decided to give it a try. When I walked into the clinic I had no idea what to expect. I figured we’d do some breathing and it would relieve my anxiety temporarily. But when I walked out of the session, I felt as if the weight that had been on my chest and in my throat was gone – and with it, something else that I’d been holding onto for a long time. Something very heavy inside of me.

As I started to practice the circular breathing, I found it very difficult. But Maxine supported me and guided me through the process. As I got more comfortable and started trying to breathe into my chest, it suddenly all came pouring out. Memories of waking up in unimaginable pain, with the weight of an elephant on my chest, unable to breathe. Fearing that I was going to die.  Being forced to breathe into a tube but failing. Memories of a lung collapsing, a fever, and chills.

That was my experience having a double mastectomy just over 5  years ago. And although it was really tough, I survived. But sometimes when our bodies goes through a trauma like that, our minds try to bury those memories so that we can move on. My traumatic experience with my surgery caused me to subconsciously ignore an entire region of my anatomy for 5 years.

But in the safe space of the breathwork session, I began to release that burden from my heart, let go, and forgive my body for what we’ve been through together. This is the only body I get for this lifetime, and being in conflict with her is exhausting. My breath helped me reconnect to her and accept her, even if sometimes she fails me, aches, gets sick, or simply isn’t perfect. I never knew that simply breathing could feel so good. 

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