Breathwork for Addiction: How to Break Bad Habits, Increase Willpower and More

by Lisa McNett

You hold power to overcome your addiction and live a more fulfilling life, right under your nose — through breathwork for addiction! Everyone breathes, and you likely take your breath for granted. Most of the time, we inhale and exhale without even thinking about it. Breathwork is a cutting edge therapy derived from ancient practices. When we bring consciousness to our breath patterns, profound shifts can occur. Conscious Connected Breathwork is a breath pattern that brings you into a deeper connection with your body. When you practice conscious connected breathwork, you enter an altered state of consciousness where your body’s innate self-healing capacity takes over. You become more aware — conscious of previously unconscious patterns and beliefs that have been affecting you and driving your addictive behaviors.

Steven (name changed) decided to try breathwork to overcome his addiction to alcohol. He couldn’t understand why he continued to drink every night after work, even though he hated it. Before the end of our ten breathwork sessions together, he had given up alcohol, cigarettes, and quit his high-stress job. Steven discovered, as do most people who practice conscious connected breathwork, a deep sense of self-love and compassion. Once you reconnect with your internal resources and remember your self-worth, you tend to make new, better choices.

Addiction is a side effect of stress and trauma. You reach for food, alcohol, sex, overexercising, shopping, or other things because you want to either (a) feel good, or (b) not feel. Initially, it can help, but over time we become physically and emotionally numb. Your addiction may destroy relationships and livelihood. Conscious Connected Breathwork is a somatic therapy, helping to heal and integrate experiences in a gentle way. Because addiction is driven by unconscious beliefs, you must become conscious of those underlying beliefs to heal. Because of its efficacy, breathwork is being integrated into recovery centers and programs worldwide.

The Power of Breathwork for Addiction

Several studies show that conscious connected breathwork is an effective form of therapy. Breathwork is gaining popularity, I believe, because we need it now more than ever. However, breathwork is not a new form of treatment. Wilhelm Reich, a German psychotherapist, developed a way of breathwork in the 1920s. Breathwork experienced a surge in popularity in the 1970s when Holotropic Breathwork was developed by Dr. Stanislav Grof, and Rebirthing Breathwork was developed by Leonard Orr. These two modalities share similarities and are where Conscious Connected Breathwork derives from.

Various things can happen during and after a breathwork session, including:

● Physical sensations, varying in intensity (including tightness of the face and extremities, particularly the hands).
● Gentle or firm emotional release.
● Release of stored trauma and trigger patterns.
● Varying degrees of body temperature, feeling very hot or cold.
● Shaking or movement.
● A profound feeling of love and compassion for self.
● A feeling of oneness with people and nature.
● A sense of a spiritual experience.
● Relief from stress and anxiety.
● Expanded awareness, seeing things in a new way.
● Improved health and sleep.
● A deeper connection to the body.
● Becoming more attuned with your emotions.
● Finding internal resources and becoming empowered.

How to Practice Conscious Connected Breathwork

Conscious Connected Breathwork is an open-mouthed breathing technique. We focus on a healthy (longer) inhalation and a softer (shorter) inhalation, with no pause between inhales or exhales. Focus on your breath pattern at the start of your practice, then let yourself fall into your natural rhythm with this breath. You will experience physical sensation and may become lightheaded, so it is essential to lie or sit down while practicing conscious connected breathwork. This is a relatively safe practice, though there are some contraindications to be aware of (particular heart and psychological conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder,  seizure disorders, or severe pregnancy). I recommend finding a skilled practitioner to lead you through this practice the first time you try it. This work can be done on a one to one basis or in groups, in-person, and virtually. I believe due to the effectiveness of breathwork concerning addiction (and more), combined with how easily accessible it is (you can practice anywhere, anytime), we will continue to see it rise in popularity.

Ps: Huma Breath and Lisa McNett, the author of this article, are collaborating to bring you a free live breathwork session this Tuesday, May 12th, at 12PM Florida time. Reserve your open spot here today and follow @HumaBreath on Instagram to join the live session & receive other updates!

Lisa McNett

Lisa McNett is a Certified Holistic Health Practitioner, international breathwork facilitator, bodyworker, and yoga instructor who supports people through the process of peeling away accumulated stress and reconnecting with their power and purpose. Lisa works with individuals and groups in person and virtually, leading workshops and retreats in the US and abroad. She is the founder of Breathe with Lisa, located in Gainesville, FL.

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