© CFA. 1994-2009. All
rights reserved. Updated October 1, 2009
Copyright Center for Awareness, Inc.
Chapter 15: What is Rebirthing?
(Conscious Connected Breathing)
Leonard Orr, founder of the Rebirthing philosophy, says* that Rebirthing breath causes the inner breath to be connected to the outer breath. Inner breath can also be called pure life, spirit, God, or infinite being. The outer breath is air, oxygen, and the respiratory system. (*Physical Immortality: The Science of Everlasting Life. Chico, CA. Inspiration University, 1988)
Rebirthing is both a simple physical breathing technique and a profound emotional cleansing tool. It is a form of yoga streamlined for Westerners. Traditional East Indian yoga uses breath for centering, relaxation, and healing. The differences are that yoga breathing has a slightly different effect than Rebirthing, and Rebirthing tends to accelerate the clearing process faster than hatha yoga, the most commonly practiced form of yoga in the West.
The emotional part of a Rebirthing session is subtler and is the focus of the bulk of this book. Using the Rebirthing breath dissolves the emotional suppression in the body so that formerly held-in feelings begin to surface consciously.
Because approximately 90% of our thoughts and feelings are unconscious, a lot of what gets integrated in a Rebirthing session stays unconscious. This does not mean the breath is not working. It just means we did not need to consciously experience what changed. If how our lives work is a reflection of how healthy we are, and you notice your life works better after a seemingly uneventful Rebirthing, then it was a good session.
The first sessions tend to be the most dramatic. After some practice, (five to twenty sessions, depending on the individual), surrender and integration, and the sessions themselves, get easier.
For most people, the issues that are hardest to integrate (the ones about which we are most stuck) are usually the ones that do come up consciously. Generally these are around family and romantic relationships, career, and money.
When we start breathing fully, some of the formerly suppressed feelings begin to "surface" consciously for us to experience. Before this can happen, we must choose to feel the fear that prompted us to resist those feelings in the beginning. For instance, if we are afraid to tell the truth about ourselves because we are afraid people will leave our life, then we must face and go through the fear of abandonment before we will be able to speak our truth.
In a Rebirthing session, this can be accomplished without actually risking a particular relationship. Often, fears we experience only in situations involving other people, e.g., the fear of abandonment, come up on their own while breathing. To just feel this- and to do nothing about it, except to keep breathing fully the whole time- eventually dissolves the fear so that it feels safe to acknowledge that particular truth to oneself.
As it gets safer to let down barriers in the protected space of Rebirthing, it gets easier and safer to let down barriers around those we love. This shift is called integration, and it is simply surrender to the truth of the feelings in our body. Surrendering to the fear of abandonment actually frees us from thinking that people would leave, if we tell the truth. This is an important part of the healing that comes from the Rebirthing experience.
The Value of Rebirthing
The Rebirthing experience is arguably the best stress management tool on the planet today. It has value for several reasons. People are realizing how all physical ailments and diseases stem from unresolved emotional tensions. The energy in these unresolved tensions will not be denied in our lives; it has to be expressed one way or another.
Because the inner world and the outer world connect when breathing consciously, Rebirthing is a technique that works directly on the deepest emotional levels. There are many aspects of self and life about which we are aware, and there are as many or more realizations that never surface consciously. Fortunately, the value of the session is not determined by what we understand from the experience of it. This is because, while we may have no significant conscious thoughts while rebirthing, we notice our lives work much better as a result.
Rebirthing is not an intellectual process. It does not rely on our logical acuity or rationality for its effectiveness. Therefore, it is not possible to predict or direct what will come up, in spite of the conversation that might ensue as the preface to a session
The breath accesses the innate wisdom of the body, allowing it to heal itself. The ego, a part of our minds often out of touch with our emotional and physical needs, is invested in protecting itself, to the point that it will kill the body if necessary. The body's innate intelligence leads us to heal ourselves, if left alone by the ego. It is not natural to suppress feelings, and the body clears them automatically if allowed to do what is natural.
The effectiveness of a session requires no prior experience in anything except being alive and being able to breathe on one's own. It is not even necessary to know anything about personal or spiritual growth.
The main requirements for success with all growth work are: the awareness that the quality of one's life could be better than it is now; and the willingness to change what no longer works. The first condition does not mean there are complaints. Nor does it mean a lack of satisfaction with present conditions; rather it just reflects the natural desire to grow and expand. The willingness to change is a larger challenge than many people realize. Most people tend to unconsciously act out their old behavior patterns simply because it's what they have always done in the past. This has nothing to do with how healthy the behavior is for our well-being.
Change always involves a shift in self-perception. When we change how we see ourselves, this changes the value and importance of people and things. While this shift is going on, we may feel unsettled, until we know again who and what are important. It sometimes feels awkward until the body develops habit patterns based on healthier motivations. Some traditions teach that it takes 3 days, or 72 hours, to consciously change a belief or behavior. After the first 72 hours, the change starts feeling more natural.
With some experience in conscious growth, it becomes obvious that, while it may seem difficult to learn the new ways, the old ways certainly don't work, and it's self-destructive to go back to them.
Similarly, Rebirthing soon makes it apparent that the only choice is to surrender to the feelings that surface during sessions, because it is so uncomfortable to resist. We can resist, but it feels so much better at the end of the session when we allow change and integration to happen. With practice, fears and resistance integrate faster and faster, sometimes without using Rebirthing.
Being able to integrate discomfort as soon as we become aware of it is one goal of Rebirthing, and personal growth in general. The breathing guides us to the point of choice to let go or surrender and reminds us how uncomfortable it can feel when we don't surrender. However, it isn't the breathing that causes integration. The choice to surrender is the magic, which can happen independently of the breathing process.
For instance, when in a session it is noticed the body is holding tension, focus awareness on it. Acknowledging the tension- and allowing it to be there- actually gives the body permission to relax, which leads to the dissolution of the muscle tension. Willingness to just be with ourselves, no matter what we are feeling, enhances the process of letting go and the integration of new thoughts or behaviors.
Another valuable part of Rebirthing is the fact that with some practice, anyone can learn to Rebirth himself or herself. This is important in those moments when some uncomfortable feeling is experienced and there is no Rebirther around. In fact, Rebirthing can be done anywhere. It almost always enhances appreciation of life.
The Energy of Rebirthing
The energy of Rebirthing is simply love. Learning to let in more love is the most challenging and rewarding work we do as human beings.
The circular breathing rhythm increases energy in the body. This increased flow consciously highlights areas of the body where we hold resistance to love. The breathing also dissolves these blocks in a gentle, non-confrontive way. The more we allow this process to happen, the quicker emotional healing occurs.
It is possible, however, to resist this increased energy flow. If the objective is to increase the levels of pain, then suppressing the breath is the way to accomplish that objective.
Most people quickly decide they don't want to experience discomfort to this degree and allow the resistance to dissolve. This is how to get the maximum positive results in a Rebirthing session.
Taking regular time to practice conscious connected breathing has the same effect in other areas of our lives. It is more loving of self to give up resistance during a breathing session, and it becomes apparent the same thing is true in other parts of life.
Ultimately, all resistance is self-abuse. In Rebirthing, the energy of the breath brings up anything that blocks the free expression of love. This, in turn clears resistance from the body until all that is left is feeling good. This experience is the result of surrendering to, or stopping the suppression of, any feelings in the body. When we resist in any way, life gets painful, in the session or in real life.
It is important while Rebirthing to take responsibility for everything we experience. What this means is not avoiding what feelings the breath is bringing up. The sooner we just surrender to having all the feelings that are there, the sooner it becomes okay to have those feelings. When we resist whatever is coming up in our awareness, this causes stress in our minds or bodies. Stress is eventually painful in a session or in real life.
If we are always trying to avoid certain memories or feelings, we spend a lot of time unconsciously avoiding living major portions of our lives. The energy used when we suppress takes away from the energy of creative power. Some people think it is easier to create what they think is the ultimate get-away- death. Death is a temporary respite or escape, because or souls still have a consciousness after death, so it only postpones having to deal with our issues. These issues don't change, whether or not we are in a physical body.
The next incarnation brings the same lessons into sharper focus. They are usually more intense in the next lifetime, because we were so resistant in the previous one.
Another aspect of growth work is deciding on a particular issue or issues to resolve. Rebirthing simplifies this greatly by accessing the innate wisdom of the body, bypassing the intellect. We've often observed (in various forms) that a woman might decide the current romantic involvement presents the greatest challenge and focus on resolving those issues. She was confused because the more her partner sought intimacy, the angrier she felt. The breathing sessions helped bring up memories of how her father wouldn't let her sit in his lap after she started to develop sexually. He did not explain why he stopped giving her attention (his own discomfort with his daughter's developing body), so she thought she did not deserve love as a woman. The old thoughts of not deserving were pushed up while in the current relationship, creating the same upset she had with her father.
With a few more sessions of surrendering to her feelings of abandonment by her father, she relaxed more and more about her boyfriend's expressions of physical love. She stopped projecting her anger and grief at her father's action onto her boyfriend. She even told him of her experience with her father. As a result, he felt trusted and was more patient with her. Surrender, understanding, and telling the truth helped them create a more loving and fun relationship.
The unconscious, emotional, feeling, intuitive, and physical side of self has an agenda of its own in regards to healing. Rebirthing works directly in alignment with this inner guidance. Allowing this process to occur without conscious interference usually produces the best results. (This does not mean one should forgo any necessary medical attention. Sometimes this assistance is appropriate and can lead to the best results from efforts at healing.) Trust the strength and clarity of the technique to lead to ultimate healing.
Friends and Loved Ones
Rebirthing noticeably speeds up the pace of change. One of the more obvious side-effects of this rate of growth concerns close relationships. Sometimes old friendships end suddenly and new ones start as if by magic. This can be challenging, especially when long-lasting relationships seem to die. Our awareness of what relationships are fun and easy, and which ones are no longer working, is heightened.
From a long-term perspective, we often change our circle of friends when our attitudes change. We are always seeing our values reflected by the people closest to us. If someone leaves, that creates a vacuum or space in our hearts and minds where we had been holding that person. Since nature abhors a vacuum, it will naturally try to fill that space. Given time, chances are excellent that new relationships will come into our lives. This result is an indication of who we are now. This is all positive in the long run.
It is not necessary for other family members to Rebirth in order for them to get value out of the process. When one person in a family unit starts to change, every other person is affected and has to respond. The energy is undeniable, ultimately guiding each person to be more open and loving.
The result is that others around a person who is Rebirthing either start opening up their unlimited minds as well, or they have to get away from the person who is using the process. We don't have control of them even though we want them to get benefit from the technique. They may ask you about the process and only when they are ready. No amount of persuasion works until they are open to the technique.
The most powerful attraction seems to be when others notice us having more fun, it will be hard for them to not ask what we are doing that is making such a difference.