· By Megan Alexander
We chatted with breathwork facilitator, Jenn Mansell
What is breathwork?
Breathwork is an active meditation that uses a specific breath technique called circular-connected breathing, along with music and guided support to help you heal on all levels. By breathing in large amounts of energy and air, blockages and old tensions are able to be accessed at their root and come up to the surface to be witnessed, released and integrated back into the whole. Breathing in this way also allows you to journey into expanded states of consciousness, making the experience of breathwork one that is ripe with possibility for clarity, creativity and transformation.
On one hand the experience is activating and stimulating, and on the other, it can allow you to relax and release tension while liberating limiting beliefs, memories and stresses to the system - especially those which are often inaccessible through more conventional therapies.
How did you discover breathwork as a healing modality?
A few years ago I was running international women's retreats with a woman who was trained in breathwork and I helped to co-facilitate her sessions. I saw such deep and powerful transformation happen to the women who did the breathwork, it really stuck with me and kept calling me back to it. I knew it was a tool that would help people access deep places within themselves and find freedom again, so I got trained in it.
What has your journey been like since you’ve started facilitating breathwork workshops?
My life has changed so much since beginning facilitating breathwork! I have a much greater understanding now of what it means to truly hold space for someone else and how to really support people instead of doing the work for them. I have learned to deeply trust the body and its wisdom. I am constantly inspired by people's willingness to go deep inside and explore their inner worlds. I feel hopeful and delighted that this free tool is available to help us heal and let go of our past wounding so we can find more joy and freedom. I feel like this work called me into leadership and has taught me the power of leading by example and believing in people's abilities to heal themselves. I feel very blessed to be able to hold space for deep transformation and to facilitate this work. I feel like I have access to a secret tool that most of the world doesn't know about.
Do you have a self-care / mindfulness practice?
Yes, many. But my most recent and favourite one is giving voices and expression to the many parts of me that live inside me. Each day I sit with myself and ask if there are parts of me that want to speak and communicate. If they have feelings they would like to share. Sometimes I see a little girl, sometimes I see an angry teenager. I just try and give these parts of me space to speak and ask them what they need. Usually they have lots of feelings to share and I just let them vent. This has radically changed my life and has brought me so much more peace to my daily life. I often feel like we are constantly trying to run away from these parts of ourselves when really, they just want to be heard.
How do you manage a healthy work / life balance working for yourself?
Great question! I think I recognized very early on that there would be ebbs and flows in my schedule. Days where I am ram-packed and days that are lighter. I try my best to just flow with the day and to stay connected to myself and my feelings as I go through the busy days and the slow. Learning to let go of needing things to be a certain way or getting a certain outcome has also helped me a lot. Each day, I develop more and more trust that this is what I am meant to do here and that I will be supported to keep going.
You’re hosting a Breathwork workshop at Good Space on August 25th, can you tell us a little bit about what we can expect?
Yes! I'm so very excited. The evening is set up to be a journey that we all take alone but together.
We will start by gathering in circle, where I will prepare us all for the journey ahead, setting the container for us to collectively launch. We will share intentions and begin with some mindful movement to get ourselves in our bodies before we breath and then meditate to land in the present moment.
The breathwork portion of the evening will be 1-hour in length, where you will be laying down with blankets and bolsters and guided by music and my voice. There will be a chance at the end to write and reflect about your journey and also connect with the other breathers over tea to share your experience. Touch will be optional but available to support your journey as you breathe.
At all times you will be the author of your own experience and will ultimately control how deep you go.