Healing the Source Experience
This is a chapter written for THE COMPLETE BREATH, an Ebook compiled by Jim Morningstar PhD & available at www.jimmorningstar.com
A Chapter by Binnie A Dansby
The consciousness of society is nurtured in the womb.
The memories of our time in the womb and our births are held in every cell of our bodies.
The quality of birth affects the quality of life and in turn, impacts and shapes the quality of society.
We are conscious at birth; thinking, sensing, feeling.
Birth affects our whole subsequent mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
The decisions we make at birth are the foundation for the beliefs and patterns activated in this lifetime.
Those individual attitudes and patterns translate to the attitudes and patterns displayed by nations.
THE FIRST BREATH – THE DEFINING BREATH
Birth is my metaphor for Life. Birth, like the breath, is not singular. Birth has two components, breath and thought, the ingredients necessary for an experience. It is possible to perceive life as a creative process in which conception (forming a thought) and gestation (giving the thought energy and attention) and birth (actualisation, manifestation) is a constant. Physical birth is not a single, isolated event. It is the manifestation of a desire, a completion that is a new beginning.
The first breath defines physical, live birth. It is our first autonomous act outside the womb. This ‘defining breath’ is the energy that activates. It is the energy that nourishes our thinking. All experience in this creative process we call life has two components: thought and energy. The defining breath is an inextricable part of birth, our Source Experience.
Birth and Breath
Our physical birth had a profound impact on our relationship to all that we encounter. We ‘inhaled’ the environment, physical, emotional and spiritual, with the first breath. We are carrying the memory of the defining breath, and that memory is being subtly reactivated with every breath until we learn to enjoy the breath.
Ashley Montagu has been lauded as one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th Century. He was a medical doctor, pathologist, anthropologist, psychologist and humanitarian. In his landmark book TOUCHING, THE HUMAN SIGNIFICANCE OF SKIN, he writes, “The need to breathe is so compelling that a three minute denial of it is often sufficient to cause death. The urge to breathe is the most imperative of all man’s basic urges, and the most automatic. The process of learning to breathe is an anxious one. Every breath we take, even as adults, is preceded by a faint phobic stir. Under conditions of stress many persons go into laboured breathing reminiscent of breathing at birth.Under such conditions the person often regresses to foetalised activities and assumes foetal positions. In fear or anxiety one of the first functions to be affected is breathing. Breathing, indeed, is not simply a physiological process, but a part of the way in which an organism behaves.” 2
It is important to remember that our time in the womb was spent as a water mammal, co-creating, ‘becoming’ a physical human being. It is also important to acknowledge how different life in water really is, and the significance of the transition to breathing air. For a human being endowed with at least twelve senses the transition to being an air-breathing mammal is often terrifying and has an effect on our responses and reactions to all aspects of life.3
In her book, GENTLE BIRTH, GENTLE MOTHERING, Sarah J. Buckley, MD writes,
“In the mother’s womb, the wondrous placenta fulfils the functions of lungs, kidney, gut, skin and liver for the baby. Blood flow to these organs is minimal until immediately after birth, at which time huge changes begin in the organisation of the newborn circulatory system. Within the baby’s body, blood becomes diverted away from the umbilical cord and placenta over several minutes, and as the baby’s lungs fill with air, blood is sucked into the pulmonary (lung) circulation.4
Mother Nature ensures a reservoir of blood in the cord and placenta that provides the additional blood necessary for the perfusion of these pulmonary and organ systems; this is known as the placental transfusion or redistribution. The transfer of this reservoir (transfusion) of blood from the placenta to the baby happens in a step-by-step progression. . . .
This elegant and time tested system —- which ensures that an optimum amount of blood is transferred —– is rendered inoperable by the current practice of early clamping of the umbilical cord, which usually occurs within thirty seconds of birth and often within the first ten seconds.”5
At the same time as they are taking their first breath, most babies are met by bright lights, loud voices, a drastic drop in temperature, strange hands and rough cloth. They enter through pain and struggle, intrusion and obstruction. Soft lights and gentle hands most often do not accompany the first breath. High tech birthing practices in developed society do not allow the time needed for an easy transition to breathing and allowing all the organs to come ‘online’ naturally. Seldom in those settings do you hear a quiet, yet joyful, ‘Welcome, thank you for being here!’
We share a common experience, you and I. We come from the warm waters inside another – part of a whole. Landing on Planet Earth for the first time with this body, and, I believe, with a deep desire to give and receive love, is often an experience of intense sensory overload. Under what we have come to call ‘normal’ circumstances it is a shock with cellular and emotional repercussions. In the transition we are learning how it is to be alive on this planet at this time. We either learn to fear and reject our own body, or to love and accept being with our body. We either learn to fear and reject other bodies, or that they are a source of comfort and support. When fear is central, trust has no foundation. Love is almost forgotten in the face of the implied emergency and ‘managed’ intervention.
As if this was not enough to bear, now the most devastating event of all takes place. We are separated, physically separated, from the only body and mind we have ever known, Mother. Strangers take us away. In shock and despair we must cope with unfathomable confusion and chaos. We are left with the eternal question, “Who am I?” In THE CONTINUUM CONCEPT (1977), Jean Liedloff concurs, “What a baby encounters at birth is what he/she feels the nature of life to be. After a typical hospital birth the baby knows life to be unspeakably lonely, unresponsive to his/her signals and full of pain.” 6
In my 35 years of experience as a breathwork therapist countless people have described to me their thoughts and feelings of danger and alienation interwoven throughout their lives. Instead of life on planet Earth being full of potential and a safe place to be, everything and everyone is to be feared on some level of consciousness. I heard the same thoughts over and over, no matter what the person’s age or circumstance. Whether in counselling or when they were breathing, these fundamental thought would reveal themselves: “Life is dangerous” . . . “There is no one here for me” . . . “There is not enough for me” . . . “Feelings hurt” . . . “My body hurts” . . . “I have no choice” . . . “They are doing it to me” . . . “They take me away from what I need” . . . “Who am I?” . . . “What am I?” . . . “What have I done wrong?” . . . “I’m going to have to do this all by myself” . . . “I’m alone. I’m separate”. I refer to these thoughts as Archetypal Negatives, shared societal thoughts. Each culture has its own unique manifestation, and they exist throughout the developed world, and are imposed on those cultures that are subject to increased globalisation.
I have been actively engaged in the exploration of many aspects of psychodynamics, creativity, birth, and the possibilities of healing since the early 1970’s. In 1971 I began psychotherapy with an exceptional psychiatrist in New York City. I just wanted to get rid of ‘the pain’. I had a tight feeling in my heart that never seemed to go away. There was a resonance of ancient ache in my middle/solar plexus that had a scream in the emptiness. And then there were the migraines. Most of the time I wanted to run away, to get away from my body. When I had a migraine I had to stop every activity. There was no escape. I felt trapped in a tight ball of pain and fear.
At the same time I was a well-educated young woman with 2 children and a successful career. I exercised regularly, and went to 5 yoga classes a week. I had been taking professional voice lessons from the age of 13. The only time I was really free of the existential pain was when I was singing or doing pranayama (yogic breathing) and Hatha yoga. Conscious breathing is fundamental to both practices.
In the Autumn of 1975 I was part of a small group invited to meet Leonard Orr who was visiting NYC. That evening he spoke about creating abundance and, almost in passing, he spoke about the possible influence of birth on behaviour and belief. He told us that a group in California breathed with a snorkel in hot water, remembering their experiences of birth. My surface mind was extremely sceptical, and my body responded with what I can only describe as an inner explosion, an “I must do this!” I was one of the first people on the East Coast to take part in Leonard’s ‘experiment’, rebirthing, and the birth of this beneficial branch of therapeutic, integrative breathwork.
The dramatic experience of my first breathwork session gave rise to a deep ‘core of the bone knowing’. The session began with reading a passage from the then new book, BIRTH WITHOUT VIOLENCE by Frederick Leboyer. I stepped into a deep Jacuzzi bathtub filled with hot water and put on the snorkel and nose clips. I thought my feelings of vulnerability and fear were caused by my nakedness in front of strangers and the lack of familiarity with the snorkel and nose clips. I was instructed to put my head under water, to lie face down, and to breathe. It was not long before I dropped, fell, expanded into a non-ordinary state of consciousness, one I describe as far beyond the everyday. I heard what sounded like a cry or scream ‘in the distance’. When I did come to conscious awareness, I was curled up in the lap of Leonard’s assistant with no memory of moving from the water to land. I was sobbing and repeating, “I didn’t mean to do it. I didn’t mean to do it”. I had allowed a source experience to come to the surface. I revealed the guilt that I had carried from my birth. I became aware of the long held thought that I was dangerous; capable of great harm because of the pain my mother had endured giving birth to me.
As I integrated the session and engaged in more breath sessions, it became clear that understanding the environment and circumstances of our conception, gestation and birth was the doorway to a deeper understanding of Life and the Human Condition. I knew, as well, that the breath was the key to opening that door, the key to remembering, releasing, and healing the source experience. I realised that I could create a new, conscious ‘defining breath’. It was clear that I could read and talk and do a thousand hours of psychotherapy and still only be theorising. When I honoured and included the breath my body responded by revealing memories held in the emotional brain, the limbic system. This is the part of the brain that remembers all experience; the part of the brain that we share with all other mammals.
In her book MOLECULES OF EMOTION, Candace B. Pert, PhD., offers her evidence for her conclusion that the body is the subconscious, even though it has been studied for years by psychiatrists and psychologists thinking that it was only a function of the mind. “I believe the research findings I have described indicate that we need to start thinking about how the mind manifests itself in various parts of the body and, beyond that how we can bring that process into consciousness . . . Mind doesn’t dominate body, it becomes body — body and mind are one.”
“Conscious breathing, the technique employed by both the yogi and the woman in labour, is extremely powerful. There is a wealth of data showing that changes in the rate and depth of breathing produce changes in the quantity and kind of peptides that are released from the brain stem . . . it’s no wonder that so many modalities, both ancient and New Age, have discovered the power of controlled breathing. The peptide-respiratory link is well documented: Virtually any peptide found anywhere else can be found in the respiratory centre. This peptide substrate may provide the scientific rationale for the powerful healing effects of consciously controlled breath patterns.” 7
Physical, emotional, or spiritual; birth and breath have been my greatest teachers. Birth is the perfect metaphor for the mechanics of manifestation, the creative process, which, as an artist, I so longed to understand. Life energy, the breath, added unto thought produces results in the physical universe. Whether gestating a project or a baby, each person, male or female, is pregnant with the possibility of giving birth to that part of himself or herself that I call, ‘The One’ who intended to be here in the first place.
Just as the technology exists to test, photograph, and study the movements and responses of the unborn, so too, the technology is available in the form of psychological and psycho-spiritual processes to contact and interact with the ‘unborn’ in the adult. We can encounter ‘The One’ who may have been ignored, over stimulated, even unwanted. That baby, ‘The One’ who lives in your heart, deserves attention. When we heal and give birth to the whole, complete, forgiving, powerful, creative consciousness within us, we give birth to Original Intent . . . the Soul’s Purpose.
Healing birth is the process of changing life-limiting decisions that we made when we took our first breath. Healing begins in the moment that we accept the possibility of change, the possibility of continuing to evolve on all levels of being, just as we did in the womb. Healing the first breath is a process that is not always ecstatic and pain free. In fact the process of growth and evolution is a process of pushing beyond our old concepts of comfort and testing new frontiers. We can move to a new and expanded experience of union with our body. It is possible to trust the process of Life as a healing process.
I have developed, and for 23 years have taught, a system that deals directly with the life limiting primal decisions that we made based on our experience of life in the womb, when we took our first breath, and in the precious moments just after birth. SOURCE Process and Breathwork is both a philosophy and a psycho-spiritual practice that includes the breath as a tool to release physiological and psychological stress and thought patterns. It is possible to eliminate primal trauma and transform the subconscious impression of birth into a gentle, awakening event.
The core purpose of SOURCE is to free the breath from physical constrictions caused by pain and fear at birth and to support the integration of the Archetypal Affirmations (see flowers on the right). The Archetypal Affirmations are fundamental thought forms that evoke specific life-limiting thoughts to be released from the consciousness. They are the healing response to the Archetypal Negatives. The two elements are essential to one another. Both conscious, connected breathing and the use of affirmations are time-tested tools for effecting change in awareness and behaviour. Uniting these two powerful forces with attentive guidance produces sustainable psychological and physiological results.
Each Archetypal Affirmation corresponds directly to a specific energy centre, or chakra, and the colour associated with that centre or body system. The fundamental healing thoughts are:
“My body is safe, no matter how I may be feeling!” “I am the Earth, I am creativity!” corresponds to the base, the first chakra, the colour primary red.
“I am surrounded by love and support from all the beings in my life!” “Everything and everyone in physical form is here to support me in physical form!” corresponds to the navel, the second chakra, the colour vibrant orange.
“All of my feelings are safe!” “I am the One who chooses what to think and how to use my energy!” corresponds to the solar plexus, the third chakra, the colour primary yellow.
“I am the innocent child of a Gentle Universe. I deserve to experience all of my love and compassion!” corresponds to the heart centre, the colour vivid grass green.
“I am an expression of Love!” “My expression is Welcome!” corresponds to the throat centre, the colour blue green, aquamarine.
“I am connected In Love to all that lives and all that breathes!” “I am connected to Divine Intelligence that knows my good!” corresponds to the third eye centre, the colour primary rich, deep blue.
“I am Spirit manifest in beautiful physical form!” “I am a gift from God to the Earth!” “My Love is received!” corresponds to the crown centre, the colour royal purple, a balance of the colour red, safety, and the colour blue, connection.
The Breath and Thought
Tens of thousands of thoughts come through our conscious awareness everyday. The choice we make about what to give attention is determined by our source beliefs, the archetypal decisions and thoughts that are held as absolute, ground of being. We are aware of some of these beliefs and not of others. The breath and the introduction of Archetypal Affirmations encourage the veil to lift and reveal the lies we may have been telling ourselves about life.
Breathing gently and fully, listen to the thoughts that reveal themselves when an Archetypal Affirmation is introduced. Allow all your thoughts to flow. Don’t take any of those thoughts personally.
Take a deep breath and simply choose where you want to place your attention. Choose your source.
Breathe and know that: Who we are is not any of our thoughts. Who we are is consciousness that is co-creating and choosing in every moment how to use our precious life energy.
Breathe deeply, fully and ask: What way of thinking is going to produce connection and peace, joy and satisfaction? What thoughts/environment do you consciously choose to nourish with your breath, your Life Energy, in order to produce optimum health and wellbeing? What do you choose to inhale? What do you choose to inspire?
Inspiration is of the breath. What inspires you becomes the inspiration you are to others. Be aware of inspiration, it is awakening, allow it, and inspiration will expand in you. What inspires you awakens your true being and your true purpose. Breathe it out and other Spirits are awakened. The expression of your true being is an inspiration to everyone.
We are One
Generations of shock and separation at birth have caused us to protect and defend and live in fear. We see the results all around us in inner conflicts and global conflicts. Fear causes us to separate from everything and everyone around us. Fear causes us to separate from our true Being, from the love that we are. Fear has caused us to forget our true purpose, to serve. Our greatest service is to be wholly present where we are In the moment. In present time there is no fear. We are together to reveal True Being, Essence. We are together to allow Love to radiate, to occupy every cell.
Every spiritual path has as a purpose to bring us back to the awakening experience of our essential connection to Universal Source, oneness with all there is. Babies are being born today without the physical trauma, environmental shock, and sensory overload that make us forget, and that engender our negative beliefs about life with a body on Planet Earth. They are being received into the hands of welcome and love, given time and the opportunity to be recognised as an individual expression of love in the physical universe by the Mother, source of nourishment and knowledge. They never have to ask, “Who am I?” “Where is my missing Part-ner?” Connection is a certainty. They are free. They know themselves to be ‘One who Loves’.
Though a necessary function, when do we stop gathering information and welcome the state of being that will allow us to radically re-conceptualise and re-source our births and our lives no matter what our age or gender. We are in creation right now. In this moment, we can take a deep breath, give up our devotion to pain and struggle, expand, and birth every precious moment of our lives in joy. Our future depends on it.
1. Dansby, B. Ecstatic Birth: The Conscious Evolution of a Possibility to a Present Reality, Speech, Congress of International Society for Pre- and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine, Jerusalem, 1989
2. Montagu, Ashley. TOUCHING, The Human Significance of the Skin, New York, Harper and Row, 1971
3. Chamberlain D, Communicating with the Mind of a Prenate.JOPPPAH 18(2), 99-100, 2003
4. Redmond A, Isana S, Ingall D, Relation of Onset of Respiration to Placental Transfusion. LANCET,Feb 6 1965, 17:283-285
5. Buckley, Sarah J. GENTLE BIRTH, GENTLE MOTHERING, California, Celestial Arts, 2009
6. Liedloff, Jean. THE CONTINUUM CONCEPT, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1977
7. Pert, Candace B., MOLECULES OF EMOTION, USA, Scribner, 1997