As a society, we are preoccupied with ‘outer work,’ and mistakenly believe that by changing elements in our external world, we will begin to feel more fulfilled. We become fixated on measuring our successes and self-worth by the amount of money that we make, the growth in our careers, or the house we live in or the vacations we go on. But, this outer work constitutes only a small piece of who we truly are.
It is the inner work which leads to true fulfillment. There are many modalities and tools to support the inner work journey and breathwork is one of the most powerful practices you can weave into your life to deepen your inner work.
What is Inner Work?
Inner work is the practice of diving into and exploring your inner self for greater understanding, healing, and transformation. By doing this work, we are plunging into our inner worlds, and ultimately, the layers of our mind, the conscious, subconscious, and unconscious.
As we dive into our emotions, thoughts, and past experiences, we truly get to know and witness ourselves. A challenging, yet empowering process, inner work allows us to examine all parts of ourselves, especially the parts that have been forgotten, pushed away, or judged. As we begin to touch these parts, we can start to invite and integrate them back in, journeying towards balance, freedom, and wholeness.
And as we tune into what has been dismissed and overlooked, allow ourselves to feel what we have run from, and bring awareness to all pieces of ourselves, we reclaim our personal power, expand our self-awareness, and work through addictions, fears, limitations, and anything that may be keeping us stuck or holding us back.
Breathwork: Supporting the Inner Work Process
Inner work is self-love work, inner child work, and shadow work. It is the journey out of the thinking mind and into the body, the heart, and the subconscious. Breathwork allows us to do just this – it offers us a direct path into our inner landscape, allowing us to connect back to self-love, tune into our emotions, and regulate our nervous system.
Self-love is a critical component of the inner work process. If we are unable to love, trust, and connect with ourself, we may find the deeper realms of inner work to be quite challenging. Breathwork fosters self-love, as it allows us to shift out of the critical mind and into the heart where we can feel a greater sense of oneness within ourselves.
Once we can begin to cultivate our love for self, we can dive into our inner child and our shadows with greater confidence, power, and ease. Inner child work is the process of investigating and healing childhood traumas, and recognizing that our adult beliefs and behaviors are derived from our childhood experiences. Breathwork is a powerful way to get in touch with this part of us. By reconnecting to our inner child, we can begin to move through old wounds, recognize unmet needs, and integrate back into our lives the childlike playfulness, openness, and love that may have been lost. Through this process, we can learn our needs, desires, triggers, and what shapes our behaviors, ultimately, moving us towards greater self-awareness, compassion, and empowerment.
Shadow work makes up another deeper layer of the inner work journey, and breathwork can serve as a tool to support this self-discovery process as it helps us tune into and confront all parts of us, including the parts we may run from or hidden from. Our shadows are the parts of us that have been hidden, rejected, or repressed within our subconscious minds. Our inner work is exploring these unconscious parts and bringing them to conscious awareness to find wholeness and heal. When we perceive an experience as too traumatic, it gets buried in the subconscious mind – breathwork moves us into this space within the psyche where we can uncover and explore our traumas in a safe way. By examining these parts, we can not only start to understand how our past traumas shape our emotions, thoughts, patterns, and reactions, but also how to fully feel our feelings.
In addition to breathwork so beautifully supporting self-love, inner child work, and shadow work, it also reduces stress, which can block the journey inward. Breathwork shifts us from the sympathetic nervous system, fight-or-flight, or our stress response, to the parasympathetic nervous system, rest-and-digest, by activating the vagus nerve. By lessening stress, we can journey inward with more ease, connecting to our subconscious mind and entering into the heart.
Appreciate the Journey
By committing to the practice of breathwork and inner work, we turn our pain into power and heal our wounds from within. Through this process, we realize that we are the alchemists and co-creators of our lives, transmuting anger, sadness, and shame into compassion, softness, and non-judgment. We learn to observe without critique, accept, forgive, and uncover the lessons underlying it all. Day after day, we continue to grow, evolve, and love. Inner work is the key to happiness and inner peace.