“Do you know how you are sitting, especially your posture? ‘Yeah, I am curled in.’ You are rounding your shoulders & protecting your heart. So, what would it be like to repeat to the group what you said but put some more breath into it and open up your posture?” As she does this my client reports she feels more confident and has a stronger voice. It is the effect on the group members that is most profound. “I felt more emotionally connected with you.” “I felt what you said rather than just agreeing with what you just said.” Just a slight change in posture and awareness of breath translates into an immediate effect.
Breath is the link between the conscious and the unconscious. When we don’t focus on it breathing is automatic and happens without thinking. When we focus on our breath we notice more, we link with our bodies. In Gestalt therapy we call this breath and body focus, proprioceptive awareness. Breath awareness is the link to the unconscious, to knowing more about ourselves right now. All it takes is focused attention to become aware of the chest, are we breathing freely? Where in our lungs are we breathing? Are we narrowing our chest? Lower lobe breathing is relaxed and most efficient. Breathing in the back lower lobes gives us more power to bicycle up a hill or confront a bully. What does our normal posturing say about our self-esteem? I could say a lot about that but it is best to find out on your own. Messages we hear from others don’t have anywhere near the power of direct experience.
At Counseling on Burnside we focus on process and experimentation. Breath awareness coupled with attention to our posture can have a profound effect especially as we practice the lessons learned during therapy in our daily lives. We can change habit patterns moving from a defended posture to one that is more open, effective and powerful.