Using Breathwork to Heal Trauma

Breathwork is powerful. If you’ve read any of our other blog posts you know that I believe it is helpful with a variety of ailments. Trauma is no different. You can use breathwork to heal trauma, but first…

What is trauma?

According to dictionary.com the word trauma is defined as “a body wound or shock produced by sudden physical injury, as from violence or accident.” and then under a psychological heading it says “an experience that produces psychological injury or pain.” When I read this I expected something more dramatic, more profound, so I looked up the word injury and it said “harm or damage that is done or sustained”. 

This helped me make sense of the word that I have been using for the last thirty years. A Trauma is damage that is sustained. 

In 1990, I met my breathwork teacher who told me breathwork would release trauma from early childhood experiences. He cautioned me not to downplay small experiences like being sent to your room for something you didn’t do… where I was thinking about child abuse and other more dramatic experiences.  

There is no question for me that Effiji Breath releases trauma that is stored as memory in the body and mind. I hope after you read this, if you have been trying to heal from childhood trauma, you will give breathwork a try.

No one goes through life without injuries. There is no perfect childhood. Saying we don’t have injuries is like saying you can go through life without experiences or without learning anything. Life is for learning. We come here to discover what we learn because of our wisdom that we can apply to the next experience. The problem is that we don’t learn because we were not able to process the experience at the time so it remains stuck as an unlearned lesson.

breathwork to heal trauma
how breathwork affects the body

Understanding trauma

By process, I am talking about allowing an experience to flow, to come and go from our body and mind. It’s natural, life is changing all the time, why do we get stuck? Water doesn’t cling to the rock going down a river, why do we?  

Your thoughts, emotions, physiological systems are constantly in action. Your breath is always changing. There’s an inhale and an exhale and an infinity of space evolving from one to another. Our life is at its best when we can live with change and feel stable in it. This balance is the crown jewel of personal growth. Stability and freedom together. Security and change together. Trauma being a sustained injury means that the process of change has stopped. Something is not moving and it becomes a separate, unhealthy unmoving part.

There are many kinds of injuries sustained in childhood. Falling off a bike is one kind. An emotional injury like being abandoned is another. The lasting damage of any injury depends on how it was dealt with in the moment both by you and by the caregivers around you. The damage deepens when there is denial about its effect on you either by you or others. If there is sustained effort to keep you from dealing with it then the impact will add more time to getting at its roots.

The physical body is more likely to heal naturally. We are not the body. It is our vehicle. An injury to the body is an injury to the vehicle. When you cut your finger there is a natural automatic unconscious mechanism to heal it and after a few weeks, you will see no evidence of that cut. As I mentioned before, the lasting effect of a physical injury on us depends on the circumstances it happened. The gift an adult gives to a child is to see them where they are without a filter so they can see themselves. 

When a child runs up to you in the playground and says “Mommy I skinned my knee” and you say “yes, I see that”, they have been seen. The process is complete and released so they can go onto the next experience. If you are on the phone and not paying attention the experience stays inside unprocessed. So the effect of an experience in childhood has a lot to do with what happens around the event.

When I was five I went out into the ravine behind my house in brand new dress shoes that I was supposed to wear to a family function. I fell into a muddy hole and couldn’t get out. I was afraid I would die. I managed to climb out, absolutely terrified. I came home and my mother yelled at me for going out wearing those shoes and returning with only one shoe. This event happened inside a childhood that was already giving me the message that being honest would get me in trouble so it gave me the message that following my impulses was wrong and telling the truth would cause me pain. I came to believe that terror brought isolation. You could say that was a pivotal moment for me, and it must be something if I can remember it more than 50 years later. But the truth is nothing happens in a vacuum. The context is just as important as the event.

My story is small compared to one of my students whose father died in a car accident when he was ten years old. While he was away at summer camp, his father had pulled over to the side of the road to help someone change a tire when a drunk driver hit and killed him. As I got to know my student, I learned that he wasn’t very close with his father. His mother didn’t really understand or see him. He was already an insecure, frightened little boy so this event, while being a defining moment in his life, sits inside a world of experiences that his childhood brain was struggling with. After his father died he had no way to process the experience. When I met him in his sixties, I could see that he continued to try to resolve that experience. This is the perfect definition of a trauma. 

Healing trauma

In healing work when I speak about trauma and releasing it I am speaking about the context more than the event. To be able to heal you have to see that the trauma has some value in the lessons of your life. Trauma happens inside a life that your soul chose to live. You aren’t simply a victim. Trauma is part of fulfilling your life’s purpose. All of life’s experiences are meant to help you so you can gain wisdom and understanding and live a life that is correct for you. By accepting these experiences right now you are already beginning to move the stuck energy. 

Since most trauma is buried and forgotten, accessing the energy of what you were feeling at the time requires you to get around the programming that protects you from re-contacting it. This is where breathwork can help.

To release trauma you must get to the root of it. Since your breathing is fundamental to being alive, there are patterns of breathing that are unconscious that we do when our programming tells us we are under threat. You can use conscious breathing practices to get past the protection of the mind and the programs that protect the trauma. 

How Effiji Breathwork can help to release trauma

Effiji Breathwork has a unique ability to create a calming effect the first time you do it. You don’t have to do it for 6 months before you see its power. Since Effiji Breathwork is rapid mouth breathing sustained over an hour, it will bring material up to the surface that you likely believed couldn’t be contacted or didn’t believe existed. For this reason we only do it with a trained guide because the traumatized and protected part of you will need to know that you are safe and how to move through the experience so you are completely freed of the trauma forever.

The nature of trauma is energy that is stuck. Change is the goal even if you are afraid of change. If you can let it flow, the natural healthy patterns of energy in your body will begin to be the way you live. Effiji Breathwork releases trauma and you really only need to do it once to see that it works.


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Effiji Breath is a conscious hyperventilation practice, focused on the inhale, done over the course of one hour.

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