As with many people who lie down to breathe for the first time, I was filled with a mix of scepticism and uncertainty about what was going to happen. Surely the simple act of breathing couldn’t bring about as strong a reaction as I had been promised? It was difficult not to feel a bit daft as I began to inhale deeply, taking in large amounts of oxygen, and then releasing only a third of my breath, leaving the remaining oxygen to flood my brain and body like water gradually filling a jug.
For about fifteen minutes I lay there, fighting against the urge to regulate my breathing which felt forced and unnatural. How was I going to last another three quarters of an hour breathing like this? Then something strange began to happen. It started slowly and then became more and more noticeable. A tingle in the finger-tips that spread up my arms and washed over my chest which somehow felt lighter and buoyed up, like a freshly inflated balloon. My breathing was also easier despite the fact I had not adjusted my rhythm. Was it actually happening to me; this strange and wonderful sensation that I had been told about but had doubted?
I lay there, excited for what was happening. Outside noises seemed to melt away and I was left completely inside my own body. It was as if my consciousness has retreated inside my brain, no longer aware of what existed beyond the shell of my own skin. It was dark and warm and felt safe. Occasionally, the darkness would be penetrated by a white light or a colour spectrum that seemed to whirl above me, forming shapes and even faces. It was a hugely multi-sensory experience that, when it was over, left me feeling calm and collected, as if I had slept particularly well and all my troubles seemed lessened thanks to how relaxed I found myself.
It was not until some time later, when I was given the chance to assist on someone else’s first breathe, that I was able to witness this ‘tipping point’ and observe how tangible it is. You can physically see the body’s initial resistance to the journey as it reacts against this strange way of breathing. Then as the time passes and breathing in this way becomes more natural and the body is flooded with oxygen and the consciousness begins to retreat in on itself, you can watch as the breather drifts off to a place where they are fully in touch with themselves – a place where you are able to get some perspective on your life and come back fresher and more able to tackle the crap life throws at you. And all from breathing – who’d have thought!