Breathe it IN

Catherine Hoffmann, a member of our CREATIVE COLLECTIVE who assist the Urban LIFECLASS Trainers, has written a deeply personal accolade to Breathwork, and her vibrant ability to seek awareness, living on lifes terms, dealing with family tribulations, and her recent manifestation of change and acceptance.


Heading to the noodle bar in Kings Cross, I walk down the Euston road, its 9.30pm and it’s dark. I have just done an hour of Breath work with David Parker in his Camden flat and I don’t feel like going home straight away. I am glad to be out here walking past bars, restaurants, past the station, pulsing traffic. On my own observing everyone else. I feel light, in synch with it all. I feel part of it. Not drained by a London trawl, not hysterically rushing to something, just walking, and taking things in. Tonight I don’t feel alienated sitting and waiting for Ho Fun on my own. Tonight I am enjoying the endless sounds of cars and bump of people. After eating I feel a wave of tiredness coming. Yes now I need to sleep, beautiful sleep.

UnknownThis breath work allows me to reconnect with wonder all over again, radiating the miraculous parts of me. Yes every time I breathe I feel completely loved up, wanting to connect, with an opening of the heart. Lets face it to give and receive love is bloody hard for some of us no matter how much we try to be decent human beings. I can easily shut down the spectacular parts of me, hide who I really am. I am not a complete wallflower by any means, I am a performer for goodness sake but I have been known to go into times of exile, fall deep into dark caves and even now I am still learning to reach out to those I love more.

A paper-thin layer of despondency had settled over me in the last couple of years, shame from my past and present failings or so I saw them but something has changed… Last year I went through a time of fragmentation, a break up of a relationship that was becoming more and more painful. I had nowhere to live, a sense of isolation and distrust of certain dynamics set up with close friends. There were points when I really thought I shouldn’t be here, it was time to give up. I had to disconnect from all of it. Each day was a challenge to keep the love going towards myself and then hopefully out. There were times when I would lose, negativity spiralling out of control. I could be present for others but not myself.

I believe that doing an intensive weekend of breath work and sharing some of my experiences in the autumn of that year with Dickie Beau & David Parker @ Chelsea Theatre helped me through that difficult time. It was also necessary to let these things fall apart in order to draw in new vitality without having to prove anything to anyone. The breath work has allowed me to open up, to not be judged or defined. I have been breathing myself back into acceptance. That it is ok for me to be here, in fact more than ok…

I had always felt the outsider, growing up moving around from one ad hoc dwelling to another, sometimes not having a home, children popping out left, right and centre. Mental illness, violence and basically chaos with neglect all in my family history. All of this I hid for so many years and I guess this hiding has become a habit, not wanting to be found out. Hiding has been part of my family set up, my mother shutting herself in her bedroom for days on end, siblings cutting themselves off, not working, booze and drugs, the concealment of illegitimate children and even cultural identity…on it goes.

In my adult life I still carry around a sense of fraudulency, of not quite being proper, but hey this can also be celebrated. Why would I want to fit into a system that still doesn’t know how to distribute its wealth effectively, where the gap between the rich and the poor is ever growing? Everyone busily working towards buying more and more comfort for their families. The whole thing made my skin crawl even as a child despite the yearning for ‘normality’ and of course wanting all of that at the same time.


Now here I am just me, breathing in a different way, having my own reactions and whoever I am has nothing to do with all of this history – that story and the people around me, their feelings and reactions are not me. This is me lying here having a great time. Breathing back into life, inspiring back into myself. Clearing the way out of shame. There is nothing to fix here this is my birthright and all of ours, we are not broken. No more hiding, moving from the inside to the outside like the first moments of unfurling the body from the womb – through and out, the terror and the delight of being able to move those limbs within space and air. Wanting comfort and familiarity and at the same time wanting to explore and reach for the new, this is the struggle of life in all its glory. Being able to kick and flex those wrists and ankles, moments of rigidity, stuck muscles and then release. I am alive. I am here. No tears this time, no grief, just me, here alive, abundant and full of pleasure. Is this what tantric sex is like? Amazing. Have I just had tantric sex with myself? All I know is I want to keep tapping into that feeling of my heart opening – whether that makes me feel sublime, sexy and full of love or if it makes me weep and blubber like a new born babe.

Read about Catherine here on our THE CREATIVE COLLECTIVE link :