The Artist Spike writes . . .

DSCF1282THANK YOU, thanks for being you, thank you for being real, thank you for you being yourself and breathing and thank you for accepting me and everyone whom you encounter with, as themselves, without ego and power grabbing, energy grabbing and self fulfilling grabbing the spotlight, THANK YOU ….

I have been on quite a journey and in-between the Rebirthing Breathing and the recent Enlightenment Intensives, the combination of both has saved my life. Both you, David and Dickie, bring a non commercial technique to people who just want to be themselves. It’s a gift to us the partakers, of letting ourselves let ourselves be ourselves, in a caring and supportive environment.

I feel the word Rebirth-ing does not do it justice but if I had to give it a word I would say a RE-AWAKENING, waking up to who you are, who you used to be and who, and where, you came from.


For me I have been freed in many aspects of my life and as you have seen , my artwork has changed dramatically, and now it keeps progressing, and I have to keep breathing and keep trusting the breath, you both opened a door and now I have to deal with walking through it and being awake to the life, rather than fighting life, or blaming others because I did not take responsibility.


Blaming is part of our conditions and patterns, we can lie to ourselves, but our hearts and our breath reminds us of our basic human instinct to stay alive, and ego sometimes distracts us from that. Anyway thank you…..big hugs and heart-felt unconditional thanks…for helping me to shift from my shit xxxx


Spike is from a second generation Irish family, though born in North-Hamptonshire and is one in nine children brought up and educated in Scotland from the age of one years old. In early 1980’s at the age of seventeen he worked as a residential volunteer in Yorkshire and by the age of eighteen Spike had moved to London to continue working as a volunteer until 1985. In early naughties after a series of a diverse range of employment, an opportunity rose to return to education, where in 2006 he did a foundation in the arts at Kingston University where he met his collaborator the artist, photographer, performer,poet,director and fishmonger Alex Chase White. Spike then got accepted to do a three year degree in Fine Art at Kingston University. While doing his fine art degree he became more interested in live art performance.

5647544_origIt was also during this time that he met his other collaborator the artist Yoshiko Shimida from Japan. In 2009 Spike had the opportunity to work with Yoshiko for two and a half months in Japan, where he also travelled to Taiwan and performed with Yoshiko in Beijing in China as part of the open festival. Spike also did a solo performance during an eight week live art festival in China that led him to being commissioned to perform as part of the Bone festival in Switzerland.

While studying, Spike continued to curate exhibitions, seeking out funding to support local artists and also combine the show with artist from Le-Pecq a suburb of Paris; Spike ran this for over six years, in July 2012 he co-curated an exhibition celebrating local women artist in his community in South West London.          MORE Info on Spike here :






On the other side of the bag we were enticed to write the MOST POSITIVE THOUGHT about ourselves. Taking the bag home we could choose to focus on either side each day. It’s AMAZING how just changing a bag round can CHANGE YOUR DAY!

Then we had a GROUP BREATHWORK SESSION that pushed us into altered states of consciousness, like getting off your FACE but WITHOUT DRUGS!  AMAZING!




After that exercise we Danced OFF with SHAKIRA, it look pretty mental but no more crazy than walking around with all that GUILT of course. It was explained that we subconsciously project all this stuff onto others without knowing it. Often when we communicate, we only tell half the story, hoping others won’t detect our most negative thoughts about ourselves. Rebirthing is not just about the value of detoxing breath work, it’s also about detoxing negative thinking that no one sees, BUT we know is there, and these thoughts take hostage every day. This exercise was the funniest and most healing we have attempted thanks to Catherine Hoffmann one of our CREATIVE COLLECTIVE TEAM.

Catherine Hoffmann :


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 :

Time for a Spirit Jog?


Robert “Bubble” Beck is a returning guest-blogger for urban LIFECLASS as well as being a member of our CREATIVE COLLECTIVE. When he’s not writing, he’s busy chasing his dream of becoming a theatre director on the West End. However, this seems to involve drinking a lot of wine and not doing much work… Follow him on Twitter @robertjamesbeck where he once in a while makes a profound(ish) comment. . .

Blog write-up by Robert Beck

The beauty of breath-work is that it allows me the chance to work on helping others, as well as myself. While I have only been on this path of personal development for a relatively short amount of time, the profound effect it has had on me is something I am keen to help others discover, especially within my age group.

I often say to people that those who are most sceptical have the greatest reactions to the breathes… and boy was I sceptical when I started. Yet look at me now, a few months on, and I am totally devoted. I breathe myself, I have done a load of reading around the science of breathing, and now I am beginning my training to become a fully-fledged facilitator. Pretty impressive for someone who used to believe that meditation and self-help seminars were for hippies and people who didn’t take showers.

Our workshop on the 27th of April was a special one for me because it was the first time I was allowed to assist on a breathe this size. The previous assisting work I had done had been small and intimate and I had been safe in the knowledge that David was always looking over my shoulder and there to deal with anything that came up. For a group this size it was not going to be like this. Having 15 people breathing at the same time meant that I had to be able to trust myself to provide that comforting hand or to guide someone through an integration independently while the trainers were off in another part of the room. While I was supported by the other assistants (the fabulous Luca and the gorgeous Catherine) and the trainers who were on hand should something big come up, this was a real learning-curve for me and taught me so much about recognising and appreciating the stunning effects that evolutionary breath-work and a bit of positive thinking can have on a person.

photo 2

As is usual with our seminars, we began by asking ourselves some difficult questions, supplied by our facilitator, David Parker, that we may not really want to answer. ‘This is what I want to ACHIEVE’ seems like a simple enough question to answer but comes with all sorts of caveats like “but I won’t achieve it because…” or “achieving that would be great but I don’t have the time…” We all build walls around our dreams that stop us from going out there and trying to make them happen.

Similarly, a question like ‘This is what I want to LET GO OF’ can throw up issues where we recognise something is bad for us and yet somehow are unable to let go of it. How many of us have been in a relationship that we know is no good and yet are unable to walk away from? Stopping to ask yourself these questions and forcing yourself to articulate answers can allow ideas to formulate that you probably already had but have been hiding from. This is why I love this kind of work – because it is truly soul-searching and gives you that space to really get to know the person you are and the person you want to be. As a creative this is an invaluable exercise.

These questions also allow you to structure your breathe a little bit. While I’m not advocating trying to force emotions out when you are breathing it is only natural that, if you have been thinking about what you want to achieve and the aspects of your life that you’d ideally like to let go of, then they may well form a large part of your breath-work experience. I know the first time I breathed that focusing on my creative blocks beforehand meant that when I went into that state of being inside my own body I became acutely aware of what it was that was stopping me achieving my creative goals and what I could do to break the chain of me blocking myself.

This is something I have found myself explaining to people who are new to breath-work time and again, that while there is something deeply spiritual about the work which can’t be controlled or manipulated, there is a very strong scientific element to it as well. Rather than being completely hippy-dippy woo-woo, which I know works for some people, I prefer to think of breath-work as a practical tool that can be used to help recharge my creative self and reinvigorate my mental state. Just like meditation or going for a brisk jog!


So, to conclude, I seem to be reiterating something I’ve been saying a lot recently which is that if someone like me – and I like to consider myself as quite down-to-earth and practical – can reach a point with breath-work where he wants to use it to help others as well as himself then it must be doing something right.

Every time I assist people on their breathes, I am blown away (no pun intended!) by their reactions and am always glad when I can be there to provide a bit of support to those who are brave enough and strong enough to say yes, I want to improve myself.

Stewart Who? reflects on Raving, Rebirthing and Reclaiming Balance.

DJ Stewart Who? wrote this feature on his experience of Rebirthing Breathwork for QX Magazine in 1998, then adds a current follow up.

“The fact that I’ve been going to Rebirthing Breathwork sessions has been the source of much interest amongst my friends. Most saw it as a frivolous and fashionable pastime, prompted by viewing too many episodes of Absolutely Fabulous. 

freeedom birthday 001Others conceded that after Prozac, amytriptamine, diazepam, coke and years of counselling, it could hardly do any harm. Some peers are mystified, while others are threatened when you start looking inwards. Why? It’s hard not to wonder whether you should be doing the same.

Rebirthing is also known as ‘conscious connected breathing’. Basically, that’s all it is, a breathing technique which brings you closer to your subconscious. It may sound like new age nonsense and I was initially very sceptical, but after trying it, I was completely blown away. It seemed quite simple; controlled breathing, through the mouth. This was done on the floor, resting on a comfy duvet. David, the coach, lay beside me and gave assurance that he’d be breathing in a similar fashion, for direction and to create a connection.

filmflyer 001At first I was bored. As far as I was concerned, a nice fat spliff would have chilled me much quicker. Then after about 10 minutes, something started to happen. My whole body began to tingle in a way that could only compare to drug experiences. I broke out in a sweat, my mouth and hands became paralysed and I felt like I was coming up on very strong MDMA.

It didn’t feel good at first.  If a drug had done that to me in a club, I’d have been screaming for the paramedics. Two things kept me going; trust in David and a determination to sort out the stuff in my head. Torrents of sweat poured from me. I heard him explain that the perspiration was likely to be all the drugs and toxins being released from my body. Had I been able to speak, I’d have asked him to bottle it.

Eventually the intensity of the experience lessened, the paralysis eased and I continued to breathe, concentrating on the rhythm. David suggested I move into a foetal position on my side.

My whole body vibrated gently, like a purring cat. I felt exhausted, relieved and slightly off my face.

There was no denying I’d experienced a very strong, drug-free physical experience. It wasn’t my imagination, something very powerful had occurred. The cup of tea following ‘the breathe’ was the best I‘ve ever sipped. The biscuits tasted ridiculously sensational. All my senses were on overdrive. Walking back to the tube station, I felt relaxed, relieved and blissfully clear headed. I was late to meet friends for dinner that evening and prior to my arrival, they joked that I’d been still-born.

There’s no denying that at one point during the ‘breathe’ I felt paralysed with fear and overwhelmed by the physical sensations. It soon passed and I felt amazing. I booked a series of sessions straight away! “

16 years later, I have this to add…..

ibiza2Following that first session, I fell in love with breathwork- and perhaps, more relevantly with David Parker’s methods. We’ve since become good friends and have collaborated on a number of projects. Back in ’98, I was a staggering, dramatically toxic party animal. If you think I’m bad now, you should have seen me then. Despite that chaos of chemicals and lunacy, I had an urge to improve my life, to know myself, to understand my motivations and perhaps tackle the shadows that were seemingly ruling my existence.

The truth is, that project is ongoing. It’s unfinished business. Self-development is not something you can embrace, then abandon when it doesn’t please you. Once you’ve seen your ugly depths, you can’t unsee them. There IS no escape from your self. Well, perhaps there is – but that minor holiday from your ego can only happen when you meditate and or/do breathwork. As Teddy Pendergrass once sang, ‘You can’t hide from yourself/Everywhere you go, there you are.’

In the ‘90s, I was able to temporarily annihilate my conscious with a tsunami of intoxicants. That option has become tainted by a weary wisdom that’s impossible to switch off. Yeah, I can still party ‘til dawn with terrifying gusto. However, even when pole dancing on a nightbus, or twirling under a mirror ball, I’m grimly aware of the destruction that’s occurring. Hard partying is horribly predictable, the consequences are always unattractive and the cost is spiritual. And financial. For me, embarking on a bender in my 40s, is like getting into a car with the full knowledge that it’s gonna crash.  It tends to be a tainted ride.

The biggest obstruction to breathwork back in ’98 was my inability to stay awake during the process. I would just nod out. Week after week. It was hugely frustrating; time was ticking along and my life was unravelling at an alarming pace. David, (or Madge, as he’s known to me now), referred to my incessant sleeping during the ‘breathes’ as my ‘unconscious death urge’. ‘You don’t want to be here,’ Madge would say to me, referring to life itself, not Euston, where these sessions were held. It was a dreadful observation, mostly ‘cause it was true.  Determined to nip that in the bud, I demanded a solution. We tried ‘breathing’ in the bath, with a snorkel and Speedos. I didn’t fall asleep, granted, but with the two of us sniggering and shrieking, it was closer to a performance art circus than spiritual healing. We DID have a laugh though. Never underestimate THAT therapy. You can never have too many LOLs on the long path to enlightenment.

CFR006-GO-66-92David suggested doing a ‘breathe’ while sat upright, looking in a mirror– in this case, quite a large, gilt edged one that could concuss if it fell on you. It required strength and concentration to keep it upright and unsurprisingly, it transpired that it’s hard to fall asleep when you’re looking into your own eyes. It’s bracing, not soothing and after a few minutes, it feels like you’re staring at a rotten corner of your soul. Nobody wants to see that. This approach was confrontational, unnerving and emotional. It also worked. I maintained the rhythm of the breath, became blissed out on the meditative effect of the process and at one point, felt this enormous solitary tear roll down my blank face. ‘Oooooh,’ exclaimed Madge, with theatrical delight as the tear dripped off my chin, ‘She has emotion!’ LOL

Breathing into a mirror is still my preferred method, but since that breakthrough, I’ve done it in many different ways, both individually and in groups. Once, I even did some breathwork while in a very deep 19th century bath, while alone in an apartment on the outskirts of Moscow. It still astounds me with its strangeness, the peace that it delivers and the curious tranquillity one feels afterwards.

Reading my first account of rebirthing, published back in ’98 has proved quite odd. My writing, outlook, attitude and understanding of life has evolved quite radically since then. So much so, that I barely recognise myself. Perhaps it’s not surprising, a LOT has happened between then and now. Obviously, that journey to the present day has required much effort on my part, not all of it welcomed. Facing your demons is a very adult endeavour; consequently, it can bring out one’s inner screaming brat. Stamping of feet, pouting, sulking and whining are all likely to occur while experiencing any kind of emotional therapy. It’s dreadful when toddlers throw their toys out of the pram, but it’s really ugly when you find yourself doing it, but with the requisite crow’s feet and a middle aged paunch.

me & crystal mc

Luckily, I’ve had David Parker to guide me through this personal evolution. The breathwork has helped enormously, but it’s his intuitive wisdom, humour and truth that have kept me on the rails, guided my wayward ego and affected a positive change in my outlook. I still have my dark days, and lapses of sanity, but Madge has given me the tools and advice to deal with those episodes. That’s all he can do, all ANYONE can do. The real work- you have to do yourself. You either want to change or you don’t. So, good luck with that. Simply reflecting on that truth, that we are the custodians of our own destiny, well, it’s made me pout like a sulky child.

As I said, this is still a work in progress.

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