Breathwork

Breathwork for addiction in Costa Mesa, California

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Our Costa Mesa Breathwork

Until recently, breathwork has been a somewhat unfamiliar technique in western culture. Americans today are more interested in studying alternative medicine practices than ever before. With this increased public support for holistic approaches towards health care, breathwork has begun to see scientific backing for its efficacy.

Breathwork is a practice that many are now using for its therapeutic effects tied to the awareness and control of one’s mind, body, and emotions. This therapy has reached professional addiction treatment centers around the world and practitioners have since reported benefits in people with substance use disorders.

In short, breathwork refers to any technique that involves the control of breathing to alter our biological or psychological condition.

Origins of Breathwork

Meditation was perhaps the origin of many breathwork techniques that exist today. For example, one of the newest approaches is the Wim Hof Method. This particular method is based on the ancient meditation technique Tummo used by Tibetan Buddhist monks.

Science, under several studies, has shown that this specific type of meditation can alter several of the brain’s regular cognitive waves (Alpha and beta waves) and promote brain relaxation without affecting our alertness. It would be great to be able to control our stress just by meditating for a while, right? Well, it’s possible!

In fact, it seems that with this type of meditation, it is possible to increase our temperature. Wim Hof has used this technique himself to stay alive during long time periods of extreme cold exposure.

How does it work?

How do these Alpha and Beta wave disturbances occur? What’s behind all this?

Our body is a vessel for billions of chemical reactions occurring every second. Breathwork can induce chemical changes in the brain from the exchange and control of breathing, which can improve various aspects of our mind.

We’re not only talking about breathwork for addiction treatment, but also of other ailments. Breathwork has been shown to have positive effects on:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • PTSD
  • Depression
  • Chronic Pain
  • Immunosuppression

From the moment we are born, during the first months, we completely alter our way of breathing. At the beginning, it is 100% abdominal; however, we change it to a more thoracic form, where we breathe little through the nose. 

Using breathwork can be a radical change in the life of a person with an addiction. However, is there only the Win Hoff method? Is it the only one proven to be effective? No.

Types of Breathwork

There are hundreds of breathing patterns and methods. All techniques that include guided breathing can be useful people with a history of substance abuse. However, the ones proven to be most useful are:

Even some particular variations of yoga have proven to be effective. The altered state of consciousness produced from both exercises have seen proof in scientific studies of their therapeutic benefits.

The Power of Breathwork against Addiction

We start from the premise that specialists in breathwork use: Humans neglect their breath. Your breathing has kept you alive this long, so what’s the issue? Well, the way we unconsciously develop breathing patterns throughout our lives sometimes leads to less efficient oxygen intake over a long time.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air is one uncontrollable factor in a person’s unconscious breathing patterns. Built-up CO2 in our body triggers our brain stem’s to work its involuntary breathing mechanisms.

The more active we are, the more CO2 our body builds up. That’s why we take deep breaths during strenuous exercise. Stress and anxiety also add to this build-up.

Physical and psychological stress in people dealing with addiction or alcoholism can see significant trouble here. Factor in respiratory suppression many of these drugs cause and there’s a perfect storm for unbalanced breathing habits—especially when going through the early stages of sobriety.

The good thing is breathing can be a conscious connected activity. Learning and practicing new breathing techniques can strengthen an addict’s self-control and lower anxiety the distance from drugs and alcohol causes them. This control can help addicts face realities of the real world.

Clarity breathwork for addiction therapy can be ideal for addressing any negative thoughts, emotions, or stress that gets in the way of a sober lifestyle. In fact, breathwork is an excellent way to use our brains to our advantage. Whenever it is applied by a professional, we can modulate thoughts and the brain’s chemical reactions by controlling Alpha and Beta waves.

Not only could this teach alcoholics or drug addicts how to survive in a world full of temptations, but it could also help them to maintain a regimen on the medicine they may need, the time at rest, the selection of activities, etc.

Mental Health and Addiction

People with addiction often have more than one problem. Remember, the onset of alcohol or drug habits are usually associated with some underlying problem that is generally quite significant. Therefore, they often have more than one diagnosis once they arrive at a health care facility.

The good news is that breathwork for addiction treatment shows to help alleviate several illnesses that often occur in addicts. Imagine if there was more that could curb your anxiety or unhealthy thoughts, and it wasn’t alcohol or drugs. That would be great, right?

That’s the potential of breathwork: it gives you control.

References

  1. Link Sprava. [The use of holotropic breathing in the treatment of chronic alcoholism]. Lik Sprava. 1996 Mar-Apr;(3-4):134-6. Retrieved from PubMed
  2. Maria Kozhevnikov, James Elliot, Jennifer Shepard, Kalus Gramann. Neurocognitive and Somatic Components of Temperature Increases during g-Tummo Meditation: Legend and Reality. 2013. Plos One. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0058244
  3. Surbhi Khanna and Jeffrey Greeson. A Narrative Review of Yoga and Mindfulness as Complementary Therapies for Addiction. Complement Ther Med. 2013 Jun; 21(3): 244–252. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2013.01.008

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