Feeling the need to be busy all the time is a trauma response. It’s a fear-based distraction from feeling what we’d be forced to acknowledge and feel if we slowed down.

Since lockdown, I’ve been keeping myself frantically busy by having a long list of things I ‘should’ be doing. These include: cleaning and decluttering my house, taking a course on how to use Instagram effectively, learning Italian; and, becoming familiar with the use of Mailchimp, Eventbrite, and Zoom.

In addition to the above I also completed training on how to facilitate Transformational Breath® sessions online safely and effectively; and as part of certification, I received and gave two breath sessions.

I then noticed that my body was feeling tense, my breath had become short and shallow, and I was having worrying thoughts about the future. I made a conscious decision to slow down and instead spend time to go IN with the help of Transformational Breath®, alongside Michael Brown’s book The Presence Process.

elif clarke - the breath psychologist

This process consists of ten weeks of affirmations assisted by a breathing practise designed to bring us fully into the present moment with feelings, so that we can confront our demons and eventually feel compassion for ourselves and others. Transformational Breath®, is a self-empowering breathing technique which helps us to access the full potential of our respiratory system.

It promotes better physical, mental and emotional well-being; because, according to its principles, we hold our breath to avoid painful feelings. It also suggests that breathing fully into closed places in our respiratory system allows repressed emotions and traumatic memories to surface from the unconscious and be felt in our body as tension and pain to be processed and released.

Thus, on a mental/emotional level, practising Transformational Breath® helped me to access early trauma which was stored in my body’s cellular memory. It gave me an understanding that keeping myself busy with a list of things to do was a way of avoiding feeling painful feelings; which, in my case was fear, and was stored in my physiology as a child due to growing up in a traumatic family dynamic. During the breath session I had an image of a little girl sitting in her room on her own, totally locked down to avoid violence and emotional abuse. The only way she dreamed of getting out of the trauma was to escape by constant reading and learning. Now, as an adult living amid the virus pandemic; I, like the little girl I was many years ago, am using the same coping strategies to avoid my feelings of fear, anxiety, grief, and worry.

During Transformational Breath® sessions, the use of sound, movement, self-facilitation, and affirmation has been helping me to integrate trauma memories and painful emotions. I am now noticing my breathing is much more open, calm and deep since I allowed myself to sit with my painful feelings.

Instead of making endless list, I am now allowing myself to embrace all my feelings with self-compassion and the belief that we all have built-in resilience to continue with our lives.