Breathwork and the Importance of Mutual Relationality
Relationality is the state or condition of being relational, and pertains to the way in which two or more things may be linked or associated. In Somatic Breath Healing, we consider relationality to be the energetic, consciousness-infused interconnection between practitioner and client, which not only gets amplified through conscious breathing, but also encompasses the multilevel mutuality that put the individuals together in the first place. It embraces the full range of the body, mind and spirit of the therapeutic relationship, but also includes the shared causality of the how and why the interconnection is happening.
Relationality points to the idea that there is a compression of causal probabilities present in every relational moment, and that many of these are often unrecognized in normal psychotherapeutic approaches. Relationality is the marriage of content and context, and emerges from the evolutionary meeting point where difference and similarity, divisibility and indivisibility, arise and develop together. It embraces the concept that present in the room is a mutuality that is more than just the sum of the parts (people) present. Regardless of how we conceive of ourselves individually or socially, physics tells us we live in a unified field of interconnection; in other words, there isn’t a space or place where things aren’t in relationship to each other. Everything is mutually interrelated.
Imagine how water takes the shape of a container, or better yet, how air takes the shape of your lungs – all of the inside space is touched equally no matter what. Regardless of how or why the water or air got there, the water doesn’t care what shape the container is, nor does the air care whose lungs it’s entering. Yet consider this: it’s impossible to separate the presence of the water or air from the how and why they got there. Presence and purpose go hand in hand, like space and time. The client in front of you is sitting there because you matched two needs: your need and willingness to be of help with their need to make a request for help. Relationality is the quality, nature and way that purposeful, evolutionary connection is happening all the time, moment by moment, from the simplicity of two primordial life forms interacting to two people falling in love to the way in which two adversarial nations seek to reconcile their differences.
In other words, when it comes to relationality, wherever there is form (separateness/identity) there must be function (interconnectivity/purpose). As we have come to learn through the observation of thousands of sessions where conscious breathing is the primary tool, relationality is the playing field upon which these two positions of identity and purpose meet, and when embraced wholeheartedly directly influences the depth, range and efficiency of the therapeutic outcome. In the past several years we have also come to witness that those practitioners most attuned to the relational quality of the therapeutic relationship have the most effective results with their clients. In the process of deepening our understanding of the importance of relationality, these principles have become central to the Power of Breath Institute.
But what does that mean in terms of Somatic Breath Healing?
It means that healing is not just some random event that takes place between two random people. It means that there is always some underlying reason or reciprocity between the two or more who are present, and that the healer must be conscious of this in order to maximize positive outcome. It means that being able to “walk-the-talk” (to feel your own breathing Self in relationship to another’s breathing Self) is not just some nice concept to guarantee integrity, but it becomes a requirement that insures a quality of healing interconnection that is relevant and empowering and not just incidental to the client.
It means at the deepest level somatic healing is founded upon a collaborative movement or flow of attractive, intelligent, interconnected energy that tends toward wholeness – but that we as healers must first humble ourselves to this intelligence of interconnectivity by getting to know how it moves (as revealed in our breath) in ourselves and our bodies.
Does this mean that interconnection happens only through two or more people breathing in proximity to each other? No. This happens energetically all of the time, and consciousness as well as mammalian breathing is a part of that interconnectivity. However, because humans can consciously breathe, we have the unique opportunity to choose to intend, enhance and/or amply the nature and quality of that interconnectivity. The most accomplished breathworkers who tend to have the most effective results have learned to sense and move from the reciprocal and relevant nature of therapeutic relationality.
Finally, what it means is that Nature has the final say, not some mind-generated assumption of what healing should look like or some memorized instruction about which breath techniques should be applied. After thousands of sessions, experience has shown that carefully regulated, conscious breathing activates a kind of interactivity we call Body-Breathing Interactive-Intelligence that unfolds perfectly in each and every moment, and is the heart and soul of relationality. This interactive intelligence not only evokes deep healing, but also helps every person re-establish evolutionary connectivity rather than individualistic isolation in their lives. I believe our task as practitioners is to attune ourselves to this intelligence, to open ourselves deeply to the evolutionary “WE” space of relationality, and to learn to rely on and respond to this moment-to-moment flow of breath-enhanced interconnection.