“When we breathe with our inner wounds, the primary activity is being present to our wounds in a compassionate manner. We start to notice that the state of being warmly present to the wound starts to ‘change’ it without us trying to change it per-se”
Dear Integral Meditators,
Breathing with your wounds is a fundamental therapeutic technique that I have been using quite a lot recently. In the article below I explain the principles and how to try it for yourself.
Some of the deeper principles behind the below meditation can be learned and practiced in the Shadow meditation workshop on the 18th March. If you enjoy the article, you’d be welcome to attend.
In the spirit of healing,
Breathing with your inner wounds
Breathing with your wounds is a fundamental therapeutic technique that I have been using quite a lot recently. The basic principle is very simple:
As you breathe, be aware of any inner wounds, conflict or unresolved energy within yourself.
- As you breathe in, extend the fundamental warmth of your compassion toward, around and into that area of yourself
- As you breathe out, sustain relaxed focus on this, exposing the wound or conflict to the warm, compassionate energy
You can do this as a formal, sit down meditation, or just take it as a mood and atmosphere that you return to regularly though-out the day. For example, today is Sunday, and the pace/cadence of the day is that things are relaxed enough for me to be doing this type of breathing as I cook or walk, or am in between activities or direct interactions with others.
You can make the way in which you extend your compassion very subjective as you breathe, or you can make it slightly more objective and detached. Either works well in different ways. See my article on Building functional and wise compassion.
Compassionate presence heals
With our inner wounds it often feels as if we need to ‘do’ something in order to fix our wound. When we breathe with our wounds, the primary activity is being present to our wounds in a compassionate manner. We start to notice that the state of being warmly present to the wound starts to ‘change’ it without us trying to change it per-se. I mentioned in the paragraph above that I enjoy practising this on a Sunday. On Sunday we have the opportunity to be present to all of the half-processed emotions that are within us from the events of the week. Where we notice there is a wound or conflict, we can acknowledge and breathe with it, which will help to process it, enabling us to reset effectively for the beginning of the next week.
Breathing with wounds in relationships
If your inner wounds and conflicts are with people, you can practice compassionate breathing whilst bearing in mind the other person or people involved. Again, you are not trying to ‘fix’ the relationship, just extending healing presence to it, and observing the change in your perception that starts to take place. I find this is often somewhat magical, as the tone of the relationship the next time I meet the person or people often changes for the better.
Final point, sometimes it may not be possible to extend warmth and compassion to yourself or the wound. If that’s the case, simply acknowledging it and breathing with it, letting it come and go as you breathe in and out can still be very helpful. Often doing this for a while will then enable you to access the compassionate awareness.
Related reading: Lazy compassion
Building Your Compassion and Reducing Your Own Suffering, Everyday
© Toby Ouvry 2023, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com
All upcoming classes and workshops at IMA:
Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation for stress transformation and positive energy with Toby (Bukit Timah)
Ongoing on Tuesday evenings, 7.30-8.30pm – Tuesday Meditation for stress transformation and positive energy with Toby (East Coast)
Tues 21st & Weds 22nd March, 7.30-8.30pm – Spring Equinox balancing and renewing meditation
Saturday March 25th, 9.30-11.30am – Monthly Qi Gong & Taoist Breathwork Clinic & Mini-retreat
Sat & Sunday 1st, 2nd April – Two day integral meditation retreat