The Healing Power of Breathing
By Michele Rosenthal
I’m always on the look out for books about trauma and recovery that combine both science and practical tips for how we can move forward. And I’m always so excited when I find one – both for my own education and so I can share it with you! This summer I found another book for my Special Recovery Books shelf: THE HEALING POWER OF THE BREATH, by Dr. Patricia Gerbarg and Dr. Richard Brown.
Truthfully, I took the book on vacation and didn’t expect to get much reading done. My brother was getting married in Nantucket and so we all flew up from Florida. It was a long day of travel during which I usually like light reading because it’s sometimes tough to focus amidst the hustle-bustle of airports, cabs and overlays. However, from the first page I was hooked.
The book opens by saying,
Throughout history, great healers have discovered the power of breathing to enhance the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of their people. Once secret and sacred, breath practices are now available to everyone. We invite you on a journey through our book…. to learn simple, natural methods to become calmer, overcome stress, boost energy, focus your mind, enhance physical fitness, sleep peacefully, and feel closer to those you love.
“Wow,” I thought, thinking back to my PTSD self, “I would have loved that during my recovery!”
While travelers loped and dragged bags, suitcases and backpacks all around me I buried my nose chapters that described how to breathe, why it works, the science behind it all and true stories of survivors who have experienced enormous improvements in how they feel simply from following the easy techniques the book very easily outlines and teaches you to implement. The authors speak eloquently, slowly build their case, and allow natural pauses in information so that you brain can absorb it all. It’s almost as if the writing breathes purposely through the book itself.
As if the book weren’t enough (and trust me, it is) to teach you how you can put in place a breathing practice that in twenty minutes per day can really change your life, the authors have generously included a terrific CD that offers instruction and prompts for how to breathe. I really love this element of the book because when I think back to my survivor struggling self it was 1) tough to organize new information in my head, 2) hard to still myself enough to walk myself through any process. The CD eliminates any such problems. All you do is sit/lie back and follow the gentle and soft voice.
If you’re looking for something proactive that you can do to become more functional today, I highly recommend this book. You might also enjoy listening to my interview with Dr. Gerbarg (and you’ll hear a part of the CD) on YOUR LIFE AFTER TRAUMA.