December has arrived, and with it the beginning of the end of 2020 — thank goodness! It has been a tough year for so many people in so many different ways. As of today, 1,579,517 people have died of COVID-19, with over 69 million people worldwide having been infected (statistics from World-O-Meter). And of course, a huge percentage of the "recovered" will have long-lasting health implications that we are only beginning to understand. Many businesses have closed, unable to stay open with the strict measures put in place to keep populations safe. And with businesses closing, individuals have lost jobs and financial security that they may have had. As we have been pushed to "socially isolate," people have been isolated, and their mental health has suffered tremendously, with suicide rates on the rise.
A lot of the work that I have done in the past 6 months has been one-on-one Buteyko Breath Retraining, and many of the people I have worked with have been under the strain — financial, emotional, psychological — of COVID-19, feeling its impact on their breathing, health, and well-being. Many of the sessions have been one of the only ways that people were able to connect with another person and talk about how things were going in their lives. I've spent many hours talking about and listening to the impacts of social isolation and loss of meaningful work. And I am grateful for every one of those moments. To those who shared a little of their journey with me, thank you, and I hope that I was able to offer a safer space and some breathing tools to help.
But 2020 has also brought to me more clarity. What kind of meaningful work can I do? How can I make the biggest difference in people's lives? And how I can sustain myself while doing that?
My intention at the start of this year was to reset my life. We moved to be nearer to family, into our new home which we have been (slowly) renovating. [For those who are waiting for an update, not much has happened! But there are still lots of plans, so stay tuned.] I wasn't sure what my work would look like in this environment, but I was willing to move with the currents as they ebbed and flowed. As things flowed, I began working in this new place, entirely over Zoom, in a one-on-one format only. Something that became apparent to me was that people are missing a sense of community — I know that I am, too!
I've been listening to my clients these past few months, and so I've developed new tools to support them in their work. It began with a recording of me guiding a client through their breathing exercise. That snowballed (avalanched 😂) into a log-in-only Resources Page for people going through the Buteyko Breath Retraining course on my website. On it are several recordings, a series of short videos, external resources for further reading (books, articles), as well as a sign-up for the upcoming Community Breath gathering.
This was the next revelation — when you've finished your training, you're on your own, and continuing to practice the breathing might be less motivating if you don't have an upcoming appointment with me. Another client made a suggestion that became Community Breath, a bi-monthly Zoom call for people who have finished the breath retraining. We can meet up, talk to each other, breathe together.
Breathe together — such a lovely thing to do. So, why have I only been teaching in a one-on-one situation? Why, when being together can bring such joy. In learning, we can cultivate relationships between two or more people. Learning with others can be a support and reinforcement of your own journey. Other people might ask a question that puts into words something you were experiencing. And seeing how other people are struggling with a concept or an exercise that might seem simple in theory can validate your own interaction with the same ideas.
And so, Group Buteyko Breath Retraining begins February 1. It will be small groups. Some of the material will be pre-recorded so you can watch it on your own time and come to the group meetings with questions to ask. The group meetings will be more experiential, more practice. There will still be some personal attention, with a one-on-one session with me, and continued email access to answer questions during the course of the program. All of the details are presented on my Buteyko Breathing Webpage. If you have questions about it, please send me an email and we can chat about it. I will continue to teach Buteyko through a trauma-informed lens, with a gentle approach, as I have found this to be the most effective way to help people with breathing difficulties. I will be able to, for the first time, have some sliding-scale spots specifically for BIPOC, LGBTQ2S+, differently abled, and financially challenged folx (email me for more information). There will still be a few premium spots for people who would rather work one-on-one.
I think that this will also be more sustainable for me. I will be teaching in a 300h yoga teacher training next spring, and am wanting to work on other aspects of breath retraining, possibly doing some more learning myself. Making space for learning invigorates my teaching, and nourishes my soul. This past year there wasn't much room for that, and I can feel the void that leaves in me. 2020 has provided some clarity, and I can see a little better what I'd like 2021 to look like.
What lessons have you learned in 2020? How has this year brought your life into focus? When you look back over the past 11 months, what do you imagine for yourself looking forward? And what can you do in this moment that might head you in that direction?
I hope that you will join me for a Buteyko Breath Retraining if you haven't already. And if you have and you'd like access to Community Breath Zoom calls, please get in touch. Let's make 2021 a year of connection, restoration, and of creating the world we can see now that we all need.
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