At the seminars recently, we have been focusing on breathing and pleasure. We are using breathwork to enhance our enjoyment of life and the world, and to increase our happiness, and our love and acceptance of ourselves and each other.
A perfect style of Breathwork for supporting this is “Vivation,” or “the skill of happiness.” Jim Leonard developed this style of rebirthing. And in celebration of him and his legacy, I would like to give you a quick explanation of this practice and invite you to explore it.
There are five elements of Vivation:
1. Circular breathing
2. Complete relaxation
3. Awareness in detail
4. Integration into ecstasy
5. Do whatever you do; willingness is enough
There are some very powerful concepts built into the practice of Vivation. The first is that happiness is an inherent aspect of our nature and of existence.
That means that if you exist and let yourself be, you have all you need to be happy! And it means that if you are not happy, then you must be blocking your awareness of this inherent aspect of nature and existence: you must be resisting “what is as it is.”
Another powerful concept in Vivation is the difference between “content” and “context.”
Every experience has both content (it is what it is), and context (how we perceive what is, what meaning we give it, or what we tell ourselves about it). Most people think that happiness depends on the content of their experience, in other words: what happens. In fact, happiness actually depends on the context we create, in other words: the meaning we give to what happens.
We need not simply accept whatever context our mind conjures up, especially if it is one that causes suffering. In fact we can choose our context in any moment (we can tell our mind what to think). That is what the 4th element of Vivation is all about: choosing and changing our context (re-programing our emotional mind).
The practice of Vivation involves actively breathing in a circular rhythm: also called conscious connected breathing. There are no pauses or gaps between the breaths—inhales and exhales are connected in a continuous seamless rhythm.
While we are breathing in this connected circular way, we are also deliberately and continuously relaxing, while focusing on the physical sensations in our body. We are tracking the subtle changes in our energy, and consciously inhaling into the strongest feeling.
Vivation is about developing an energy rapport with the feelings and sensations that arise in us. It is a body-oriented practice: not a mental one. In other words, get out of your head: breathe and relax into your body.
We use three breathing rhythms in Vivation:
1. Fast and full
2. Slow and full
3. Fast and shallow
Use fast and full breathing to awaken our energy, to activate feelings and sensations. We use fast and full breathing if nothing is happening in our session (if we can’t “feel” anything), if we begin to space out, go unconscious, or fall asleep.
Use slow and full breathing to maximize our pleasure or enjoyment of something. Use slow full breathing to bring that pleasure to every cell of our body.
Use fast and shallow breathing when the energy is too intense, when the experience is too big to integrate all at once. In that case we shift to little quick baby breaths. We also use fast and shallow breathing just for the fun and pleasure of it. (Think happy dog!)
Think of the breathing this way: you decide to listen to music. If the volume is so low that you can’t hear it, or have to strain to hear it, it will be difficult to enjoy. On the other hand, if it’s too loud, even if it’s your favorite music, it will be difficult to enjoy.
Breathe deeply and quickly enough to activate energy, and the feelings and sensations that come up; but not so much that you struggle to enjoy them.
The final element in Vivation is about willingness. Do not wait to know how to enjoy something before you are willing to enjoy it. Willingness comes first. The how will follow. The truth is you can enjoy anything and everything. Willingness is enough.
Now, here’s a quick quiz to see if you understand main principle of Vivation:
Question: What is the right way to breathe during Vivation: thru the nose or mouth?
Answer: Which one feels better? Which one is more enjoyable? That’s the right way!
Good luck in your practice!
Dan Brulé has studied and practiced breathwork with more than 80,000 people in over 40 countries since 1976. His travel and teaching schedule is posted at www.breathmastery.com.