Breema is a teaching of the heart, an expression of the unifying principle of Existence. Its purpose is to create harmony and balance between your mind, feelings, and body, and in your relationship to yourself, to others, and to all life.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Breema Supports Physicians in Caring for Others—and Themselves

Recently I had a series of inspiring interviews with healthcare professionals who are also Breema instructors and practitioners. In keeping with their aim to bring Breema to every aspect of their lives, they use the philosophy and principles of Breema in their practices, transforming their interactions with patients and colleagues and finding balance in the midst of tremendously demanding schedules.

They all said that the philosophy of Breema supports them to view both themselves and their patients as much more than their outward condition. "I try to remember that it is doing a disservice to the patient to see them as just a set of symptoms, or a condition I need to 'fix,' says Laura Rawson, LAc.
"Breema taught me how important it is to accept people as they are."

Karen Burt, MD, agrees. "In Breema classes I learned that to just be with someone, to be truly present with them, in a moment of life together, is one of the most healing activities I can do. Some of my patients who expressed the most gratitude to me—I never felt that I 'fixed' their problem."

‪‪Alexandra Johnson, MD, also r‬ecognizes that it's impossible to really know what someone else needs. In her interaction with patients, she supports them to look a little deeper at their condition and its causes.‬ "I know the potential for learning and growth that comes from our relationship to our bodies," she said. "I try to help my patients figure out what they need to support their own health and vitality, recognizing that everyone has that wisdom within them, and they just need to get connected to it. This posture came directly from studying Breema."

All three physicians emphasized that developing connection and trust with their patients was the crucial element in their movement towards health. "Healing means wholeness," Karen said. "I've seen in the groups that I worked with that people need to find a connection to some aspect of themselves that is inherently whole and healthy, in order to rise above their resistance to change. Sometimes a real connection with the doctor, or with other group members, is what supports this connection in themselves."

Breema principles also provide support in dealing with the challenges of practicing medicine in the modern world. "There are times when I'm seeing many patients in quick succession," Laura said. "At first I had the idea I need to "conserve" my energy, but I soon saw that Full Participation was a better approach. Fully participating in each exchange—and working with Single Moment, Single Activity too—actually gives me energy and makes short interactions feel complete." She also uses the Breema touch with her patients—holding with one hand on their body as she places needles with the other hand. Touching the patient while placing the needles isn't "necessary" for acupuncture, but she finds that it is very supportive, helping her remember her wish to be present and increasing the connection between herself and her patient.

Using the nurturing touch of Breema bodywork with patients could take the form of giving Breema as part of an examination or prior to a procedure, or simply holding a hand while being present, with body-mind connection. "I used to see patients and they would rest their arm on the small desk at which we were seated, and I would just place my hand on their arm, and focus on my breath as I listened to their stories, says Karen Burt. "That supported me to be receptive rather than focused on my own agenda, and when I became present, this receptivity made it more possible to find what was needed. It also helped me to really listen—sometimes truly listening to someone is all you need to do."

Alexandra often offers a Breema foot treatment to women about to give birth. "The birth process can be scary," she said. "As we go through it together,  I try to help them stay grounded in the present, to actually experience their body in each moment. Staying out of the past and future reduces the fear."

Using Breema principles and body-mind connection also supports these doctors under the demands of their job. "If a colleague gets tense or upset around me, I remember the principles of Mutual Support and No Judgment," says Alexandra. "I know that when Breema principles are alive for me,  I am supporting everyone in the room, including myself— no matter what specific role I may be playing in an operation or procedure. So it helps me let go of ego and keeps me available to what is needed." She's also involved in resident education to support physician wellness and burnout prevention. Her classes include body-centered meditation and she teaches residents how to create reminders to support themselves to stay balanced and grounded throughout their day. "Every time I disinfect my hands between patients, I use that motion to remind me to come to my body. I encourage the residents to find reminders like this for themselves. The more we bring this type of self-care into physician's education, the more we'll have physicians who don't burn out."

Thursday, August 14, 2014

How Breema Helps My Therapy Practice

The single most important aspect of the therapeutic process is the connection and trust between therapist and client and the level of presence the therapist can bring to the interaction.

That is the consensus of four Breema instructors who are also professional therapists. I spoke with them about how Breema has supported them and their practice. "As a client, when I look at the person who is my therapist, I want to know that someone is home there," says Aron Saltiel, psychotherapist in Graz, Austria. "I don't want someone who is trying to compute how they can fix me, I want to know that I am actually being seen and heard. So how does the therapist make sure they are actually seeing and hearing the other person? By experiencing their own presence." Aron has a private therapy practice in addition to organizing and teaching many Breema classes, workshops and intensives. "Everything else can only happen once this presence and connection is established, and becomes available in the moment. All the tools I have acquired in my professional training become available to me when I am present, and I know what is needed."

The other therapists agreed, and also see that when they have body, mind and feelings united—in other words, when they are truly present—they have much more confidence in the process of the session than when they rely only on mental processes to determine what the other person needs. "When I'm present while I'm with people, I often know what is the right thing to say or do," says Ann Hudson, LCSW. She is currently working with hospice patients and their families. "When my mind is directing the interaction, I don't experience that connection between myself and the other people. Breema is a real source of confidence for me."

Acceptance is key

"In the session, I represent acceptance for my clients. I work with being present so I can model that for them," says Matthew Tousignant, a somatic psychotherapist in private practice in Pennsylvania. "Because of my study and practice of Breema, I may have developed that more, but my goal is to help them find that in themselves." Matthew actually gives Breema bodywork during sessions with his clients. He finds it increases their openness, helps them experience body-mind connection, introduces them to acceptance and non-judgment, and opens them up to experiencing the atmosphere of presence which ultimately can guide them to experiencing their essential aspect and inherent health. It also helps the client to be more balanced, and receptive to looking at themselves and their situation with less judgment. "I can support them because I don't need them to be anything other than what they are. Over time, they may experience moments of No Judgment, or No Extra, or come to recognize that they are being supported." He works with the Nine Principles of Harmony with some of his clients, as guidance towards coming to balance and harmony, especially when they have had an experience of becoming balanced by receiving Breema bodywork.

Supporting the therapist supports the client

Angela Porter, Program Director at New Bridge Foundation, a drug and alcohol treatment center, is an IMF and Registered Addiction Specialist. "From the time I pull into the parking lot, I'm working with body-mind connection, whenever I can remember," she said in reply to a question I asked about how she uses Breema at her work. "I use body-centered meditation and Self-Breema exercises at the beginning and end of groups I lead. I talk about the Breema principles, helping clients to work with Body Comfortable or No Extra so they can move a little in the direction of being present. This facilitates their process without a lot of emotional 'extra,' and they don't get stuck in whatever catharsis they are going through." Angela also sees her own level of presence as vital to support the process. "When I am connected to myself, the atmosphere that is created in the room supports the client to trust, to take risks, and supports me to know when it's time to stop, when we've done enough for that session." Many of the clients she works with have experienced a lot of trauma, and she finds that helping them to connect to their bodies is an invaluable tool that supports them to come easily back to balance, even in cases of 'emotional flooding.' "The goal is that they ultimately learn to do this for themselves. They don't become dependent on me, the therapist, to 'fix' them," she says. "The principle of No Judgment allows people to experience that they are really OK. No matter what their stories are, they have the chance to see that they are not only their stories, not only what has happened to them in the past."

She also feels that it is necessary for her own self-care. "I absolutely could not do the work I do—because of the intensity level—if I didn't have a practice that brings me back to myself by bringing me back to my body over and over again through the day. I would get exhausted and drained by my work with clients (a definite hazard of the field—vicarious trauma and burnout are big issues). That would happen to me much more without Breema. I don't get so identified with my clients' problems, yet am able to have genuine well wishing and warm regard for them regardless of their issues—this helps me and them."

All of these therapists mentioned that therapy was more effective in the atmosphere of No Judgment. "If I have the ambition to 'heal' my patient, it comes from my personality and gets in the way," says Aron. "The atmosphere of acceptance is what supports the process of healing." Breema practice helps Aron become present in many different aspects of his life, including the therapist-client relationship, and helps him see when he is not receptive. He also teaches Self-Breema exercises to clients, and in practicing them together, finds support for his own aim to be present.

The support of connection to the body

Ann Hudson was a longtime Breema instructor and practitioner before going into practice as a therapist. "Having worked with Breema and its philosophy and principles for so many years forms the background of how I look at my hospice work and the process of dying," she told me. "Connection to my own body is such a support in the highly emotionally charged situations I find myself in in this work. I have the wish to remember this when I'm with my clients, but I have to support that possibility by practicing it in the walk up to the front door, as I ring the doorbell, as I stand there waiting for the door to open. Then, even if I get emotionally involved during the time I am with them, I can come back to body-mind connection after the interaction, and that helps me come back to balance. The wisdom of the Breema teaching—that in reality there is only the process of formation and transformation—helps me to view death and dying as a natural process, and that supports me to have acceptance and willingness to be there in support of my clients."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Becoming Balanced

To solve our problems with others, we first have to come to balance and harmony with ourselves, with our surroundings, and with all life. We first have to become a balanced human being, regardless of outer conditions, and then we may be able to do something about the conditions themselves. By coming to the breath and the body, we become less reactive. The less reactive we are, the more possibilities we have. Many of our problems come because we react when we’re trying to communicate with others, and then they react to our reactions. Coming to the body and the breath doesn’t guarantee a solution to our problems. But it gives us a direction.

—from Every Moment Is Eternal by Jon Schreiber

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A photo tour of some recent Breema events around the world:

Breema workshop in Susak, Croatia
Montserrat, Spain, site of the
Barcelona Breema Intensive
Practicing at the Intensive in Spain

Breema Intensive in Bühl. Germany
Doing Self-Breema at the
weekend workshop in Israel
Demonstrating Breema at a
workshop in Eugene, OR
Leading a Self-Breema class on the beach
in Sylt, Germany

Breema workshop in Nicaragua

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Beyond Unplugging—to fully participate in life we need to be present

If you work with any of the Nine Principles during the day, you have much more energy. We receive energy from food, drink, and impressions. But our energy reservoir is determined by our posture towards life, our attitude, the way we think about life, the way we feel about it, the way we sense it, the way we perceive it. —Breema and the Nine Principles of Harmony by Jon Schreiber
Turning off our devices to take time for ourselves and for non-digital communication and connection is an important step for all of us. At the same time, we need to do something to be present and available, to come out of our habitual preoccupation with what we think and feel, into a direct experience of life in the moment.

We usually live in disconnection, caught in thoughts about life, reacting to those thoughts, and full of tension in body, mind, and feelings. This is part of the reason that the distraction of the digital world is so attractive—it’s a very effective way to avoid experiencing how we are. It gives us an imaginary relationship to others and allows us to project an imaginary image of ourselves.

When we unplug, how are we then? Are we still caught in our ideas about the world? Are we still projecting an image to others of what we’d like to be? Or are we using the act of unplugging to truly experience the moment of life we are living?

If we wish to fully participate in life we need to be present. And to be present, the simplest and most reliable step we can take is to bring body and mind to work together in whatever we’re doing. When body, mind, and feelings are working together, we become present in the moment and have an entirely new relationship to ourselves, to other people, and to life.

Breema is all about this process. We work with Nine Principles of Harmony that point us again and again in the direction of being present moment after moment. The bodywork and movement exercises are an engaging and nurturing way to begin to practice bringing body and mind together. They also support non-judgmental, non-manipulative interaction and connection with other people. Eventually we can discover it’s possible to be present even when we are engaged with digital technology! With these experiences we see a possibility of living our day-to-day lives with greater meaning and purpose. But we have to take the first step of bringing body and mind together over and over again.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Water flows from the mountain down toward the ocean. It is not anxious to get there, nor is it sorry when it’s just begun to flow. Just going through each step of the process, the drop of water has the joy of being a part of Existence in the form of a drop.

Every moment, we can embrace the whole of Existence by simply being present.

—excerpted from Freedom Comes from Understanding by Jon Schreiber 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Breema Bodywork and Being Present

This post is by Jon Lobdell, long-time Breema instructor and practitioner:

If one wishes to pursue a life direction of raising their own consciousness, the avenues that often come to mind are some form of meditation or prayer. Another assumption is that these practices must be done in solitude. It may, therefore, come as a surprise that a very direct and effective way to learn how to become present (which is the natural entrance to higher consciousness) is by practicing a partner bodywork called Breema.

What is Breema? At first glance, Breema might look somewhat like other forms of bodywork, where one person, using leans, stretches, and holds, manipulates another person’s body. However, in Breema, the aim of the person giving the bodywork is not to heal or relax the recipient but to use the activity as an opportunity to be present with the movement of their own body.

Yet the question remains: why work with another when seeking an inner experience of unity with universal truth? Wouldn’t the other person simply be a distraction? Of course, those who pursue solitary practices readily discover the distraction of their own mind! In many methods one waits for the mind to become quiet; in Breema another mechanism is employed, that of mind-body connection. Instead of trying to empty our mind, we give it a job to do—observing the activity of the body.

The first thing we do in Breema is experience our breath and weight with our mind in a relaxed state. Any kind of mental forcing interferes with mind and body becoming truly connected. The mind habitually seeks to dominate in our lives. As with seeking any fruitful union, some equanimity is best. When mind and body do connect, there is a notable shift in perception, but even this remarkably grounding experience is not the ultimate goal. It’s when our feelings enter and participate in the process that the true magic occurs: the experience of being present.

Despite what many of us assume, being present is not an experience of time between past and future; it’s an experience of a dimension above the flow of time. It’s an experience in the direction of direct knowing. In religion, it has been called grace or nirvana. In the new physics it has been referred to as a quantum leap. It is the experience of the Timeless.

In Breema we touch our partner, but not in some spaced-out state. We connect to our own breath and weight, then we touch our partner. But Breema provides more than this as support; Breema acknowledges nine universal principles that are integral to the experience of being present. They are: Body Comfortable, No Judgment, No Extra, No Force, Firmness and Gentleness, No Hurry/No Pause, Single Moment/Single Activity, Full Participation, and Mutual Support. These principles can be practiced while doing the bodywork. They are attributes of the present moment.

One of Breema’s Nine Principles of Harmony is Mutual Support. The energetic connection between bodies is palpable when we practice Breema. If one person becomes more present, the other will be aided to become present. Doing Breema bodywork, our body becomes a vehicle through which we can experience the principle of Single Moment/Single Activity. Practicing the principle of No Judgment allows you to let go of concepts about yourself and your partner while doing Breema.

If we take the example of two people relating and one is doing all the talking and refusing to listen to the other, then we can say the talker is not being receptive. It is similar within ourselves; our mind is always "buzzing" and will not be receptive to our body or our feelings. We might think it is being too active, yet its randomness is better described as passive. A truly active step for the mind would be to come into accord with the other two parts of ourselves. First bringing the mind to the body is the most practical step we can take, as the feelings are much more comfortable entering in when mind and body are together. When the three are together, we are receptive to higher influences. From passivity there is no road to receptivity. We have to first come from passivity to the active state by bringing the mind to the body. From there, we can come to the receptive state.

This saying might express it best: "When you hear truth, you wake up!" But one last thing about Breema is important here. We have stated the importance of body-mind connection, but we have also seen that in our ordinary daily life body and mind and feelings usually function as if they are separate. We have also stated that a relaxed mind without a past-based or future-oriented agenda is necessary for mind-body connection. The body itself is hampered because of years of crystallized postures brought on by this very separation from mind and feelings. Breema is particularly effective in loosening up these postures. The receptive mind connecting to the decrystallized body produces an experience some have described as “taking the cotton out of my ears” and allowing them to hear and understand, as if for the first time.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Breema Intensive in Bühl, Germany

Every year people from all over the world gather to study, practice and deepen their relationship to Breema. This year Jon Schreiber, Director of the Breema Center and author of many books about Breema, will participate in the Bühl Intensive along with Pari Schneider (the organizer of this Intensive) and many other Breema instructors, practitioners and students.

Pari said that this will be the 13th annual Breema Intensive in Bühl. He and the other European Breema students are very excited that Jon is coming this year.

I asked him why someone should consider coming to this Intensive:

Because of the current world conditions, it seems there is more desire for finding something real. It seems like material things have not provided what people really want from life. There is an opening—people are seeking more conscious insight in their life, more understanding, asking the question, "What does it mean to be here on this planet?"
At the Intensive, we are doing Breema for ourselves, experiencing ourselves anew in the presence of another person. The moments of presence while I am doing Breema give me a taste of my own existence instead of a thought or concept about it. In these Intensives love arises for the simple fact that we are, with appreciation for being together with each other, having an alive experience of life—actively practicing and bringing the Breema principles alive.
There is so much beauty in exploring life in a new way. If I can let go of my concepts about how life should be or how I should relate to others, I may have a new experience of life.

I also asked Roxanne Caswell and Birthe Kaarsholm, Breema instructors who come to the Bühl Intensive every year, what it's like to be a part of this five-day retreat:
Birthe: Breema "retreat"  is really the right word for it. The atmosphere created in class also extends outside the class time. Often the material of the classes comes alive in a relaxed, informal way during meals together and walks in the evening.
Roxanne: It's a very wonderful, unique way to relate to other people—more essentially, rather than with the usual currency of the story of the personality.We emphasize one principle for each morning and afternoon class during the five days. It's a great way for students to really experience what a Breema principle is, and how it can be worked with in the class and brought into their lives.
Birthe: The atmosphere carries everyone with it. It's the opposite of everyday life, which carries us in the unconscious direction—here we're all supported to be more present and to drop "extra."
Roxanne: People return year after year, to deepen their relationship to Breema. There is something really accessible for all levels. When people come back from an Intensive their relationship to Breema is much stronger, and their desire to be present grows. I always come back with body, mind, and feelings more balanced. I feel relaxed, but charged up with life!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

How can I make the time that I spend with my clients truly rewarding, satisfying, and meaningful to us both?

Breema bodyworkI asked Jon Schreiber, Director of the Breema Center and Breema Clinic. Here's what he has to say in response:

Breema is based on an amazingly practical common-sense approach to the body and to life. There is nothing that we need to do in life that should be uncomfortable or painful to our body. But in fact, most of the things we do in life fall into that category! They end up damaging us or draining us. Breema actually teaches you how to do things in a way that is enjoyable for you, and increases your energy rather than draining it.

Each of us has an instinctive intelligence that operates in the body, and the possibility to enter a deeper, more meaningful, or higher level of consciousness than we typically spend our life in. Breema's philosophy and practice constantly orient us toward this bigger picture. It saves us from reducing clients to the set of problems they are presenting themselves with. The more the practitioner is free from identifying with what the client's identified with, the better it is for both of them. At those times, I can see that my client may have back pain, but at the same time is alive, is actually much healthier than not healthy, and is part of a much larger Life. The more this is not just a concept for me, but informs how I move, how I touch, how I am when I am with them, the more they are affected by that and oriented toward a larger perspective of what's actually going on in their life. It decreases their fear of possible consequences of their problem, and that alone is a big support for the healing process, which takes place within the client himself.

In practicing Breema, and working with its philosophy and principles, you know you've helped when you experience that you were supported to become more present. This definite knowing that we did something that was useful and helpful doesn't come from what we observe with our eyes and senses about the recipient, or from our conjectures. It comes from putting the principles like Mutual Support and No Judgment into practice. The natural confidence that comes from seeing that both the client and the practitioner have benefited makes doing bodywork very joyful—moving it from a job to something that you are doing that really supports your own life.

I spoke to a couple of Breema practitioners who also practice other forms of massage, bodywork, and yoga. They told me of their experiences and how they benefit from Breema, no matter what form they are practicing:

Eileen Sendrey

Before I started studying Breema I was studying massage and teaching yoga, and have practiced it in different therapeutic settings. I probably wouldn't be practicing massage professionally if it wasn't for Breema, because it was Breema that taught me that I am included in the session. Until I learned that, massage seemed like too much work, because I was thinking about the client and forgetting about myself. I've been practicing for 20 years, and I don't think I would have this kind of relationship with bodywork if it wasn't for Breema. Not only am I included and taking care of myself, but I actually benefit from giving bodywork, because of Breema.

Rather than talking about being present in an abstract way,  Breema gives me really simple tools to actually experience being present to my own experience. When I am doing other forms of bodywork I can relate the Breema principles to that bodywork, and doing massage and bodywork becomes a quiet time that supports me essentially.

Before Breema, my yoga practice was full of force—but studying Breema opened up a quality of being rather than just doing.  The emphasis on understanding and verifying things for myself gave a whole new orientation to bodywork and to teaching yoga. I became a lot more available to listening to myself, and able to be more present when I teach yoga, and with my clients. The emphasis on learning from my own direct experience, not from theory, has helped me learn so much more, both about the body and about myself.

Diahna Fortuna

I mostly do massage at Google, practicing a number of different massage techniques, using my Breema experience to support me to be present in the session. When I notice that my mind is wandering, I register my breath to come back to the body, or  begin to work with one of the Breema principles, like Body Comfortable or Single Moment/Single Activity. Some of the inspirational material from the philosophy will come alive, like the titles of Self-Breema, for example: This Moment Is, I Am. I almost always do a Breema hold on my clients' feet, and I find that I am always really present during that hold—I can rely on it to help me be more connected and present. Some other aspects of Breema bodywork also come in while I do massage, and they always remind me to come back to my body and breath.

Breema for Bodyworkers workshop with Jon Schreiber will take place at the Breema Center Saturday April 12 from 10am-4:30pm. More information, details and registration here.