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Beyond Talk Therapy: Harnessing the Power of Breathwork.

February 17, 202446 min read

Beyond Talk Therapy: Harnessing the Power of Breathwork. With Gunjani Patel Oza & Samia Bano

Need #mentalhealthsupport or #emotionalhealth support, but #talktherapy not your cup of tea? Looking for something beyond talk therapy for #anxietyrelief?

Listen now to this interview with Gunjani Patel Oza, Licensed #MentalHealthTherapist and a Holistic #AnxietyCoach, to understand the transformative potential of #breathwork as we explore the profound effects of #breathworkforanxiety, #TraumaHealing and overall #EmotionalWellness.

And best of all, we don't just talk about it! Listen all the way to the end to actually practice a #breathworkmeditation with us and experience for yourself how even short periods of #MindfulBreathing can help regulate the nervous system, release emotional tension, and promote overall wellness by allowing you to #letgo of your mental and #emotionalbaggage and #findinnerpeace, with fun and ease!

ABOUT GUNJANI:

Gunjani has a passion for helping high performers achieve more and tap into their best version without feeling anxious & overwhelmed. She empowers high-performing heart centered visionaries, and entrepreneurs with high-functioning anxiety, & stress to rewire themselves so they can manifest a life & business they love showing up to every day.

Gunjani Patel is a Certified Trauma Informed Transformation Breathwork Practitioner & Holistic Anxiety Coach, Licensed Mental Health Therapist.

With a combined 15 years of experience as an EMDR specialist, Gunjani has served thousands of her clients heal their nervous system using her Unleash & Embody Your Peace, Power & Potential framework.

Gunjani is the CEO and founder of Consciously Living and holds multiple certifications in trauma-informed & subconscious reprogramming modalities & specialties such as EMDR, Hypnosis, Neuro Linguistic Programming, EFT, Reiki Healing, and a long list of other letters behind her name.

Her mission is to impact million high performers living with high-functioning anxiety, stress & chronic symptoms live a life of ease, confidence, and freedom by teaching them to tap into their bodies' wisdom & expand their consciousness.

Learn more and connect with Gunjani at: ttps://www.instagram.com/gunjanipateloza

Link to Gunjani's weekly newsletter: http://tinyurl.com/mr2zk9w7

To Book your Free HAPPINESS 101 EXPLORATION CALL with Samia, click: https://my.timetrade.com/book/JX9XJ

#breathworkfacilitator #breathworktraining #breathworkcoach #breathworkjourney #emotionalhealthsupport #anxietyawareness #anxietytreatment #anxietymanagement #anxietysupport #MindBodyHealing #EmotionalResilience #EmotionalHealing #HolisticWellness #MentalHealthAwareness #InnerPeace #SelfCareRevolution #EmpowermentThroughBreath #HealingJourney #ChooseToBeHappy #BodyMindConnection #PositiveTransformation

Here's the audio version of this episode:

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Full Video Transcript

SAMIA: Hello, Salaam, Shalom, Namaste, Sat Sri Akal, Aloha, Holah, Ciao, Bonjour, Buna, Privet, and Mabuhay! It's so, so good to be with you again. And you will be so happy you're joining us today because we have such an amazing guest with us. I'm so excited to have her with us. And our guest today is Gunjani Patel. Welcome, Gunjani…

GUNJANI: I am so happy to be here. Samia, thank you so much. This is, like, one of the most unique hellos I have ever heard in my podcasting, so I truly feel so excited and honored to be here with you. Thank you for having me.

SAMIA: Oh, thank you. Do you have a particular way you love to say hello in your language?

GUNJANI: ..no, namaste goes with me. I normally tend to do the whole namaste thing. Growing up in India... You covered it.

SAMIA: I know… I don't know if I shared with you. I'm half Indian, and I actually lived in India for the first eight years of my life, so I have to represent our Indianness…

GUNJANI: ..Yeah, I grew up there for 18, and my parents still live there. My whole family still lives there. So we go back and forth, but, yeah, very proud to be one.

SAMIA: Yeah, yeah. And actually, it's very cool because part of what we will be talking about today will be about something that is really a big part of the Indian health and wellness wisdom... So I'm extra excited to have you with us today for that.

GUNJANI: Thank you. Thank you. Yes, yes, I am super excited to be here. Thank you so much.

SAMIA: Yeah... So, before we jump into that, don't want to be too mysterious about it, but before we jump into it, please, Gunjani, tell us more about who you are and what you…

GUNJANI: I have been... First of all, I identify as a mom of one, and I'm super excited to be there. I have a toddler. I've been a licensed Mental Health Therapist most of my life… for 15 years, and over 15 years practicing… and specializing in depression, anxiety, PTSD, grief, loss, addiction, and ADHD. Having been through a lot of that myself and generationally seeing that in my family growing up, we didn't really talk about mental health. We didn't talk about emotional health. I grew up in the 90s in India, so we didn't do that. So I made it my life's mission as I was going through my healing journey to go out there and normalize mental health and emotional health and teach about it. Because I think when we are mentally and emotionally sound, we are happier, healthier, and we have fun in life. When we don't, then it gets dark. So along with that, I am also a Holistic Anxiety Coach because I like to also coach people. One of the things that I found in my practicing with people, having dealt with so much trauma and a lot of subconscious modalities… I'm a certified hypnotherapist, I'm an EMDR therapist… I have all those subconscious… and NLP practitioner… I dealt with a lot of subconscious limiting beliefs and stuff that we hold in our system from our early childhood. So, you know, it became very important to me... I mean, and just…. it ended up so that I walked a lot of my clients from whatever they were going through in their lives, even those small T traumas… it didn't have to be big, hardcore trauma, but small t trauma, really has an impact on how we show up and, you know, like, live our potential. And I ended up really... like, in my own life, thriving through all these conditions and, you know, post-traumatic growth… that my trauma didn’t hold me back, and it allows me to live and, you know, live the best life I am capable of living. So I truly enjoy helping people to not be limited by some of these experiences that we experience genetically. They say that… in the research world, we say, you know, depression, anxiety, and trauma are 50% genetically predisposed, 40% in our perception and our stories. And most of those stories, we develop in the first five years of life, when our brain is hardly developed… like, just starting to develop at three, the prefrontal cortex, the left brain, and then it doesn't develop till 27. So I'm like, all these stories that we tell ourselves or all this conditioning that we put on ourselves through our upbringing, you know, I just really walking people through being on the other side of it and writing their own stories the way they want to and as they're capable of to create the life that they wish they love living and showing up to and have fun with. So your podcast… absolutely amazing that it's very much in alignment with what I do and how I show up and how I walk my clients through…

SAMIA: Yeah, yeah. You know, touching back to the idea of our Indian roots. You're so right, like, when I lived in India… by the way, I've also lived in Pakistan, and I've lived in the Middle East, and now, of course, here I am in America... I will say in India, in Pakistan, and even in the Middle East when I lived there... so maybe it's like an Asian culture thing more generally, that people don't talk about mental health. They just don't. And it's like so... You know, this has become like one of those issues for me in terms of when I'm dealing with people in our community where people have suffered through all kinds of trauma in their lives. They don't…

GUNJANI: …parents and stuff… they've been through hard core… genetically…

SAMIA: ..yes. Oh, my gosh. And there's also, by the way, a lot... I see a lot of mental and emotional abuse that goes on in our communities, and it's not even recognized. People don't even recognize that it's mental-emotional abuse that they are experiencing, that they are subjecting other people to… it is just all normalized as, oh, that's just how people are. And you know, just don't... And I know... Well, even if this is how people are, it doesn't have to be…

GUNJANI: A hundred percent... No, it's all true.

SAMIA: ..how people are…

GUNJANI: So I started doing this work is when I started to focus on my nervous system, my emotional health, that feeling emotions was not… especially when I became a mom four years ago, because I was like, we didn't get taught all these emotional intelligence tools. And now being also being a trauma-informed, certified breathwork practitioner, I am very big on… really mind-body connection. And really one of the things I think as us, we did in the Asian culture and just, I think mostly I work with high performers, you know, and my biggest thing is, like, helping high performers not… live a life without anxiety and overwhelm. Most of the time we're into achieving, achieving, achieving, and then we get burnt out or we're unhappy or don't feel fulfilled. And we're so in our head and intellectualized, whereas human experience, we're meant to feel our feelings and work through them, learn from them.So.

SAMIA: Yeah. And the idea of the mind-body connection… because I'm also seeing this a lot in the people around me, is that people don't realize how much your mental health impacts your physical health. I see so much focus in our community on physical health… especially because, you know, we have such rich traditions like ayurveda, you know. And it's very ironic to me, because if you look at the tradition of ayurveda, actually, it's a very very holistic system. Very, very holistic system, if you understand and …the wholeness of ayurveda, it's like a lifestyle. And there's so much that it teaches that actually is about cultivating more inner peace and happiness and calmness in your life, you know. It's like mental health.... there is a huge focus on mental health. But we don't oftentimes get taught about that part of, you know, our tradition of healing. And all the focus is on, oh, when you feel some pain in your body, then here's a mixture of herbs that you can eat…

GUNJANI: Right, right. And a lot of those physical, like, the pain and the physical things that we experience is a result… It's like our nervous system is not just in our brain or our head. It is 10,000 miles worth of nerves across the body that determines how we show up and what we feel in our... So our brain is, I don't want to go, too, unless you want me to… You know, our brain, there is a part of our brain, the right hemisphere, we call it… the emotions, feelings, sensations... they get stuck in our body if we suppress them, if we depress them, if we deny them, if we avoid them over time. So it's like, oh, I need to be happy or get over it… or those strong emotional feelings that we experience get stuck in our body that then show up as pain. So a lot of that pain can be easily released by feeling the feelings instead of suppressing it.

SAMIA: Yes... yes.

GUNJANI: And it's scary for people to feel pain because of their relationship with pain. And that's why it's easy to go to someone and speak about it or work through that pain or that fear or whatever, anger, or whatever it is that is coming up for you and deal with it by feeling it as opposed to talking about it. Or... I know a lot of my clients will come to me and they will try to intellectualize… and I did that most of my life. I just talked myself out of my feelings. And that is so mentally exhausting. It takes forever... It's very hard because I did everything to not feel them.

SAMIA: Yeah. Oh, my gosh. Yes... You know, that was also my tendency, to…

GUNJANI: ..intellectualize.

SAMIA: Yes.

GUNJANI: All good…

SAMIA: ..to intellectualize my feelings… because you're right. I mean, my biggest problem growing up was I had no idea how to cope with my emotions. No idea... And so I was constantly in this avoidance mode. And, I mean, it's like a blessing and a curse when you have a brilliant brain. I mean, not to toot my own horn, but I have a really good brain.

GUNJANI: That's awesome.

SAMIA: I mean, I'm smart, and so it's really easy for me to intellectualize. And I oftentimes, you know… people were always giving me feedback about how smart they thought I was and how insightful my comments were on this or that subject. I remember a conversation in particular where there was a bunch of us cousins…. We were maybe in our early teens at that time. We were sitting around, and there were some adults present, and we were having, like, a family chat. And so one of my uncles, he brought up some question that he posed to all of us kids, and he was like, okay, so now I want to hear from you. What do you think about this? And one by one, all of us cousins gave our answers. And then after I had given mine, he was like, oh… he  probably shouldn't have done this, but he started comparing me to my other cousins. And I think he was just trying to encourage me and be like, Samia gave such an amazing answer and so much, so deep and insightful and this and that. And you know, this was, like, a fairly common experience for me in terms of people commenting on how intelligent and smart I am.

GUNJANI: Yeah…

SAMIA: And so I took that on, and I was like, okay, I'm smart. I'm intelligent. And certainly I was terrible at dealing with my emotions. I was, like, just pushing that away. It just, for me, became really easy to be like, no, you know I'm smart, that's my strength. I'll just keep focusing on that. But it's not enough. It's not enough…

GUNJANI: And more than enough, it doesn't complete the cycle of the sensation when we experience feelings, it's like the way our brain is designed, we make meaning of it later. We feel things first through our senses, all five of our senses. So it's very important that when we experience those sensations, they get a chance to be released. Otherwise, it gets stuck in our muscular memory, it gets stuck in our cellular memory… then found over the years of working with people, it just turns up in volume. And one of the things, what we do is we either intellectualize it and not feel it, or avoid it and not think about it, or distract ourselves at school and do all the things that we do... And as a result, if we don't have the tools… the volume on that pain gets higher over time. Because we only start paying attention to things when it shows up as physical symptoms. So I've treated a lot of people, autoimmune conditions, a lot of chronic pain… all the nervous system, PCOS, all the thyroid and cortisol and hormonal issues…. Partially, all of that was related to emotional, lack of emotional intelligence and not having emotional resilience, not having a way to live a balanced work life… work and life being equally balanced. It was either all work and stress and overwhelm, or at home, without giving your body and your brain a chance to settle in, be balanced.

SAMIA: Yeah, yeah. Okay. So, talking about having tools and ways to give our brain a chance to settle in, I know one of the things that you teach that I would love to learn more about from you is breathwork... So, first of all, tell me more... For people in our audience who are unfamiliar with the idea of breath work, what is breathwork?

GUNJANI: Thank you for asking this question. I love this question because it's like, I personally, even being raised in India and knowing all the things, like, I knew the basic pranayama, you know, the left nostril breathing and then letting it out through your right nostril... The breathwork is a practice that I heard a lot about a few years ago on the Internet, actually, where everybody on the social media was talking about breathwork, breathwork, breathwork... And I'm like, what is this tool? And being trauma-informed and very heavily, very big on walking my clients through a gentle and a safe, you know, trauma experience, healing experience. When I heard about this tool, it's almost like I called it in, like, I manifested it, because I was really looking for a tool where…. in 2019, I was going through a lot of postpartum anxiety and burnout. I had a newborn. I had a mother-in-law who was also in a wheelchair. So I was doing a lot of caregiving without taking care of myself. I was just literally pouring from an empty bucket. Back then, self-care didn't even occur to me. And as a result, I really felt so burned out... And I was like, okay, I need to go to a therapist. But I would make up all these stories. I don't know if I have enough money to do it because I had really scaled back my practice and I was doing it part-time. And then I would be like, oh, I don't know if I have enough time. I don't know if I'll find the right person. I don't know… All the stories that we tell ourselves... And as a result, it was just one of those things that this tool came to me, and I really started diving into it. Breathwork is basically using conscious, intentional breathing techniques and patterns. There are different patterns that do different things. There are different breathing patterns that get you energized more than a cup of coffee. There are different breathing patterns that you can use to really calm and settle down and release stress. There are different breathing patterns that you can use to... And again, it's like, I don't know if you're used to a tool called emotional freedom technique. It's like a tapping technique. You tap and you release. It's like it comes from you know the idea of acupressure and cognitive psychology, where you think and you say words and you tap. Basically, this ancient practice, the breathwork, is considered… it's not something new. It's just been finally… Now, in yoga, we do breathing all the time, right.

SAMIA: Yeah.

GUNJANI: The idea is to connect your mind to your body and release consciously all the stress, all the emotions, all the things that are not serving you intentionally by changing the time, the techniques, the different patterns that you use that result in different things in terms of your nervous system and your body. So there are different techniques we use when we are in that fight mode in terms of, you know, stress or trauma response. There are different techniques we use when we're in flight mode, when we're anxious and in our heads and overthinking and ruminating and really stressed and almost like leaving our body when we are almost so overwhelmed in our system. There are different techniques used when we are in freeze response, which is, you know, you want to do all these things, but you have no energy or are exhausted or almost depressed and melancholy and can't even move. So our breath is so powerful that it's like a life force that we use consciously to change our emotional state and our nervous system breakdown regulation.

SAMIA: Yes, yes. You know, it was such a profound thing for me to understand also. I also did not recognize or realize or learn about breath work in detail. I mean, I knew one or two breathing techniques growing up in the practice of yoga and so forth. There's so much like you were saying, Gunjani, where there's different techniques to help you achieve different goals. When I actually started learning about it in a systematic way, there's even a technique that you can use…. It basically has the impact of a high intensity cardio workout.

GUNJANI: A hundred percent…

SAMIA: It's like, amazing…

GUNJANI: Outrageous how much… like, when people say, I don't have energy, that perplexes my mind at this point because of doing this for three years and teaching it and all the things. It's like, I truly have gotten to a place of... and I teach my clients this, too... so it's like even they, in a very short period of time… you can't come to me and say, I don't have energy. I can literally teach you if you want to... That's like, literally in your next breath…. We breathe 22 to 40… 24,000 breaths a day. I mean, imagine if we were consciously breathing, how fast we can switch our state from going through... Oh, I feel you know, no energy and exhaustion, or I don't feel good, or I'm burnt out, or I feel so, you know, wired all the time that I just want to relax and ground and be peaceful and not be in my head. You literally can do that with the power of your breath in less than 5 seconds, actually, if you do it right.

SAMIA: Yeah. Oh, my gosh. And one of the things that I love so much about how I've experienced breathwork is that for someone like me, who is so like prone to over-intellectualizing things, you know, sometimes it's actually to get to the deeper aspects of what we need to release and heal…

if you're doing it from up here or even in the context of talk therapy, it can take such a long time to even figure out, you know, what's at the root of what I'm feeling. And then to release it, it can take a really long time, and it can feel really hard and no fun…

GUNJANI: I agree... Since we are on a podcast about fun. A hundred percent…

SAMIA: Exactly.

GUNJANI: I am someone who has been so not served by talk therapy alone. Talk therapy is important. It raises awareness. But then what? I have a lot of clients that come to me that go, hey, we tried the talk therapy. I know what I need. But in the moment, my mind just takes over. And most of our… 95% of our mind is a subconscious mind. So that's the part that keeps rolling. And with breathwork, you can actually reprogram your subconscious mind in less than 60 minutes, in one session. And it is so powerful, you know.

SAMIA: Yeah.

GUNJANI: I've worked on this in therapy for ten months, and literally in  one 60 minutes meditative session, I was able to literally shift my… transform what I've been trying to transform through talking and through verbalizing…

SAMIA: Exactly. It's just, the way you can just let go, let go so much... Just letting go, just through breathing consciously... Yeah…. It's so much more easy…

GUNJANI: Like just, remind yourself to take a breath, because when we are wired, we take shallow breaths. We don't breathe, or sometimes we don't even realize if we're breathing or we are paying attention to our breaths. We just breathe from up here, above your throat, and that's not good. It has to be all the way into your diaphragm…and deep. Sometimes it doesn't have to be even deep. It's just the reminder to breathe. And regulating the intentionality of it makes a huge difference.

SAMIA: It does. It regulates... Like, for me, I just keep coming back to how amazed I always am by how much... because you know I had fallen for this… like, in traditional therapy, in the Western context, you know, traditionally, they weren't familiar with things like breath work. And so the idea was, and I believed it for a long time, was that in order for me to release any hard emotion or trauma that I'm carrying, et cetera, I have to talk through it.

GUNJANI: 100%.

SAMIA: And that was the only way that I knew, you know. So…

GUNJANI: ..and that's what most people know.

SAMIA: Right. And it's just, for those of us, that when it doesn't work, when that doesn't work, when it feels hard, and you know then it is just so discouraging. And so that's why I just keep feeling so amazed. I never cease to feel amazed by how much I'm able to just let go through breathwork, through breathing… So it's like you don't always have to consciously bring up things in order to release them. You can just release things and just let it go and just have it be gone. And even if you didn't understand what just happened, what you let go, it's okay…

GUNJANI: Yes... No, that's so true... You said earlier, we're so used to, especially in the Western world, we do two things so much, especially people who are high performers or people who are high achievers and you know high functioning anxiety, even though it's not an official diagnosis… It's like people experience high-functioning anxiety, and it shows up as people-pleasing, not being able to set boundaries. It shows up as perfectionism. It shows up as, instead of healthy through striving, it's like, am I good enough? I need to be perfect before I start anything. It shows up as imposter syndrome. Who am I to do anything? You know, it shows up as lack of work-life balance. It shows up as pain and burnout in our systems. It's like you were saying, we're so used to just doing, doing, going all the time, you know. And unfortunately, some people get to the place of just doing so much that they have a hard time just relaxing and being. And we get to a place where we dysregulate our nervous system so much that it almost like that becomes our norm. That's what becomes our baseline for some of us. And I was there, like I was telling you earlier, I was just pouring, pouring, pouring, pouring, doing. It's almost like I couldn't be because I was in that fight nervous system all the time that I had to go, go, go and I had such a hard time just sitting and being and chilling, which I 100% prioritize at this point, so that I can show up more efficiently, from a state of flow, from not being so distracted and everywhere, and be very focused. And breath work, it's like I have been a meditator for almost a decade. But in the beginning, meditation didn't work for me because I couldn't even be still. So breath work helped me get in my body to just seriously slow my body down and feel almost that massage, that relaxing in my head… Because I used to get a lot of headaches, I would experience symptoms as a result of my anxiety. I really couldn't sleep. And then I was also breastfeeding at the time. So it's like I couldn't sleep. And then the anxiety went up, and the anxiety went up, so I couldn't sleep. So it's like, even though I was so tired, you know, my nervous system was dysregulated. And breath work literally allowed me to not even think, not make meaning. One of the first things that I prep people for in terms of when we do breathwork sessions is like, emotions will show up. As humans, we're meaning making machines. We have to figure out where it came from. Why are we feeling, why am I crying? I shouldn't be crying... Don't make any stories. Just feel, let it go. Just feel, let it go. Whatever needs to come up, you don't need to figure out where it came from, what it's doing, what is happening, none of that. Don't stay in your cognitive brain. Just let it go…

SAMIA: Yes…

GUNJANI: It is so cathartic that people express improved sleep, their pain goes away. It's like sometimes people tell me, I had all this neck pain and, oh, my God, it's almost gone. And I've been experiencing it for years, and my range of motion has improved. Like, some people will tell me, oh, I had all this lower back pain. Some people will tell me I had so much procrastination that I used to do. Before, I knew I had to do it, but I couldn't because there was all this fear and dysregulation that now… I'm very focused. I've released so much, and this literally can happen in one or two sessions. It's so powerful. But we have to train our brain, our body, and our nervous system to be this way…

SAMIA: Yeah, yeah. You know, it's just, I think globally, we had this experience as a human species where, you know, we sort of overcorrected… for centuries, for millennia... For thousands of years, you know, like the very idea of science and the scientific method and all… I mean first of all, it was applied in very limited contexts. And especially in the context of health and healing, no one even thought about it. And as we have, you know, in the last century or two or three, been influenced by the industrial revolution and this and that, and there's more and more focus on, okay, science and scientific evidence... and we have just become more and more mind-centered in the way that we live and understand everything... and we sort of over-corrected in that direction where we have forgotten the other parts of us…

GUNJANI: Yes. The body... Literally the body where we are housed, you know. And it's like, so much... And I'm happy to see that these days, the circles that I hang out in and the people that I hang out with are so into the somatic work because I'm like, oh, my God, that helps me connect back to my roots, and what I've always known as a kid, but didn't know the depth of what it did and why it did certain things, you know. And it's so beautiful to see that in the past three years in my own life, I was like, I went from completely being so tethered and like, easily not emotional resilient at all to now being so resilient and being able to have control over my emotions, as opposed to the other way around… me trying to control everybody else around me because I didn't feel safe in my body. I didn't even know what that felt like, you know. A lot of times when I'll bring people for the first time, they're like, wow... I walked out… there was a client of mine, she was like… I walked out of my session, and my husband is like, wow, you look so peaceful. She's like, sometimes we don't even realize that we're in this fight or flight, and that's become our natural state, you know…

SAMIA: Yes.

GUNJANI: It's sad.

SAMIA: It's just normalized, right? It's just normalized because that's the dominant experience of most people in our current cultural reality. And so you just think that's the way it is. That's how... I'm remembering now a conversation. I was at a conference, and there was, like, two, three ladies. We were chatting about, oh, what do you do? What do you do? And so then when it was my turn, I was like, I'm a Happiness Expert. And one of the things that I was sharing is that, you know, for me, being a Happiness Expert, and what I'm all about teaching my clients, it's about taking control of your mental-emotional wellness so that you can choose to be happy no matter what. You know, and…

GUNJANI: Happiness is a skill, that it's a muscle we have to flex. It's not like all of a sudden we're just happy all the time. If we don't experience the range of emotions, if we don't experience sadness, if we don't allow ourselves to experience the pain, we can't feel happy.

We can act happy…

SAMIA: Yes…

GUNJANI: …but we can’t feel it.

SAMIA: Yes. And, you know, the thing is, when I say the part about… I absolutely agree with you about feeling all our emotions… and when I say to people, and you can choose to be happy no matter what, there's, like, a misunderstanding that people fall into, that they're thinking that, I'm saying that you're not allowed to feel sad or angry or this or that. And no, that's not what it means. What I mean is that… I'd be the last person to ever tell anyone to suppress any of their feelings or deny any of their feelings… But it's about recognizing the function that your feelings have. We're not meant to stay in anger. We're not meant to stay in sadness or anxiety long term. These feelings are like alarm bells that are meant to just alert us to, hey, there's something wrong, and please pay attention. Fix it.

GUNJANI: Thank you. A hundred percent... And for me, too, right? I used to spend months and days and sometimes years in the anxiety and the worry and the constant what's going to happen? What's going to happen? Because anxiety is still sometimes a big part of my life. And now I just know that, you know what? Every moment gives me a choice to feel differently. I have the power to choose how I feel. If I don't like feeling what I feel, I give myself five minutes to dwell on it, to feel it, to really just feel it. And then it's gone. It's not a part of my experience. It doesn't define me anymore. Because what I choose tapping into is the joy, is the bliss, is the peace…

SAMIA: Right, exactly. And so then we come back to breathwork. Because when you want to make that choice, when you are ready to shift out of those “negative feelings”... I'll say that in quotes… You know, so when you're ready to shift out of those states that we're not meant to be in long term, the question always arises, well, how do you do that in a way that's healthy, where you're not denying and suppressing… any of that stuff that you don't want to do? And that's where breathwork is, like, an amazing tool that we can step in with.

GUNJANI: Absolutely. I truly, it has absolute... To say that it has transformed my life is an understatement. It's like, literally, I went from... Because I'm like, oh, breathwork. I breathe. Well, it's much deeper than I breathe, you know... Because it's like, there's a whole science to how it switches, how that level of oxygen can literally wake your brain up to literally ground you… it does different things, and literally just becoming aware and setting... I always tell people, because we are so into the intellectual and the conscious mind, you know, it's like, breathe in what you want and breathe out what you don't want. I am... So if you want to feel happy and if you don't like what you're feeling… There are also different breaths that you can use for anger. There are different breaths that you can use for different things... But, for example, if you're finding yourself in this frustration, we do what we call a snake breath. So we… close your mouth and just sort of hiss all that air out. But you breathe in, I am happy or I am safe to feel… Because a lot of times people…. in the beginning, I'll have people do safety because we don't even know what to feel, what it feels like to be safe.

SAMIA: Yeah.

GUNJANI: And sometimes if you went through a lot of emotional or verbal abuse in your life, you don't know what it feels like to be safe, and that's foreign… even though cognitively, like consciously it sounds like, oh, of course, safety should be normal, but if it's not familiar to our body, it is perceived as danger and threat. So it's like sometimes for people who have been through a lot of trauma or who have been through a lot of abuse, it doesn't feel safe. It has to be gently sipped and titrated. So we say, okay, you breathe, it is safe to feel whatever it is, and then it's safe to feel angry. Because a lot of us were not taught to feel angry. And healthy anger. We just projected our anger on other people, started yelling, raised our voice, you know, or just completely shut down. And anger turned inwards is depression... So it's like angry and you just hiss all that air out because. And there's a whole somatic reasoning behind that. It's like, as animals, let's say if a duck was getting chased by someone, if it out chases anything, its threat, it'll go on the other side and just flap all its feathers and then back to equilibrium. A gazelle in a jungle, if it was chased by a cheetah, and if it outruns it, it'll go on the side, it'll run around a few times and release all that adrenaline and that stress. As animals, we are meant to release all the stress, all the overwhelm, all that we carried throughout the day. But most of the time, you know cognitively, it's like, yes, I sent 100 emails a day, but in terms of your body, in terms of your right brain, the sensations of that are very overwhelming and stressful to your body. And if we're not connected to our body, then it's very hard for us to release because then of course, at the end of the night, or by Friday, we are TGIFing. I never say TGIF because I'm like, I get to feel the way I want to feel every moment of my life. If I am feeling a certain way, that is absolutely on me and nobody can change that. So I don't want to wait till Friday to release all this stuff. I want to release it now, today. I have people take every 2 to 3 hours, like, hey, go to the bathroom and just release all that stress. Do five minutes of breathing in, sipping at the top, and long exhale… That literally, if you do four or five of those, it reduces, according to studies, 75% of your stress. It's so easy, but you just have to be very mindful and present. When you are feeling fear… anxiety is felt fear in our body… just feel it and release it intentionally. If you're releasing fear, what's the opposite of fear? I am harmonious, or I am peaceful. I am calm. Breathe that in and let out all the fear. Keep breathing that in, keep letting out. Eventually, in five minutes, you will not even realize. That's the power of sending intentional oxygen to your brain.

SAMIA: Yes, yes. And this point you made Gunjani, about people not even realizing or recognizing that they don't feel safe in their own bodies... I've had that issue. In fact, until, like, two, three years ago, I didn't even realize that that was one of the deepest issues that I was holding on to. Even after years of doing all kinds of trauma healing, I was continuing to hold on to this belief, deep down, that I'm not safe, and didn't even recognize that, didn't even recognize it. But it shows up, you know, in your life in all kinds of ways. Like, for me, for example, it would show up in the context of my starting to worry about how my business was doing and not growing fast enough or not making enough money, things like that. And you're like, oh, well, on the one hand, it's, like, such a normal anxiety or stress for people to feel that. Oh, because if you don't make enough money… it's like a safety issue at the core you know…

GUNJANI: No, go…

SAMIA: Yeah, yeah, no. I did not recognize it as a core safety issue. I didn't… because it's just such a normalized experience in our society…

GUNJANI: It's so true. Because we don't talk about safety, right? If we don't feel the safety, like, right now, right, if you checked in with your body… does it feel completely safe? Right? If I check in with my body right now, I am at an 85% right now. So it's like, you know, like I really tell people to be honest with themselves, because when you know, then you know what it should feel like, right? Like, what’s your baseline… like, what feeling safe feels like. Because if we felt safe, when we feel safe in our body, we can be still. We can be in the very present moment, right this moment. We don’t feel the need to escape the moment. We don't have thoughts about the past and the worries and the constant overwhelm and the rumination and obsession. It’s just clear. There's nothing there, because…

SAMIA: That's so true.

GUNJANI: Go ahead.

SAMIA: And the other thing that I've experienced when I'm feeling very, very safe is, in addition to being present in the moment, so I don't have to be doing this, that, or anything… but it also lights up this amazing sense of confidence in me that if I did want to do something, anything, I know it's like, no problem. It's like, I can do whatever I want, and I'm totally safe to do it. You know, it's like, no fear... So it's not just the confidence then… underlying the confidence is actually the sense of immense joy. You're safe, you're free… you're comfortable, you're confident, you're just joyful.

GUNJANI: It's so true. That's one of the most common things I hear people say after they walk out of a breathwork session. It's like when you come in, you don't really realize what your body is doing. If you're not used to being in your body and have that level of body awareness or haven't looked into it or know what that is. And like you were saying in terms of the face safety, like, for me, having endured trauma and just really suppressing it over the years and all the things… I didn't realize that I was not safe, but the way it showed up in my behaviors was… Like, when I'm not safe these days, I'm in my head a lot. I don't... Normally, I'm very full of laughter and fun, and I love, you know, just humor. When I’m serious is when I know I'm not safe in my body or whatever... When I'm worrying… anxiety equals fear held in our body. So the answer to fear is safety and or gratitude. When you feel gratitude, when you're so in this moment, your head is clear. You're just appreciative of this moment that is here right this second.

SAMIA: Yes. Yeah... You know what? You just reminded me of another way in which lack of feeling safe would show up in my life. And you know even now, it's just that now I'm aware of it. So now when it shows up, I know what's going on. But before I didn't realize was having issues with authority figures because I'm also a survivor of sexual abuse. So you know, of course, I developed a lot of issues with power and control. And the thing about when you are traumatized by an experience of abuse and you develop issues with power and control, it doesn't just stay constrained to one context of your life. It's like everywhere in all aspects of your life, these attendance used show up. And so, for example, anytime I thought somebody was telling me what to do, like ordering me, it would immediately sort of create the sense of resistance in me that I don't want to be told what to do, I don't want to be ordered into things. And very, very difficult thing to experience, especially as an Indian person, because in our culture__________________....

GUNJANI: Yes. Very patriarchal system. It's always about you do what I say, you know and it's like, abide by those rules, especially at any __________________ you know.

SAMIA: Yeah, you know and also as a younger person, because in our culture like, definitely as a woman, you're expected to take on subordinate positions. But also, as a younger person, you're expected to listen to anyone who is older than you. And so I had like so much conflict in my life happening all the time because of this one problem that I had that I didn't want to be told what to do, you know. And you know, my defense mechanism was this sense of, like, I took on this attitude of, I value independence, I value my freedom, and that's why I have a problem with authority and being told what to do. But actually, underlying that was the trauma and the fear of someone who has power over me being able to hurt me, right... And so here's another way that I didn't realize that I was feeling unsafe, and I didn't recognize it was an issue of feeling unsafe.

GUNJANI: 100%. You know, I'm also IFS trained, and IFS is like internal family systems. And in that modality, they do a lot of parts work. And the theory is that it's like, you know, if you've heard of inner child work, basically, it's related to that, where if at any point in our life, we come into this world fully whole and loved and compassionate and just abundant and carefree, right. And then conditioning happens, things happen, trauma happens, parents happen. And especially in our parents' generation, they did the best as they could, as they knew how, and it had an impact in the way they parented us, right. So it's like now we know through studies over the years that conscious parenting is now happening where it's like the way I was parented was, I brought you into this world, you do as I say, and it's almost like I'm not your object. But that's what it felt like. But it was like, just very obedient parenting, right? And again, I love my parents, but that's what was happening in that era. So now that I am a parent and I raise my child consciously, and I was like, no, they get to have a say, even if they're five. And even though I disagree with that and even though it brings up my big feelings, like, we just had a thing this morning about it, and he's like, sorry, mommy, to stress you. And I'm like, no, baby, my stress is mine to handle. Your stress is yours to handle. So you're not responsible for my stress. But it was just you know, stuff. So anyways, we weren't parented like that. So the idea- theory behind the ifs is that when we are hurt even once, so let's say there's a part of us that worries, or there is a part of us that felt unheard,  worthy, or there's a part of us that didn't feel safe, or there is a part of us that felt abandoned, or there's a part of us that felt rejected or not good enough or not loved or inadequate or unimportant or any of those things right. Then, in that moment, what we needed was our emotional needs were we needed connection. We needed to not feel alone. We validated. We needed to be loved and comforted and soothed and just safe... Felt safe in the well. Well, our parents didn't know that. So then we built protectors. And our protectors were we built that, you know, hyper independence where it's like, I don't need help from anybody else. For me, that was a protector for the longest time where I was just so independent. And it's a trauma response that even when I should have asked for help or even when I should have co-regulated with someone like, hey, I'm not feeling well, can you co-regulate with me without telling me what to do? Just be there for me and that I see you. I hear you. I'm here to hold space. I'm just here with you as long as you need me... We didn't get that. So we built protectors as a way to feel safe in our body, to feel not overwhelmed by those emotions.

SAMIA: Yeah, yeah.

GUNJANI: ..we live and we love…

SAMIA: We keep bringing out things. I want to dig deeper deeper. And I know we'll run out of time. I'm thinking, okay, we can keep talking, but how about we just do some experiencing... And you already shared some techniques, but maybe we can just take a few minutes now, not too long, but a few minutes, and just experience some breathing. Some breath work.

GUNJANI: Okay, so just closing down your eyes or just softening your gaze, just getting in this moment, not trying to get rid of anything. And just doing an entire body scan your first breath. Just breathing in and breathing in, it is safe to feel. So, just breathing in…

SAMIA: Yeah.

GUNJANI: And six-second exhale, it is safe to let go. Breathing in... Release... Breathing in. Letting your body be in charge. Whatever feels good to your body. If you need to speed it up, I am cue number two. Just speed it up in through your nose. Top it up at the top. Exhale long. Exhale out... Breathing in. It is safe to be in this moment. You have nowhere else to be. Sending your breath to any part of your body that needs a little more nourishing in this moment. Shaking off anything, if that feels good. Massaging any part of you, getting in your body and really breathing in and holding your breath at the top in your next inhale. Breathing in a biggest breath of the day and holding up top till as long as your body allows and releasing and holding at the bottom. Letting all that energy from your head go into the earth. Letting all that energy and releasing into the earth. You're held, you're supported, and you're safe to feel in this moment. Doing couple more breaths whenever you're ready to release. It is safe to feel. Anything and everything you feel in this moment. And letting go of everything that keeps you from the happiness, from the peace, from the joy, from the bliss. Emptying out everything that is not yours to hold on to... Coming back to your body, maybe putting your hands on your heart, connecting to the source energy, God, universe, inner knowing your power, and noticing what is here now in this moment. Bliss, joy, and peace are in our natural states. Anxiety, fear, worries, doubts, and unhappiness are not, just really noticing where you feel the most connected with yourself and taking that with you and remembering to do this practice as many times as you need to change your emotional state. Thanking yourself for being here, for getting in your body, for trying something new, and just opening your eyes when you're ready…

SAMIA: Thank you so much for that, Gunjani. Feeling happier for that one. Also, there's like an extra layer of calmness underneath the happiness and joy…

GUNJANI: Right?

SAMIA: Yes. Cool, cool, cool. I actually feel physically cooler also.

GUNJANI: Right. They say we do these breath practices. We experience all these changes in our temperature. Sometimes some people experience dizziness, tingling, all the things. It's because of the changes in the oxygen and the carbon dioxide in the brain and the body. So it all goes away and the body knows how to come back to equilibrium. But we experience temperature shifts as a result of just letting go of this stagnant emotional energy or just stagnant, stressful overwhelm from our body.

SAMIA: Yes. Okay, so I think it's time for us to wrap up. Any last words from you?

GUNJANI: I love what you're doing. I absolutely am so thrilled to be here. Thank you so much for having me here. I just want more and more people to. Hopefully, this was helpful for your audience and everybody that is listening, sending you so much love, so much abundance, so much light, so much joy in your life. And I just really hope that you can... I know this would be just scratch the tip of the iceberg, but I hope that you can use this practice every so often in your day and just be reminded of just taking a deep breath, just pausing, whatever you are doing and just getting in your body. And over time, it can have a huge impact in the way you show up in your business. In the way you show up in your life, in the way you release things and shed things based on what is not serving you and stepping into your new reality. It's like I always tell people, if you don't want to live a life of worrying and anxiety, then you need to know what the version of you that doesn't feel that is living as and when you build those neural connections. It's like every thought we think is a neural connection. Every feeling we feel is a deeper neural connection. So tap into that version. Don't spend time thinking about what is not serving you. Instead, shift the momentum to who you are becoming. 

SAMIA: Yes, and learning to do that through consciously breathing is a wonderful, wonderful, amazing way. And my last reminder to everyone who's listening and watching is to please make sure you check the show notes because I will be dropping Gunjani's links there so you can connect with her and learn even more from her. Because remember, we just scratched the surface over here. And other than that, until we connect next time, I wish you lots and lots of peace and joy. :)

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Samia Bano, Happiness Expert

Samia Bano is the #HappinessExpert, author, speaker, podcaster & coach for coaches and healers. Samia is most known for her book, 'Make Change Fun and Easy' and her #podcast of the same name. With the help of her signature Follow Your Heart Process™, a unique combination of #PositivePsychology and the spiritual wisdom of our most effective #ChangeMakers, Samia helps you overcome #LimitingBeliefs, your chains of fear, to develop a #PositiveMindset and create the impact and income you desire with fun and ease… Samia’s advanced signature programs include the Happiness 101 Class and the Transformative Action Training. Samia is also a Certified #ReikiHealer and Crisis Counselor working to promote #MentalHealthAwareness. Samia models #HeartCenteredLeadership and business that is both #SociallyResponsible and #EnvironmentallyFriendly. Samia is a practicing #Muslim with an inter-spiritual approach. As someone who has a love and appreciation for diversity, she is a #BridgeBuilder between people of different faiths and cultures. Although Samia currently lives in California, USA, she has lived in 3 other countries and speaks Hindi, Urdu, and English fluently.

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