Where are they now?
The Breath of Bliss facilitator training is a transformative, life enhancing experience. In this series, we catch up with some former students to find out how the course helped prepare them for a life as a heart-centered leader in the world.
Have you ever stood still when your body wanted to run? Feeling as though all the possibilities of your future are spinning around you and waiting to settle on the direction you take.
This was how Lucas, a former Army Commando felt when he saw the ‘Breath of Bliss’ flyer pinned to the Byron Bay community notice board. He wanted to find out more, and yet he wanted to run.
The reaction is a classic one; flight, fight or freeze. In the end, it was curiosity that moved the Afghan veteran, to open the doors to the community hall and join Christabel's Breath workshop happening at Byron Spirit Festival 2016.
“Sometimes, life feels like all the doors are being opened for you.” Lucas tells me, as he recalls what led him to the class that profoundly changed the course of his life and led him to train to become a Breath of Bliss Facilitator, “but walking through them can be the hardest part.”
On arrival, he noticed about 100 people, being led through a series of movement, sound and breathing, as well as deep sharing and vulnerability practices. Again, Lucas felt the impulse to leave. He didn’t. It was, after all, intimacy and relating that he was finding so hard since he had left the Australian Army. The last seven years of his life had been about war, uniformity, straight lines and hard edges. However, just as in his previous career, he stepped forward and put himself in the place that felt most at risk.
“The workshop was quite confronting," he told me with a grin. ‘A strong feminine energy which was unfamiliar to me at that point.’
So, what was it that made him do the class?
“I’d exhausted all other options," he explains. After tours of duty, Lucas had been experiencing PTSD and social anxiety and was finding it challenging to adjust to civilian life. He is not alone.
In 2016 alone, 77 Australian veterans took their own life. That’s 3 times more than the number of soldiers lost in combat. Yet mental health remains a stigmatized condition throughout society. Veterans, while venerated, are often forgotten about after leaving service, and often caught in a cycle of drug and alcohol abuse to cope with trauma, leading to family breakdowns and homelessness.
So why did Lucas choose Breath of Bliss?
“I’d been in the Army for seven years. It was hard, but harder to leave. I found I couldn’t connect with normal people anymore.”
His family encouraged him to try new things, like holistic practices. ‘’Surfing and nutrition helped, but they weren't the whole solution. Then surfing became an escape, in itself. Sooner or later I knew I had to face myself. And that’s really what the breath workshops are about.”
Breathwork is a physical and meditative practice, breathing in and out through an open mouth with connected breaths. It can be used to clear trauma and stress from the body and mind, as well as for spiritual expansion.
Lucas describes it this way: "It’s something that can’t be explained. It has to be experienced to understand. Imagine the feeling of a soulful day. It’s a very pure, energetic feeling. It can be overwhelming when you’re used to shutting out feelings. It’s an almost supernatural process.’
Later, after taking Christabel’s level one Breath of Bliss training for deep clearing, he felt inspired to go on and train to become a facilitator as well.
“I knew I wanted to go deeper, and as I started making progress in my own life, I knew I’d want to share it with others like me, and help them too.’
Lucas says he did a lot of research into the different ‘schools’ of training in the breathwork scene, but elected to train with Christabel. When I asked him about this decision he said,
“She’s someone that has a special energy. She creates a feeling of ease and calm. Most importantly, she is genuine and embodies what she teaches. That was the most important aspect for me to find in a teacher.”
So, what was the best part of the training?
“The food, accommodation, and the whole experience of being in a close group of people on a similar journey was amazing and very healing. It was also the most challenging thing for me, because of the very reasons I had started the journey, intimacy, being vulnerable and close with people. The course also prepared me to go out and teach and run classes myself, because it’s very practical in that sense. I felt it gave me exactly what I needed to go and start a group right away.”
Any other challenges?
“Just learning to be vulnerable. It’s an ongoing process, but totally worth it.”
When I asked him about the difference between the courses he’d done in the Army and with Breath of Bliss, he said. “The Army courses would break down the soul so you could do the job you have to do. The breathwork course was about rebuilding the soul so you can live. I really recommend it for everyone.”
One year after graduating from the Breath of Bliss Facilitator training, and two years on from his official discharge date, Lucas says he has found a deep peace through breathwork.
I asked Lucas if he has three pieces of advice for people reading this who may resonate with his story and who want to open their hearts.
These are Lucas's three takeaways to allow vulnerability:
· Give from the heart without expecting to receive.
· Take 100% responsibility for everything in your life.
· It is okay to be ‘not right’ all the time.
Lucas is currently travelling in Europe, leading breathwork at sacred sites, such as inside crop and stone circles, and incorporating his interest in sound, crystals, sacred geometry.
I asked him how it felt to be a year on and holding space for 40 people inside an ancient stone circle in England, on the other side of the planet to where he started from…
“The energy is incredible…” he said with a big grin. “You need to come and experience it.”
Find out more about Lukas’ work via his Facebook page - www.facebook.com/marcus.aurelius.37201
And Christabel’s training and courses - www.breathbliss.com
Meet our Breath of Bliss Writer, Peter Nathaniel Lee
Peter is a writer and Breath-worker, and former member of the Royal Navy. You will find him exploring where the inside meets the outside, and in-between the cracks where the light shines through.