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What is Rebirthing?

Yoga and meditation can help an individual to relax and become aware of their breathing.
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  • Written By: Devon Pryor
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  • Last Modified Date: 13 October 2014
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Rebirthing is a therapeutic technique used in various types of alternative medicine and psychotherapy. Rebirthing generally refers to a technique used to treat a patient who has suffered some traumatic event. The idea is to simulate a second birth, thus creating a fresh start, a fresh consciousness in the life and mind of the patient. Although this second birth may be achieved in a number of ways, the basis of the therapy holds that revisiting the trauma experienced during birth can have a therapeutic effect.

One method of rebirthing is known as Rebirthing-Breathwork, which is also known as conscious connective circular breathing. This specific therapy is said to have been developed by Leonard Orr in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Similar practices of guided conscious breathing, such as yoga and pranayama, had already been practiced for hundreds of years. The essence of the practice lies in paying attention to ones own breath, and breathing at a certain pace.

Rebirthing-breathwork includes inhaling and exhaling without a pause in between. The technique is said to bring about memories of one’s traumatic birth, and present this trauma for the practitioner to relive and heal. Other benefits claimed by practitioners of Rebirthing-breathwork include improvements in physical health, mental clarity, and emotional stability.

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Rebirthing is thought to be effective because it recalls the traumatic experience of human birth, and allows the individual to come to terms with the specific trauma that they experienced during their birth. In the Rebirthing-breathwork technique, the recalling of this traumatic memory is achieved consciously by the individual. By connecting the mind and body through breath, the practitioner is said to connect the memory held in the brain, and the memory held by cells of the body. This concept is known as “cellular memory.”

There are also methods of rebirthing therapy that, unlike Rebirthing-breathwork, are not self-guided. These rebirthing therapies are achieved by others inducing a “second birth” upon the patient. This kind of rebirthing is also known as compression-therapy, cuddle time, or holding-nurturing process. These techniques are most often used as a therapy for attachment disorder. In cuddle time and holding-nurturing therapy, the patient is held close to the body of another person. This technique is thought to induce a connected feeling in the patient by keeping the patient in physical contact with another person.

Compression-therapy is a slightly more physically taxing therapy, and one that has gained a negative reputation due to the potential harm that can be suffered by the patient. Compression-therapy includes the patient often being wrapped up in blankets, and pressed upon by other people. This technique is said to simulate the darkness and compression of the birth canal, thereby giving the patient a more physical experience of “second birth.”

Rebirthing seems to have notable ties to alternative medicinal techniques used in Asia and Southeast Asia. In addition to the similarity that the Rebirthing-breathwork technique holds to pranayama and yoga breathwork, rebirthing is also a therapeutic technique used what is called Core process psychotherapy. This is a psychotherapy that employs the concepts of Buddhist awareness and healing. Like rebirthing, core process psychotherapy is used to as a therapy for birth trauma.

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