Meditation Training and Breathwork Training: What’s the Difference?Apr 25, 2023
Are you curious about the ways that Breathwork and Meditation Training are different?
Meditation and breathwork are two practices that have become increasingly popular in recent years as people search for ways to reduce stress, increase self-awareness, and improve their overall well-being. Meditation training and breathwork facilitator training are two approaches that can be used to achieve these goals, and while there are similarities between the two, there are also significant differences.
What is Meditation Training?
Meditation is a practice that involves focusing the mind on a particular object or thought in order to achieve a state of mental clarity and emotional calmness. There are many different types of meditation, but most involve sitting in a comfortable position and focusing on the breath, a mantra, or a visual image.
Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years and is rooted in various religious and spiritual traditions. However, in recent years, it has become increasingly popular as a secular practice that can be used by anyone, regardless of their beliefs or background.
Meditation training typically involves learning different techniques and practices that can be used to achieve a meditative state. This can involve learning how to focus the mind, how to breathe properly, and how to cultivate a sense of inner calm and awareness. Meditation training can be done individually or in a group setting, online or in-person, and there are many different resources available for those who wish to learn more about the practice.
Breathwork is a practice that involves using breathing techniques to achieve a state of relaxation, emotional release, and personal growth. Breathwork can involve a variety of different techniques, which can incorporate varying depths and frequencies of breath, differ in their focus on inhale vs. exhale, and can include different environmental and support factors.
Breathwork has been used for centuries in various cultures and traditions as a means of healing and personal transformation. In recent years, it has become increasingly popular as a holistic approach to mental, physical and emotional well-being.
A Breathwork Training is a program that teaches individuals how to facilitate breathwork sessions for others. Breathwork training can involve learning different breathing techniques, understanding the physiological and psychological effects of breathwork, and developing coaching skills in order to guide others through a therapeutic healing process.
Breathwork is a powerful tool for trauma release, which means it can have significant benefits for mental health. “The body keeps the score”, quite literally. Our bodies hold memories of every event that has happened to us in our life, and events that could be considered as traumatic or stressful can lead to physical tension, emotional distress, and a range of other negative symptoms–and also lead to the creation of our belief systems. Breathwork can help to connect with and integrate these bodily memories, in turn helping us to release emotions and physical tension, and to see things in a new way–allowing for the creation of new belief systems.
Breathwork supports trauma release by helping individuals to access and process stored emotions in the body. The breath can highlight or activate an adverse life experience from the past, and with the support of a skilled facilitator these unresolved experiences can be processed in a safe and controlled way (it is best to work with a trauma-informed breathwork facilitator). By breathing deeply and consciously connecting with the experience which has been activated, we can release stored emotions and integrate trauma, which leads to a greater sense of emotional balance and resilience.
Breathwork gets to the root of our issues on an unconscious level, and therefore can have significant benefits for mental health. Research has shown that breathwork can help to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, improve mood and emotional nervous system regulation, and increase feelings of self-awareness leading to making choices that better support physical and mental health.
The greater sense of self-awareness we have as a result of breathwork leads to a stronger connection to our bodies. By tuning into the breath and exploring physical sensations within the body, we can become more attuned to our own emotions and inner experiences, and develop the capacity to support others through nervous system regulation. This concept of nervous system regulation brings us to the importance of Dr.Stephen Porges’ polyvagal theory.
Polyvagal theory is a framework developed by Dr. Stephen Porges to help us better understand the nervous system's role in regulating our physiological and emotional responses to stress and other environmental stimuli. According to polyvagal theory, the nervous system is composed of three main branches, each of which plays a unique role in regulating our responses to stress and other stimuli.
The first branch of the nervous system is the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the classic "fight or flight" response. When we perceive a threat, the sympathetic nervous system is activated, and our bodies prepare for action by increasing heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure. This response is essential for our survival, as it enables us to respond quickly and effectively to dangerous situations.
The second branch of the nervous system is the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body's "rest and digest" response. When the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, our bodies slow down, and we enter a state of relaxation and restoration. This response is essential for repairing and regenerating the body's tissues, as well as for promoting emotional regulation and social engagement.
The third branch of the nervous system, known as the social engagement system, is a more recently discovered branch of the nervous system that plays a critical role in our ability to connect with others and form social bonds. When the social engagement system is activated, we feel safe and connected, and our bodies enter a state of relaxation and openness.
According to polyvagal theory, the social engagement system is linked to the vagus nerve, a large nerve that runs from the brainstem down through the chest and abdomen. When the vagus nerve is activated, it sends signals throughout the body that promote relaxation, emotional regulation, and social engagement.
Understanding the role of the nervous system in regulating our physiological and emotional responses can be incredibly valuable for our overall health and well-being. By learning to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and the social engagement system, we can promote relaxation, emotional regulation, and social connection, which can have significant benefits for our mental and physical health. Breathwork and meditation can both be useful for regulating an individual’s nervous system.
In addition, we also have the capacity for co-regulation, which breathwork supports. Co-regulation is a concept in polyvagal theory that emphasizes the importance of social engagement and connection in regulating the nervous system. According to Dr. Porges, the social engagement system is a crucial part of the nervous system that helps us to form connections with others and regulate our physiological responses to stress and other stimuli (and find a state of relaxation).
Co-regulation refers to the idea that we can regulate our nervous systems through social interaction and connection with others. When we are in the presence of others who are calm and relaxed, our own nervous systems tend to regulate and become more relaxed as well. Conversely, when we are around others who are anxious or stressed, our own nervous systems can become dysregulated, leading to increased feelings of anxiety and stress.
According to polyvagal theory, the vagus nerve is a critical component of co-regulation. The vagus nerve is a large nerve that runs from the brainstem down through the neck and into many areas inside the body and is responsible for many functions related to the parasympathetic nervous system, including regulating heart rate, breathing, and digestion.
When we are in the presence of others who are calm and relaxed, our vagus nerve is positively activated, and we enter a state of relaxation and social engagement. Conversely, when we are in the presence of others who are anxious or stressed, our vagus nerve may become dysregulated, leading to increased feelings of anxiety and stress.
Through the healing that breathwork provides, as a person develops a greater capacity for self-regulation of their own nervous system, they also develop a greater capacity to support others through co-regulation as a byproduct. Co-regulation can also be supported through the practice of meditation.
Similarities between Meditation Training and Breathwork Facilitator Training
While there are significant differences between meditation training and breathwork facilitator training, there are also many similarities. Both practices are focused on cultivating a state of inner calm, relaxation, and self-awareness, and both can be used to reduce stress, improve mental clarity, and enhance overall well-being.
In addition, both meditation and breathwork can be practiced individually or in a group setting, online or in-person, and both can be used as a complementary approach to traditional medical treatments for a variety of mental and physical health conditions.
Differences between Meditation Training and Breathwork Facilitator Training
Despite these similarities, there are also significant differences between meditation training and breathwork facilitator training. One of the main differences is the focus of the practice. Meditation is primarily focused on cultivating a sense of inner calm and awareness, while breathwork is focused on using breathing techniques to achieve a state of emotional release and personal transformation.
Another difference is the level of training required to become a facilitator. While anyone can learn how to meditate and use meditation techniques for personal growth and well-being, becoming a breathwork facilitator typically requires more extensive training and certification.
In addition, breathwork facilitator training often involves working with individuals who are dealing with trauma or other emotional issues, and therefore requires a higher level of training in psychology and counseling or coaching skills. Breathwork is a therapeutic process and while someone is going through this process they are in what is called a non-ordinary state of consciousness and are highly vulnerable. It's important for breathwork facilitators to become certified and to follow specific guidelines and the highest ethical standards at all times.
Both meditation and breathwork are valuable practices that can be used to enhance mental and emotional well-being, and training in either of these modalities will provide you with valuable tools. While there are many similarities between the two practices, including their focus on relaxation, self-awareness, and their potential benefits for overall health, there are also significant differences.
Meditation training is primarily focused on cultivating a sense of inner calm and awareness through the use of different techniques and practices, while breathwork facilitator training focuses on using breathing techniques to achieve emotional release and personal transformation. Breathwork training generally requires a higher level of training and certification, as well as a greater understanding of psychology and counseling, as breathwork can often involve working with individuals dealing with trauma or emotional issues. Some breathwork training programs, like the program at One Breath Institute, include meditation training.
Regardless of the differences between meditation training and breathwork training, both practices can be valuable tools for enhancing mental and emotional well-being, and can be used as complementary approaches to traditional medical treatments. Ultimately, the choice of which practice to pursue will depend on an individual's specific goals, interests, and level of training and expertise. To learn more about why trauma-informed training is important, check out this blog.
This article was all about Meditation Training and Breathwork Training: What’s the Difference?
by Lisa McNett
Curious about our breathwork training?
Share your info below for an exclusive behind the scenes sneak peek of our program.
Unsubscribe at any time.