What is Breathwork? Can integrating breathwork into your daily practice help manage stress?
MEET Dominiece Clifton
Dominiece Clifton is on a mission to guide others to rewrite their stories by releasing and reconnecting to remember their most authentic self. She is a registered yoga instructor and certified trauma-informed breathwork and meditation facilitator. Her spiritual transformation began after struggling for many years and finally releasing her own trauma which originated in her childhood. She entered the wellness industry as a Nutrition & Wellness Coach, wanting to guide others to heal stored stress and trauma that manifested physically in their bodies. Today, Dominiece is the Founder of Move And Still, Nourish Wellness Collective (coming 2023), and the host of the School of Healing podcast. She promotes emotional well-being for the mind, body, and soul and uses body-centered approaches to healing including yoga, meditation, and breathwork.
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Chris McDonald: What if I told you that there's a simple strategy that you can implement each day that can greatly reduce how reactive you are to stress and bring you more peace of mind? Did you know that this is one of the most accessible, holistic modalities you can teach clients in session that is extremely effective in reducing anxiety?
In today's episode, we explore how integrating daily breath work into your day can help you feel more calm and help your clients learn how to settle their own nervous. This is Holistic Counseling, the podcast for mental health therapists who want to deepen their knowledge of holistic modalities and build their practice with confidence.
I'm your host, Chris McDonald, licensed therapist. I am so glad you're here for the journey.
Welcome to today's episode of the Holistic Counseling Podcast. I am so happy to be here today on this windy day at North Carolina. I wanna share this conversation with you. About one of my favorite practices that I learned a lot with my yoga training, and that is breath work. It's one of the core coping skills I teach every single client that I see.
Today's guest is Dominique Clifton. She's on a mission to guide others to rewrite their stories by releasing and reconnecting to remember their most authentic self. And a fun fact about her is she never used to dance as a kid or as an adult until about two years ago, but she loves to dance now. Welcome to the podcast, Domin.
Dominiece Clifton: Hmm. Hi Chris. Thank you so much for having me here.
Chris McDonald: Yeah. I'm so glad that you're here. So it's, what kind of dancing are
Dominiece Clifton: you doing? Nothing that's like formal, you know, choreographed. I just kind of freestyle dance by myself sometimes with my little girls. That's my favorite kind. I still, I think I've gotten better over the last couple of years, but I, I don't think I can dance well, so I'm not like doing like choreographed hip hop or anything special.
Chris McDonald: But it's still, you're still dancing.
Dominiece Clifton: I'm still dancing. I'm, I'm, that's glad they back my way back to Joy, which is part of dance.
Chris McDonald: Yeah. You know, I did that last night while I was cooking dinner. I just put some music on. I'm by myself, . Nobody's, nobody bother me. I'm just gonna dance. And it really is such a great way just to unwind and release stress and kind of get into your body.
Dominiece Clifton: Yes, I love it and it feels good to allow myself to dance again because for so long I did not feel good in my body, and so I didn't dance because I was always afraid of being seen and what people would think about me, or even if they weren't thinking about me, how I'd look. And so I just didn't dance.
And, you know, going through my own healing journey, I've allowed myself to, to dance again. Even if it looks silly, it, it feels good. Okay. Aarons right. We
Chris McDonald: gotta get to that place. So just being free and doing it. Yeah, no, I hear you. That's awesome. I know I never danced as a kid either, and didn't real, I mean, I danced by myself, but never did.
I did formal dancing, I did some belly dancing and did some performances and it was very hard for me, to choreography. Ah. So yeah, I think freestyle is where it. , that's
Dominiece Clifton: where it's at for sure. Yeah.
Chris McDonald: So I was looking at your website, move in still for your business. Can you tell me how you came up with that
Dominiece Clifton: name?ing and I started that um, in:
And at the time as a coach myself, who was also very stressed out trying to manage that world and little ones I didn't really know too much about stress. Management. So I decided that I wanted to, after learning so much about stress and burnout, start really teaching people how to manage and release stress from their bodies.
And originally I learned that movement is the most efficient or like the number one way to do that, and I was just, Thinking like I wanted to start this organization that helped people to move more. Cuz we were just talking about dancing and how it feels good and how it helps you and you know you can release.
And so movement was the only thing on my mind at that time. Like that's the message that I was really focused on. And then I went through my own four month period of just really like allowing myself to be guided intuitively. I went through a four month period of stillness where I was going through a yoga teacher training.
I had taken a really long break from social media and I came out of that four months. Having had released so much and I was feeling so much lighter and you know, just so much had shifted in me that I was like, hang on, movement is so important, but we also need the stillness piece. It's not a either or.
It's a both hands. Amen. . And so yeah, that's where I am now. I'm like talking to people about how we do need to move our bodies, but also balancing that with, you know what, sometimes we just need to be still and hold space for stillness and both of them serve their purposes at different. That's
Chris McDonald: beautiful.
Thank you. Beautiful combo. So stillness to me too can be meditation. Do you do meditation?
Dominiece Clifton: I do. I do meditate pretty consistently. It's a part of my morning routine and the way that I like to start my day with some intention. And so I usually like to start my day with some meditation and some breath work just to kind of help myself ground into the day.
And like I said, start with intention.
Chris McDonald: What was your intention? My
Dominiece Clifton: intention today was to get out of the house without yelling at my little ones because I did not meditate today. So it's, I I was sharing before, don't you know the
Chris McDonald: difference
Dominiece Clifton: I was sharing before we hit record that I didn't sleep well. And so like, I woke up around 1:00 AM and I just couldn't go back to sleep.
And so by the time I dozed off, it was like time to get up. And it was that like groggy still need sleep space. So I didn't meditate. I slept up until like I needed to get up and start breakfast for my daughters. And that happens occasionally, but usually when I meditate and do breath work, it's really for me to be present because I'm someone who is always thinking ahead.
Like my mind is just always 10 trying to be, I should. 10 steps ahead of where I am. And so I meditate a lot just for present moment awareness. And if I feel throughout my day that I'm struggling with that or maybe like focused on something or worried about something, I will pause and meditate or do some breath work to help recenter myself.
So that's, that's usually how I use those tools. . So what
Chris McDonald: your clues that maybe you need to do some breath work? How do you know? Is there any sensation in your
Dominiece Clifton: body or, yeah, I think for me it feels like anger and agitation. So those are like two key in indicators for me of, okay, I need to like slow down and I need to.
Take a moment to step back into my power when I'm feeling like I'm easily agitated and triggered by things, which is what was happening earlier this morning. I don't feel like I'm in control. I don't feel like I'm showing up as the best version of myself, and that's typically an indicator, whether it's with work or business or someone that I'm interacting with or my children like whenever I feel like I'm struggl.
To remain in control. That's an indicator for me that I need to pause and like turn to the tools. And so yeah, that was, I was feeling that today. I had a lot of phone calls this morning with, you know, just like adulting things, cable and wifi, and all the things that weren't acting right, and I was just feeling short and impatient with everyone, and I just needed to reset.
Chris McDonald: We all get there , yes, for sure. All have those days and we're recording on a Monday. So I think Mondays are tough, man. Cuz I, for me, I'm like looking at the head of the week, all the things I gotta get done. It's like, whew, I gotta take more breath, I gotta do more meditation, more yoga.
Dominiece Clifton: For sure. For sure.
It's a beautiful reminder. , I feel those sorts of tools just to slow down, you know what I mean? Just to slow down a little bit. So, yeah. Mm-hmm. . Yeah.
Chris McDonald: So what led you to wanting to learn more about breath work? Cause I know you said you got some certification in
Dominiece Clifton: that. I found breath work about two years ago, and I, I have been, you know, I've been training and doing yoga for y well, on my own.
I've been doing yoga for a while, but breath work. Yoga as a trained facilitator are fairly new to me about two years, but I was in a entrepreneurship training program at the time, and there was a woman who was a life coach and she was working with the founder of the training program, and she offered to hold a breathing session, a free one hour breathing session with a small group of us.
I think there was maybe about 10 of us on the call. It was virtual over Zoom, and that was like my first time really doing breath work outside of just, you know, Pana, Yama and yoga, and I. Had just so many downloads and I, I feel like I saw like a higher version of myself. So clearly there were things that were going on in my personal life that I felt like I was getting clarity and guidance on, and so I came out of that being like, wow, that was really powerful.
But I kind of just, You know, put it on, put it as something I'll come back to later. It was a wonderful first experience, but definitely not something at the time that I was considering that I was gonna pursue. Um, fast forward to last February, I went to a three day breath work and meditation retreat in Colorado, and it was a mixed.
Of breath work meditation and the, the guy who hosts the event, you know, does sessions where he talks about just spirituality and all of these things. And so we did a lot of breath work that weekend and it was really deep stuff. And for me, I had so many things come up that I thought that I had worked through and release, and that was the first time that I realized like I had moved on mentally, but my body was still holding.
So many things and breath work was really a catalyst to show me where I still needed to heal and I still needed to release some things. And so I came out of that training last year being like, this was amazing. I want to be able to hold space for other people in this way so that people can really let go and release things that we're holding onto that.
A lot of the times we may not even realize that our bodies are still holding onto. I had experiences from over a decade ago come up for me. Um, wow. Yeah. Yeah. That I had not thought about in a long time. And so for me that was a really eye-opening moment of, again, like, I've moved on here, but my body is definitely still holding those experiences.
Chris McDonald: think that's so true that a lot of us think, well if I'm not thinking about it every day, then I'm good. I work through it and you probably haven't , right? A lot of these things if you haven't really taken the time and, and so much more, our body remembers, right? Yeah. And so much is stored in the body.
And I see, I don't know if you notice that with yoga too, that sometimes clients release stuff with yoga too, that, you know, um, with our chakras and if, if things are out of alignment or if trauma are stored there, they might cry or have other emotional. Things that come up, but yeah, I can see how breathwork
Dominiece Clifton: can definitely tap into that.
Yeah. I think of breathwork as a, such a beautiful way to quiet the mind and really like, it's like a portal straight to the heart and or, you know, to, to the intuition. And so in that way I think it can bring up or stir up a lot of unaddressed. Past experiences, sometimes trauma. And so you really have to be careful with, especially if someone's new to, to breath work, to titrating them in and really easing them into breath work as a practice.
Because it's almost like as soon as you open that portal, it's like all of the things just, you know, you, you open, open up and hold space for all of those things to come up. You're not sure, you might not be sure of what's going to come up. I was very surprised that some of the experiences that were coming up for me.
Um, one thing in particular that I'll share is that I had had an abortion in college. And again, like I. Thought about this abortion in over a decade, and I had the memories and experiences of that come up for me. And I didn't realize that my body was still holding onto the experience of having an abortion, you know, as, as an early 20 something year old woman.
And I had well moved on here. Like I, you know, I have two children now and married, and so it wasn't something that I was thinking about, but my body was definitely still mourning and going through that grieving process and so, Helpful for me and really beautiful because it allowed for me to, in my own way, like work through release, grieve the, that, you know, that decision and really like free myself from it.
And so I definitely feel free from that now mentally and physically in the body.
Chris McDonald: I appreciate you sharing that vulnerable moment. I know that probably was very difficult to go through and, but how beautiful to come to that place of healing. Healing, and that's what this is all about, isn't it? Healing ourselves and finding these holistic modalities that we can connect with.
Dominiece Clifton: Yeah. Yeah. I think in my brief introduction you said, release, reconnect, and remember, and that's really the message that I try to affirm with everyone, whether it's educating or speaking, is the first part of the process is the releasing process. Because a lot of us are just holding onto so much. And again, it's not typically stuff that we're even aware that we're holding onto.
So really giving your body and your mind the opportunity to release is so important. And then once you start to. You're able to really start reconnecting with yourself, reconnecting with your, your intuition, your body, your source, you know, higher power. And then from there we go through the process of allowing ourselves to remember.
And when I talk about remembering, I'm talking about remembering yourself authentically, like remembering your power and really being comfortable with owning that power. And that's what healing has done for me over the last couple of years, is it's allowed me to go through those process. And I feel that remembering is an ongoing process.
Like you're never fully at the finish line of that. You know, you're constantly kind of peeling back layers and rediscovering parts of yourself, but it is really beautiful to show up as a version of yourself that feels authentic to you without like holding so much baggage and so much trauma from years ago or decades ago that a lot of us are walking around holding onto.
Chris McDonald: Yeah, cuz that can be heavy. Mm-hmm. And that unprocessed trauma or other issues that you haven't worked through? I mean, they can come up in other ways. Yes. Even if it's not the front of your mind through, you know, physical issues or aches and pains, chronic pains, so many ways. And sometimes those can be signs, right?
That there could be something you need to work
Dominiece Clifton: on and Absolutely. Yes. I think. Self-awareness in the healing process is such an important piece of it, and that I always feel like that's probably the first step for, for most people, is recognizing the ways that your body is speaking to you or your, your body is trying to communicate to you.
And just like you said, it might be in a physical ailment or a dise, but it might also be in the way that you show up with the people around you or the way that you show up at work. And that was for me, I, I was holding weight for many years, physic. I was overweight, and so it definitely manifested physically all of my past trauma.
But it also showed up in the ways that I interacted with my loved ones and like those, especially those relationships closest to me and the way that I was guarded and didn't really let people in. And so I have had to really build self-awareness to recognize like when I'm showing up from a place that's a trauma response and not necessarily the most authentic person or part of myself.
Chris McDonald: appreciate you sharing that cuz Yeah, we can't, we can't do any of this work really, truly, unless we're aware of what's going on in that interception too. Knowing what's going on in our bodies, our minds, our spirits and all that. Um, I wanna ask you, cause I knew with my yoga training that my, I learned a lot about using movement before meditation cause it really does help you to get into meditation much easier.
Do you, is that the same for breath work? Is it good to do some
Dominiece Clifton: movement before breath? . So there are, uh, certain breathing patterns that you can combine with movement, but typically breath work is a practice where you just sit in stillness or lie in stillness and kind of just hold space for your body to do what it needs to do.
So when I do breath work, especially if it's a longer session, um, typically it would be a 30 minute or one hour session with me or with the client. The 30 minute session is more of an integrative session where they're only breathing for maybe about eight minutes total. So the other time is kind of discussion and processing all of those things.
Um, processing more at the end and you know, just seeing what the experience was like for them. Integrative sessions are intended to be shorter because the idea is that someone can take that seven or eight minute practice and integrate it into their daily lives, so you can do some breathing while you're packing the dishwasher or you.
Sitting at your desk like it, it's, it's meant to be integrated while the longer session, the meditative session is to help you go deeper, to drop deeper into your, your body, into your intuition. And so the goal with those sessions is usually, like I said, to lie in stillness or sit in stillness, however, Sometimes movement can be helpful for moving energy.
We know that to be true, and so I always encourage a client where if you feel like you need to move, you can move your body. And if it's comfortable for you to turn the camera off to really let yourself release the way that you need to, you can do that. But I've found for myself sometimes that breathing in conjunction with movement definitely helps to like remove some of the like heavier stuff that might be coming up.
And so though it's. , you know, necessarily always paired together. It is something that instructors typically encourage if someone feels like they need to move. And so it might be just like doing some yoga stretches or, you know, doing, just letting your body guide the process as you're going through. And so, I guess to answer the question, it can be a helpful part of the process.
Um, if, if it, if you're with someone where you feel safe enough to, to just allow yourself to flow that. .
Chris McDonald: Yeah. And I appreciate you sharing too, about how you run your sessions. That's interesting. Yeah, so I love the idea of being able to incorporate with things you're doing already. Like the dishes, whenever
Dominiece Clifton: I'm talking to people, I'm usually talking to people that are extremely busy.
And so sometimes it's like, well, I don't have, you know, a lot of time to sit down and breathe. And I'm like, well, you always have access to your breath. And so whether it's. Whether it's sitting at your desk and just taking a couple of deep breaths and being intentional about that and just noticing how your body feels.
And now, while I don't recommend doing breath work and driving, you can always do a few breaths while you're at the stoplight or, you know, waiting for the kids in the, in the line before or with s. Pick up. You know there there's always little pockets of time where you can be intentional about just slowing down the breath.
And what I find with a lot of clients that I breathe with or that I hold space to breathe, or even in just conversation, we don't often realize like how tight intense we are until we take those deep breaths and feel that sense of release in the body. Because a lot of us are so used to functioning and feeling stressed out and breathing just from the chest and not really engaging the full body and the full diaphragm that.
Five, you know, 10 breaths or two minutes of breathing make you notice like, oh my God, like I've been holding my breath, or I feel this tightness in my chest that I wasn't even aware of. And so there's always small opportunities throughout the day to, to really pause. I call them pockets of pause. And we all have, you know, access in our day to, to hold space in that way.
Chris McDonald: Yeah, I think that's so important to have those moments to, and I always think of this too, using that or mindfulness, like when you're waiting in line somewhere. Like I go to the grocery store and I'm just standing there. I'm like, I might as well try to be mindful or do some breath while I'm here.
Dominiece Clifton: And the easiest way I think to find time is.
When you wanna get on your phone, like that idle time where you're like, oh, let me scroll. Social media. Like that is the perfect time to breathe, right? Like that's the perfect time to do something more mindful. So, or as a
Chris McDonald: transition. Yeah, a transition, right? Cause ending the workday or starting the workday, I think can always, um, center you at lunchtime and, yes.
So many good moments
Dominiece Clifton: to breathe. Said that. Yeah. I love that you said that piece about the transitions and especially the end of the workday, because a lot of times, especially as, as women, we are like, we, we drop into this, this, uh, masculine energy for our workday, and it's like, you gotta be in that because that's where you, you know, you're productive and you're, you're in, you're doing mode.
But a lot of us, we never turn that off. And so we, myself included, I'm speaking on myself when I say this, we go like, we go home or we finish our workday if we're working from home, and then. Go straight to doing those evening activities with family and you're still in that like very masculine energy.
For me, I find breath work like just five minutes at the end of the day as like a switch where I flip, I, I turn off like the doing and I allow myself to turn on that more just like flowing feminine energy and I show up much better for my children on the days where I'm intentional about that transitional period.
It makes a
Chris McDonald: huge difference. Mm-hmm. to really ki it's like connecting back to yourself and mm-hmm. . Because I think, yeah, we can get in that accomplishment mode and what else has to be done the rest of the night and, yeah,
Dominiece Clifton: exactly. , I'm the same way. Something .
Chris McDonald: That's why I'm like, I gotta add some breath work at that.
Let me make a note. , make a note of that. I know. Yeah. Cause I, I really do try to focus on transition. I think transitions are so important during our day or we're gonna carry over some of that right into the. part of our day in our next roles in our lives, so, so what are the benefits of breath work?
Dominiece Clifton: Hmm.
There's so many benefits. So of course we just talked about kind of shifting energy and I think that that can be a really helpful way to approach breathing. I also love breathing because for me it's an immediate reduction of stress. And so anytime I'm feeling stressed about something or even anxious about something, breathing really, really allows me to like release that immediately.
And so in that way it's a very beautiful. It also helps me to connect with my emotions. Sometimes if I'm feeling, you know, like I'm feeling a little off, but I'm not sure what's causing it, I can breathe and then like tune into my body and really hold space for whatever that emotion is and allow for me to hold space and release those emotions.
So connecting with and releasing emotions and I, I think one of the reasons why I have loved breath work for myself over. Couple of years is because it has helped me to really reconnect with my higher self or my intuition. That is something that I struggle with for a really long time because I was so disconnected from that part of myself that like spiritual wise part of myself, and it showed up in everything.
So in business, I would say it showed up a lot because I was always just really confused and acting on impulse and not really. Direction in my life and seeking answers externally, whether it was from a coach or a friend, or you know, all of those sorts of things. I wasn't very connected with myself. And what breath work has offered me over the last couple of years is just really to reconnect with my intuition and not just reconnect, but be able to tr trust that inner wisdom and guidance.
When it comes to me and to hear from it a lot easier and to be able to discern intuition from ego or like, is this my mind? You're talking to me? Or, you know, is this, is this that wise version of myself? And so for anyone who can relate to constantly needing answers externally or just always feeling confused about things, it's really beautiful way to connect to intuition.
And that's, I would say one of the greatest benefits from it. And then of course it helps with things like mental clarity and providing more energy. We talked about me feeling really groggy today and just needing like a midday reset and so it's helped me to like be awake and ready for the, this second half of my day.
And of course, it's helpful for releasing trauma, which we've talked about also releasing trauma and stress that we've been holding in our. A lot of times for years and so that, you know, I know that your podcast is all about like how we can bring in holistic practices, but it can be really a really helpful way for therapists to guide their patients or healers, you know, anyone who's working with others to help 'em, help them with the process of letting go of things that they're holding onto, but also ready in.
trying to work through. Yeah. And it
Chris McDonald: just made me think too, like in sessions to, for therapists, if they can get, they get some training with breath work to, to start sessions with that sometimes to get that centering practice, like we talked about, transitions. Mm-hmm. , you know, or you know, sometimes I do it in the middle and again, sometimes the end, it depends on what's going on.
For me, I'm organic. I like to see what's going on in the moment. If somebody's coming to me, very dysregulated. . We're not gonna go into talk therapy, we're gonna do either some movement, some breath, something to kind of get us centered and arrived into the session, into the
Dominiece Clifton: moment. So, yeah. I love it. Yeah.
Even if I'm just having conversations with people, I just, like you said, I find that someone will come to let, let's just say it's a Zoom call, and they'll come to the Zoom call and they're frantic because you know, we have lives and things are going on and it's like, you can feel that like overwhelmed.
Energy. And so before we even start the conversation or the meeting or whatever it is, I, I will offer, if I feel like that can be beneficial to someone, I will offer, hey, like, can I guide you through a few breaths or can we take some breaths together? And it's amazing. You don't have to spend a ton of time on it.
I was with someone last week and we took maybe five breaths together, and by that last one she was like, oh my God. I felt a huge release in my chest. And that was just like five breaths. It did. It took less than a minute to do. And so there are a ton of ways that people can, you know, Practitioners and guides and healers can find ways to incorporate just very simple and easy practices into the work that they're already doing, and it can just have such a, a benefit to, to those that they're working with.
Chris McDonald: Absolutely. And there's so many different kinds of breath work out there too that you can learn to, to teach clients and I, I find a lot of therapists are intimidated at first to teach people were, did you feel that at all to, to
Dominiece Clifton: teach people the response that's coming up for me with that question. . If someone is feeling intimidated by it, that means that maybe they should try the practice for themselves first and build a relationship with it first.
Because if you, if something feels good to you or if you feel like it's beneficial, it's a lot easier to try to sell it to someone else. But I've been agreed. I, I don't normally have that problem because I practice breath work consistently, like almost on a daily basis at this point. , but when I was going through my certification, I had other peers who were saying, I'm a coach and I'm having a hard time like selling this to my current client.
And you know, there were lots of reasons for that, but it's like, are you practicing consistently yourself? You know what I mean? Because if you're, if you're, it's almost like trying to sell something that you don't believe in. And so I would urge anyone who's listening and maybe have felt that hesitation or maybe that'll come up in the future for them to, before you try to push it onto someone else, like make sure that it.
Good to you as a practice or modality. And then it, it makes it a lot easier and authentic to try to explain to someone why it's beneficial and feels a lot more natural because you can say, Hey, it's benefited me in these ways. And so I'm not often selling people on breath work. I'm often talking about my own ex.
Experience and just giving them information about it and letting them decide for their self, if it's a useful practice. But I can only speak from, again, my own experience with breathwork and how it's benefited me. No, I
Chris McDonald: totally, I feel what you're saying because I, I do that with yoga too. I say you have to embody the practice before you can teach it.
Oh, yes. Oh yes,
Dominiece Clifton: totally, totally . Yeah, that's with everything. You know what I mean? Like it is. It
Chris McDonald: is. Yeah. Yeah. Mm-hmm. . And it was funny, when I did my yoga train, I remember we did our final presentation right to we get certified and my teacher could tell the people that were not doing a personal practice, and I don't know if she's psychic or she could just tell with how they were teaching if they weren't as comfortable, but she was like, you need to do a personal present,
Dominiece Clifton: You
Chris McDonald: know? Yeah. But I think I was embodying it, right?
Dominiece Clifton: Yeah. Because it, it's in us and I it is, it, it shows up in how we interact and, you know, everything that we do. And again, it's much easier to convince someone of why something is important. Yeah. If you believe in it because it has helped you. And so, Again, for anyone that's listening that's considering breath work as a part of their practice, I would say start with yourself for a few weeks or a few months.
See how it lands for you. See which, which breath work patterns that you enjoy the most. And, you know, try to, um, start integrating it into your practice once you have a loving relationship with the practice or e even if not loving like a, a comfortable relationship with the practice yourself.
Chris McDonald: No, I appreciate that.
Uh, is there any kind of clients that we shouldn't be teaching breath work to? Any dangers
Dominiece Clifton: of that? Thank you for asking that question. So everyone can benefit from breath work, but I think that the, I won't say the danger, but the caution lies in folks that have experienced, so we all come to breath work with different levels of, you know, experiences and past things that have happened in trauma that is really at different levels.
And if you go, if you dive. Too hard, too soon. Breath work can almost be re-traumatizing because it can stir up and bring up a lot of stuff that you might not be ready to deal with all at once. And. The way that I was taught with my program, it was a trauma informed approach of where you titrate in with someone.
And titration just means like easing in, like starting with just sticking your big toe in the cold water instead of like going and jumping all in and you know, freezing or shocking the nervous system. And so maybe the first session is very gentle and it's a. Two or three minute practice to see how it lands with the person.
And then you build from there. And so anytime I'm working with a new client, I would never do a, let's just say like a 30 minute breathing practice with multiple breath patterns, because that can be too much for them. I'd start with. Five minutes or seven minutes depending on their, their medical form and you know, the things that they've been through.
And I'll do a very gentle, just one practice and really like, see how that lands in their bodies, reminding them that the entire time they have autonomy over their bodies and to let me be their, their second guide, but really to let their body be the first guide. So giving them permission to stop if it doesn't feel comfortable and not feel forced into something.
But from what I've heard from other folks who've experienced breath work and have, you know, have had experiences that have not been helpful, um, and even from the facilitators of the program, is that some instructors feel like more is better because that's a kind of like world that we live in where it's like you gotta.
Go the hardest and go the longest and all of these things. And that's not always true. More is not always better. Harder is not always better. Um, you can do a very gentle practice and still have a lot of transformation happen. And so I think it's important to know, again, what your, what your client or the person that you are interacting with has been through.
So obviously having that relationship and rapport with them and then being graceful and knowing. again, harder doesn't always mean faster change, which is sometimes what we might think. And so instructors that just encourage people to go all in and you know, go really hard and that sort of thing, like that can be traumatizing to someone if they have things that come up that are too fast for them to process and deal with, and they might not wanna come back to the experience if that is the case.
Chris McDonald: Yeah. This is not hardcore cardio or something . No, it's not. Yeah, yeah, yeah. This is breath work, so we can ease in and I think I like to check in. Tell me how you're doing. Especially if they're n, they're new to it and they've never practiced, so really taking your time in, but for you to pay attention to their body language.
E, even if they're not saying anything, just let's take a break from breath work if they're struggling. Yeah, can be usually be pretty apparent. I
Dominiece Clifton: agree that level of awareness as a facilitator or guide for someone else or therapist is really important. Like you said, tuning into the body and what's happening in the body.
And then again, I always remind people as I'm going through, like, remember that you are in control of this process. And so if at any time this feels uncomfortable for you, you can stop. We, there are physical sensations that happen when you breathe sometimes, like depending on the breath pattern and, and the duration.
And even that can be a lot for people, especially for new breathers. And so if you know they're, they're breathing and they're experiencing tetany, which is like the lobster claw hands, like if they feel something like that happening and it feels uncomfortable, or sometimes cramping or tightness can happen in the stomach.
Anything that feels uncomfortable and it feels like too much for you, just reminding them that it's okay to ease off, give your body a break and go back when your body feels ready. And so even if I'm, you know, guiding you and queuing you, and you need to take a break, you can take a break.
Chris McDonald: Yeah. Yeah. And can you share a takeaway that you are going to share with
Dominiece Clifton: listeners?
I think in line with the conversation that we've had today, one of the things that I've had to learn from my own personal experience, and also as someone who holds space for other people, is that our mind will have a timeline for how long healing should take or when it should be done, or when we should be done with something like, oh, I, I should have worked through this by now.
Like, I've been working on this for some time, and what I've learned is, because we know the body keeps the score and the body holds the truth. The body really is in control of the healing process, and so whether you're doing breath work or talk therapy or any other therapeutic practice or you know, somatic practice, just really allow your body to be the guide and trust your body and the process.
Because you, again, talking about my own personal experience and how I was holding onto something from a decade ago, I thought mentally like I should have been past that and that I was past that. But that's not always the case. And so really having compassion with yourself as you navigate the healing journey and recognizing that it's not always linear.
Sometimes you move forward and have to take five steps back. All that is part of the process, and it's okay. You know, it doesn't mean that you're doing something wrong if it's not going according to the plan that your ego has set. So, Having compassion with your healing journey would be what I wanna leave folks with as they're listening to this.
Chris McDonald: Yes. Thank you. So what's the best way for listeners to find you and learn more about you? So
Dominiece Clifton: I'm on social media, um, mostly Instagram and LinkedIn as Domin r Clifton. And I always joke with anyone that's, I'm on a, uh, the show with that. My name is really long, so I'll just have you link it in the show notes.
And then I also, if anyone is interested in trying a free breathing practice, I can direct you to go to tiny url.com. Slash breathe with dumb and you can get access to a free 10 minute practice. That's all about slowing down. We talked about that, connecting with your intuition and just really allowing yourself to tune into your heart and quiet your mind.
And so if you're new to the practice and you wanna try this, whether you're a therapist or just someone that's interested, it's a great practice. And then for therapists that might be listening, that can be a beautiful, um, introduction to breath work for you if you're new to it. To decide if it's something that feels good for you, that maybe you wanna explore a little bit deeper.
Chris McDonald: And thank you so much for coming on to the podcast,
Dominiece Clifton: Dominee. Yeah, thank you for having me, Chris. This has been such a pleasure. Yeah,
Chris McDonald: and all that will be in the show notes, so I highly recommend, I did wanna her breathwork this morning and oh, it's amazing. Way to start the day. So that wraps up another episode of the Holistic Counseling Podcast.
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