Contributed by Jennylee Taylor
In 2016, at the ABA Committee Inspiration and Planning weekend I was sitting with Cindy Aulby (current president) and Mirabai Rose (past president), Robyn Fernance (then membership officer) and the rest of the committee at the time talking about the depth of the Breathwork lineage in Australia. We had just worked out that Mirabai and I could have the same “grandparents”. My lineage belongs to the Breathwork Family Tree that started with Ahrara Bhakti who trained Michael Adamedes who teed up with Quentin Watts to train Robyn Fernance who was my trainer.
Mirabai’s lineage also started with Ahrara Bhakti who, as stated above, trained Michael Adamedes who teed up with Quentin Watts to train Denise Burgess. Denise teed up with Michael and Quentin to train Jonine Lee-Gabay who in turn trained Mirabai. During her training, Mirabai was also supervised by Karen Daniel – Ahrara’s daughter, through whom Mirabai says: “I feel the lineage through her so strongly, its an honour to work with her.”
Feeling that we could share the same “grand parentage”, sent a warm fuzzy feeling through me as we beamed at each other and considered the importance of knowing that this could be true.
So far, ABA members can be traced back through the lineage to the following teachers:
Ahrara Bhakti, Stanis Grof, Leonard Orr, Colin Sisson, Frank Wilks, Ella & Andy Portman, Judith Kravitz covering all forms of CCB including Rebirthing, Transformational, Holotropic Breath.
At the other end of the scale Breathwork is gaining popularity and the term “Breathwork” means a myriad of things other than conscious connected breathing with some people worried that Breathwork as the ABA know it could get lost in the noise. This brought home the importance of honouring and maintaining the links to our Breathwork lineage.
This article is not about resisting change. Change will happen anyway. Rather it is about remembering where we came from so we can better adapt to the changing future with wisdom and knowledge.
Homage to our Breathwork history and Elders
Breathwork history in Australia is deep and rich with many forms of conscious connected breathing evolving from the different schools of Ahrara Bhakti, Leonard Orr and Sondra Ray, Stanslov Grof, resulting in Rebirthing Breathwork (using conscious connected breathing), Holotropic Breathwork or Transformational Breathwork to name a few. It has come a long way since the heady days of the 1980’s when Breathwork Practitioners were “cracking the cosmic egg” and were breathing groups of people on kitchen floors and in lounge rooms.
I caught a glimpse of this richness as part of the 2012 Breathe Australia Conference trainer’s forum session, where several trainers shared their Breathwork journey of the past 30 years. I remember soaking up the knowledge and wisdom of these wonderful people and feeling so young in my Breathwork journey. Just to be in the presence of the depth of knowledge, experience, understanding and love was for me the biggest benefit of showing up to the Breath Australia Conference. It’s like I absorbed all of the attributes of the elders by osmosis and was held by the eldership and the rest of the Breathwork community.
Some of these Breathworkers where “born” to it, others where teachers or sports people, coming from a myriad of other previous vocations and had found Breathwork through a personal crisis. All of them have a deep respect and love for The Breath and take very seriously their custodianship of Breathwork as a modality.
These men and women and others are our Breathwork Elders.
They are the pioneers, the brave, and the layers of the foundations of Breathwork in Australia so future generations of Breathwork Practitioners can enjoy the vast benefits of Breathwork. They were the ones who were running the Australian Institute of Rebirthing (A.I.R.) which supported our 1st National Rebirthing Conference, 28 & 29 October 1989. A.I.R. folded in 1998. In the meantime, in 1995, a group of these elders were the ones that started the Rebirthers Association of NSW Inc which evolved into the Australian Association for Professional Rebirthers (AAPR) in 1997, to being the Australian Breathwork Association (ABA) in 2005, 30 years later and is the current name.
They are the ones who came together and held a vision for Breathwork Training Standards as they sat together around a table over 18 years ago. They were there to put the flesh on the bones of trainings so we could enjoy consistency and quality of training as a Breathwork Professionals today.
They are the ones that continue to train our Breathwork Practitioners and Group Facilitators and to nurture new trainers with their own flavour of Breathwork, so that the Breathwork lineage can continue.
Tracking the Breathwork Lineage
Tracking the Breathwork Lineage is an important part of the ABA vision as the keeper of the ABA records in Australia. As an association it is important to be respectful of the past and all the members, committee members, trainers, elders and supporters and their contribution to building the foundations of what we have today. Since 2016 much of our work has been consolidating and organising records and processes from past committees so that we can move forward with ease as the world moves and changes around us.
As an individual Breathwork Practitioner, knowing and understanding the depth of the Breathwork lineage provides me with a sense of belonging, like knowing your place in time and space in your personal family tree. With this knowledge comes grounding and a sense of being backed by past ancestral generations. This gives me the strength to look forward and bring the healing of Breathwork to the people in my world.
Mirabai and I share the same grand parentage that makes us distantly related in the Breathwork Ohana (family of breathers). We may not “know” each other well, yet we have an energetic bond through the Breathwork lineage. It is comforting to know that there are others in my “family” that understand Breathwork because of our common lineage.
The ABA is working with Robyn Fernance who has kindly committed her time to bring the Breathwork Family Tree up to date. Robyn is mapping the lineage from all current and past members back to the original trainers by sifting through past records. Part of this is recognising and honouring all of the Breathwork Schools, colleges and individual trainers regardless of whether they are currently connected to the ABA. She has started with the current and past ABA members and seeks the names of their teacher and teacher’s teacher to place them in the Breathwork family tree. This enables everyone to be able to see and appreciate the contribution of the teachers along the lineage.
Bringing this up to date is the first task and there are a few gaps. We are looking to place the appropriate names in the gaps for all members past and current. The plan is to then have a mechanism for maintaining the lineage into the future. This is one of the reasons we ask for the trainers name on the new membership applications.
ABA membership is growing with the increased awareness of Breathwork and since 2016 the ABA have welcomed 36 new members into the association. Our current membership is around 50 members.
The 2019 “discovery” of Breathwork
The public’s perception of Breathwork is changing. There is an up swelling of interest in how the breath can help us navigate life. This term “Breathwork” encompasses a wide and varied gamut of breath techniques ranging from guided breathing at the local gym, breath awareness, conscious breathing, conscious connected breathing (CCB) and everything in between.
In past few years the ABA (supporting Mirabai Vines in her capacity on the IBF task force) has been engaging in the global conversation with the International Breathwork Foundation (IBF) about the definition of Breathwork (as we know it in Australia to be based on CCB) and distinguishing CCB Breathwork from other forms of breath work. The IBF recognises that the term “Breathwork” is now an umbrella term in the context of all the breath modalities that is widely available now. At the time of writing the ABA had showed support for IBF AGM Proposal #10 that was discussed at the IBF AGM in July to accept some more refined definitions such as Conscious Breathing, Breathwork, Conscious Connected Breathwork. In line with the IBF, the ABA recognise the contribution that all forms of conscious breathing has to the breath work community. The work around the definitions is to provide a way for the public to more easily discern between the different types of breath work and their outcomes. For example, guided breath class in a gym is very different to a Conscious Connected Breathwork Session.
Staying grounded in the change
The ABA are looking forward to remaining grounded and holding the space for Breathwork in Australia and to continue the foundational work of the Breathwork Elders and all the trainers and students in the Breathwork lineage.
To the teachers and the teacher’s teachers