I’ll be honest with you-until Walter reached out to me for a trade, I had never heard of Breema®. Walter said “It’s like a ‘Yin’ (passive) form of Thai Yoga Therapy.” You all know by now how Yoga does not quite resonate with me, but I have enjoyed Thai on the one or two occasions I received it. The passive aspect of it resonated with me. Also, I like throwing myself at new healing modalities with reckless abandon, so we set up a trade. On my 30th Birthday! Hooray! (Crazy thing-it was Walter’s Birthday too!)
Try as I might, I don’t feel that I can come up with a more concise and accurate description of the modality than the one at breema.com:
About Breema Bodywork and Self-Breema
Breema bodywork and Self-Breema exercises use nurturing touch, tension-relieving stretches, and rhythmic movements to create physical, mental, and emotional balance. Breema’s commonsense wisdom guides the practitioner to support the body’s instinctive healing energy, nurturing vitality instead of focusing on symptoms of illness or imbalance.
The Breema philosophy and its Nine Principles of Harmony address the essential nature of life, the deeper meaning of health and how to actualize it, and the means of gaining practical, self-verified knowledge that can lead to an understanding of our unique potential as human beings.
The Nine Principles of Harmony in the Breema system are:
- Body Comfortable
- No Extra
- Firmness and Gentleness
- Full Participation
- Mutual Support
- No Judgment
- Single Moment/Single Activity
- No Hurry/No Pause
- No Force
The session itself started with Walter asking me if I had anywhere I was sensitive, or preferred not to be touched. He was also very clear about the “no force” , “no judgement” and “body comfortable” principles. I shared with him about that lower left side thing, where I feel I physically carry the Anorexia. “Are you comfortable being worked on there”? Yes, I said, and he again explained that if I felt any discomfort, to let him know immediatly.
I understood very well that this was something that was safe, and even though the practitioner may be guiding, bending, and twisting my body that I was in control of what felt OK, no questions asked. I feel like this helped me to relax, and let myself go in the session. They say pictures are worth a thousand words, I included a video of Walter giving a Breema sesson at the top of this post.
It may look a little “forceful” at times in the video, but did not feel that way at all. It was very relaxing, and certainly brought my mind to my body. As Walter worked through different parts of my body I was very aware of where he was, what was going on, and what correlated to that part of my body. As Walter got to my lower abdomen, he checked in with me, making sure that I was OK. How thoughtful. I think his asking me made it OK. It was a little difficult, but I was OK with it. I just felt it was OK to let it be what it was, knowing that I could ask he stop working that area at any time without judgment made me feel safe enough to pay attention to that area. I can’t say I would be OK with it every day, but on this particular day, I was.
That is something that comes up in recovery for some people with Eating Disorders-the idea of “being comfortable feeling uncomfortable”. It is something that Maggie Juliano mentioned in my interview with her and Suzi Costello for Sprout Yoga. I would not necessarily recommend the idea of “being OK not being OK”, but in the case of eating disorders it could make some sense. Eight years ago when I began treatment, I did not know any other way to feel about my body-it always felt foreign and it never felt comfortable. When I started experiencing my body differently, I often felt-and sometimes, still feel-like I am wearing an ugly, ill fitting dress of insecurities. Sometimes, just saying “I feel unpleasant and that is what it is” can help it feel a little better. It is like I am letting the feeling go a little, so I don’t go spiraling down to my disordered notion of “perfection” quite as easily. It’s not enough to stop it all entirely, but it is helpful.
The session ended very peacefully and I felt balanced and in harmony. I really enjoyed this session. If you are looking for a healing art that can bring your mind to your body in a gentle and empowering way, this is one to consider. Walter was fabulous and supportive, and I trusted him the entire time (and trust is something I struggle with). I can definitely see myself getting a Breema® session with Walter again.
If you wish to learn more about Breema, Walter has a class coming up with the Mount Airy Learning Tree. For details, click here.
Special thanks to Walter Hjelt Sullivan for this session. Walter is a Quaker educator, non-profit manager, and certified Breema
practitioner and instructor. Married for 24 years, he is the father of two daughters in college. Breema Practitioner Certificate awarded July 18, 2002. Self-Breema Instructor Certificate awarded, October 24, 2004. Breema Bodywork Instructor Certificate awarded, April 4, 2006.
Walter offers sliding scale treatment sessions at his home studio in the Germantown/Mt. Airy neighborhood in Phildelphia, PA.
To schedule a session, he can be reached :
Please visit Walter’s website for more classes, events and information.