Rebirthing: Return to the Womb

by Michael Braunstein

“Once more into the breach, dear friends! Once more!”

    — William Shakespeare, Henry V, Act 3, Scene 1

Consider your birth. Imagine what it must have been like. You began as a zygote, a two-part cell, and rapidly grew into human form. At six weeks your little heart is beating. By week eight, you had brainwave function and who knows when, you had some sort of awareness. A baby in the womb reacts to sound, touch, chemicals and more. So there is awareness.

Fast forward to the seconds just before birth. You are aware of floating weightlessly in amniotic fluid. All your life so far, in your mother’s womb, it’s been quiet, dark, warm, moist and soft. You didn’t even have to breathe or eat; all your cares met without concern. That’s all you knew of life. Then things began to change. And they changed rapidly.

Then, within seconds, your body is no longer weightless. It’s being squeezed harshly, perhaps violently or even seized by metal tongs. You emerge into the completely foreign experience of glaring light piercing eyes that had seen only the inner world. All around you is noise, almost unbearable. Air is ice cold to your skin and as you breathe for the very first time in your life, it’s like razor blades scaling the inside of your lungs. Your soft and moist skin is grated by coarse, dry sensations that feel like sandpaper. The softest blanket or the warmest skin cannot ease the blow to your system. From quiet suspension within a caretaker’s body, we are thrust into a hellish world. And if unfortunate enough to be born with a penis, you may suffer immediate mutilation of your sensitive foreskin. The new world you are in is harsh, cold, loud, bright and ultimately, frightening.

Birth Trauma. Birth is something most of us can only conceptualize and imagine but don’t really remember. Well, some of us do remember it. Some of us remember exact details and how they felt and that memory goes a long way toward explaining some of the personal laws that end up governing our lives.

Birth trauma is the reality at the core of the therapeutic practice known as rebirthing. Exiting the womb is likely the most traumatic event in a person’s life. One exits an environment that is comfortable and safe and enters one that seems by comparison, harsh and hostile. We exchange dark, warm, weightless, effortless, floating oh-so-peacefully with every care and need met, for bright, loud, dry, intensely cold, heavy. Even breathing was not our job, every molecule of oxygen provided by blood circulating through our umbilical artery. And at birth, likely feeling drugged by your mother’s anesthesia and the unnatural chemicals now circulating in your own bloodstream. It does seem reasonable then to agree that the trauma of birth contributes mightily to the personal laws under which we operate later in life.

Breathing into the birth moment. Rebirthers believe that the essence of the traumatic birth event must be understood and resolved in order for one to remove the blocks that keep us from expressing Love. These blocks are responsible for the imbalances that we have created in our lives. These imbalances may hamper intimate relationships with people, obstruct our health, impede our progress toward prosperity and otherwise preclude us from enjoying and experiencing life to the fullest. In short, they form core fears that operate in our life.

In rebirthing, one re-experiences the event of one’s birth in an environment of safety, encouragement and love in order to become clearly aware of the thoughts that we may have ingrained in our subconscious. Once those negative thoughts, those fears, are identified, they then can be released and changed to an affirmative thought that can help one realize (literally) goals. I experienced rebirthing in 1984. It is real.

Birth of an idea. It was in 1962 that Leonard Orr experienced his first spontaneous rebirth. Orr had grown up in New York and by the ’60’s had moved to California. One day during a period of deep depression, Orr slipped into the memories attendant to his own, difficult breach-birth while lying in a warm-water bathtub. Over many years he worked with his own rebirthing to discover the mechanisms that would allow for this abreaction, this complete re-experiencing of the birth process. By the mid-Seventies, he had begun teaching these techniques to others and the Rebirthing Movement was itself born.

Breathing at birth is associated with pain. The clearing of amniotic fluid from the air passage is a frightening experience. By using what is often termed circular breathing, under the guidance of a rebirther one triggers the memories associated with birth and the primal thoughts that accompanied those first impressions. Upon discovering those thoughts and the impact they may have had in creating patterns reflected in present behavior and relationships, new thoughts can be programmed to change those patterns.

Thought is creative. Once rebirthing helps us gain awareness of the core beliefs impacting our lives, we can set about correcting the thoughts that support them. If thought is creative, and we realize we can choose our thoughts, then we are empowered to create self-change.

The above premise is the point. To become aware that the thoughts one holds and believes can shape and affect our bodies and our outer reality is essential to creating change in our lives. Western psychology and psychoanalysis has an inkling of that premise but fails to create change when limited to the thoughts that occur only in the conscious mind. The true power of our nature is closely aligned with the subconscious awareness and the emotional aspect of the greater Self; an holistic event. Effective therapies make use of that connection. The intellect must be swept aside and the greater potential of the whole must be enlisted to truly change behavior and our explicate reality.

If we have thoughts that have become part of our own personal laws, then those thoughts bind us to behavior patterns. When those patterns interfere with our enjoyment of life to the fullest, then it is time to create a change. That change must happen where belief happens; in a deeper part of the mind than the conscious intellect.

Be well.

Heartland Healing is a metaphysically based polemic describing alternatives to conventional methods of healing the body, mind and planet. It is provided as information and entertainment, certainly not medical advice. Important to remember and pass on to others: for a weekly dose of Heartland Healing, visit

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