Erin Telford is a certified Breathwork teacher and healer, acupuncturist, Reiki Master, and herbalist. Learn from her at our all-new 2-day Festival in Seattle! For tickets and more information, click here.
We’re living in a world where our connection to technology surpasses our connection with each other—and worse yet, ourselves. Overstimulated and overwhelmed, we flock to self-help gurus to find the key to our healing and our happiness.
But what if we could reclaim our power by channeling our own intuition as our guide? Turns out, you absolutely can.
“I think that people want to feel better than they do, but the routes to get there are often mysterious. The painful journey that it takes to be in a different mental and emotional space is often so daunting and so uncharted that you don’t even know where to start,” says healer and breathwork teacher Erin Telford. “We’re so used to outsourcing our intuition and our magic and our self-understanding to books, podcasts, teachers, leaders, and magazines.”
Erin’s experience as an acupuncturist, herbalist, and Reiki master led her to discover her passion for helping people work through their emotions, including depression, anxiety, and trauma. Her ability to facilitate self-healing through breathwork further reinforced her passion for empowering others to connect with their intuition on a daily basis. It’s the opportunity to reconnect with this intuition that inspired me to explore the types of practices at Wanderlust—opening the door to experiences that have changed my life.
The Healing Power of an Intuitive Practice
Life-changing or not, when it comes to the frequency of breathwork and other practices, Erin avoids a prescriptive approach and instead encourages a more intuitive practice. “My practice is more about being really conscious of my energy levels, what I need, and honoring my rhythms,” says Erin. “I really believe it is one of the most courageous things to just be conscious. And be awake and aware of how you feel and why you’re feeling it, on a day-to-day basis. That can be so scary, so confrontational.”
But Erin and her teacher David Elliott view these day-to-day experiences as opportunities for learning, a kind of “human curriculum” that allows us to expand and find our purpose. “I feel that we’re here to heal and learn and grow,” says Erin.
“There are times that are exceptionally painful and harrowing, and ask us to show up and give everything that we’ve got, even when we don’t think that we can. That contrasted with the opportunity for joy and love and ecstatic experience? We get both. We always get both.”
“I feel that we’re here to heal and learn and grow.”
As we move quickly from task to task in our fast-paced society, tuning in with your own thoughts and feelings may seem intimidating. But integrating simple practices of self-reflection and introspection throughout your day doesn’t have to be a carefully crafted ritual.
“I tell people to take their emotional temperature,” says Erin. “You could do it on the subway or in traffic. The more practiced you get at it, the easier it gets to check in… You’re allowed to do the scan, ask the questions, get the answers, and keep it moving.”
The Physical Effects of Breathwork
While intuitive practices extend beyond breathwork, this healing modality in particular enables profound healing on a physical level. During Erin’s Full Moon + Spring Equinox Breathwork Circle on March 20, I had the opportunity to experience the power of such a simple breathwork technique myself.
Essentially, when we give our brains a repeatable task, such as this “inhale, inhale, exhale” breathwork pattern, we are busying the executive function of our brain. We override that part of the brain and create opportunities for other areas that were previously unable to communicate to fire synapses and connect. “You’re bypassing the brain and going in through a different door, to be able to connect to the divine intelligence of your nervous system, your heart, and your spirit,” says Erin. “Our bodies are free. And our breath is free. And it’s beautiful to be able to know you have that power inside you to be able to provide healing for yourself.”
Erin notes that this practice can be incredibly transformative as an introspective experience that illuminates the non-linear stories of our lives. “You’re making this connection within to yourself in a very pure way,” says Erin. “It’s allowing a rearrangement and an experience of connecting the dots and allowing things to become clear that maybe have evaded you for your whole life.” And as Erin and I both experienced, these effects can be felt after just one session.
“There’s this instant clarity that happens when you’re not using the logic and the brainpower. When you’re actually just connecting with the learning of your body and your heart,” says Erin.
She highlights that this kind of experience modifies the way you view not only your past, but also your present and your future. “These types of practices can alter your path completely and give you new knowledge and new understanding and a whole new way of being and operating in the world,” says Erin.
Deepening Your Intuitive Practice
For a deeper exploration of intuitive practice, Erin recommends solitude and slowing down. “In order to hear yourself, you need to have time and you need to have an absence of stimulation,” says Erin. And it’s not limited to breathwork. “Any practice that’s going to be able to give you space, time and no distractions…so that you can ask yourself those questions of ‘how do I feel in my body, what emotions are coming up for me right now, where do I feel tight, where do I feel pain, where do I feel constriction’…to be able to honestly answer them, without judgment and with some amount of neutrality and compassion for yourself, is a good way to begin to check in,” says Erin.
Examples of this practice include walking in the woods, wandering throughout your city with headphones and nonlyrical music, or simply laying down on your floor and completing a 10 minute body scan without intrusion.
Erin emphasizes the power of moving through our negative emotions, judgments, and limiting beliefs, instead of merely pushing them away. A study by UCLA psychologists also reinforces the practice of identifying our feelings to help us process and experience them in the present moment.
“When you allow yourself to make that connection to that inner space…when you give yourself a vent for all of those emotions… all the explanations of the mind about where we should be don’t matter,” says Erin. “What is telling and true is what we experience in our bodies and in our nervous systems.”
And as we learn to tune in both physically and emotionally, focusing on introspective questions and evaluations can serve as a meditative practice that enables us to connect with what we need in the moment. The result? We are empowered to step into our purpose and tap into our inner strength for a more vibrant life.
“Once we have a way to move through all of that pain and suffering…things can get so much clearer and more enjoyable,” says Erin. “It can get even better than you expect.”
Laura Hanson is a writer, mentor, and yoga teacher with a background in the therapeutic applications of yoga. She focuses on using breathwork, meditation, and reflection to empower others to find their inner strength. Her mission is to enable practical wellness and help others create more productive, fulfilled lives by nurturing the mind, body, and spirit through mindful living. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook, @laurajhanson.