My lungs and I spent many years battling: I had asthma as a child and smoked in my 20s. When I practiced yoga, I was the person in the room who teachers addressed when they said, "Remember to breathe!"
When I started practicing Reiki, this changed. First, during my meditation practice—I had to work with my breath to build qi, which then translated into my sessions. Being aware of my breath really transformed my practice. How?
1) Being one with my breath keeps me centered. No more, "Is this the right position? Is the person feeling it? What does that sensation in my left hand means? Is this a weird place to put my hand?" When you are one with your breath, it's almost like white noise: you create a peaceful space in which doubts have a tougher time disrupting your session.
2) Clearer boundaries. When you are aware of your breath, it's easier to maintain healthy boundaries between client and practitioner, reducing (and with practice) eliminating that feeling of being drained or exhausted after a session. (Keeping your eyes open is also key!)
3) No labeling. When practicing a Reiki session, you follow the sensations but are not supposed to label or judge them. When you are busy breathing with awareness, it's a lot easier to let go of that instinct to classify.
4) Your session becomes more intense (in a good way). In many spiritual practices, breathing builds life energy (prana/chi/qi). The same happens in Reiki, where the ki part stands for life force. Try taking a deep breath all the way into your diaphragm/hara and then exhale slowly through your mouth: feel what happens to your hands. Notice the difference? That's what I mean.
5) Breathing keeps the little Napoleon inside at bay. During my practice, especially at the beginning, I had this little Napoleon that would pop out (hey, I was born in Europe.) He would say stuff like, "Way to go, girl, you are good, look how warm your hands are!" The shame I felt after these thoughts was so intense it disrupted my whole practice. I tried fighting my inner Napoleon, but it only made him sneakier. Breathing, however, brought calm and acceptance. As soon as he starts talking, I breathe deeply and remain centered in the now and connected to the right kind of oneness.
Nathalie Jaspar is the co-founder at Natky927 Wellness Collective, a group of professional Reiki practitioners supported by life coaches, clinical herbalists and yoga teachers in New York City and Miami.