Dr. Liara Covert

Breathwork Psychotherapist
Speaker, Workshop Facilitator 

Sunshine Coast, Queensland 

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Entries in recovery (4)

Tuesday
Aug062019

Interview with Adrienne Strong

While recently experiencing the Open Day activities at the local Chenrizig Institute, I had the pleasure of meeting Adrienne Strong.  She hosted an introductory workshop about Buteyko Breathing and co-runs the Windhorse Heath Clinic with her partner.  It is an honor to connect with her again here and to engage in a more in-depth interview.  Thanks Adrienne!

Thank you for the interest and opportunity to be involved in your work.

Please share a peak experience in your life. 

I have been a Buddhist for many years and an asthmatic since birth. 

How do these peak experiences shape you?

I suppose learning to meditate was a way to calm my otherwise anxious and busy mind, and the Buddhist philosophy made sense of an otherwise chaotic and speedy world.

Many people seek to quiet the mind and often turn to meditation from different traditions. Any other reasons why specific meditation practices resonate?  

Buddhism also came to me to blend with my artistic bent.  It made my otherwise "fruitless" degree in Visual Arts, more useful.  I have been able to sculpt many decorations and statues for the Enlightenment Garden and the Gompa at Chenrezig Institute.

Visiting these gardens allows one to feel their uplifting energy. Such projects remind us that our initial expectations for training do not always envision ways we nurture unseen talents and allow them to blossom. Garden design ability is a gift.  Other than being in nature, how do you come to focus on health and the breath?

Many years ago, in the early 1990s, post-degree, I was living in Melbourne. I heard vicariously about this Buteyko Breathing method...

Funny, is it not? What seem like coincidences at certain stages of life later turn out to feel like synchonicities that are planting a seed to grow.

Yes! Anyway, I heard this method was greatly helping people with asthma, anxiety and sleep disorders.  At the time I was studying a post grad masters in Film & TV, and living on a very small stipend to get by.  

What sparked your curiosity about Buteyko breathing?

Whilst Buteyko was getting a lot of attention and amazing results, there was little information around what it was, and to do a course was over $1000, way out of my financial reach as a struggling University student. I sort of focused on other things, out of necessity.

Sounds like you wanted to know more, but the timing was not right. What was the turning point?

Skip 20 years forward, and I was living on asthma medications.  I couldn’t sleep without having a Ventolin inhaler at arms-reach.  I would be at the chemist at least every month to replenish my supply.   My heart was starting to regularly palpitate and cause even more anxiety than just the inability to draw breath.

Clearly, you were faced with huge health challenges. It is said we do not truly value the breath until we struggle to breathe. How did Buteyko re-enter your life? 

My wonderful health practitioner partner had bought me an on-line course in Buteyko for Christmas 2016, and was kind enough to do the course with me.  It was an on-line Zoom course with a well-known Sydney naturopath and Buteyko teacher, Mim Biem at a cost greatly reduced to original Buteyko classes of the 90’s. Four weeks later, upon completion of the course, I was astounded in the results I was experiencing.  

Please be more specific.

Well, I hadn’t used my Ventolin at all since two weeks into beginning the course as my breathing was so much better.  Yet, more importantly, my anxiety was improving, my constipation was suddenly manageable and by doing breath hold exercises, I had so much energy!  It was the beginning of a new me.  

A friend of mine has also healed her asthma and depression from consistent breathwork. Its inspiring to connect with people who know first-hand the power of the breath to reconnect them to well-being. How would you now describe the impact of Buteyko breathing for you?

As months went by, I kept doing the exercises and kept improving.  Buteyko is like peeling back an onion of sorts.  It is said that for every year of Buteyko breathing, you are undoing the results of 10 years of dysfunctional breathing.

Wow! Shifting from the perception of dysfunctional breathing to normalized breathing...that is huge with far-reaching implications! What guided you to teach Buteyko breathing?

In October that year, Mim was holding a teachers training course in Sydney.  The event was led by well- known author and Buteyko practitioner, Patrick McKeown.  

Love the Ted Talk by Patrick McKeown who is also known for the Oxygen Advantage. 

Indeed. My partner Carey, being an ayurvedic natural therapist, was so impressed by this Buteyko modality, had decided to attend.  I ummm’d and aaaah’d about attending the training with him, having such a wonderful improvement in my own asthma & overall health.  

What prompted you to hesitate?

As an artist & disability support worker, I couldn’t initially see how this would fit into my working life.  Glad I followed my intuition. I can honestly say, enrolling in that training was the second most wonderful thing I have done, next to the course with Mim.  Not only did it encourage me to improve and continue with my own Buteyko practice, but gave me ability to spread these valuable techniques to help others help themselves.

Who are your other inspirations?

Given my focus on Buteyko breathing, the founder of this technique is a big inspiration. Professor Konstantin Pavlov Buteyko was born in the Ukraine and originally studied engineering at Kiev Polytechnic Institute.

What prompted Buteyko to investigate breathing?

After a brief enrolment in Russia’s armed forces during World War II, Buteyko ended up studying “the most complicated piece of machinery of all”, the human body, at The First Medical Institute in Moscow.  In Buteyko’s third year of study, he was given a practical assignment in his clinical therapy group, monitoring the breathing of diseased & dying patients. He soon realised that the unwell patients he was observing were hyperventilating.  As the diseases would progress, and their inevitable demise would get closer, their breathing became faster and deeper.  At first he wasn’t certain as to whether the illness was causing the hyperventilation or the opposite, but one way he decided he could find out was to work on reducing the quantity and speed of breath.

Okay- slow the breathing down, slow the the onset of death. In ancient India, the belief exists that duration of life (mortality) is based on a finite number of breaths. What is less often known is the duration and nature of these breaths.

 What is unique about Buteyko's approach?

 Buteyko first began experimenting on himself and realised that when he calmed and lessoned his own breath, he could ease his headaches & greatly reduce his own high blood pressure. Also he would ask healthy subjects to take big breaths and breathe rapidly for a period of time, and found that they would become nauseous and dizzy, then develop wheezing and coughing from the subsequent asphyxiation, until eventually the subjects would feint. 

So many people believe that if we struggle to breathe, then breathing faster is the answer.  As a former asthmatic, you know breathing faster does not harness more much-needed oxygen. What did Buteyko discover about hyperventilation?  

After an enormous amount of study, observation and trials, Buteyko was convinced that reducing hyperventilation was causing sick people to recover from their illness.  He began developing a series of exercises which people could use to reduce and calm their breath. Using breath hold and relaxation exercises, ultimately uses neuroplasticity to recalibrate the respiratory centre in the brain. Automating this new way of breathing, less in volume, but diaphragmatically, greatly increases oxygenation to tissues, muscles, organs and cells and is what is now commonly known as “Buteyko”.

Who do you feel can benefit from Buteyko Breathing?

Buteyko is a beautiful fit for anyone who meditates or practices mindfulness, as it naturally brings you quickly to states of calmness and wellbeing.  It was a missing piece from the puzzle of good health for me, which has not only nourished my meditation practice but made so many previously undoable activities possible.  A good test for my Buteyko came when we booked ourselves into a meditation retreat in the mountains of Colorado a couple of years ago.  

If you could share an epiphany, what would it be?

Buteyko breathing has changed my life for the better, enables me to do things now that I once thought were not possible. For example, I had visited Nepal after finishing University in the early 90’s and I loved it, it felt like I had "come home".   I wanted to see the country, so I made my way to Pokhara which is at the base of the Annapurna circuit and the beginning of many of Nepals most famous treks.  I felt like an elephant had sat on my chest and I had to return back down to polluted old Kathmandu so that I could draw breath.  I thought i was never going to be able to trek in the mountains or visit anywhere at altitude.  But after learning Buteyko, we attended the retreat in Crestone, Colorado at an elevation of 2,415 m, approximately 625m higher than Pokhara, without so much as a wheeze. I feel like a new person!

 What enables you to feel most alive?

My partner and I try to teach 4 Buteyko group courses per year, and together we can train up to 10 people at a time this way.  We are also happy to train people one to one or smaller groups in person, or via Zoom online.  Buteyko breathing impacts all of the bodies systems, including the cardiovascular, digestive and autonomic nervous system, and the science behind it is very interesting.  It has a huge impact on sleep issues including sleep apnoea, improves sports performance, reduces inflammation and reduces lactic acid build up after exercise.  Symptoms of asthma and anxiety just melt away using Buteyko, and it gives us powerful tools to use in both acute and chronic situations.  I am incredibly passionate about sharing this wonderful, simple, yet powerful breathing method with anyone who wants to learn.  

Please let people know where they can contact you, details of upcoming events, website, ect.

Our next group training will be in the Eudlo Community Hall and it’s in 3 parts, on September 7, 14 & 21 from 9:30~11:30 am.

Information and bookings are on the website www.windhorsehealth.com or you can email us windhorsebuteyko@gmail.com, or give us a call;) Adrienne: 0401 038573  Carey: 0401 822961

Thanks Adrienne. Please also let us know when you and your aprtner will be offering a Buteyko course suitable for children. 

Keep a watch on our website for upcoming events.

Appreciate very much your willingness to share your insight and personal motivation to get involved in this Buteyko method for stabilizing the breath. It is gaining wider visibility as more people share their inspirational stories of empowerment and triumph.

Thursday
Oct012009

Life is not what you think

As you awaken to how the game of life is played, you can choose not to be stuck in one way of thinking or doing.  To shift from an old paradigm to a new paradigm expands perspective.

Old paradigms suggest the answers are limited and found outside self in someone supposedly more knowledgable. External authorities and books related to this mindset prompted action. One often assumed one was powerless.

The new message paradigm is you are empowered with untapped inner wisdom. The shifting of vital energy fields means you view and experience energy differently. You refer to guides but also learn to trust yourself more.  You sense higher frequency energy that is more inclusive and expands a sense of higher consciousness. You can learn to detach from restrictive ideas and focus on intuition. Practical experience shows you what matters. Learn inner self is a timeless teacher;

1) Take responsibility for personal health and well-being.

2) Notice when body gets sick, it is sending you a message. Rather than take a pill to mute the symptoms, learn to listen.

3) Pay attention to what every situation invites you to learn.

4) Raise awareness to know you choose how to think & feel. 

5) Ancient cultures & quantum physics echo inner realities.

6) You predict the outcome of an experiment before you do it.

7) Spirituality and consciousness empower you immeasurably.

Sunday
Feb222009

Retrace the dots & reprogram the mind

At any given moment, part of you is asking, "why am I here?" or "what is my purpose?" You are in process of retracing the dots of your life in order to make sense of it the best you can.

Even right now, every choice you make helps you explore reasons for being, thinking, feeling and perceiving. Part of you is interpreting and using energy vibration as a bridge to the next phase of life. Consider these ideas to reprogram the mind;

1) Recover your life force. This has never left you. It patiently waits for you to discern and correct your existing imbalances. You create situations to gain meaningful lessons.

2) Compose yourself. This is a stage of quieting the mind. Consciously breath and explore other techniques to bring mind, body and spirit to a new level of rest and calmness.

3) Discern impulses before they manifest.The mind functions primarily based on accumulated stresses from your perceived past. As you sense the build up of energy in certain parts of your body, you can link sensations back to thoughts in words, feelings and external self-expression.

4) Notice choices. The stress response cycle and emotional roller coasters are triggered by physiology and psychology. Learn to notice your own patterns. Detach fromthoughts and let them go before they manifest. Self-knowledge is power.

5) Listen to your instincts. Natural balance and flow of energy isa baseline that helps you realize when your choices are off kilter. You sense what evokes positive feelings and what feels right. The next step is to stop doubting yourself.

6) Reset your thoughts.Awareness of your thoughts empowers you at a new level. You can transfer self-discipline to the functions of your nervous system. As you learn to sense energy vibration, you can hold and diffuse intensevibration that does not serve you. Shifting focus rechannels energy.

6) Use due diligence. It has been said that effort is required for positive actions to be initiated. You grow to discern what happens to energies based on your responses to the world you choose to experience. Every choice you make offers messages that require attention.

7) Expand your sense of energy. As you move from unconscious to conscious awareness, you deliberately rediscover functions of electromagnetic and subtle energies. They flow along natural pathways and also get diverted. You decide which sensations to feel, when to develop or lose interest, and why to shift your mind away from people or thoughts completely. This is how you reprogram the mind.

Thursday
Feb152007

Cancer recovery

You know in the heart that every case of cancer is different yet ultimately the same. Each person you know, meet or hear about in this situation invites you to empathize, to share compassion, kindness and love.  Reflect on who benefits from your support/ story.

In speaking with a rotary colleague, I hear he is recovering from malignant melanoma (skin cancer). Luckily, his cancer was caught early and didn't spread (metastasize). His physician did a biopsy and cut out the area of skin which was cancerous. This colleague said he feels good now. He's already out riding his bike again. Retirement doesn't keep him from staying active. He admits he would like to avoid getting cancer again. He thrives on his support network, reminds himself to wear a hat and more sunscreen. He's lucky, humbled by the recent, health setback yet, does not allow fear to control him. As a cheerful athlete, he feels he is now more responsible, and swears by positive thinking.

In contrast, a woman I've known from 13 years is in another remission from breast cancer. Her main goal is to muster the energy and motivation each day to get up and move about her apartment.  She lives alone and has no relatives to help her. She admits her eating habits could be healthier yet, dwells more on what appears lacking than on making changes. She rarely has the physical strength or morale to advance her game. Yet, she takes initiatives to contact a group of cancer survivors/supporters who do home visits and encourage her to attend nearby New York City meetings when she can manage it.  This woman reminds us we are each ultimately alone to deal with our health and emotions. Its up to each one of us to see blessings/ lessons where we are.

Although anyone you encounter with cancer appears on the surface to be simply grappling with physcial health issues, a closer look reveals how they react or respond is based on state of mind.  You may sense someone you know recognizes having cancer as a stepping stone to strengthen relationships, to appreciate life more, to reframe conditions or to challenge and accept himself on a new level.  If a person is highly-resistant or submissive to disease, this effects the evolution of an illness as much as attitude.  Consider how different people you know or have known respond to cancer. Consider how members of your family are responding or have responded to this disease.

Whether or not a person recovers fully from an illness depends on a variety of factors.  For most people, full recovery is the goal.  For this to happen, a person is invited to reflect on thoughts and behaviours that may have contributed to the evolution of the disease.  This includes; lifestyle choices as well as physical, emotional, psychologcal, environmental and other factors.  What blessings or revelations does having the disease trigger? One thing is crystal clear:  attitude and action are key.  Take this on-board:

  • Be kind to yourself & others. Set an example.  What goes around comes around. 
  • Take care of your physical body.  Explore healthy eating practices and physical exercise. 
  • Be mindful.  Raising awareness boosts energy, strength and inner healing.
  • Positive thinking, affirmations, laughter/ humor and creative expression therapy all empower you to deal with whatever life throws your way the best you can.  
  • Notice balance and imbalances in your life. Feel the difference and thoughts and behaviours contributing to each.  You decide what matters. What if nothing does?

"If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or fight like hell." ~Lance Armstrong