EP 59: How Breathwork Eases Anxiety with Josh Trent

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EP 59: How Breathwork Eases Anxiety with Josh Trent

It’s easy to get overwhelmed in life and feel like we are drowning. But how do we navigate our feelings, triggers, and emotions?

In this episode, Josh Trent, the founder of Wellness Force Media, discusses how we need a cathartic release through the biological tool within us – breathwork. Breathwork is a powerful tool that leads us to the path of healing.

Josh also talks about feeling our feelings; explaining for example that apathy in life is the most destructive, however it allows us to feel sacred anger. Feeling our emotions allows us to work up the emotional ladder to other emotions such as inspired action, acceptance, and empowerment.

Josh discusses how calming your mind releases the tyrants in your mind and heart through breathing, and how this can help with anxiety, OCD, and depression. Tune in to this inspiring episode and release yourself from the stresses in your life.


Listen to the podcast here:

Within the below transcript, the bolded text is Samantha Gilbert and the regular text is Josh Trent.

How Breathwork Eases Anxiety with Josh Trent

Many of you know about the benefits of breathwork, but how often do you remember to use it as a healing tool? When you do, are you engaging in a way that reduces oxidative stress or merely skims the surface? Our special guest reminds us that if we can breathe, we can choose to engage in a way that provides cathartic release, be present with our triggers, and see them as a pathway to healing. We can take inventory of our emotions and utilize the breath as a lever we can pull to shift our nervous system from the fight-flight sympathetic side to the rest and relaxation parasympathetic side.

Josh Trent is the Founder of Wellness Force Media, host of the Wellness + Wisdom Podcast, and Creator of BREATHE|Breath & Wellness program. He has spent many years as a trainer, researcher, and facilitator, discovering the physical and emotional intelligence for humans to thrive in our modern world. The Wellness Force Media’s mission is to help humans heal mental, emotional, and physical health through podcasts, programs, and a global community that believes in optimizing our potential to live life well. Josh’s life is dedicated to supporting humanity in coming together as one. Thanks for being with us. Here’s my inspiring conversation with Josh.

Welcome to the show, Josh. I’m glad you’re here.

What a treat, a fellow Californian who had the mass exodus.

Breathwork: A Tool For Healing

I’m sure that it will be woven into our conversation at some point. I’m excited about this conversation because I can relate to your story and healing journey. Thank you for being here with me. To set the stage, I want to dive into how breathwork can be an amazing tool for healing. It’s important to have a discussion about emotional regulation and emotional intelligence because I see people are often blocked from feeling their feelings. I strongly believe that naming and being honest about how we’re feeling and how we’ve been harmed is an important and necessary aspect of the healing process.

I also feel we’ve been conditioned to disregard our feelings, which creates a lot of confusion and sadness. I know you’ve talked about that a lot on other shows. As an example, in the past, I literally would stuff myself with food as a way to stuff my feelings and push them aside, which I know many of our readers can relate to, and we’ll get into that as well. To dive in, would you tell me about the moment in your life when you realized that something needed to change? Can you describe for us what that was like and maybe where you were before this experience?

There have been multiple dark nights of the soul, hero’s journey, return, separation, and initiation, but the biggest one that would be of service to people that are dealing with mental health issues would be when I was 21 or 22, right in the middle of that life period. I was in a body that I hated. I was 280 pounds. I was in a job that I hated. I was an automotive technician, not using my gifts, my voice, and not connecting. I was in a relationship where I was disempowered. Health, wealth, relationships, everything was pointing me toward transformation.

I got to this place where I had a gut-check moment at a party. I was drinking beer as a lot of young twenty-year-olds do. There’s nothing wrong with beer if it’s done in a healthy way, but I was using it in a very unhealthy way. I looked down, I had this belly hanging over. I was upset with my life. I didn’t know what these feelings I was feeling meant. I didn’t know anything about emotional intelligence. I was ripe for transformation. I had this moment where I put down the party cup and felt this God-like feeling. It was one of the first times I’ve ever experienced God before. I don’t mean a bearded guy in the sky. I mean omnipresent energy that guides and loves all things. I put that party cup down and felt this message come through. The message said, “There is more to life than this.” There is more to life than using food, alcohol, and all these different things to squash down what I was experiencing.

At that moment, I was drunk. I ran home 3 miles. I opened the computer. It was 2002 at the time. It was this big, bulky computer. I typed in, “How do I be healthy?” That led me to a completely different trajectory in my life. I ended up leaving, selling everything I owned, moving to Hawaii, finding personal training, being a health professional for ten years, and working with clients for 10,000 hours in gyms. That led me to some deeper emotional work. That deeper emotional work led me to have another dark night of the soul, finding podcasting and being here with you several years from that point.

Thank you for sharing that. I can relate to your story. We have so much in common. Being in a body you hate, that exact verbiage is in my bio on my website. I was working in the fashion industry at the time. Most people go, “You were a designer. How amazing.” I’d go, “Not so much.” It was and still is, not a very pleasant industry to be in. I knew that, like all of us, I was destined for something else, something greater, something that I was made for. We’re all made for something specific. We all have gifts, talents, and ways of connecting with people.

It’s important that we hone in on that because I’ve heard you speak about, the “This took me to my knees,” moment. I loved how you said, “We have more than one of those in our lifetime. We’re going to have more than one of those moments.” It was also interesting how the physical transformation of you getting healthy, becoming a trainer, and healthy eating is going to go along with that, how that propelled you into more of this beautiful, spiritual, and emotional journey. I did the same thing. I was using food to numb. I was a binge eater and a compulsive overeater from the time I was about five years old.

I had this transformation too. I lost a lot of weight. Suddenly, I was getting this attention I hadn’t had before because I was always very shy, but it felt empty. I felt like, “There’s something more,” like the God moment or however you define that. That helps me realize, “There’s more to this vessel that I’m in than just my physicality and what I look like on the outside.” That is what is beautiful about your story. I’m glad that we were able to start off in that way. Regarding breathwork, I’m curious about what drew you to breathwork. I know that’s part of your emotional transformation as well. If we can dive into that for a bit looking at breathwork, how that’s transformed you, maybe some benefits, maybe a little bit about what the science tells us?

I found breath because breath found me. I know that sounds dramatic, but it was. Sometimes our lives can be like a movie. I found that the more I was in anxiety, which I believe is a fear of the future, lack of self-love, understanding, or trust in one’s self for the future where we don’t “trust” that we can handle the future, that’s I believe what creates all anxiety. We’re ruminating on the past, which is this depression, which is the opposite of expression. If I’m depressed, that means that my default mode network is very activated. My amygdala is wired for stress in fight or flight. I am spending most of my time when I’m supposed to be in the present moment, in the past, or in the future.

I battled that for a long time, in all of my 20s and early 30s. It wasn’t until about 2016 that I was at a workshop with Mark Divine called Unbeatable Mind. I’ll never forget this. I was laying on the floor, and we were doing what’s called warrior breathing, which I teach a lot of my students in BREATHE. That’s a breath and wellness program that we can talk more about. It’s at Breathwork.io. I was laying on the ground and being led through these warrior breaths. After about 10 to 15 minutes, I’m like, “What is this water coming out of my eyes? Why am I crying right now?” I felt this cathartic release before I knew what cathartic release was. I got to this place where I was like, “I want more of that,” because I and all of us want peace.

We want an escape from our biology, keeping us as a slave. We want an escape from the tyrant in the mind that we allow to bully us and keep us in the past or push us into the future. With you and I, it feels great because we’re here talking. There’s no pressure. It’s a beautiful space for expansion, discovery, and curiosity, but it’s not like that sometimes when we’re alone. That was my case. When breath found me, I wanted more of it.

I got to this place where a year later, I wanted to do what’s called a 20X Crucible, where I would go overnight for fourteen hours of Navy SEAL training, doing workouts, running, and all these things. I got a tattoo on my arm and the tattoo is, “Se posso respirare, posso scegliere.” What that means in Italian is, “If I can breathe, I can choose,” because if I can breathe, no matter how hard physically, emotionally, or mentally it is, and breathe as much as I need to, then I’m going to be okay. I can choose to be okay.

It’s not just fight or flight. It’s also fawn or flee. It’s one of the trauma responses. We can choose to get out of that state and clutches of anxiety, depression, and feeling compressed by using the only tool we have in our biology, which is autonomic. Meaning automatic. We have two branches of the autonomic nervous system. I’ll touch on them briefly. I’m sure you’ve spoken about them on the show many times. On the one side, we have our sympathetic, which is what I talked to you about fighting or our fleeing or fighting. It’s also fawning, which is something interesting.

On the other side, we have something called our parasympathetic, which is our resting, digestion, and relaxation. It’s when everything’s moving slowly. We’re in connection and love. We have to shift ourselves out of that compression or that panic mode and put ourselves over into the relaxation branch or the autonomic nervous system. That is the biggest deal that breathwork can do. Here’s the key. It’s the only lever we have. It’s both voluntary and involuntary, but there’s a way to do that. We can unpack that a lot more because a lot of breathwork is seen in public as people doing holotropic breathing. Those things have a time and a place. Breath has three specific categories. Each one of those categories needs a lot of love and care.

I appreciate you saying that and how breathwork can be this lever to impact our nervous system positively. When it comes to things like depression, anxiety, or OCD, we get stuck and scared, and we’re white-knuckling through whatever. I love that saying, “If I can breathe, I can choose.” I can choose at this moment to take a step back. I have to do that all the time. I’m sure you do too. We’re constantly bombarded with many things, especially over the last few years.

The Benefits of Breathwork

That’s important. I want our readers to read how you have this choice at any moment to take a step back, which is amazingly beautiful. Can we talk a bit more about the benefits? We know that calming the nervous system and how that impacts the limbic system is powerful. What are some of the benefits you see specifically in your clients, in the work that you do, and in the programs that you run? Do you have anything to share with regard to science and breathwork?

There’s so much. This is such a great intellectual question because we’re half beast and half spirit. If I’m going to do anything about my own health mentally, which is what you talk about so much on this show, there’s a pre-frame. I’d love to go into this pre-frame of the deeper aspects of the question you’re asking. That is, on a scientific basis, what can breathwork do to benefit my life? What am I going to get out of this as far as the computational value for my own computer? I get that. That is very important. I’ve never been in the camp to completely ignore science. I don’t think science is a God, but I do think that science is important.

The pre-frame is this. We live in a physical body. We live in a meat suit. We have a meat radio, which sends and receives information. In order for us to embody the best life possible, we have to eat healthy food and drink clean water. We also have to care for this physical vessel in regard to movement. That is one side of what I believe is a pentagon. This is what I’ve been teaching. Life and wellness are a pentagon. We have our mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, financial-self that we have to nourish here on planet Earth in order for us to live the best life possible. Breathwork applies to all of these things. Breathwork is almost like the foundation. It’s almost as if we were to turn a pentagon into a six-sided shape.

EFL 59 | Breathwork
Breathwork: Wellness is a pentagon. We have our mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial selves to nourish us to live the best possible life.

The house we live in has walls, floors, and a roof. Every single one of those I spoke about, those five sides of the pentagon, are dramatically impacted by breath. It’s literally and figuratively the fuel that allows all of these aspects of ourselves to be alive, to be here on planet Earth. From a scientific perspective, inspiritus, the Latin root for breath, you are inspiring and breathing oneself, but you’re also being breathed, which is surreal. I remember I was on a podcast once, and the guest asked me, “You are aware that you’re breathing, but are you aware that something else is breathing you?” I thought, “That’s fascinating.” God, intelligence, higher power, or whatever nomenclature you want to use is breathing you and I. We are breathing ourselves as well.

From a scientific perspective, breath is life because we are aerobic, which means we need oxygen in order to survive. Some of our cells are anaerobic, but those cells are still fed by pathways connected to aerobic. In a way, even anaerobic cells depend on oxygen. Breath is life. Without doing or performing proper breathing, all of us are going to suffer. Here are three ways that people suffer from improper breathing patterns.

A lot of the clients I work with will lay on the ground. I’ll put a 5-pound sandbag on their belly, and I’ll ask them, “Breathe into your nose and fill your belly. Inhale, belly rises, exhale, belly falls.” When they breathe in through their nose, their belly goes in. They are reverse breathing pattern people. Many of us breathe improperly because it’s a stress response. We learn it from our parents, caregivers, or from life, in general. The number one thing is to take a big breath into your nose, and your belly should rise. Breathe out through your mouth, belly falls.

You probably noticed right away, “When I breathe in through my nose, my belly goes in. I’m in an improper breathing pattern.” Don’t worry. We fix this all the time in the breath program. Probably the number one thing that we fix is that thing. The second is postural deviation. Imagine an elderly person who has a lump on their back, they have kyphosis, or they’re leaning forward, and their scalene, sternocleidomastoid, or pectoralis is tight. What we have to do with a lot of people in the programs is show them how to open up their entire front panel. Instead of elongating the paraspinal, we have to shorten the paraspinal.

We have to shorten the muscles on their back on their posterior that make them stand tall. We have to open and lengthen everything. We have a module in the program where we teach people how to foam roll their organs properly with the flow of pooping. You have to flow in the order of poop. Otherwise, you’re pushing poop back into your body. You don’t want to do that. We have so many things. The second thing is postural deviations. The third is their process, style of breathing, ability to take full inhales, full exhales, and also be able to hold what I call breath-hold retentions, which increase NO2, which is a positive form of nitric oxide. It’s better for oxidative stress, stress regulation, and adaptability. Those are the three big ways that people breathe wrong. Most people breathe because there’s so much tension in the system, their jaw, neck, and lower back. Most people are just white-knuckling through the day. They’re trying to “get through the day.” That’s essentially the problem that we see for many students and across the world. There are some easy solutions. The solutions do not have to be complicated.

It doesn’t have to be complicated. Our world is already complicated. From what I see as a practitioner, because of that, we’re conditioned to think “This is going to be one more thing I have to do. That’s going to be too much to do. It’s too overwhelming.” It’s encouraging to me for you to say that. I loved how you walked us through those three steps or ways we often get it wrong with breathing. The oxidative stress piece is key because I work with a lot of high oxidative stress people. There’s a biochemical underpinning to that. There’s gut dysbiosis, epigenetics, and so much that goes on there, as you know.

I love how breath is about “If I can breathe, I can choose,” because this is incredibly beautiful to me, how that can in and of itself help with reducing that oxidative stress. It’s powerful. One thing I want to say about “science” is we’ve had a lot peeled back in that regard over the last year. We know there are a lot of challenges there. I ask that question because there are people doing good and honest work because they’re coming from a good place. It’s blatantly obvious. You can feel in your body immediately how much more calm you are. We don’t need studies to prove that breathwork is a powerful healing tool. Most of my readers know that about me. I love science. I love to geek out on it, but it’s got its limitations, and we have to be careful in that regard.

We live in a dualistic world. It’s important for me to never fall into a mentality that there’s only one way. We have to take that in now. There’s not one way to breathe or think. There’s no science that is the all-encompassing God. I used to do this, so I speak from experience. We have made science a God of safety, where as long as science tells us that we are safe, we have a “perceived sense” of safety, which is absolute BS. To live is to be unsafe. If you want to live, you have to be right in the middle of safety and danger. That freaks out all the parents. I have a toddler, and I’m like, “I don’t want him to be unsafe.”

If you want to live, you must be right in the middle of safety and danger. Click To Tweet

He’s on the couch, and I had this feeling, “I think he’s going to fall off the couch. No, you got to let him learn that there’s gravity.” Three seconds later, he falls off the couch and hits his head. Now he’s crying. I run over to him, and I’m like, “I knew I should have saved him. Maybe not.” Maybe the part of me learning how to be a parent is that I watch my child go through the challenge. If there’s a threat to his life or grave danger, I’m going to step in. We have made science our parent. Science has been this mommy or daddy that we have to be good for because if we’re not, the mainstream media will shut us down. We’ll be canceled cultured. The saddest thing is that we have left God, higher intelligence, and our intuition out of the conversation.

Are we surprised that ADHD, OCD, and all these mental health issues are exploding because all of those things are a byproduct of an overloaded mind connected to science as a God, a mommy and daddy, that we have to be good for? What a crazy pressure chamber for us to try to just breathe and live inside of in this construct of science being our parent and a God. What an absolute joke. We have to find the middle of science and spirit.

What you shared with us is critical and key to moving forward as a community and as people who care about one another and have good intentions for one another, not just for ourselves but also for our neighbors. How can we move forward if we don’t come from that space of humility, compassion, empathy, and awareness? When you were talking, I thought specifically about our intuition and discernment. For so many people, I’ve noticed that’s gone out the window. I’m like, “What has happened here that we’re all rushing and trusting an entity thinking that this entity has our back?”

What do you mean by an entity?

Government, pharmaceutical industry, and Big Ag. I put all of them into one area. There’s so much fear propaganda that’s been going on for decades. More people have opened their eyes up to see the machine over the last few years.

You’re right. It’s gone on for way longer than that. Look back to ancient Rome with bread and circus. For people that don’t know, you can do a quick search online. People were in such abject poverty. We are fortunate to live in the United States. If you’re reading from another country, I hope you have the same freedoms that we have in some way. Even the poorest people in America are some of the wealthiest people in other countries. It’s very easy to forget that we live in a land of freedom. I’m not saying that we took it in the way that was most compassionate or in valor. We have so much freedom here and autonomy. At the same time, we are being controlled, and we are slaves.

To go back on what you said, this entity that you mentioned. If you look back thousands of years ago, when ancient Rome was at its height, there were bread and circuses in the Coliseum. This is the craziest thing… We used to watch people as humans, and we would cheer for people to die in an Italian Coliseum in Rome. That’s fascinating to me. I cannot believe that human beings were that way. I cannot even imagine. Flash forward, here we are. That same analogy of bread and circus is still present. The reason why people were so controlled back in ancient Rome is that they were given enough bread and enough circus or entertainment to keep them distracted from the fact that they were slaves.

So are we in some ways if we allow ourselves to be. In my opinion, the only way that we can exit the matrix and not be a slave, which goes back to the pentagon, where financial is the bottom floor, is to be financially and mentally free, which is what you focus much on. It’s powerful because, in the order of operations, it’s financial, mental, physical, then it’s emotional, and spiritual. We have to look at this as a holistic lens when we talk about breath, autonomy, being sovereign, and not being controlled by the entity. We have to look at life through a different lens. Until we do, we’re going to keep prioritizing drinking on the weekends, watching crappy television, and doing anything we can to distract ourselves because we’re not breathing.

How Breathwork Helps Acknowledge Feelings 

I appreciate you sharing that with us, Josh. This leads me to our next topic that I’m always so fascinated with. This is another huge area in which you work. Why is it important to acknowledge our feelings and learn how to be present with our triggers? That’s hard for many of us.

At the core of what you’re asking is how we feel our feelings and how we make our triggers our teachers. When I’m triggered by Carrie Michelle, my partner, or even Novah, my son, if he’s crying for too long, or if I’m triggered by something in the business where I can tell somebody’s being secretive, whatever I’m triggered by, it is something for me to look at within myself. I ran a men’s group this 2022, and there was a guy in the men’s group; I’ll give an example because we learn by stories there was an intuitive hit. I got a little somatic experience in my stomach and my solar plexus when the guy came in.

I knew he wasn’t the right fit, but I thought, “I’m going to ignore my intuition. I’m going to see the best in this person. I’m going to cross my fingers that maybe this time I’m wrong.” Guess what? We’re never wrong when it comes to what we’re feeling. That’s the key. It ended up being cancer in the group. This person made it all about them. They sabotaged the majority of the group. Granted, the group has gone on, and we are replacing people. Things are breathing again, and it’s all good. It was a learning experience that brought us closer together.

I will say another example. We all can relate to this. We’re in a friend group, a business, or a group of any kind. Someone in the group is bringing in energy that constricts or compacts the connection or the freedom to express in that group. That’s a big deal because we all have empathetic wiring in our brains. That’s a lot of why there is this complicit action when it comes to COVID, and in a lot of other ways, why people aren’t speaking up in the media.

anytime we are triggered, it is an invitation to heal something inside of ourselves. Click To Tweet

That empathetic wiring is both for us and against us because I want to make sure that even you have a great life. I’m here on your show, and I’m like, “How can I give the most value? How can I connect with everybody the most?” If I took that too far, I felt an emotion like empathy or connection. I felt something that directed me so far to the other side where because I want to help someone, I’m going to make a four-year-old who’s a boy think he’s a girl.

I’m going to go into schools and start writing pornographic material that children are reading where it talks about, “You can choose your gender. You can choose your body parts.” It’s mental torture. It’s child abuse. I can “be such a goodie” or want to do so good for others that I take that moral justification and I flex my value. I push so hard to the other side that now I’ve disconnected from what I’m feeling. I’ve used my mind to override what I’m feeling, which is empathy and reverence, into virtue signaling and a higher moral superiority.

That’s the danger of feeling your feelings deeply that you lose the significance of what you’re feeling. On the trigger side, anytime we are triggered, it is an invitation to heal something inside of ourselves, no matter what it is. I know that sounds like a complex and contradicting answer, but truly whatever I’m feeling at any moment is something that lives inside me.

There’s evil and malice in me. If I’m not at peace with that, and on a consistent basis taking inventory of where all this aggression and crunchiness live inside of me, I’m going to subconsciously project that onto other people, without me even knowing it, in a beautiful way going to attract people that trigger me the most. That’s what a relationship is. I don’t know if you all got the memo. Real relationships or real sacred intimacy is about how you trigger one another and move through it. There is no such thing as good vibes only. That is the biggest load of BS I’ve ever heard. There is, in nature or life, no such thing as good vibes only. I see these people with sweatshirts, and it’s like, “Good Vibes Only.” It makes me want to puke.

EFL 59 | Breathwork
Breathwork: Real sacred intimacy is about how you trigger one another and move through it. There is no such thing as good vibes only.

That’s just denial and avoidance, in my opinion. It’s like, “I don’t want to rock the boat. Let’s go with the flow, even though I’m not okay with this.” This is ongoing work. Before I went through counseling, I started to see how this was playing out in my life, going back to the community and how we need those people in our life so that we can work through these things together. If that other individual, for example, is not willing to look at their own stuff and triggers, that’s also problematic. You made me think about this spectrum of where we go and, “Yes, you can go too far,” and the virtual signaling thing; which drives me nuts. There’s the other side that goes too far as well, where we don’t care.

Nihilism and putting our heads in the sand are easy. I’m not sitting here on some moral high ground where I’m justifying the judgment I have towards people that give up. I’ve been there. I’ve given up in life where I’m like, “I’ll make money and have my little dream on the side.” It doesn’t work that way. You either live your dream life, or you don’t. That’s the cold, stark reality. When it comes to people that give up, I have compassion for them because I’ve been there. Also, there’s another way. Giving up and having complete nihilism like there’s no point to it all or even honestly the worst. The worst thing ever is apathy. In my opinion, it is more destructive than rage, sadness, or grief.

There’s a powerful author that I’ve studied for many years. His name is Dr. Hawkins. He wrote a book called Power vs Force. He talked about this frequency scale in the book, where at the very bottom of everything, on a scale of 0 to 1,000, 1,000 being enlightenment, 250 being courage, 500 plus being love, and almost close to 0 is apathy. Below that is shame. Shame is the lowest frequency. Frequency means how many times something moves on a scale. If I say that shame is 100 hertz, it means if you were to measure the frequency of shame, it moves 100 times. Vibration is everything in the world.

Above that is apathy. If you and I are apathetic to life, it means that we have not just given up. It’s that we don’t even care that we’ve given up. Apathy and shame are the most destructive forces in the universe. If any of us are experiencing those things, it’s okay. It’s all beautiful and perfect but painful because it’s wanting us to move to the next level, which is sacred anger because after anger comes inspired action, then acceptance, and then you start walking the ladder up to these other emotions that are more empowering. It’s important that we get clear on how to feel our stuff. I have a unique process that I’ve been working on for a book. I’d love to go back and forth with your work and what you do with mental health. It might be fun.

These topics we’re diving into and scratching the surface are so key. It’s not just the people that I serve but also the world. We’re all experiencing this together.

Breathwork and EI2

Everyone is in collective amnesia where we’re all remembering what we’ve forgotten, how great, loved, and beautiful we are. It’s easy for me to sit here with you; you’ve created a beautiful space, you’re curious, and you have a passion… I looked at your website; you’re serving people in the deepest way. When you create a space like that, it makes people feel safe to express, and it makes curiosity flourish. It’s easy for us to take from here and feel from here, but what do we do with what we’re about to talk about when the show ends? That’s the biggest part. What inspired action can we take? It boils down to a lens. What I’ve been working on for the book I’m writing is a concept that I call Emotional Intelligence Squared.

Everyone's in a collective amnesia where we're all remembering what we've forgotten: how great we are, how loved, and how beautiful we are. Click To Tweet

It’s a process of emotional inventory and connecting the three layers of head, heart, and soul. We think about the head. The head is where our executive function happens, where everything happens in the brain. It’s where we give and receive information. It’s also where we’re safe. Our heart space, our chakra or Anahata, is where we feel things in life. This is where our feelings direct us to our emotions, which are energy and motion. On the soul or the gut level, this is a connection to God, higher power, or something outside of ourselves that we trust and lean on when things get hard. How do we do this? How do we put our head, heart, and soul in alignment?

I went through the gamut on this. It was earlier in 2022 that I was at a little retreat. I crept away, journaling, and had like this, “I got it! This is how we do it!” We do a process called CCI, which is Curious Compassionate Inquiry. I get a simple piece of paper. I draw a line down the middle. On one side, I draw a minus sign. On the other side, I draw a plus side. The minus sign is anything in life that I know is causing me pain, hurting me, constricting me, relationship, job, whatever it is. I got 1 through 10 on the left.

On the plus side, I write all the things that I’m truly grateful for. It’s not just things that I’m ticking the box for. I’m grateful for our conversation and for people spending their time with us. I’m grateful that I get to sleep eight hours. I got to meet with a friend and had a smoothie together. I’m grateful for these things, and I write those down. This is the key to this first part of the inquiry process. I promise I’ll bring this all together, and please interrupt me if you want to.

On one side, I have all the things that hurt me. On the other side, I have all the things that expand me. I circle the one on the left that is causing me the most pain. We all know what it is. Everybody knows if they did an inventory. We all know that there’s one thing in our lives that is causing us the most constriction. I circle the one on the right that lights me up the most. I draw a little connection. I put arrows, and I put my hand on my heart, on my stomach, and I take a deep breath.

I go, “Who in my life could I reach out to now? Maybe it’s Samantha; who’s my coach, or the Wellness & Wisdom Podcast. Whom can I go to that leads something, that has a life that I love that I could see myself embodying? Who can I share this with, a family member or a friend? Who can I share my inventory process with?” When we share things, they become a spell. They become real for us.

For example, I might do this exercise with you. I would say, “I did my inventory process and realized that what’s causing me the most pain now is my health. I’m willing to change my health, and I’m willing to do it. This is key, “by when”, I’m willing to invest the resources, time, or whatever it is, and tell you; as my coach, this is the date as to which I’m executing so I can relieve myself from this pain.” For my example, I’m doing it for my son.

Sometimes in despair, we don’t even have the charisma or the weight to do it for ourselves. Maybe we have to do it for other people, our family, our kids, or someone else that we care about in life. That moves us forward to inspired action. That is a very simple way of doing this inventory. From there, this is the last portion of this EI2 process. After I’ve done the CCI, I get curious about what’s going on. I make a commitment. I speak to someone else. There’s so much power in being vulnerable in me sharing with you what I want and desire to do. There is a quick caveat that I want to share. I’m sure you’ve seen this in your work.

We have to be very cautious about who we share our dreams with. You have to build your intuitive faculty to know, “If I’m doing the CCI process, I’m in this emotional intelligence squared, and I do reach out to Samantha and share, I have to make sure that she’s someone that has my highest goals and dream in mind.” You’ll know when you share because you’ll either leave their presence feeling more open or less close.

You’ll know you can find who your true friends are when you start getting this real with them because they’ll show you if they have the chops to hold space for you or not. The last part of the CCI is I ask myself five big questions, and we always go five whys deep. With your clients, how many whys deep do you go on stuff? Is it 5 or 15? Kids ask parents, “Why? Why? Why?” How many whys do you typically go deep?

EFL 59 | Breathwork
Breathwork: You’ll know who your true friends are when you start getting real with them because they’ll show you if they have the chops to hold space for you or not.

In all honesty, it depends on the person I am helping and walking through their journey with. It could start anywhere from maybe 15 or 20 different points. That’s from a health perspective. Once we work on that, as we talked about previously, then the emotional aspect starts to get heated up, and you start to see things a little bit differently. That’s another layer.

Think of this crude analogy. We bury people 6 feet deep. If we want some emotional being or mental construct to die, we have to go at least 5 or 6 feet. We have to ask at least 5 or 6 deep questions. This is after we’ve done the first part that I talked about. After we’ve done the first part of the CCI, then we go a little bit deeper. We start to engage the mind. First, all we did was just engage the psyche. We’re like, “What’s going on? Let me see what’s in my pantry.” We did that.

After that inventory process, then we go deeper. We start listening to the mind as a lens. Here are the five questions I ask, “What am I thinking?” I’m thinking I’ll be fat forever, I am genetically cursed, and it’s too hard for me to lose weight. List them all out, almost like you’re emptying a garbage can. Get it out of there, then, “What thoughts are running through my mind about this person? In other words, what thoughts are looping? I might have thoughts that I feel, but what’s the predominant thought that is coming through? What story is my mind telling me about this?”

Here are two big ones. This is what we talked about earlier, “Am I reliving the past? I’ve got into this thing. I’ve done my inventory. I’ve circled my thing. Is this thing something that I’m reliving from my past? Am I just raking up old stuff and just doing it? Am I projecting my fear of this thing that I took inventory on? Am I putting it in the future?” If you go that deep, you’re going to find something beautiful. What we’ve done is like, “Satisfy the mind.” The mind can rest a little bit. It’s not like the tyrant overpowering the heart and the soul.

There’s this kaleidoscope lens that I’m learning more about. A lot of people in our field of health, wellness, or personal development, put a lot of intellectual terms on this stuff. It’s not just because I’m saying CCI and EI2. It’s a way for me to conceptualize it. It doesn’t mean you guys even have to call it this. At the end of it, we have a moment where now that we’ve calmed the mind. This is how I do it. I put both hands on my solar plexus and my heart. I take 20 to 30 circular breaths. This is exactly how I do it. I’ll do it with you now. We can do it together.

Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth like a circle. Imagine with your eyes closed that you’re drawing a circle. I’ll ask myself, “What does my heart have to say?” I’ll do that 20 to 30 times, “What does my heart have to say about this thing that I’ve identified? My heart’s telling me that I’m sad and I have grief that needs to be released. My heart’s telling me that I have a lot of baggage that I want to let go of. I want to go to a plant medicine ceremony. I want to go to breathwork facilitation. I want to do something to get this grief out of my system,” then you start connecting the dots.

This is the advanced portion of the EI2. You get to this place where now that you’ve calmed your mind and given a voice to your heart, you can sit there and be like, “What does God have to say? What does the soul have to say about this? Soul has to say that this is the only possible route. The only way out is through for me to heal this for my lineage, my grandparents, great grandparents, for my mother and father who struggle with the same key issue.”

Epigenetics applies to physical and emotional. There are physical epigenetics and emotional epigenetics as well. We get passed on emotions like we do predispositions for health. Depending on your meditation practice or whatever you’re going through, wait for the answer to come in through soul, source, God, or high intelligence. The word doesn’t matter. I’ll just use God. Wait for that message from God. Put all of this down on paper. Put it up on your fridge or somewhere in your life where you can do something with it. I promise you that when you do this process, your life will change.

I have my hair standing up on my body now because I’m like, “This is what I’ve done to make sense of becoming a new dad, the stresses and the challenges that come with being a new dad or the stressors and challenges that came from the whole COVID theater, lockdowns, and mask-wearing. We need a framework like this.” My framework either resonates or doesn’t. I’m not here to say that my way is the only way. I’m sure a lot of people that work with you have your own style framework. Everybody has their framework. You take from everyone, and you take what resonates and leave the rest. That is what we need to focus on as a society and start the society inside of us.

Everybody has their framework. You take what resonates with you from everyone and leave the rest. Click To Tweet

That was amazingly beautiful. Thank you for sharing that with us. That was powerful, you and I having this conversation and me doing that breathing process with you. For our readers, you can pause, and I hope you’ll reread this episode again and again. This is powerful in the sense that it’s not hard. We have a choice. One thing I want to go back to is what you talked about when you connect with someone. When you leave that individual and their presence, you can tell if they’re for you or maybe not so much, which is heartbreaking.

I learned this in counseling, where you have someone that is really with you at that moment when you are sharing something because it’s not the guidance so much that people are giving. It’s, “Are they present with you when you’re reliving or sharing that moment?” That is a key piece of healing to know, “You’re with me. You’re for me. You have my best interest at heart.” It changed me in many ways, my heart and my spirit. First of all, it explained what spiritual warfare is because I didn’t understand it even though I grew up in the church. I honed in on that because vulnerability is special. We don’t look at vulnerability as special.

I have on my website my story. It took me a long time to write that. I had to go through a process to write that out. It’s very similar to what you walked us through. It was healing and painful, but I wanted people to know, “This is where I’ve been. This is why I’m a practitioner. I’d love for you to come on this journey with me and allow me to partner with you so that I can help support you in your hurting and suffering.”

It is powerful to get down to the truth no matter what language you speak, what body you’re in, or how you identify. When we speak or hear the truth, it sticks to our soul like peanut butter. The truth is so healing and beautiful. The truth can make us cry as nothing else could. We cry from sadness or grief, but the tears we cry from truth are healing and peaceful. The truth makes us cry because we know it’s always there, and we don’t always do a perfect job accessing it. It is almost like we all have this golden key in our hand, and we forget that it’s there because we’re afraid of the power of it.

Sometimes the key of truth that we can speak or hear is powerful, and we have to develop the courage in order to use it because courage is not something that everyone is gifted with. We have to develop courage. Courage is a skill set. It comes through, for myself, tens of thousands of hours now of interviewing, researching, and sharing. Yesterday I went on a podcast and it was the first time in a long time I’ve been fearful. I’m like, “What am I afraid of?” I went through my own process. I got down to all of it. At the bottom of it, my soul was telling me, “The only way you can find your truth is by speaking it when you’re afraid. It’s the only possible way.”

It was this comforting feeling. My heart was like, “I’m scared because I know that when I go on this big podcast or speak my truth, it’s going to resonate. I’m probably going to receive some judgment, hatred, or compression from it.” It was even more than my heart was telling me. I’m experiencing so much pain in my life that I’m healing. Many times when I let go of my own dreams and the things I wanted, I abandoned myself that the grief was coming up through my heart to be healed by me having this big opportunity to speak on this global stage. My mind was telling me, “You’re going to mess it up. You’re going to do all these things.”

I went through the whole inventory. The one that we always will connect with the most is our hearts and souls. It’s not to demonize the mind. I’m not here to dog the mind. I need my mind. We got to have our minds because if we don’t have our minds, how are we going to operate in the world? The anchor of everything is my heart, and the heart is guided by the soul. That’s how this whole thing works.

I feel like we’re afraid to use that key of truth that we hold because in order to do so, we have to go through thousands of these inventory processes on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis in order to have the courage to sometimes unlock the truth that we know we must say, but we don’t say it because of all the inventory stuff t that hasn’t been unpacked yet. It’s powerful for us to tune in and stick with it. Years from now, if you do this, you’ll look back and go, “Look at what I’ve created. Look at what I’ve accomplished because I’ve done the actual work to understand who I am.”

I’m grateful that you walked us through this process. I’d love to know when the book’s coming out. I want people to partake of your offerings, coaching, what you’re sharing, and how you’re leading people through in this way. One other thing that you said that was powerful is the story of yourself, but if you’re engaging with someone else in a way where it’s very black and white, that’s not healing. That’s not going to work because you are unique. There’s no one else like you on the planet. I always find that amazing. Down to those tiny little hairs on your head, you are precious.

Our thumb, they’ll never be another thumbprint. I had somebody explain this to me. He was a mentor. Paul Chek. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the CHEK Institute.

Breathwork and Connection with God

He is awesome. I love him.

He told me when it comes to God or consciousness, which is a way deeper conversation, you and I are a unique point of consciousness. It’s almost as if consciousness was an expansion of dots and lines. The center of it is God. God is nothing and everything at the same time. When I first heard that, I was like, “I had to take that in.” If there’s no point to everything, then, “There’s no point to everything. We should enjoy ourselves. Let’s enjoy ourselves.” You and I are unique expressions, a unique point of consciousness. This is why it’s so sad, and I feel this with you.

How sad is it that one day you won’t be here anymore? How sad is it that one day I won’t be here anymore? Also, how much fuel does that create that we get to love as much as we can while we’re here now? We get to live as much as we can while we’re here now because one day we won’t be able to. The paradox is like, “We’re not here forever. Let’s enjoy the thing. Let’s do our best to move through all this stuff.” Let’s be vulnerable to doing our EI2 process to get curious about what’s going on for us. We’re all wounded and healing.

I don’t care how evolved you are or how many millions of dollars you have. Everyone is going through their own silent war on the inside, no matter what they project on the outside. If you spent a day with me, you’d know I’m pretty much like you. I happen to have dove into this work like you, where we can speak from it from our higher self. My higher self is directing most of the conversation, but my lower self is still working on the stuff I’m sharing with you.

EFL 59 | Breathwork
Breathwork: Everyone is going through their own silent war on the inside, no matter what they project on the outside.

One of the things I’ve always appreciated about you and your work is that you’re open and honest about that, and you’re not coming from this place of “I’m this amazing evolved guru” if you will. It’s like, “What? Really?” It makes me feel so much more connected to you to know that you’re not perfect. I’m not perfect. We are always going to be evolving and working through our stuff. That doesn’t mean we can’t utilize all the knowledge, wisdom, and training we have to help others because it’s a constant process.

I always try to tell everyone that I work with specifically in health and wellness, even if it’s functional medicine or what have you, “I see a lot of black and white. It’s got to be this way. Only these tests are valid.” I’m like, “There are a lot of testing methods that have validity and that can give us good data. Nothing is perfect.” To say, “My way or the highway,” is a red flag for me. Going back to healing, you’re going to have that amazing process with someone that is able to be present with you, really see you, and not just be surface about it. More damage has been done in my healing journey by people that were fair-weather friends. It was confusing. I’m like, “I don’t understand this. These are supposed to be good Christian women. I look up to these women. I care for them, but this behavior doesn’t make sense. I’m confused, God. What is going on?”

What behaviors were they exhibiting?

They would disappear on me. I would share something with them that was painful or upsetting, and they just disappeared like it didn’t even matter. I know now because of their own evolution and stuff, they couldn’t handle it, which is fine. That mirrors what happened to me growing up and not having people that were present and there when they should have been. That’s going to be a trigger for me. Now we’re getting more into triggers. I still get triggered when people ignore me and blow me off, especially people that I consider to be good friends and with whom I’ve invested a lot of time in friendship, support, love, and encouragement. I admit that’s a trigger for me. That’s hard.

It’s beautiful because in the act of you admitting or sharing that you still have triggers, you start to take away the trigger. You start to give the trigger the exact salve that it wants. This is the hardest thing. I went on The Aubrey Marcus Podcast, it’s a very well-known podcast out there; it’s in the top 100 – I was nervous. In the first three minutes of the podcast, I named what I was experiencing. We were talking about life. I was like, “It’s interesting. I had some Imposter syndrome coming up before I went on your show today.” I just went right to it because it took the pressure off me. It gives people an understanding that I’m not on the mountain. I don’t have this thing perfectly wired, and then we went on to have this great conversation.

If I hadn’t done that or spoken to the room to address the trigger, for me, it was a trigger that I shared with you. I did the process earlier. I did it that morning. That allowed me to have the spaciousness to share and express. Remember, the opposite of depression is expression. The opposite of anxiety is the present moment. That’s what I was doing. I was practicing that. That made all the difference. I learned that from Gay Hendricks. Gay and Katie Kendricks are very powerful in what they do. Have you followed some of their works?

I have.

You start to know who your true friends are by how they support you when you chase your dream. Click To Tweet

He told me a story and wrote about it in one of his books, the very first talk he ever gave. He was on a stage and shared it with everyone. He did a talk before and was nervous, but he didn’t share. It was the second talk he ever did. In the second talk he ever did, he went out there and was like, “I’m going to tell you a joke. I was fumbling around this morning. I realized I was so nervous to talk to you. Isn’t that funny?” He made them laugh. Here’s Gay Hendricks, one of the best speakers and writers of our time. He’s sharing that many years ago, he went for it. He put it out there like, “This is what I’m experiencing right now.” We do that. It gives people permission to do the same.

It’s a beautiful practice to be able to get into that space of just being vulnerable, honest, and throwing out there, “This is what I’m experiencing now,” and how we can weave that into the discussion we’re having. When people are reading, that’s healing them, giving them permission, space, and freedom. I like the word freedom as well to say, “I know I struggle with that too. Sami says it’s okay; she’s sharing her story online.”

I hear this the most, “I want to work with you because I know you get it. You’ve been there. You’ve been suicidal, overweight, and hated your body. I want to work with someone that understands what that feels like.” That makes me feel privileged and honored that someone chose me to help them in their healing journey. I go, “Thanks, God. It all had meaning. I see the meaning now. I get. It sucked. I was mad at you for a long time.”

This has been so good. Thank you for the space you’ve created for me to share. I honor the work you do in the world. I was thinking about what you said earlier when you share with certain friends, they leave and how honest you were about your trigger. I feel like we can tell who our true friends are by the way that they support us as we chase down a dream. Chasing down a dream could be like our podcasting, business, or us being a great mother, father, husband, wife, or human being. You start to know who your true friends are by the way they support you when you chase your dream. I wish that everybody chases their dream.

Thank you so much for your knowledge and wisdom. I know you’re busy with your family. I’m grateful that you were able to spend this time with me.

I’m so grateful too. It was a cool space to share and I hope everybody shares this with their friends. Get this as far and wide as possible. If you felt something from this, share ya’ll. It’s an active expression. Express yourself.

Thank you so much, Josh.

You’re welcome.


I trust my conversation with Josh has left you feeling inspired, peaceful, and hopeful. Josh shared so many pearls with us that I hope you will utilize them as a catalyst for change in your life. Remember, if you can breathe, you can choose. You can find Josh at JoshTrent.com.

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