My body was still in a similar spasm as in childhood, except now the consequences were becoming more serious. 

All my life, I breathed through my mouth. During my early childhood, I fell and broke my nose, and as I was growing up, I severely damaged it twice more. I also had a few surgeries to help with my nose becoming increasingly crooked and difficult to pass. This made my breathing more and more difficult, so I had to breathe through my mouth for the better part of my life. They told me I had shortness of breath. Although I have been involved in sports all my life, I have never breathed properly, neither during sports activity nor during my free time or sleep. So I was just putting unnecessary strain on my body. All this began to be reflected in the feeling of well-being. My body was still in a similar spasm as in childhood, except now the consequences were becoming more serious. 

I grew up in an environment of alcoholism and inappropriate relationships where I learned that my needs didn’t matter, expressing dissatisfaction or unpleasant emotions was impossible, or didn’t bring any desirable change. My breathing thus became shallower and inefficient since it was the safest option. My chest was becoming increasingly rigid, and most of my anger was suppressed because expressing it was dangerous. Fear remained, and emotionally appropriate setting of boundaries for others became an increasingly serious challenge. Only in adulthood, when I decided to undergo psychotherapy, I became aware of the past, its consequences, and repressed emotions. What I haven’t been able to resolve with my psychotherapeutic knowledge nor with my own psychotherapy was the stiffness of certain parts of the body and irregular breathing, affecting the functioning of the entire body.

Despite my sports activity, theoretical knowledge about trauma, and body memory, my body never relaxed enough, which manifested itself in health problems, nightmares, and frequent fatigue, even when there was no particular reason for this. When performing the AEQ exercises, I started breathing more correctly, doing most physical activities with my mouth closed, and above all, I started sleeping with my mouth closed. Although the exercises seemed strange to me at first, as I was used to intense martial arts training and competitions, their effectiveness became apparent very quickly. Mainly in how intensely I began to feel emotions that I had suppressed in the past and how poorly I perceived what I felt in my body. However, just learning and doing the AEQ exercises is only part of the process and does not allow for more lasting changes. An adequate explanation is an equally important part of the programs and represents an indispensable part of the complex whole. In modern society, we are used to downloading the Malodane app for everything, and we believe that we will achieve the desired result in no time. Such an approach is inadequate for content that is so deeply rooted in the unconscious.

AEQ exercises help me gradually relax the contracted parts of my body, which help me distance myself from the helplessness I felt in the past. I am more commonly hearing and considering the messages sent by my body, even if I don’t always like them. As Bushido states: “Courage is doing what is right!

Peter Topić, psychotherapist and Kendo martial art coach

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