#271 - Find Clarity through Breathwork with Amy Kuretsky
#271 - Find Clarity through Breathwork with Amy Kuretsky
We could all use a little deep breath while running a business these days. But something that can have a huge positive impact on our everyday lives is breathwork meditation. In this episode, Emily chats with Amy Kuretsky, a breathwork facilitator and acupuncturist for business owners, on how to use the breath for clarity, and creativity. They discuss the benefits of breathwork, what it does for our well-being, and how to get started with breathwork in a safe, stress-relieving way.
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Emily Thompson: Welcome to Being Boss, a podcast for creatives, business owners, and entrepreneurs who want to take control of their work and live life on their own terms. I'm your host, Emily Thompson. In this episode, I'm joined again by my friend and fellow boss, Amy Kuretsky, who first appeared on this podcast way back in episode number 77. She's back after five years to talk about breathwork, a fascinating modality for healthcare and self- care. Sharing what it is, how it works, why it's a must have and the tool belt of all bosses for managing stress and finding clarity, and how you can dive into it too. You can find all the tools, books, and links we reference on the show notes at www. beingboss. club. If you like this episode, be sure to subscribe to the show and share us with a friend. As a boss, you know that starting and scaling your business are two very different things, but we have to dive into both, first starting, then scaling, and you're going to need help all along the way. Since you're obviously a podcast listener, I recommend checking out the Entrepreneurs On Fire Podcast as another resource to help you on your path. From episodes on getting funding, to building businesses based on creative ideas, it features amazing conversations, strategies, and tools that help you tap into your entrepreneurial spirit no matter where you are on your journey. Listen, learn, and grow with Entrepreneurs On Fire on the HubSpot Podcast Network, at hubspot. com/ podcastnetwork. Amy Kuretsky is a breathwork facilitator and wellness coach for mind, body, and business, working on occupied and unseated Dakota and Anishinaabe territory. Her work is focused on helping radical business owners thrive in the liminal space between work and life. She believes that the health of our physical and emotional bodies are inextricably tied to the health of our businesses, and that when we work in this overlap, we can build businesses that are heart- centered in healing for both the individual and the collective. Amy uses the breath as a tool for healing in both private business coaching and public group healing sessions, and has led in- person breathwork groups all over the US. She completed her breathwork training in 2017, and is currently organizing for more anti- oppression and trauma informed training as part of the breathwork for the people collective. Along with her coaching, she also has a background in acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and co- owns Constellation Acupuncture and Healing Arts based in downtown Minneapolis. When she's not supporting others, she's hiking in the woods with her pup, playing nerdy board games or pulling tarot cards. Amy, welcome back to Being Boss.
Amy Kuretsky: I'm so glad to be here.
Emily Thompson: It's so good to see your face.
Amy Kuretsky: So good to see your face. Well, the last time I saw your face was virtually like several months ago. Before that, it was in person literally a week before the pandemic broke out.
Emily Thompson: You were my last brunch.
Amy Kuretsky: Yeah, it's wild. It's world.
Emily Thompson: Yeah, I know. I think about that. I think about that trip. I was in Palm Springs for all summit. You were there just with crosstalk.
Amy Kuretsky: Because I like to retire early sometimes in the winter because I live in Minnesota.
Emily Thompson: Yeah. I don't even remember how we knew we were both going to be there. I don't remember those details. So, we went and had brunch together and it was so nice and it was my last brunch.
Amy Kuretsky: Yeah. Say lovely brunch.
Emily Thompson: Right? Oh, what a treat that was. Well, it's good to see you now here. Actually, a month after that, you came to the Being Boss Conference and did some breathwork with us, which is what we're here to talk about today. So, it has been a minute since I've seen you. I wish we were brunching, but this will do.
Amy Kuretsky: I love it.
Emily Thompson: Perfect. Let's, I guess, do a little bit of a catch- up. It's been since June, 2016, since you were on the show. That was a lifetime ago, at least I feel that way.
Amy Kuretsky: Truly.
Emily Thompson: Bosses here have... They know all the shit that I've been through along the way and all the things I've done. I would love to know what's happened with you since, since we talked five years ago.
Amy Kuretsky: I mean, that really is wild when you say that and it makes me think of so much change that has happened for both of us in those five years. Before I get into what's shifted for me over the last five years, I think that it's so funny, because the last time I was on the podcast, right after we concluded the interview, you and Kathleen and I stayed on Skype, because we were all like interviewing on Skype back then, and it was like pre- Zoom. We chatted for like a good hour or something, and I think a lot of the conversation had to do with how all three of us were really leaning into these magical practices that we all had. And we were all like, how much should we lean into this publicly versus privately? I think that I ended up doing a reading right there and then for you and Kathleen, and with the question, something around like, should we really full on embrace the woo in being boss? And the answer was like, hell fucking yes, we should. Absolutely. Now look here, it is like five years later and you just did a conference that was basically focused on magic.
Emily Thompson: Yeah. I remember those days very, very well. I guess we were a year, about a year and a half into the podcast and we were just like, we'd already done our first vacation, maybe even our second vacation. Whenever we went to these vacations, all the bosses were like tarot readings and crystals, and let's talk about intuition. We were like, guys, we're here to talk about branding and marketing, or whatever it is. But we'll talk about that. We'd love to. Though we knew, Kathleen and I were having these conversations behind the scene, we knew that it was very much so a part of us, and we were starting to ask the questions of some of our favorite listeners and some of the bosses that we were connecting with. Like, if we were to talk about this stuff, would you think that we were off our rocker? And everyone was like, no, we want to hear it. I do remember that. I remember that being such validation. It was funny. I can think of multiple tarot readings that I've had since then, that we had along the way where we were asking questions about how far should we dive in? What does this mean for us? All of them were always absolutely, why aren't you all ready?
Amy Kuretsky: I mean, the fact that people, especially in the beginning were asking you for a lot of this stuff, it just goes to show that they really do hold hands so well, like the practical and the magical, if you want to say. That really is what has changed for me so much over the last five years as well. I think when I was on here last, I'm an acupuncturist for those of you who don't know me. Hi, my name is Amy. I use she/ her pronouns, I'm an acupuncturist and a breathwork facilitator and a coach, and many other things. But soon after that recording, I actually ended up merging my acupuncture practice with my now work wife, Kim, and we expanded and hired a team, and did that for several years and actually, and then lived through a pandemic and survived a business through a pandemic. Shout out to the profit first business model, because holy shit, I don't know if we would have... The fact that we had that, we felt so confident moving through the entire pandemic, even when we had to close our doors completely for a couple of weeks and we were able to still stay a profitable business. So, appreciate that. But yes, we actually just recently, in the last month, moved into our newer, larger space. We tripled the size and we basically tripled the team. We just hired our 10th employee. So, we have a really busy, bustling, thriving, clinic that we focus on affirming healthcare for all here in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It's mostly a Chinese medicine clinic, but we do also have some other complimentary services as well. So, that is what has changed a lot in one of my businesses. And then, on the other side, when that clinic merge happened and the expansion happened, I really allowed my coaching practice to be kind of my side hustle, in some ways you can say, because running a business that has 10 employees definitely takes up a significant amount of my time in a lot of ways. I love that business, but I'm not quite as much there physically in the day- to- day clinic work. Because a lot of times, I am at home working over Zoom on computer here with clients from all over the world. Using breathwork and other practices such as tarot and coaching and just space holding in general to support successful business owners who have kind of, either lost their way or fell out of love with their business, or are just moving through a challenge that they need extra support on and are feeling like they're at a crossroads and they're not quite sure which way to go. Which I mean, who of us haven't hit a crossroads over the last 18 months where we didn't necessarily know which way to go? It's helpful for so many of us.
Emily Thompson: I appreciate that update. It's been fun watching you make all the moves that you're making. I also feel like I remember some of those first conversations around your first hires of like making this up. And these days I'm very much so like him, that first hire, to the leap, of taking that first leap into, should I start my business? The next one that you have is, should I make my first hire? It's just as like big and scary of a thing. Now to hear that you're at 10 people, congratulations.
Amy Kuretsky: Thanks. I mean, it's definitely one of those things where, yeah, when you have your own business and you're a solopreneur, you have a business, from a legal and taxable perspective, you have a business, but when you actually are responsible in a lot of ways for other people's income and livelihood, you have a business. It really feels that way at that point. It was within the last couple of years that I really started to feel that shift.
Emily Thompson: Nice. Oh, again, such a pleasure. Such a pleasure to see it and to hear it and to witness it, and know that I've gotten to see little peaks along the way. But today I want to talk about breathwork. That is why I brought you in. I feel like you're right, over the past 18 months, we've all been confronted with crossroads where it's not just four, but 18, right? 18 different options lied before or laid before us. Or just stress and anxiety and all the responsibilities, and just like, am I going to die if I go to the grocery store? Just crosstalk.
Amy Kuretsky: So many of us have been in fight or flight, or more than fight or flight. All of our nervous systems have been on high alert in so many ways. There are business owners out there who are struggling. There are businesses owners out there who have closed, who have not survived the pandemic for various reasons. I mean, of course, let's not even make light of the fact that people are dying out there. This is a damn pandemic. The fact that some of us are struggling with making a decision that to us feels really big, but in the big scheme of things, there's so many troublesome things happening out there because of this pandemic, and it sucks.
Emily Thompson: Yeah. Yep. Existential crisis, everyday at 4: 00 PM.
Amy Kuretsky: Yeah, totally.
Emily Thompson: I'm totally there. I know that so many bosses are too. I also know that you've been practicing breathwork and facilitating breathwork for years, even before the pandemic. I'd love to just dive into that. What is breathwork and what benefits does it have? What's the purpose?
Amy Kuretsky: Yeah. I mean it's such a simple, but also complex question at the same time. Really, the term breathwork is, as my friend, Jenny Patterson, often says, it's an umbrella term, because really it is. I mean, the word breathwork means anything from what you might do as you're giving birth when you're doing Lamaze to what you do in a yoga class. Any time you're intentionally breathing with a specific pattern or a specific purpose, you're doing breathwork. The breathwork that I practice has its roots in Southeast Asia for this style. It is similar to a pranayama, and it intentionally moves energy, it intentionally moves emotion. I like to call it an active meditation, because whereas many of us do have a more passive style of meditation when we are really trying to subdue ourselves, calm our nervous systems, ground ourselves in and kind of zone out, this is more about zooming in. So, it's about using the breath to elicit a non- ordinary state of consciousness that then helps us do so many things for healing and for ourselves.
Emily Thompson: I love that you brought up breathing during pregnancy because I also thought like hyperventilating, panic attacks, all these moments when you're sort of losing control, but need to be in your body. Breathwork is what we all very innately go back to.
Amy Kuretsky: Yeah. I love that you brought up like panic attack and that sort of hyperventilating, because a lot of people, there is this like fine line between, okay, where am I hyperventilating and where am I actually harnessing the breath? Because from the outside, it can look somewhat similar. A lot of times when we're working with the breath, it's about reclaiming our own sovereignty over our body, it's about reclaiming safety in our bodies, which isn't something that someone necessarily feels currently in their body, and it's about being able to reclaim that with our breath. I think that there's a lot of ways to practice breathwork, and we can get into this later about finding the right facilitator and how to get started and everything. But the breath is so powerful, and I think that we don't give it enough credit because if we're just kind of going into it willy- nilly, and we're like, yeah, I'm going to lay down and do this YouTube video and not necessarily know what we're getting into, it can easily turn into, from a space of intentional breathing for healing, to a space of like retraumatization in some ways.
Emily Thompson: Yeah. I also see it as, I mean, I actually wonder what your thoughts on this are, but almost like taking back control. If you can control nothing, you can control your breath.
Amy Kuretsky: Yes, totally. And there's so many times in our life where we feel like we have to be in control, especially those of us who are like type A or business owners.
Emily Thompson: Raises hand.
Amy Kuretsky: Or we feel like we have the weight of the world on our shoulders. Grasping for control is often then a form of our coping mechanism in some ways. When things feel out of control, like the world does right now, we try to control everything that we can instead of leaning into practices that help us foster more trust in ourselves. So that, while we might not be fully okay with, things being out of control, we're able to be more resilient through those moments when things are out of control. A lot of what breathwork does is, it helps us drop out of the brain and into the body. Because like our brains, they're so smart, they do so many things. We use them all the time, but our brains really, they like to keep us safe, they like to keep us small. Your brain is that voice in your head that's like, don't speak up because someone might not like what you had to say, or your brain is the thing that's like, don't launch that new thing or don't quit your job and start your business because you're never going to make any money and you're going to lose your rent or your house and be homeless. There's all sorts of ways that our brain tries to keep us safe. But just because the brain is trying to keep us safe, doesn't actually mean that it has our best interests at heart all the time. When we're using breathwork, we're actually calming down that voice in our brain. I like to often think of that voice in our brain as our little kid that lives inside of us, like little Amy is having a bit of a tantrum, because little Amy doesn't know that big Amy has the skills and the wherewithal to keep her safe, and so little Amy is freaking out. Oftentimes, in breathwork, what we're doing is we're actually like trying to soothe and calm, and support that brain or that inner kid voice, so that we can actually like take the leaps or make the decisions or take the path in life that actually we're meant to take little.
Emily Thompson: Oh, Emily has all kinds of shit to say.
Amy Kuretsky: For real, right?
Emily Thompson: Oh, that's fascinating. I never really thought about it in that way, but as you're saying it, I can completely connect with that sort of result of practicing breathwork. Breathwork is here to get you out of your body, out of your mind.
Amy Kuretsky: Out of your brain.
Emily Thompson: And into your body. Are there any other sort of benefits that come to body and/ or mind from breathwork?
Amy Kuretsky: Oh yeah. I mean, I could talk for an hour just about the benefits of breathwork, so I'm going to do my best to keep it concise. But some of the benefits that I would say business owners love talking about or the benefits that they love seeing are like, it really helps develop our intuition. So, it helps develop the clairs, if you're familiar with like clairaudience, clairvoyance, claircognizance, clairsentience. There's so many different ways that our intuition can come through, and breathwork definitely and strongly really just develops that sense of self, that sense of trust, that sense of intuition. My very, very first time that I did breathwork, very first time, I was doing it online with a teacher that was out in New York. I had no idea what I was getting into. I had heard about it through an acupuncturist, blah, blah, blah. I laid down to do it and all sorts of wild things happened in my body, like physically, and it was really cool. I was feeling energy and chi moved my body in ways that honestly, I had never even felt in acupuncture before. But one of the most impactful things that happened during that session was that I sort of hard a vision. I've never been very like clairvoyant. I've always been much more of like a clairsentient claircognizant, even a little bit like clairaudient, but like visually, that was never a thing, even when I do meditation and they invite you to visualize things in meditation, that's always been really difficult for me, but in this breathwork session, I straight up saw myself and eight other female identified folks in Joshua tree, like in the desert at night around a bonfire. I was just like, huh, what's that about? Then soon after, I just got the download that was like, well, you're supposed to do a retreat out in Joshua tree and there's going to be eight other bosses there to be at a fire pit with. Lo and behold, about six months later, when I really stepped into that courage of like, okay, this is a thing, that spirit telling me I'm supposed to do, I guess I'm going to do it. I honestly sold that retreat out in like, I think under four days and without like any real social media presence or anything. I just like, boom. It was just meant to be. It was the easiest thing I ever sold. Had the most amazing, magical transformative time, like out in the desert holding this retreat. It was a straight up vision. I had a clairvoyant vision. Now it's been years and years since then, and I would say my intuition just keeps getting stronger and stronger, and I really attribute that to breathwork. That's like one of the big ones. But breathwork can really help with feeling confident in our voice. Like, I'm sitting here talking to you holding a chrysocolla, because as you and I both know, it's really great for the energy of the throat and for feeling like confident in speaking up. But so many people out there, especially like business owners, really struggle with finding confidence in their voice. Whether that's through more of the written word, or actually like using their voice and getting interviewed on a podcast, or speaking their rates that they want to have with their potential clients. There's all these reasons why people feel stuck right there, and when we're using the breath, we're literally moving energy in our throat for a good 30, 45 minutes. We are breathing in and out of our mouth when we do this style of breathwork, and it is moving energy in the throat, and it's creating this open channel in that area. When I'm leading breathwork, I'm like a sailor, so I like swear all the time. I'm encouraging people to yell and laugh, and people, you're not just laying there breathing the whole time. You are having a experience and you are being vocal. I always let people know that, when we're doing big online classes, you're all muted. You can be as loud as you want and no one's going to hear you. Every single time after class, people are like, wow, I did not know that I needed to let that much out of my throat. That's a huge thing right there. I'll just leave it with those two right out of start, but I can go on forever.
Emily Thompson: I think that's perfect. It's funny, I've heard some crazy stories about the things that people have experienced in breathwork, especially those first couple of sessions. I think, once you get in it, things will usually even out and it just becomes this really sort of nurturing practice, but usually those first couple, it's like, it's whack.
Amy Kuretsky: There's been some stuff in there. Here's what I like to say. One of the things that I'll often and talk about when I'm describing breathwork to people who are new is that, what we're doing is we have all of these stories, we have all of these emotions, we have all of these traumas and experiences that we tend to hold in our body, specifically around our belly or our reproductive organs or in that general area. That's the area where we self- identify with who we are in the world. And we have all sorts of stories about what those things mean. When we're doing breathwork, we are breathing those up through the heart space, to wash them through in tenderness and self- compassion, and just to be nice to ourselves during those. Then we're letting them out with the breath. Wouldn't it be nice if all of these things that we've consumed over our lifetimes, that we could just shit them out, like we did food? Wouldn't that just be great if we could just like, went to the bathroom and we were like, all of this pain or suffering or fear or grief or anything that I'm holding out in my body, and I just like, poop, there it goes, bye, flush it down the toilet?
Emily Thompson: That would be a really great poop.
Amy Kuretsky: Right. It would epic. But that's not how it works. So, in order to release it, we actually have to let it come back up and experience it, which isn't necessarily fun by any means, but it's incredibly necessary. Those first couple of times that we do breathwork, there's years, or even generations of emotions, of stories, of trauma that we've held in our bodies. And to allow that to come up and out, takes a lot of bravery, but it also takes a lot off of our shoulders in so many ways.
Emily Thompson: Yeah. Ooh, you're making me, I'm going to go do some breathwork tonight. It's been a while. I think I need to do that.
Amy Kuretsky: I think you've got one of my recordings somewhere in your inbox, so you can do that.
Emily Thompson: I have a couple of rounds. I have like a nice little buffet. I'll choose. Perfect, oh. Okay. If anyone needs convincing further than that, just rewind and listen to it again. Because we are all in these places where feeling stuck, dealing with so much stuff, and unless you have been the most balls person on the planet for the past 18 years, but also your entire life of just like processing all of the things, you need to do some breathwork.
Amy Kuretsky: Really, I mean, so here's the thing. The benefits of breathwork are for everyone. Every single benefit of breathwork is available to everyone. And yet, the reason why I really love using it for creative entrepreneurs and for business owners is because business owners are human beings, and so often we forget that. So often we treat ourselves like robots, we treat ourselves like productivity machines, we treat ourselves in all sorts of way that we would never treat another human being, and to actually tap into a practice that allows ourselves to feel depressed and to be angry and to grieve, and to ask spirit for support, or for inspiration, or for the muse to come, like any of those things, it gives us permission to be human in that moment, and I think business owners need more of that.
Emily Thompson: Yeah. I also think that there is, you sort of touched on this a little while ago, this idea that sometimes we're making decisions that feel huge, like the hugest decisions we'll ever make, but in the grand scheme of things, is actually pretty small and we should probably take it a little easy on ourselves. right >
Amy Kuretsky: Totally.
Emily Thompson: I also think that we're all, especially after the past 18 months, in places where our perspectives have gotten so weird, I mean, on one hand we see things like broadly in a way that we've never had to before, and that in itself is mind blowing, but also, because we're in our own little boxes, the little things that we're doing feel massive when really we should just go easy on ourselves. I also love this perspective giving, sort of by- product of this, to make it easier for us to just generally navigate through the responsibilities that we've claimed for ourselves.
Amy Kuretsky: Yeah. That's reminding me of the benefit of breathwork that is a lot of like clarity that comes from breathwork, and it's making me think of, have I ever shared with you my theory about how breathwork mirrors the second line of the major arcana?
Emily Thompson: No, but I'm here for it.
Amy Kuretsky: Okay.
Emily Thompson: Please share.
Amy Kuretsky: There's a flow to the second row of the major arcana. When I say second row it's, I think what Rachel Pollack, or was it Mary Greer, one or the other originally came up with this theory where you take the fool out and then the rest-
Emily Thompson: We're talking tarot here. I want to give crosstalk talking tarot.
Amy Kuretsky: Thank you.
Emily Thompson: In tarot, there are four suits, and those are the minor arcana, and then there's the major arcanas, which is fool... Everyone's going to know the fool, death, the devil. There's lots of them, but those are the ones that everyone's going to know.
Amy Kuretsky: Right. Some of the, not all of the big cards, but some of the big cards come in that second line. Some of the more uncomfortable cards can come in that second line of the majors.
Emily Thompson: What are the lines? Because I know this in my head, but I don't think I've ever heard the theory behind the lines of the majors.
Amy Kuretsky: Yeah. I'm probably going to not be able to explain it as eloquently as Lindsay Mack would be able to do, but I'm just going to try to crosstalk out there. But basically, you take the fool out, and then you've got like one through seven, and then what? Eight through 14 and then 15 through 20. That first line is the like, it's a lot of I am statements. Like, I am the magician, I am the empress, I am the hierophant. All these things. It's very like, almost like little kid claiming their existence in the world. Like, oh, look, I am this, I am this. Then we get to the chariot, and we actually have to step out of the chariot to say like, face the lion in strength and actually go forward in the world and take a risk in some way. So, the line too, is kind of this more underworld journey. Actually, Lindsay Mack and I created a whole workshop about this a couple of years ago. You can still find it on her website somewhere, but she talks about the whole second line of being the underworld journey, and then I lead a breathwork session with it, that was recorded. We start in strength, and that's like the beginning of breathwork, where we're kind of nervous to do it. What's the fuck's going to happen? I don't really know what I'm getting into, but I'm going to take this, I'm going to face my fear and do it anyway. Then we get into the hermit, and we really kind of go inward in our experience, and we're just like, even if we're in a group of other people breathing, we're really just in our own experience, and that's very like solo journey thing. Then we get into the wheel of fortune and things start to get spinny, and we're like, wow, shit's going wild, and everything just feels like it's turning a little bit. Then we get into justice, and all of a sudden, we have this like moment of clarity and we're just like, wow, this is what's true, because we have stories about what's true, but like we have this moment of pure clarity and breathwork where things just become really clear about what is or is not true. Then, wait, that's yeah, so that's 11, so that's justice. Then we go into the hanged one in 12, and that's this moment where we realize we don't have control. When we're in the hanged one and we're upside down hanging from our foot, we're like, we don't have control of anything, and we are realizing how our place in the world, and that we actually don't have control over so many things. And that can be a really scary place for people. It can be scary in breathwork too. It can be this moment where we have to choose whether or not we are going to hold on for dear life, even if that means that we're going in the" wrong direction," even though there's no such thing as really a wrong direction. But we have this moment and... Or if we're going to let go and just trust that spirit has our back, we're just going to trust that we are okay in this world. It's like a precursor to the death card. We have to actually go through the struggles, the internal struggles before we can actually be in the death card where we grieve and we let go and we cry, or we yell, or whatever we need to do to shed all of that, that we've been holding on to. Through that shutting in the deaf card and through that shutting in the crying or the releasing or the shaking that might happen during breathwork, we then get, and death is 13, and then we get to temperance at 14, where we have this overwhelming sense of connection with ourselves, with spirit maybe, maybe with another person, maybe with a guide or an angel, or just a connection to our business even, a connection to our work, connect to our creativity. There's usually so much joy and comfort and serenity that comes up during that time. The arc of the second line of the tarot is the same arc of breathwork.
Emily Thompson: You just blew my mind. Just blew my mind, because I can totally see that. As you were sharing that, I was thinking about several experiences that I've also had through breathwork, where the moments when I feel called to use it, it's to accomplish literally what you just walked us through. Holy cow, crosstalk.
Amy Kuretsky: That came to me in the bathtub one day. I was just laying there, I was like a new moon or something. I'm doing a little bathtub. I'm like, oh, shit. It just came to me.
Emily Thompson: Yeah. That's amazing. Okay. Then I take back what I said earlier. If you still need convincing, you go back and re- listen to that one, for sure. Oh, that's fascinating. I'm going to be sitting with that quite a bit. One of the things that came up for me as you were talking about that, is I can recall very clearly, probably in, sort of like a turning point in burnout for me. I remember being at my grandmother's on the farm in Northern Indiana, so flat, very flat landscape. I remember going out for a walk by myself, walking down a very flat straight road. I could probably see two miles in front of me, and I was like, I'm walking to the end and turn around and walking back. I boxed breathed the entire thing out there and back. I remember while I was doing it, thinking like, I'm doing something. Whenever I came back, feeling so much more at peace. Again, I recognize that, I still recognize that as one of those turning points in my burnout, was that four mile walk, box breathing the entire thing. Okay, boss, trust me when I say I know the struggle of growing your business and expanding your network and trying to remember everyone's name, email address, connections, and what it is you talked about with them last. If only there was a tool to let you keep track of all of that. Oh wait, there is. Meet HubSpot, a CRM platform that helps you keep track of the people who are a part of how you do business, from vendors and contacts, to clients and customers. What is CRM? It stands for customer relationship management, and it helps you stay connected to your people. At HubSpot, they're the best at what they do, with special features like a contact timeline, which gives you the historical context you need to get work done and connect appropriately with customers. It puts all your customer data in one place so it's easy to make a call, put a contact into a sequence or a schedule a meeting. And if you're on the go, you can do all of this from the HubSpot mobile app, so you can manage your customer experience, grow your network, and collaborate with your team from anywhere. Learn more about how you can scale your company without scaling complexity at hubspot. com. In my experience, bosses, at some point or another, want to teach what they know. If you find yourself in that position, I encourage you to check out Podia. Podia is an all-in- one digital storefront where you can sell what you know in the online world, through courses, memberships, downloads, and webinars, all in one place. Sign up for Podia and get a 14- day free trial with no credit card required, and get 15% off for life by going to podia. com/ bosses.
Amy Kuretsky: Well, I love that you brought up this specific story because... Have you read that book, Burnout, by what is it? The Nagoski sisters?
Emily Thompson: I have read probably a third of it. Some of it. I have it, I've read some of it. I think it was great. I don't remember why I didn't finish it.
Amy Kuretsky: It is great. I really love how they talk about that burnout often happens when we are consistently unable to complete the stress response, that's kind of their basis of a lot of their thesis of their book. They talk about different ways to complete the stress response. Because if we don't complete it, then we're stuck in either fight, flight or freeze. We're in one of those, and that's not a sustainable place for our nervous systems to reside. And yet, that is where so many of our nervous systems are on a regular basis. But they kind of... I forget all of the different measures or ways that they talk about completing the stress cycle, but the two that they talk about first are exercise and breathwork. If you think about it, exercise, any sort of slightly higher intensity exercise, you're getting your heart rate up and your lungs are breathing at a faster rate, so you are moving a lot more breath, and both of those things, they help complete the trauma response, they help the stress response. When we complete those, that is what lets our nervous system, and our brain, because our brain is part of our nervous system, know that we are safe, and that is so important.
Emily Thompson: Yeah. Oh, okay. Wonderful. Thank you for all of that, that little journey you just took us all on. Then I feel like we've touched on several of these along the way, but I'm going to pose the question, in case there's like more specifics or more you have to add to it, and that is this, you wonder like why, case anyone needs further convincing, why should creatives, or business owners/ entrepreneurs practice breathwork?
Amy Kuretsky: Well, it's so funny. I actually wrote an entire newsletter, not that long ago. I think it was seven reasons why seven minutes of breathwork is what you need if you're a creative entrepreneur, and it's basically like this exact question. But a couple of my top reasons are like, I really do feel like breathwork, it brings our brain to a place where it can actually do deep work. I feel like deep work is something that's really missing a lot in our current culture because we are on high alert all the time and we are putting out fires all the time. I love what Tara McMullin has been talking about lately about, what does she call it? It's a certain type of content where she's like, it's all about depth as opposed to lots of short form content. It's all about like really going deep. And to create that sort of depth in our content and in our just creation in general, we have to be able to clear out the cobwebs of our brain and to really focus. A lot of what I've been talking about up, until this point, with these really big experiences and that whole arc of breathwork, that's... I'm talking about that more in terms of like a 30 minute breathwork practice, where you lay down and it's like a healing session, because first and foremost, I'm a business owner, but I'm also a healer. This is what I do is I help support other people find the healing that they have within them. Those sessions are a bit longer. However, you can do 7, 10, 12 minutes of breathwork in the morning at the start of your day and not be in a puddle of tears afterwards, but instead be clearheaded, be focused, be inspired. I've, on many occasions, woken up, it's Tuesday morning. Shit, What am I going to send out in my newsletter today? I've literally written nothing for one reason or another. So, I lay out my naps. I lay down, I put my little eye pillow over my eyes and I turn on Spotify to like one of my favorite playlist, and I breathe for like two or three songs, and boom, every single time, I get a bolt of inspiration about what I should talk about or a story comes to me that has a new layered meaning that I think my audience really wants to hear about. Or like every single time. So, it clears us for that deeper work, but it also inspires us for when we're just having writer's block, plain old writer's block. I also love breathwork, because it is bringing us into this altered state of consciousness, or this... Instead of that, maybe I would rather say a non- ordinary state of consciousness, but it's in that sort of space that we've created on our own without outside pharmaceuticals or psychedelics or anything like that. It puts us in that space where our subconscious is a little bit more malleable and we really can start to rewire the brain and change the way we think. Lots of people have different ways of doing this, whether it's like NLP or it's through hypnosis or... These are all wonderful tools and breathwork is another one. I really encourage my clients to use their voice in breathwork. Like I said before, they're going to yell or scream or laugh or something, but I also encourage them to talk to themselves, and maybe use affirmations, or imagine a mirror and talk to themselves in that way. Oftentimes, really profound changes can happen about what we believe about ourselves and what we believe is possible, and that happens through breathwork. I could keep going.
Emily Thompson: Again, y'all if you need more convincing, there are a million reasons. No, I think you've hit on some major ones. The one that I really want to sort of highlight here, one of the ones is I feel like, every boss I talk to, I'm like, how are you feeling? If I really get them, telling me how they're feeling, scattered. That is the one word I hear most often, or this idea of... Or what do you want to take from this? Actually, at the gathering last week, we always do intention setting before any, like at the beginning of any event, and one of the things that was coming up in the chat feed, as I was saying like set your intention, share it, what do you want to get out of this? Clarity. Clarity was the thing that came up over and over and over again. I think we are all hungry for this like, for clarity and this sort of separation from the feeling of scatteredness.
Amy Kuretsky: Yeah. Decision- making is a huge part of what I do with my clients. I really come at coaching from maybe a slightly different perspective than your average business coach, because I don't, even though I have 10 years of experience in business, I really come at it with taking off my expert hat and instead putting on my like facilitator hat or something where I'm holding the space and with breathwork. Also, I use tarot a lot in my coaching sessions, like we'll, if we are feeling stuck on something, I'll pull a card because... But I don't use it in a predictive like, oh, the card says this, therefore you need to do that. It's more like, here's what the card is usually about. What is that bringing up for you? How do you feel that's applicable in this way? I like to use it more as a mirror so that people, so my clients can actually be like, oh, wow, that reminds me of this thing, that then makes me think of this thing, that then helps me get way more clarity about this decision I want to make. Breathwork, in the tarot, I feel like they go similarly in that, because what they're doing is they're zooming back. They're kind of getting... We're so granular all the time, like how you were saying before, we're so zoomed in that we think that every decision is like the biggest decision ever. What breathwork does is it kind of pulls us back to see the bigger picture. What tarot does is it pulls us back to see a wider landscape. But I think that those things are so important when we are making decisions in our business, and every single time I've made a big decision in my business, you can bet your ass that I've laid down and done some breathwork first before I made that decision.
Emily Thompson: Yeah. I also love this idea that, I feel like we're also so like overthinking everything, because again, in a lot of ways, our lives have depended on it, on us really seeing everything from every angle over the past 18- ish months. But I love this idea that both of these tools gives us the space to just be curious, and not a curiosity that we're betting our lives on. But this space to just ask ourselves questions, look at things from different angles, open ourselves to inspiration or those little sparks of something that shows up. I love that both of these tools just gives us space.
Amy Kuretsky: Yeah. Exactly. I feel like, when people are not feeling creative, it's usually because they've stifled, because we're all creative. We all are innately creative. Think about the kid whose favorite toy is a box that they can just play with for hours, even though there's all these expensive toys around them. We are innately creative beings, and what happens is that's chipped away over time through social conditioning and capitalism and all of these things that basically put our creativity on a leash, and then like, get it closer and get it closer and reign it in. I feel like what breathwork really does is it takes your brain and lets it off the leash for a while so it can like roam around and see what's out there.
Emily Thompson: Oh, I like that too. Perfect. Then let's talk about what it looks like to actually get started. Let's say someone's listening to this, they're like, this sounds fascinating, let me do it, where do you start?
Amy Kuretsky: Yeah. Great question. You start with someone that you trust basically, because I really believe that breathwork is incredibly potent, it's incredibly has huge potential for healing, and also that it can create harm. I will just say that. That because breathwork gets us to a more vulnerable state in our subconscious, that if you do not trust the person, that trust can easily be broken or disintegrate and harm can be created in that way. So, I do think it's important to start with someone you trust. I generally say that, if you are someone that has never experienced significant trauma, or PTSD, or anything like that in your life, that you can go online and do a YouTube video. I have a video, even on my website, I've got like a free 10 minute practice that I lead by video on my Amy Kuretsky website. You can do one of those. I generally think that anyone who does live with chronic trauma or PTSD symptoms, that working with a facilitator one- on- one, there are plenty of facilitators out there, but having someone hold space for you for that session, I think, is really important. But there's also books out there. My friend, Jennifer Patterson, created a book. It's called The Power of Breathwork. I always recommend that one. She wrote it from a very trauma- informed and anti- oppression lens. That one really talks about breathwork in that umbrella term where she's teaching the box breath along with the style of breath that I practice. She's someone that trained under the same person I trained under, and then her, and myself, and some other folks last year did some organizing work around trying to make that training more inclusive and anti- oppressive in different ways. That's a really great place to start. I also, what else do I want to say about that? I think that one of the things that I love about the breath the most, that I think is really important to state, is that we all have access to the breath inside of us, every single one of us. No matter who you are, no matter what your income level is, you can find breathwork that is accessible to you because we all have it, and it's just about finding the person that you feel most comfortable with to teach it to you, but then you have that forever and ever, and ever and no one can ever take that away from you, which is why it's my favorite healing method ever, why I think it's the most accessible healing method in the world, is because we all have access to the breath. We don't need a single tool or stone or crystal or acupuncture needle or anything like that. But so those are some of the things I would start with. You're welcome to go to my website. I've got a ton of information there. I lead group classes every couple of months or so. The next one is coming up mid November. I think it's like November 21st. I lead group classes that I do at a sliding scale, so they're really accessible for everyone. Yeah, so those are some ways.
Emily Thompson: Love it. I want to note this trusting situation. I remember getting here about 10 minutes into a YouTube meditation once, and then this idea floated across my mind of like, what if I'm being hypnotized into doing something dumb? Then I became terrified. I feel like that was my Kathleen moment of like of just going there. I think that is hugely important because you don't want to take that stuff into there. What are your thoughts about, I mean, I know like in- person is a little like iffy at the moment, but what are your thoughts about like, why should someone choose something virtual or prerecorded versus joining a group class or doing something in person?
Amy Kuretsky: Well, first, I say, I'll first start by saying that I would change that question to being like somewhat self- directed or prerecorded self- directed versus facilitated, because I think that, in- person facilitation and online facilitation is equally as successful and effective. When the pandemic started, honestly, it was like no sweat off my back in some ways when it came to my coaching and breathwork practice, because I was already doing it over Zoom, and I long believed that the effectiveness of doing it over Zoom is equal to the effectiveness of doing it in person. But the reason why you'd maybe do a recorded one versus a group session versus a private session would be this. Like I said before, if you have a history of complex trauma, you would want to do a facilitated session first, because you want someone to hold that space for you and you might need someone to help process afterwards. And also, if that's the case, you also want to... I want to really strongly state that breathwork practitioners are not therapists and they are not trained as therapists, and they are not regulated as therapists. While breathwork is a wonderful tool to move trauma through the body, it's still important to have someone to cognitively and verbally with. So, if you have a good breathwork facilitator, hopefully they would ask you if you have a therapist to work with through these things as well. That's one reason. Also, if you just do better with a lot of one- on- one attention, which like some of us do, I know for me that I like a group class, but I am more likely to get a lot out of a session if I have the full attention of the facilitator, so that's why I generally choose to do one- on- one work. Group work though is great because it creates community, and sometimes people really crave that community and they want to know that their experience, that they're not alone in that experience. By doing the group session, even if it's an online one, sometimes my online groups have like 20 people in them, sometimes they have like 80 people in them, and always there's deep connection and community forming within those sessions. So, that could be a reason why you would want to do a group session, or for financial reasons if, because of the pandemic, finances are extremely tight right now. A group session is usually a more affordable option. Then I generally find the recordings are great when you've already done a little bit of breathwork. If you're not a newbie and you're like, I've done this before, I know what I'm doing. Great. Use all the recordings in the world. You can use the same recording every single day if you wanted to. Recordings are wonderful. However, they're better if you know what you're doing.
Emily Thompson: Yeah. Perfect. We will be including all the links to all the things mentioned in the show notes, everything on Amy's website, all the things, so that's all there. Next question for you for getting started with this, is there anything that you should do to prepare yourself, especially for your first sessions?
Amy Kuretsky: The only thing I really think that is... Well, I'm just going to start by saying that everyone's different, so everyone has different needs. Just like I said, about how I feel that this is the best healing modality because it's the most accessible one, it's also the most flexible one, where really, you can make it work to whatever your needs are. For me, what I like to do when I'm doing breathwork is I like to have the house to myself because I want to be able to yell or scream and not have my partner downstairs be like, what is she doing? I know that, that's not necessarily available to everyone right now, especially if you have children, or if you have roommates, but that's some... Having at least a small amount of privacy I think is important. Also, other than that, just somewhere where you can be comfortable. I used to really preach that we needed to be like laying down, because that's how I was taught by my teacher, but not everyone can lay down. I'm someone that lives with chronic pain and I've had multiple surgeries for that pain in my life, and sometimes I can't lay on my back and I need to on the electric recliner and just recline back until I can, or if you're late stage pregnancy, maybe you need to lay on your side instead of your back. I don't think that there's anything like that. Other than that, just creating a space that feels safe for you. Maybe that means having your favorite stuffed animal nearby or lighting some incense that you really like or finding your favorite rose quartz, and holding onto that during the session.
Emily Thompson: Wonderful. So easy and accessible again.
Amy Kuretsky: Super, yeah.
Emily Thompson: Love it. All right. Let's sort of wrap this up with what a breathwork practice looks like. How often should you practice? Is this something you recommend doing every day or a couple of times a month? And any tips for working it into a routine?
Amy Kuretsky: Yeah. I mean, once again, incredibly flexible. I can tell you what I currently do as an example, because I don't think that there is like a should with this. I will do a shorter, like seven to 10 minute practice, at least once a week, maybe more than that, kind of like as I need it. I did a little bit today because I knew I was going to be here with you. Then I'll do like a longer session, either one- on- one with someone, or maybe I'll join someone's group, and I'll do that about once a month. That's what my practice looks like. Before COVID, I was like doing a lot more in- person stuff with... There's another gal here in town who does it, and that we would do sessions for each other a lot. Things are a little different now with COVID, but I generally will do like a longer session a month and then shorter. However, I do have some clients that will take some of the recordings that I've made for them and listen to them every day. I have a client that took a 30 minute recording that I made for her and she listened to it every single day for 30 days, and then I got an email from her after the 30 days being like, holy shit, these are all the things that have shifted, transformed for the better for me in those 30 days since I did this every single day. So, there's not a right or wrong.
Emily Thompson: Yeah. Oh, I love that. Okay, perfect. Then Amy, how and where can people find more about you and what you do?
Amy Kuretsky: Yeah. If you want to learn more about breathwork, you can find that at amykuretsky. com, and if you're local to the twin cities and you want to check out our acupuncture clinic, we would love to have you over in Northeast Minneapolis, and that's at constellationacupuncture. com.
Emily Thompson: Perfect. Then final question for you is, what's making you feel most boss?
Amy Kuretsky: I finished a New York Times crossword puzzle the other day. I felt pretty fucking boss after I did that.
Emily Thompson: That is maybe the most boss answer I've ever heard to that question.
Amy Kuretsky: It wasn't a Sunday or anything like that, but I was still really impressed with myself.
Emily Thompson: Nice. Congrats. How many times did you Google?
Amy Kuretsky: None. No, this was like none.
Emily Thompson: Legit. Congrats. That is balls.
Amy Kuretsky: It was like a Tuesday, but still.
Emily Thompson: Still, that's nice. Perfect. Thank you Amy so much for coming to hang out with me. This has been a treat.
Amy Kuretsky: Yay, thank you, Emily.
Emily Thompson: All right, boss, because you're here, I know you want to be a better creative business owner, which means I've got something for you. Each week, the team at Being Boss is scouring the news, the best entrepreneurial publications and updates and releases of the apps and tools that run our businesses and is curating it all into a weekly email that delivers the must know tips and tactics in the realms of mindset, money, and productivity. This email is called Brewed. We brew it up for you each week to give you the insight you need to make decisions and move forward in your creative business. Check it out now and sign up for yourself at beingboss. club/ brewed. That's beingboss. club/ B- R- E- W- E- D. Now, until next time, do the work, be boss. ( singing)