Castle Hill Rocks NZ - The Spiritual Centre of the Universe (Dalai Lama)

From Chaos to Clarity: How Breathwork Transformed Adam's Life

Jun 26, 2024

Hey Breather! Welcome to the Breath is Bliss blog, where we explore the transformative power of Breathwork, Pranayama, share tools & stories of personal growth and healing. The first post on this blog is a vulnerable share offering insight into the man charged as the conduit for Ananda NZ. This is a 'warts and all' account of the journey of Adam, our founder, offering insight into how trauma-informed breathwork saved and transformed his life.

Growing Up in a Big Family: Love and Struggles

Adam comes from a vibrant and loving family of nine, with five sisters, one brother, and two amazing parents. Growing up in such a big family was filled with cherished memories of playing sports, long summers at the beach, and being surrounded by love. However, it wasn't without its challenges. Financial pressures were commonplace in the early years, and the old-school discipline, including corporal punishment, left emotional scars. Combined with head injuries from playing rugby, Adam unknowingly suffered from a dysregulated nervous system from his tweens to his twenties.

Despite these struggles, Adam seemed to thrive on the surface. He captained sports teams, was an academic leader at Kelston Boys High School, and completed postgraduate studies at the University of Auckland (Bachelor of Property with First Class Honours). His dissertation on the effects of earthquake-prone building policies on Auckland's CBD office market even became part of a published academic paper.

The Illusion of Success: A Life of Excess

After graduating, Adam embarked on a successful career in commercial real estate, traveling the world and closing scores of multi-million-dollar deals. Yet, despite the perceived success, he felt empty and unfulfilled. His lack of passion and purpose led to a cycle of excess and self-destruction, straining relationships and deepening his inner turmoil.

Adam's life looked aspirational from the outside—traveling to France, the UK, Spain, Portugal and Vietnam, buying a home, and enjoying the high life. But beneath the surface, he struggled with a profound sense of disconnection. He relied on alcohol, drugs, and other vices to numb his emotions and fill the void. The turning point came after a painful breakup with a partner of seven years, which left him spiralling into depression and suicidal thoughts as a result of guilt, shame & self-pity.

The Light in the Darkness: Discovering Passion

It was during this dark period that Adam found a glimmer of hope through breathwork and yoga. Inspired by his mother's practice of Hatha Yoga and a friend's introduction to box breathing, Adam dove into the world of breathwork rediscovering a connection to spirituality out of necessity. Discovering the Wim Hof method and practicing religiously was a Godsend. The intense breathwork sessions became a lifeline, providing moments of clarity and peace amidst the chaos.

Adam became obsessed with the Wim Hof Method (WHM), recording 282 sessions that included 1,274 rounds and over 58 hours of breath retentions in little over 6 months of intensive practice. His longest breath hold (after exhalation) was over five minutes. These practices brought a sense of order and calm to his otherwise chaotic life. To push his limits and stave off depression, Adam began using the WHM in the sauna, pushing his body and mind to the edge. This intense practice often provided temporary respite—he would often spend over an hour at a time in the sauna, doing multiple rounds of WHM breathing (note that it is not recommended to perform WHM or other activating breathing techniques in the sauna without appropriate training or experience).

During one particular session, Adam arrived at the Aquatic Centre at opening time and had the sauna to himself. Feeling particularly numb that day, he ventured to push himself further to rise up from the hole he was in. What followed was a flow state beyond anything he had experienced before. Somewhere around the tenth round and over an hour in, he stopped feeling the heat. His body felt as if it was being showered by a cool waterfall every time he dropped into Bahya Kumbhaka (external breath hold) and then wrapped in honey each time he inhaled to Antara Kumbhaka (internal breath hold).

Finally, in the last round, a state of complete bliss coincided with a vision. It started as a distant silhouette as he stared into the distance with his eyes closed, awareness fixed at Ajna Chakra (3rd eye centre). As time passed, the image became clearer and closer. The silhouette revealed a figure with a leopard garb over their head. The figure took form as an Amazonian warrior (female) with striking features, caramel skin, impossibly deep hazel eyes, flowing chocolate hair, and an athletic build adorned with armor, a shield, and a spear. She looked over her shoulder towards Adam and uttered words that will stay with him forever: "You're on the right path, keep going."

This experience left Adam completely enchanted & hopeful. He had never seen anything like it, psychedelic experiences he'd had with drugs paled in comparison to this transcendent apparition. He rushed home to document the experience, even attempting to draw a depiction of what he'd seen (which he still has in a journal somewhere). He gave the entity a name—Maia. He now knows her as a guardian angel. Although she hasn't reappeared since, Adam feels her presence every day, and her message continues to echo in eternity. He leans on this message whenever he needs a boost or inspiration.

Heartbreak and Healing: The Role of Relationships

Adam's journey wasn't just marked by professional success and personal struggle; it was also deeply intertwined with his relationships. His seven-year relationship, which ended painfully, was a significant chapter in his life. They had travelled the world, bought a home, grown, experienced a miscarriage together, navigated their 20s, and tried to build a life despite the chaos. When this relationship ended, it was a catalyst for a downward spiral into depression.

After the breakup, Adam felt lost and resorted to his vices more than ever. This period was marked by raucous nights, long pub crawls, and a desperate attempt to numb the pain. Adam's brother, who had also recently become single, joined him in this debaucherous phase. They spent a year partying excessively, engaging in high-risk behaviours, and forming a bond through shared pain.

The arrival of a global pandemic brought a temporary halt to their wild lifestyle. Lockdowns forced Adam to confront his inner demons. Despite the challenges, he found solace in a new romantic connection, which blossomed during a Blood Red Supermoon. They shared nearly every moment through lockdowns, culminating in a New Year's engagement. However, this whirlwind romance eventually ended, with previous demons rearing their head again. The same shame, regret & self-loathing for his inability to be the man & partner he knew he could be were back, amplified - ten times as heavy & unbearable than before. The cascade of chaos continued, plunging Adam into deeper self-reflection and offering the blessing of growth.

A Transformative Journey: The South Island Quest

In a bold move to reclaim his life, Adam left his career and embarked on a road trip around New Zealand's South Island with his brother. Armed with a campervan and a loose plan, they travelled through breathtaking landscapes, connecting with nature and each other. This journey marked the beginning of Adam's metamorphosis.

Adam and his brother explored the rugged beauty of the South Island, embracing the elements and the challenge of cold plunges in nature. From the crystal-clear waters of Queenstown Lake to the breathtaking glacial rivers at Franz Josef, each plunge was a test of endurance and a moment of profound connection with the natural world. The icy waters were a metaphor for their shared journey—embracing discomfort to find clarity and peace.

One unforgettable experience occurred as they became stranded due as the icy roads in Arthurs Pass on the road to Christchurch. In a fateful turn of events they found themselves at Castle Hill Rocks, a sacred landmark revered by the Dalai Lama as the spiritual centre of the universe. As they approached the car park, the weather was cold and icy but clear, only to change abruptly as they began to venture up the valley towards the imposing collection of mysteriously positioned boulders. They were awe-struck by the beauty and serenity of the landscape. The snow began to fall heavily as they reached the crest of the rocky outcrop, adding to the eerie, mystical atmosphere.

At the top, they found a ceremonial pond positioned between the boulders. Instinctively, Adam, his brother, and their friend assumed positions equidistant around the pond. As Adam closed his eyes and began chanting the primordial sound of "OM," the vibration echoed over the pond. Almost instantly, all three of them were chanting in unison, eyes closed in a trance. After a few minutes, they opened their eyes to what felt like a miracle. The heavy snow had stopped, and the sun was now shining down on them. The road opened soon after, and they were free to continue their journey.

This moment at Castle Hill Rocks was a turning point for Adam. It was a powerful reminder of the beauty and magic that can be found in the present moment, even in the midst of life's challenges.

Embracing Sobriety and Founding Ananda NZ

Upon returning home, Adam founded Ananda NZ, a community dedicated to sharing the healing power of trauma-informed breathwork. From that moment on, Adam's life changed dramatically. He shed his vices, embraced sobriety, and experienced a physical, mental and spiritual transformation. He realised that he had never experienced love or been able to love as he had not learnt to love himself. He began navigating the genesis of the rage & pain that had been an orphaned part for so long. Since the South Island metamorphosis, Adam has been completely sober & celibate, not touching a cigarette, vape, or alcoholic drink. The urges that once dominated his life melted away in an instant.

Sharing Bliss: The Birth of Ananda NZ

Adam's newfound passion and purpose led to the birth of Ananda NZ. From humble beginnings with a lounge full of friends & family, Ananda has since reached thousands of breathers across the globe - from Hamilton to Hungary. Helping people from all walks of life connect with their true selves and experience their innate bliss. Adam's journey from a life of excess and emptiness to one of purpose and fulfilment is a testament to the transformative power of pranayama & breathwork.

Join our Quest of Bliss

At Ananda NZ, we believe that everyone has the potential to tap into our well of bliss. Whether you're dealing with trauma, stress, or simply seeking a deeper connection with yourself, Ananda is a place to serve you on your path to healing and growth. Join our tribe let's embody our highest form of being - Bliss together. Welcome to the Ananda tribe!

Your Breath Bro,

Adam @ Ananda NZ


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