For as long as people have been wandering this Earth, we’ve been searching for a way to expand our minds to achieve spiritual revelations. Many believe these heights can only be reached by consuming psychedelics, but Lukis Mac thinks the answer can be found within ourselves. All we need to do is harness our breathing.
“I’ve sat through a lot of ceremonies with ayahuasca and other plant medicines, which are extremely powerful,” Mac says. “But breathwork accesses those states naturally because your body is like a pharmacy. Through breathwork, you’re really opening up and releasing different neurochemicals which take you on a powerful journey.”
Breathwork has gained attention in recent years as celebrities like Gwenyth Paltrow and Jake Paul have embraced it, but the techniques go back thousands of years. Today, there are many different styles of breathwork, each helping to open the mind and body in different ways. “The breathwork I focus on is a conscious, connected breath and people do more journeying work,” Mac explains. “You’re lying down and doing a certain breathing technique, then after about 15 minutes you start to tap into your limbic brain—which is associated with memory and emotion. Things just bubble up to the surface to be felt, processed and released.”
Through his work, Mac has realized that breathwork allows people to detach from their analytical minds by coming into a more relaxed state. This allows them to process the emotions they’ve been holding on to—both conscious and unconscious. This release has made a tremendous impact on not only the lives of Mac’s clients, but also his own. “In my childhood, I went through a lot of trauma from seeing my friends join gangs, go to prison and commit suicide,” Mac shares. “I wanted to find a way to help people and myself, which eventually led me to breathwork.”
Mac’s path to healing others has been a journey with unexpected diversions, including a 20-year stint as a tattoo artist. Leading people to reach inside their soul to achieve their true purpose may seem worlds away from adding some art to a person’s skin, but it was his experience as an artist that pushed him towards breathwork. “I was tattooing people and they were having breakthroughs,” Mac says. “They started telling me about their lives and their realizations while they’re getting tattooed. It made me want to go deeper with people.”
In order to go deeper with people, to achieve more than the simple empathy that comes from conversation during a tattoo session, Mac needed to get educated. Not only did he have to become well-versed in different breathwork techniques, he had to recognize that leading people through these powerful journeys carried profound risks. “Breathwork is just the doorway into the subconscious mind,” Mac says. “We’re really dealing with people’s traumas, [people] who suffer with PTSD, depression and anxiety. The training you go through is centered on working with people with trauma and breathwork is just a way to access that.”
After discovering breathwork on his own and learning how to heal people with trauma, Mac established Owaken Breathwork alongside fellow breathwork gurus Victoria Bauman and Hellè Weston. Since its inception, Owaken Breathwork has brought breathwork techniques to clients around the world—often introducing the power of breathwork to hundreds of people at a time under one roof. “The live experiences are a four-hour workshop and they’re really powerful because they usually bring together a room full of people, 100 to 200 people, who have never experienced these types of journeys before,” Mac shares. “They come in, scared and nervous because they’re stepping into the unknown. But it’s so powerful to have a room full of people who are willing to feel and process whatever’s coming up to be felt.”
Considering the nature of these workshops, the pandemic has put them on hold for the time being, leaving Mac to focus on his one-on-one sessions. These sessions, which are tailored to the individual, allow for many different types of exploration and Mac has developed techniques that specifically appeal to athletes—most recently aiding Jake Paul in his boxing training. And judging by how quickly Paul dispatched Nate Robinson in his most recent match, Mac’s techniques are working. “For athletes, it’s really about getting them into a slow state and using breathwork to help them perform at their best,” Mac says. “I’ll use breathwork before they train and I’ll use different techniques for their recovery by helping them to tap into their nervous system.” Mac has also curated specific techniques for artists, helping them to access their intuition and believe in themselves in order to create without inhibitions.
When Mac is working with a client, whether it’s for trauma or career enhancement, he believes in giving people tools that they can take outside the session and apply to their daily lives. The benefits of breathwork extend far beyond a four-hour workshop. “[Breathwork] is a rewiring of old patterns that no longer serve people,” Mac explains. “It’s about people feeling like they have more power in their daily life and they’re putting energy into things that make them live life to the fullest.”