Co-Pilot Stories: A Conversation with Gio

October 10, 2023
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We sat down with one of our breathwork facilitators Gio, where he shared insights into his personal journey, path to exploration & breathwork.  

Gio’s story

I was on a path of just trying to find happiness and success was really tied to my idea of what happiness was going to be. And just through school, through parents, through everyone around me, it was like, yeah, the answer is money. Although I never struck it rich, I started becoming successful or finding out how to make money in the easiest way possible. So less work, more money. Trying to live that chilled lifestyle.

Eventually, I was making more money. I realized I just become more and more unfulfilled. I didn't even know what that was actually until I realized what it was. So I had a realization that like, "This is pretty meaningless." And very quickly going to look back when I'm 80 or 90 years old or whenever I'm on my deathbed and say, "I did the same thing. What was easy? I watched my whole life pass me by."

So there was a moment when I was sitting at the edge of my bed and I was looking at my hands and I had this daydream that my hands looked like my grandfather's hands. It's just a flash where they looked all wrinkly and old. I saw myself waking up on that same bed every day going on one or two vacations a year down to some all-inclusive, have a nice car in the driveway, just living in the suburbs and watching my whole life go by and just working and trying to figure out how to make more money, trying to figure out all these different stupid business ideas that had zero meaning that brought me stress.

So I started what people would call seeking or searching, trying to find myself, trying to understand. I started going on Google and doing some searches and I started reading different philosophies, exploiting philosophy, Buddhism, the Bhagavad Gita, and anything that I thought might have some clues in it.

In searching for meaning

I found Alan Watts who explained Buddhism through the English language in a really clear way that I can understand, so I really dove deep into him and following him. And then one of his videos online, someone in the comments starts talking about Terrence McKenna. I was like, "Hey, if you think this is interesting, Terrence McKenna's going to blow your mind," or something along those lines. I remember so clearly that one comment jumped out at me at the thing. So boom, Terrance McKenna, and literally from the moment I started hearing him talk, I was 10 hours of straight Terrance McKenna videos. Just hearing him talk about going to the Amazon, psychedelics, mushroom journeys and ayahuasca. I'd never even heard this word before, but it was speaking to me in such a way that was just like, "What is this?" I had this feeling I never felt before, this deep curiosity to understand.

And so then once it was in my awareness, the synchronicity started coming. So I see it more. Next couple of days, DMT, The Spirit Molecule is on Netflix. I'd scrolled through it probably a hundred times before. Now it's just like, boom. Watch that. And I could see... It was so weird. When they were explaining their experience, I could feel the emotion in their eyes that they were trying to tell me. The only way I can really understand is by experiencing myself. That's when I knew I had to go and try ayahuasca. So I did it, came back, changed my life, died on my first experience. This is a whole long story, it shifted me on a path of really questioning everything I'd learned and really trying to get clear on who I was and what I wanted to create. At the time, it was like, "Who do you want to be? What do you want to be known for?" This was still a lot of ego things about who I was seen as, but it really got me to start asking the right questions. It was like, "How do you want to feel? What do you like actually doing? What is your purpose here?" And so I started exploring that and that led me to all different things.

Breathwork journey

One of them was Wim Hof. I started a podcast. I reached out to Wim. We became friends before he was super popular and he invited me to go train in Colorado. We went to this training. In the training, I hadn't even taken breathwork seriously at this point. I did the Wim Hof sessions and it was cool. You feel a little tingly, jump in the ice and I'm going to meet Wim because I want to take a picture in my shorts on a mountain with Wim Hof. Yeah, it's going to be great for Instagram. So still half in that ego space, still trying to find myself. I go there and all these guys are like macho dudes, really highly competitive just talking about how their life changed, how they got over addiction, how they got over physical ailments, depression, you name it. People are sharing these really deep stories, and I'm just like, "Whoa, what an imposter I'm doing here, man." I'm just like, "I'm here for the Instagram shot." And I just shared that, "I don't even know why I'm really here." And what happened was he led us through this deeper breathing journey which is the first time I'd ever done anything like that where it was just like he was playing a drum and he was guiding us, "Breathe deeper, go in" And I was like, "Okay, I'm going to fully surrender. I'm going to do whatever this guy tells me to do."

I don't know how long I was breathing, but at one point, I had this out-of-body experience, completely leaving my body. I feel like I'm floating around at the top of the room, looking down at this room of men. Half of them are crying, and half of them are yelling. And when I realized what was happening, I got scared and I snapped back into my body. I got back and had this feeling of just being a baby. I just cried. I cried such a deep cry that I hadn't experienced probably since I was a child. And it felt so good.

At first, I was embarrassed and then I just started letting it out. Whatever felt natural, didn't exaggerate, didn't hold back. It was just like let it go. And it just felt so good. I was like, "Wow. I didn't allow myself to do that for so long because of these programs I had, what was acceptable, and what I had to do to be strong. I had to win. I had to be a man." I don't know what else would be along that. I came back and I was curious about what happened. Again, the curiosity was that there's something really special about the experience that you need to learn more about. So I started trying to find breathwork facilitators. I was so new to this world and I'd drive to find people wherever I could find it. I started really learning about that. And so I started at home, using what I learned and what really resonates to start creating my own process. What evolved out of that was using music, movement, and different types of breathing, and then we created elemental rhythm which is our style of breathwork.

Elemental Rhythm Training

So we do a quarterly training. We do some of them online. All of them are online every quarter, but we also offer twice a year in person, one in Costa Rica in February, one in the summer in Toronto. We're looking at adding a U.S one. What we're doing now is teaching facilitators how to do their own trainings. So we teach the process over a weekend and then we have six weeks of calls we really dial in. During those six weeks is when people are really practicing on other students, on the friends and family.

And one of the things that I really wanted to make sure through this training is once you have the process memorizing body, we really teach you how to get into the flow. And that's what makes the experience so special is how do you really drop in and be part of the experience, how do you allow the prompts to come through without having to think about them. Sometimes, things come out in the moment that just even shocks me at times because you just tap in and you're just so connect to the experience and become a part of it. You teach people how to use their own music, how to create playlists. One thing I wanted to make sure was everyone can make it their own. You could be an elemental facilitator, but if you took a class from 10 different elemental facilitators, you'd feel like 10 different experiences completely.

That was something that I really wanted to do. I didn't want to always feel the exact same every single time we did it. I wanted it to be in a way that would allow people to bring themselves into it. So we're a really awesome community of facilitators. We do monthly calls and just really dial in. We like to really support our facilitators and just help them to have these experiences because ultimately I know in my heart that the more people do these experiences, the better they're going to be, the better communities are going to be, the better they're going to treat the people around them, people are going to notice a difference. I'm open to allowing it to evolve to whatever it becomes.

So we do that with level two training, which is a lot more subconscious reprogramming, one-on-one coaching with breathwork. I compare it to psychedelic assisted psychotherapy, breathwork assisted psychotherapy. It's not traditional psychotherapy though, but it's using the breathwork to allow an entry point into the subconscious mind to really work on the root because we found a lot of people coming to the experiences and realizations. It's been an evolution. We're always improving, we're always really looking at how we can make it the best possible. I really think that over the next decade or so... We're just at the tipping point or scratching the surface of the potential of breathwork and how it's going to evolve into experiences, into practice, into training, into therapy models. I really think it's really about to explode.

And the best thing about it is it's within you. You don't need any drugs, you don't need any entheogen or psychedelics. All that power comes from within you. When people tap into that for the first time, the look on people's faces when they come out with their first really deep breathwork experience, it's like, "What the hell just happened? How was that even possible?" This look of wonder, amazement, curiosity.

That's why I love introducing people to it because it shifts your whole perspective of what's possible in one session. In one single session, you can change someone's life. There are so many other things I could think of that need months of meditation sometimes to have a real deep breakthrough or yoga to really have that flow session where you go deep into it.

Favourite sessions and creative process

So our flagship experience is called The Breakthrough Experience. That is what culminated over a couple of years of just testing, learning different aspects, the meditation's very specific. As I would integrate those into my experience, I really felt that same intuitive like, "Yes, this is it," and opening of the heart and the process like gratitude, self-awareness, and then going into something which the most powerful as a general one is those four ho'oponopono heart healing mantras as a start off. But once you go gratitude, and self-awareness, you can almost add anything onto the end that can be powerful. So that's the process that was added to the music.So one thing I found was in my own sessions, if I didn't have a rhythm to the music, I'd lose myself. I'd lose the cadence, I'd fall asleep, I go into La La Land. But when I had a beat to the music and I could breathe to it, I could find a cadence and I could get into it. I could build momentum.

That really drove me to really listening to music and feeling the rhythm and the intention behind the music and then adding guidance afterwards to that. So we created that flagship one. And it always starts with the intention. It's like, "Okay, so what's the intention for this track?" And you just feel into it, spend some time. It's like, "Okay, I want people to feel energy. So how would I breathe to get energy?" So I'll put a track on, I'll start breathing to it. We have a lot of our own musicians and DJs that create tracks for us, just for licensing and just to make our own really curated experiences, how much time in each breath. I start playing with those and just feeling into the ones that feel good for the type of intention we're setting.

What do you think makes you unique? What is the secret?

I try to be as authentic and humble as possible. I try to see everyone as just another human being and meaning that they're just like me. I want to treat them with respect no matter who they are, or what their background is. That was one big shift that happened for me in my last business was this fear of failure. Just treat everyone that walks through the doors just like a really important human being and just meet them at their level and try to be as accessible as possible within reason to them if they need you. So I think everyone that speaks their truth, certain people that resonate with that are going to hear it a certain way, get attracted to that. I'm not trying to really cast a huge net and try to get everyone to follow me or listen to me or whatever. I'll share these little personal Giocast, podcast and just sharing what my thoughts are.

Certain people will be attracted to me. I don't need everyone to resonate with me. I need people to resonate with who they feel like, and for that reason, I think all the modalities out there in breathwork are great. I don't want to bash any of them. I don't look any of them as competition. I think they all do amazing because the more people doing breathwork, the better the world's going to be.

I just try to be as authentic. I try to pour as much of my heart into my work as possible and just really build relationships with all the people that come into our programs that become facilitators, to really just support them and be their biggest cheerleader because the more confident, the more they can be themselves and share the more we're going to spread this work around. And so that's what I'm trying to do.

Gio is an entrepreneur, coach, speaker and proud dad. His main passion in life is travelling the world and introducing people to the transformative power of breathwork and specifically training people how to facilitate Elemental Rhythm Breathwork. A few years ago Gio met the founders of Othership, taught them Elemental Rhythm and the rest is history, you can find some of his tracks on the Othership App. To learn more about Gio and Elemental Rhythm visit here.