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Breema Essence of Harmonious Life

by Jon Schreiber(more info)

listed in bodywork, originally published in issue 51 - April 2000

Breema bodywork is practised with the recipient fully clothed on a padded floor, usually lying down or seated. Self-Breema exercises are done on one's own body. They are an opportunity to experience being both the practitioner and recipient at the same time. There are many Breema treatment sequences and Self-Breema exercises. All of the treatments and the Self-Breema exercises are composed of a harmonious choreography of movements: gentle stretches, gradual leaning, rhythmic brushing and nurturing tapping. Inherent in all of the bodywork sequences are the holistic and practical principles of Breema. The Breema principles are what make the bodywork uniquely Breema and distinguish it from all other methods, even those with similar-looking movements.

Breema is a method that slowly unfolds and deepens as one practises it. Its movements physically express the principles upon which they are based. These principles themselves are distilled from a profound understanding of the Universal Laws which govern life, and consequently, the body, its health, and its relationship to the energetic and physical aspects of the Universe. The philosophy of Breema is derived from these same laws. While, in its scope, it takes into consideration the four levels of Existence: matter, energy, Consciousness, and Awareness, and their interrelationships and essential unity, Breema is ultimately practical, and asks its students to take nothing on faith, but to accept as truth only that which they are able to verify for themselves.

Breema is a truly hologenic system – each principle contains all of the other principles within it. Every movement of each treatment sequence simultaneously calls for the application of all the principles, so by practising any treatment, one can eventually discover every principle. This process of deepening our understanding is endless, and can eventually provide a definite direction for our lives, as we take a step towards self-understanding.

The body is a laboratory in which we unite our mind, feelings, and physiology. When the unification of our three aspects is achieved, we have the possibility to realise our essential nature. We make understanding our own by living it.

Breema is starting to be taught and practised in many different places. Through deep receptivity to the body, and a rhythmic connection to the Earth, Breema can help us become available to the instinctive wisdom of the body. By allowing that wisdom to participate with us in our daily lives, we can experience bountiful health and vitality. Breema enables us to benefit from the guidance that connection to the body offers in living a harmonious life and discovering its deeper meaning and purpose. In fact, connection to the body can serve as the initial impetus and support for our lifetime journey of self-discovery.

1 When you find your natural rhythm doing Breema, you are energised and refreshed

1 When you find your natural rhythm doing Breema, you are energised and refreshed

2 All of Breema's movements are made effortless because Breema doesn't ask the body to do anything that is not natural for it

2 All of Breema's movements are made effortless because Breema doesn't ask the body to do anything that is not natural for it

3 Touch is a bridge between two fields of energy and their acceptance of each other

3 Touch is a bridge between two fields of energy and their acceptance of each other

4 Through Breema, a person can reconnect with their natural rhythm and bring harmony and balance to their mind, body and feelings

4 Through Breema, a person can reconnect with their natural rhythm and bring harmony and balance to their mind, body and feelings

5 Breema's non-judgemental and accepting atmosphere is conducive to creating real health and well being

5 Breema's non-judgemental and accepting atmosphere is conducive to creating real health and well being

6 Breema offers practical steps and application for living in the present

6 Breema offers practical steps and application for living in the present

The Breema Principles

The principles of Breema are Universal. They can be applied to other techniques and methods of bodywork, health improvement, health maintenance and, in fact, to any activity in life.

The principles can be useful for everyone, not just for those who have an interest in bodywork. As a hologenic system, each principle contains all of the other principles within it. There are nine Breema principles; Body Comfortable, Full Participation, No Extra, No Force, Non-Judgement, Mutual Support, Single Moment-Single Activity, Gentleness & Firmness, No Hurry-No Pause.

The Evening Posture

Breema Touch of Gentleness & Firmness

When you receive a treatment, or if you watch someone doing Breema, you can experience and also see that the practitioner's hands are relaxed and free of tension, yet they touch without hesitation and always make full contact with the recipient. This is 'the Breema touch', which results from the principle of firmness and gentleness. Firmness comes from the registration of the relaxed weight of the body, while gentleness comes from the practitioner's presence and availability. We sometimes use the example of a mother holding her baby: the infant is securely, yet gently supported in her mother's arms.


The cornerstone principle of Breema is the non-judgemental treatment. This non-judgemental approach includes the practitioner as well as the recipient, as both are supported to benefit from an atmosphere of acceptance. This principle says: "Don't fight sickness – increase vitality!" The atmosphere that is naturally created nurtures both giver and recipient, allowing them both to let go of tension and become vital and relaxed.

Using the Whole Body

In order to do Breema, everything we do has to involve all of us. That means full participation. Life energy flows through the body as a whole, not through one part. If we don't understand that the body is one unit, we think one hand is brushing and our other hand is holding the abdomen. This separation is exactly what Breema bypasses. Because it is not guided by our thinking process, it lets our mind simply register. It registers the body having weight and breathing. This is exactly what we need in order to harmonize our mind, body and feelings.

The Maple Tree

How Does Breema Work?

The emphasis is not on 'fixing' others.
You just manifest
according to your Being,
doing what feels right for you.
Others are helped by it

There is only one body, and no matter where you touch, you're touching the whole body. The body is Universal. It functions with the principle of inner connectedness. Every cell is blessed with the total knowledge of the whole, and so is always in unity with it. Breema brings you to the level at which you could be nurtured, rather than drained, by your relationship to your body, your surroundings, other people, your feelings, your mind, your life. If we remember that our aim is to be nurtured, we let go, perhaps for the first time, of our judgement of others. This non-judgement has a taste of freedom in it, because it includes letting go of self-judgement. When we become free from judgement, we become receptive to the harmonizing nature of Existence. Our mind becomes receptive and gives us clarity. Our feelings become receptive and give us presence. Our body becomes receptive and is vital and available. The atmosphere created by the practitioner's openness to life during the treatment affects the recipient directly, because, in truth, practitioner and recipient are two manifestations of one energy, one life, one Unified Field of Existence, which is both the Source of all creation and that creation itself.

Practising Breema, you learn to shift the emphasis to yourself. All our lives we haven't included ourselves in the impressions we receive of life. Now, slowly you shift your emphasis, and include yourself. When your emphasis is on yourself, working with the principles, your concerns about making your partner feel good disappear, and with them, judgement disappears. In its place there is a quality of acceptance that allows your partner to be open to receive that which they need at that moment. Their Being is nurtured. When you're doing Breema just for yourself, the highest gift becomes available to the recipient, too – the gift of being accepted in unity.

By doing what your body enjoys, the recipient receives exactly what he or she needs most. By allowing your body to choose the treatment, you'll find that the recipient naturally receives what you wish to do, and what you do is what the recipient wishes to receive. In the energy field that is created between practitioner and recipient, communication is precise, continuous and non-verbal.

Touching the Mountain

The more you apply the principles while practising a treatment, the more your body, mind and feelings receive exactly what they need from the treatment in order to become balanced and vital. The amazing thing is that as you're doing the treatment 'for yourself', the recipient also receives just what he or she needs from the treatment.

As you become more experienced, your body's instinctive wisdom chooses which treatment sequences to practise at a particular time. As it is receptive to the energy field created by both you and the recipient together, your body's instinctive wisdom chooses the treatments that will give both of you the greatest benefit. No diagnostic process is necessary; nor do you need to visualize or imagine anything. Your mind functions supportively by registering, without tension, your own body's weight and breathing. The recipient is never dependent on the practitioner's wisdom, but on his or her own.

In the atmosphere of non-judgement that is created, our attitudes and our identification are unnecessary, and we quickly drop them. That's why Breema helps us to become free of many levels of tension at once.

The Sun, with his very essence,
wishes to shine.
He doesn't say, "I am helping you".
But you are welcome to use his light and heat

The Aim of Breema

Breema can relax us, but that's not its principal aim. Breema decrystallizes the body, mind and feelings. As the body is decrystallized, it becomes capable of having new movements and postures. Its relationship to the life force changes. As the feelings are decrystallized, they no longer try to use the body as a vehicle for self expression. As the mind is decrystallized, mind, feelings and body can have a new relationship and function cooperatively.

Breema's principles don't say that your mind or feelings have to be a certain way. Breema is simply a way of freeing energy for productive work. Whatever you wish to do, you need energy to do it. Associative mind, reactive feelings and tense body waste energy. Working with the principles creates receptive mind, supportive feelings, and relaxed body. The energy which is usually consumed by the conflict between mind and feelings, and by physical tension, becomes available.

Why Breema is Needed

Breema can make us free of the conceptual body – the ideas and images of our body that we carry in our mind. The conceptual body is divided into many separate parts – hands, arms, liver, legs, etc. We 'see' these separate parts as though they are distinct entities. We label them and identify with them. We forget that they are part of a whole system. Breema encourages you to relate naturally to your physiological body – the body which you carry through life as a dynamic matter-energy combination. You become less and less subject to the ideas you've acquired about the body, and rely, instead, on your experience of your body. In the same way, you are guided to discover the natural function of the mind – to receptively register the body's manifestations. This naturally functioning mind is very different from the mind to which we are accustomed. The natural mind is receptive and available, and functions cooperatively with the body. After your body and mind are balanced, it becomes possible for the feelings to function in their natural state. Instead of swinging between pleasant and unpleasant states, the feelings learn to be calm and balanced, lending a sense of supportive presence to the unified activity of the mind and body. As a result, we function with our mind, body and feelings in harmony, and we experience the unity of our three aspects. This unity serves as a foundation for the development of a unified Consciousness which can see things as they are.

Ultimately, Breema is more than a method. It is a natural, joyful, and harmonious response to Existence.


The Treatment Needs No Philosophy

Consciousness allows us to
see things as they are,
and in that, there is no room
for thought


Breema is not a path, not a 'way' to anywhere. When you do Breema, the aim is simply to do Breema, not to understand something. The physical principles of Breema are all you need to be occupied with during a treatment: registering your body's breathing, experiencing that your body has weight, using your whole body, keeping your body comfortable, supporting your partner's body, and allowing their body to support you. These principles bring you right to your activity, and help you to be constantly more present, to participate more fully in the treatment. They make you simpler, not more complicated.

There is a spring within us, and it's connected to the Universal reservoir of the Field of Existence. Of course, there's communication and exchange between the spring and the reservoir, but it takes place naturally, and doesn't need your desire. The vitality you feel after giving a treatment is a function of the spring. Breema is the simplest form of natural body movement, yet during the treatment, you receive exactly what you need. Everything the treatment accomplishes is the result of the life force passing through our body in its natural rhythm, in harmony with everything that is. That harmony is already there. You don't need to make it your goal or desire. Be simple – do Breema and enjoy it. That's all.

Case Studies

Sue A – Case 1

Sue A, a 48 year old nurse, first came to the Breema Health and Wellness Clinic after a neck injury from a car accident. After 6 weeks of twice weekly Breema sessions, her neck pain resolved and she resumed her regular activities. Three years later, she discovered that she had cancer and chose to return to the clinic, as she remembered how her previous experience with Breema was helpful in restoring her vitality. Sue found Breema's nurturing quality extremely supportive throughout those trying times. Breema helped her to regain her emotional balance and positive attitude, thus giving her an inner strength to cope with her illness, worry and stress. Sue says that "After seeing over and over again how the treatment exerted such a transformative effect on me, my interest in Breema grew and in 1994, I started taking Breema classes at the Breema Center". She is now working towards her Breema Practitioner Certificate and says "My relationship towards the Breema principles and practising Breema treatments has shifted my attitude towards the meaning of health. Not only do I find myself healthier, but my respect for Breema only grows deeper as I find that it supports my journey of self-discovery".

Robert P – Case 2

Robert P, a 35 year old social worker, initially discovered Breema as the result of a back injury. He was looking for some alternatives to having surgery. Over the 8-month period of receiving Breema bodywork sessions, he said he realised that "Breema was what I have been looking for my whole life; I recognised that it was more than just a bodywork, but an understanding and approach to life that included the body". Now, 4 years later, Robert is a Certified Breema Practitioner and Instructor. He says "My back is better than it has ever been, and I have more movement and flexibility than I thought was possible for me. The movement and flexibility I experience in my body has permeated my whole experience of life. The practice and principles of Breema have given me a simple, accessible means for experiencing a part of myself that I haven't experienced since I was a little boy. This is the part of me that is curious and interested in life and in being alive. When I'm giving a Breema session, or one of the Breema Principles comes alive in my day, there are moments when I cease to be Robert – this individual identity existing separately from everything around me – I become connected to the whole of life. There is no real way to describe this experience, one has to live it, I find that when I have this experience, I don't want anything else".


Self-Breema exercises are treatments performed on one's own body. They are an opportunity to experience being both the practitioner and recipient at the same time. It is possible for our body to move in accordance with natural laws, and so receive certain types of energy it needs. This is the aim of Self-Breema.

As we are, our movements are mechanical. We picked them up unconsciously from others, and they became our physical crystallizations – a very limited set of movements which our body uses to do everything. We unconsciously fall back on the same postures, gestures, movements and facial expressions we picked up, over and over again. As we go through our lives using our crystallized movements, we don't need to be fully present. We just move 'on automatic.' Self-Breema first asks us to experience this body moving. The energy that we bring to experience our movement is the first step towards eventually being able to move with our own essential, natural movement. Self-Breema is based on a deep understanding of the balance needed to keep movement from being too routine or too stimulating. Its movements bypass the mind, enabling us to move naturally. When we do Self-Breema in order to help ourselves be more present and to learn to participate in the movements with our whole body, our desire for life is nurtured.

The Origin

Developed over many generations in a remote mountain village, Breema bodywork and Self-Breema were practised daily by all the villagers, including young children. Neither the treatments nor the philosophy and principles of Breema were ever written down. Breema was passed down through an unbroken lineage of teachers.


1. Schreiber J. The Self-Breema Book. Unpublished manuscript-in-progress.
2. Schreiber J. BREEMA: Essence of Harmonious Life. California Health Publications. Oakland, California. 1998.

Further Information: Where to Study Breema

Since 1980, the Breema method has been taught in its authentic form at The Breema Center in Oakland, California. During the past 20 years, Breema practitioners and instructors have been active all over the world. Workshops are conducted in cities all over the United States, as well as in the UK, Europe, Israel, Brazil, and Canada and at our European Breema Centers in Austria and Germany.

The Breema Center offers a 165-hour Practitioner Certificate programme in Breema bodywork. The required hours consist of a series of classes which lead to proficiency in a wide variety of sequences and Self-Breema exercises, along with a thorough knowledge of the basic principles. The Breema Center offers a variety of classes, including 10-day intensive programmes twice a year. There are also weekend workshops and weekly classes.

For more information on our classes world-wide, visit our web site at

Local Instructors

Ingrid Hamilton and Mike Reid offer Breema workshops in the UK. During the past 20 years, Ingrid Hamilton, CMT, has studied many different forms of health improvement, including Breema Bodywork. She is based in California and frequently travels to the UK. To contact her directly call 001-510-658-9233. Mike Reid is a Certified Instructor and Practitioner in Breema Bodywork. He is also based in California, and conducts workshops with Ingrid in the UK. Mike can be reached at 001-510-652-0842.

To Contact Us

The Breema Center, 6076 Claremont Avenue, Oakland, CA, 94618 USA. Tel: 001-510-428 0937. email: Web site:

The European Breema Centers

Pari Schneider, Panoramastr. 19, D-77815 Buhl b. Baden, Germany. Phone: 0049-7223250460 Fax: 0049-7223250181
Aron & Claudia Saltiel, Heinrichstr. 131, A-8010 Graz, Austria. Phone & Fax: 0043-316386417. email:


1. Photos by George Draper, Photographer
2. Illustrations by Mary Cuneo (Not on this site, yet)


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About Jon Schreiber

Jon Schreiber is director of The Breema Health and Wellness Center in Oakland, California (where Breema is practised therapeutically), and The Breema Center (world headquarters for instruction and practitioner training in Breema). He is also co-founder of the European Breema Center. Besides caring for his patients in his clinic, he maintains and active teaching schedule in the United States and internationally.


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