I think it can be very powerful to work with affirmations during breathwork, if you are able to do it skillfully. As a practitioner I only work with affirmations as an exploration of what is present, and not as a way of trying to cover something up with positive affirmations which can lead to spiritual bypassing. Telling someone to say ‘I am safe’ when they don’t (and as a space holder you cannot assume someone feels safe), can have different outcomes. Oftentimes someone just ignores the affirmation and goes on with the work. There is a way in which things work where you seem to only hear what is meant or useful for you to hear, especially during breathwork but I’ve noticed this in everyday life as well. Another possibility is that a person might start to distrust you during a session and will hold back in the healing/feeling/releasing, and won’t come to another session.
Worst case scenario is that a person does not realise they feel unsafe and just take on the affirmation as truth, thereby creating a false knowing about what safe actually feels like and cutting them off from their intuition in cases when they need to actually feel the fear and know it is fear. This can be seen as a form of spiritual bypassing.
To avoid any of these scenarios as much as I can, when I work with affirmations such as ‘I am safe’, I suggest to feel into the body what the reaction is to the affirmation, to see it as an exploration of your sense of safety. A little script: How does it feel to say ‘I am safe’ out loud? Do you actually feel safe in your body? How does your body feel right now? How would you feel if you felt safe? Some simple affirmations that can lead to somatic exploration:
I am safe
I am loved
I feel strong
I love my body
I am alive