The Science of Holotropic Breathwork, Goldilocks Zones, and Phoning Home
Updated: Oct 10, 2020
I once subscribed to the notion that life, everything we understood in this world, the universe itself, happened through an incredible sequence of random events, with no form of intelligence at work.
The formation of galaxies, solar systems, our earth, the creation of life itself, were all random, and completely by chance.
But I don’t think that anymore.
Over the years I’ve been presented with many theories attempting to resolve the biggest questions we as Sapiens could ever ask:
How did we, the universe, and everything inside it, come to existence?
And most curiously, why are we here? What is our purpose?
Did we all come here through pure chance?
Or has something else guided us all into being?
There are more questions then there are answers to these, the greatest of life’s mysteries.
But if we look inside of what science has already shown us, we learn there is so much more inspiration, mystery, and marvel to our creation.
More than even today’s best science can explain.
In his book “The Intelligence of the Cosmos – Why are we Here? New Answers from the Frontiers of Science” Ervin Laszlo, philosopher of science, systems theorist, integral theorist, classical pianist child prodigy and advocate quantum consciousness, helps magnify and explain the profound mystery and marvel that is us, and the universe in which we reside:
“The probability that even the simplest biological organisms that populate the biosphere would have come about through a random shuffling of their elements is negligible.
The DNA-mRNA-tRNA-rRNA transcription and translation system, basic to living systems, is so complex and precise that it is astronomically improbable that living organisms could have evolved through a chance assembly of their genes.
As Jane Goodall (quoting mathematical physicist Fred Hoyle) noted, the probability that new species would emerge through a chance mutation of their genes is comparable to the probability that a hurricane blowing through a scrapyard assembles an airplane.”
In addition, when it comes to our very earth, Laszlo goes on to explain:
“In the mainstream of science, a series of fortunate coincidences is cited as the explanation of the evolution of life on this planet. Earth is in a fortunate location in the galaxy, neither too far nor too close to its sun, a main-sequence G2 dwarf star.
It has the right atmosphere and the right amount of water for producing and sustaining life, it has the right mass, and it occupies a nearly circular orbit. It has an oxygen-nitrogen-rich atmosphere and a moderate rate of rotation.
There is liquid water on its surface, and a correct ratio between water and landmass. Its surface temperature fluctuates within a narrow range required for life.
It is also at the right distance from the centre of the galaxy and is protected from asteroids by giant gas planets.
In this position the sun’s heliosphere protects Earth’s surface from cosmic rays, and pressures lethal for biological systems, and the planets own magnetosphere protects it from dangerously high energies emanating from the heliosphere.”
There is little doubt we here on planet earth live in the perfect balance required to create and sustain life.
We, as it turns out, are lucky enough to live in the Goldilocks zone where all the ingredients have seemingly mixed together, just right.
We truly are blessed to live in such a plane of existence.
But, chances are, we are not alone in this esoteric plane.
In actuality, we might be just one of many planets that live within this zone. Inside this time and space.
And while we continue to point our telescopes, satellites and rockets outward in the noble pursuit of someday finding and connecting to our distant brothers, sisters and cousins within the cosmos, there may actually be another way to transmit, decode and decipher our understanding of this, the most profound of ideas…
Welcome to Part 2 of our Holotropic Breathwork series.
What does this introduction have to do with Part 2 of our Holotropic Breathwork series?
In Part 1 of The Inspired’s Holotropic article and interview with 25 year expert of Holotropic Breathwork, facilitator Carolyn Green, we looked at the history of Holotropic Breathwork, where it comes from, and it’s incredible benefits of removing ego, reducing stress, and revealing or releasing locked up traumas, moments, and experiences of the past.
Part 1 explained how through Holotropic Breathwork we are given access to a part of ourselves that allow us to look inward, to heal, for there is inside each of us, things that need healing.
Part 2 addresses some of these same elements in more detail. But there is an outward expression of Holotropic Breathwork that we will finally touch on.
Within it, is a beacon to connection, in understanding the great mysteries of the universe, which link us together through an expression and experience that frankly speaking, is difficult to completely explain.
We’ll start with the science behind Holotropic Breathwork, and also we’ll look at the many myths that surround the growing interest in Holotropic breathing.
Finally we’ll close with a look at the potential of Holotropic Breathwork beyond inner healing.
This is a concept where science takes a backseat to those who have experienced the unexplainable, but know, with a sense of peace, that when we venture within our minds we actually may be travelling to places beyond our wildest imagination.
So let’s get started…
Carolyn Green, facilitator and trained practitioner of Holotropic Breathwork for over 20 years, has graciously agreed to answer several more important questions on Holotropic Breathwork which we hope give you further understanding behind this incredible experience, it’s benefits, and it’s potential to connect us to ideas, places and concepts yet to be fully revealed to humanity as whole.
And a reminder if you haven’t read Part 1 yet, here is one last link to that article.
Holotropic Breathwork – Interview with Carolyn Green, Part 2:
1. What is the Science of Holotropic Breathwork? Any myths you want to dispel?
Carolyn Green - It is not accidental that Holotropic BreathworkTM (HB) sessions look quite similar to sessions in current clinical trials investigating MDMA or psilocybin for a number of mental health conditions.
Stanislav Grof, co-developer of HB, was not only part of the early psychedelic research community that developed the parameters of set and setting for clinical use of psychedelic medicine in the 1950s to 1970s, he trained many people who have revived that early research program using the knowledge gained during that era.
Dr Michael and Annie Mithoefer, the research leads and therapists on MDMA in post-traumatic stress disorder trials are certified HB facilitators and incorporated those standards into the research protocols.
Rick Doblinm, a certified HB facilitator, founded the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Sciences (MAPS) - the organization that has provided the organizational infrastructure to fund and coordinate those clinical trials – because he was a keen student of Stan Grof’s work.
The coordinator of MAPS clinical trials in Montreal is Alain Menier is a certified HB facilitator who is highly active in leading HB workshops.
In short, there is a global network of people trained by Stan in HB or influenced by his writings that are playing key roles in orchestrating change using the highest scientific benchmarks and conducting HB sessions to it’s highest standards.
Like other psychoactive modalities, (HB) is an ultimate bio hack. Thorns in the deep psyche are not easily reached by most self-help or therapeutic approaches. Most of us feel constrained by our limitations and problematic feelings that arise from deep wounds and inner disconnections.
Change at the level of brain (machinery) and deep psyche (machine plus consciousness) is provided by approaches that reach the required depth, are game changers HB delivers.
It is a myth that the most dramatic, visual or hallucinogenic experiences provide the most benefit during HB sessions. A subtle HB experience can provide great relief and benefit for the participant.
I had a brief vision in a session soon before my father died of him as a small boy walking down a country lane with his hand in his mother’s hand. For me the vision was like a message saying that he was in good hands. It provided solace as he crossed over. And that feeling remains a part of me.
The approach to HB is deceptively simple so it is difficult to believe it could be as powerful as it is.
HB uses overbreathing as catalyst to activate the inner healing mechanism.
It is this inner healing mechanism activated by all the psychedelic medicines that integrates mind, body and spirit in the service of full power living.
The set and setting of HB sessions are equally if not more important than the overbreathing technique itself. Ingrid Pacey, a Vancouver-based Psychiatrist, Certified Holotropic BreathworkTM Facilitator, and Lead of the British Columbia MAPS Clinical Trial of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PSTD explains:
Holotropic Breathwork as developed by the Grofs, IS psychedelic medicine. It can be as powerful as MDMA, LSD, psilocybin and other psychedelic medicines. I have seen this in my work with HB since 1986 and with MDMA since research began 2005.
People are naturally skeptical that breath can be as used in this way. The breathing techniques experienced through meditation or exercise programs are not designed to take you on an inner journey comparable to therapeutic psychedelic or spirit plant medicine work.
The predominant cultural experience is of breathing techniques designed for use in ordinary states of consciousness – not deep dives into the psyche beyond what is usually accessible to us.
Breathing exercises can be highly useful to relax, become more present, develop concentration and train the body for powerful movement.
Even those breathing approaches which aim to correct breathing patterns or regulate autonomic functions usually beyond conscious control are not designed or intended for use as a psychedelic medicine.
Stan Grof’s early publications including ‘Psychedelic Psychotherapy’ first published in 1972 and ‘Realms of the Human Unconscious: Observations from LSD Research’ first published in 1975 provided an important early foundation of scientific knowledge for those who are now leading the psychedelic medicine research renaissance. Stan Grof has been an exceptional and prolific scholar over a career spanning 60 years and a new book and movie are in process.
The HB approach was designed using the same knowledge base to achieve the same high quality sessions. This body of knowledge of how to support people in non-ordinary states requires a paradigm shift – to the Holotropic Paradigm.
Mainstream academics and practitioners have still not grasped the implications of the emerging data that is validating Stan’s early research and insights.
‘Anyone who has tried it, knows it works.’ This comment by Canadian psychiatrist Paul Grof, brother of Stanislav Grof, co-developer of Holotropic Breathwork (HB), has stayed with me.
We were brainstorming how to design a clinical trial to validate HB – and the challenges. There are no legal restrictions on the use of breath as a psychoactive modality as there are with drugs produced in a lab or spirit plant medicines. Therefore there is not the same imperative to conduct the trials so that HB can be available.
So although it is available, it may require validation by clinical trials. Without the same return on investment associated with commercial pharmaceutical sales, funding clinical trials of HB would need to be from public funds including perhaps government health research funding.
In the short term, many people with health and mental conditions who could likely benefit from HB are not going to find it available through our health and mental health systems until further research provides the validation through research used for new health care interventions – the clinical trial.
There is however a body of research that is HB specific. The clinical case series by Dr. James Eyerman is outstanding in that the research was undertaken in a community hospital. It is powerful demonstration of the safety of supervised HB sessions that 11,000 psychiatric inpatients were safely led through HB sessions.
In a public workshop, participants are screened so that people in states of mind that require residential treatment are advised that the container is not suitable. As well, screening ensures that risk is not increased due to prior medical conditions.
However Public fundraising efforts to conduct clinical trials will likely be required to secure a place for HB as a routine part of clinical practice.
Research similar to that being used to investigate brain changes with psychedelic medicines such as CT scans would also be welcome. In depth investigations of the physiological effects of HB could and should be done using the sophisticated technologies now available.
While the research on the impact of other breathing techniques is informative, in most cases it isn’t comparable because the breathing techniques are so different. Although the hypothesis that DMT is responsible for the powerful experiences that people have with breathwork is reasonable given that they are similar to those of other psychedelic medicines, but I haven’t see a paper directly proving that.
Breathing is not amenable to legislative restrictions and so unlike pharmaceutical psychedelic medicines, HB can and will be used far into the future whether the political winds restrict use for political, rather than scientific, reasons.
Myth: You can do Holotropic Breathwork on your own
Carolyn Green - Holotropic Breathwork is underestimated and misunderstood. A person hasn’t really done HB unless they have done it with a Grof Transpersonal Trained certified facilitator. It’s not just a defense of the communities modality. We are defending this approach like a sacred grail because we want to keep this model alive in much the same way MAPS is for synthetic psychedelic medicines.
Grof estimated that it takes the people he trains, at least 2 years to really experience how little they know and start offering workshops. That is because the central practice is of being a midwife to unfolding consciousness. It is a program of caring for the psyche in altered states.
Most practitioners trained to work in ordinary states may be successful in those realms but haven’t the training and understanding of the most important elements. The breathing technique and music set are important but trivial compared to the essential ‘doing of not doing’ practice of supporting the unfolding psyche in non-ordinary states.
Like Through the Looking Glass, everything changes when you dive beneath the surface.
On your own, a person can overbreathe to music and have a good time or a rough time but unless they are using the same set and setting as clinical trials of psychedelic medicines, it is unlikely that they will have an experience of comparable effect.
Few people have the set up in their homes to play music concert loud, make processing noises if they need to or have the support to stay safe if needed when they are really deep. I hear the story of a friend teaching a person to over breath then doing all kinds of things that would be malpractice in the Holotropic Paradigm.
There are thousands of breathing exercises but in support the psyche in non ordinary states there are a thousand ways to derail a session and misguide breathers.
This is true of self-trained psychedelic psychotherapists as well.
The set and setting are as important as the catalyst for the experience whether it be a ‘drug’ or ‘non drug’ entheogen. Without the mindset, psycho-active substances can do real harm. An example is the CIA experiments of giving people psychedelics without their knowledge with life threatening outcomes.
Engendering fear in these ways can turn a healing modality into a traumatic experience.
Giving psychedelic medicines to people without their knowledge, that is, without the mind ‘set’ of understanding and conscious letting go of everyday control of the thinking mind can create tremendous fear and suffering. Whether using a drug or breath, adequate knowledge beforehand is critical for a session to be therapeutic. This is why the CIA and early researchers who attempted to separate the effect from the setting ended up with unprepared study participants (some unwitting) and cold sterile settings without human warmth.
A persons understanding and willingness to let go of the everyday control of ordinary consciousness to take the deep dive is critical. People absolutely need good information before hand.
Myth: Breathwork is inherently safe and beneficial
Carolyn Green - The HB model was designed so that a reasonably healthy person could safely experience a non-ordinary state.
This requires screening for medical conditions that may be made worse by the intensity of a session.
Scheduling longer sessions takes into account the natural trajectory of a non-ordinary session with breathwork. It may take up to 45 minutes for a breather to completely enter the maximum non-ordinary state available to them through over breathing.
Then there is a period of time that is about an hour and a half on average during which inner journey work is more accessible because there is a chemical advantage. Most people need at least two hours before they feel back to their ordinary state of consciousness. Drawing, eating and talking about the session is a closing circle all support integration, grounding and safe return to everyday consciousness.
Myth: Shorter Holotropic Breathwork sessions are comparable
Carolyn Green - Shorter HB sessions may prevent either going deep into the mind, or completing your session well. Incomplete sessions leave participants ungrounded because what has been activated is still requiring integration.
Many problems of integration are problems of poorly designed supported sessions both in breathwork and other psychedelic medicine sessions. An analogy is recreational use of psychedelic substance versus a session conducted in a way comparable to the research.
Trying to navigate everyday reality while using recreationally has many obvious dangers, or in other words, use with no safeguards may not support benefits of a supported session.
Myth: Breathwork plus coaching and bodywork is better than HB?
Carolyn Green - The inner healing mechanism of the deep psyche is always the biggest player. The breather can easily be disempowered by approaches that substitute external guidance with inner guidance, ie the power within .
Interventions can pull breathers out of a process that has arisen because of the onset of the non-ordinary states and interrupt natural releases.
The HB approach is like supporting natural childbirth vs unnecessary medical intervention. Many breathwork and psychotherapy practices do more harm than good when applied in non-ordinary states. Less is often more. There are many styles of breathwork are more facilitator oriented to the point of competing with the inner healing mechanism.
Myth: Breath can be used to stay naturally high as you go through the day?
Carolyn Green - One of my favorite Grof quotes is that ordinary states of consciousness are useful for landing airplanes. We are physiologically wired to be in ordinary states of consciousness and live our lives in real time moving from one activity to another from morning to night aware and interacting with full capacity.
In ordinary states of consciousness we have the power to create and experience the abundant pleasures of being alive – loving, learning, growing with all the other amazing being in our lives.
It is the wisdom of this work that we transcend the limitations of our ordinary consciousness and real world to tap into the power within ourselves in holotropic (non-ordinary) states of consciousness. Then it is necessary to return to ordinary states of consciousness to navigate the real world safely.
Non ordinary or holotropic states of consciousness are useful for healing the deep wounds in our psyche, connecting to the power within and experiencing expanded consciousness beyond the ordinary states in which we live and act out our lives.
There is an emerging vision of humanity where significant numbers of people have resolved their core issues and tapped into the power of their authentic selves beyond our created identities.
This would require an enhanced capacity to harness the power within through safe use of non-ordinary states and using this power in the real world.
Both states are necessary to move towards greater wholeness, to self-actualize, to expand our consciousness and increase our capacity for being and acting in the real world.
There are many additional problems with integration and life that can arise from people trying to keep themselves high with breath, yoga, microdosing.
The wisdom of the HB approach is to use breath powerfully and ceremonially and allow yourself to become fully grounded and functional between sessions. Daily and spiritual practices are fine – as long as a person isn’t keeping themselves ungrounded and uncomfortable.
Insight or vipassana meditation with its focus on observing rather than accelerating the breath has been found to be a useful companion approach.
If physical, mental and social well-being were to be the measure of a holotropic session, then HB may outperform chemical entheogens for these reasons.
There are many factors that may contribute to HB providing an equal if not more powerful healing and transformative experience than psychedelic medicines. It is the inner healing mechanisms of the deep psyche that move us towards wholeness in non-ordinary states. When we arrange and become part of the orchestra within, the incredible experiences emerge.
Myth: The breathing technique is critical to entering non-ordinary states?
Carolyn Green - Technical approaches are fine for their intended purposes however for attaining a non-ordinary (altered) state of consciousness they may actually be a barrier to fully accessing and moving through the experiences that tend to be activated in non-ordinary states. By technical breathing approaches I mean counting breaths, counting and varying the inhale and exhale, focusing on a part of the chest or stomach or breathing through the nose or mouth.
There are many variations that will tend to keep a person in an ordinary state of consciousness because it will tend to keep a person in their head, when the purpose of HB is to actually activate and access the deep psyche.
The instructions for HB are simply to breathe more deeply, continuously and to increase the rate and keep over breathing until something surprises you. The surprise is an indication that what is arising isn’t from the usual thinking patterns we are engaged in most of the time. The breathing can be let go of when an intense experience is happening.
Myth: HB requires 3 continuous hours of breathing?
Carolyn Green - Maybe and maybe not. After producing a chemical shift at the start of a HB session with over breathing, the decision as to the pace and continuity of the breathing depends on what is happening in a session. If a dreamscape, intense feeling or catharsis is underway, the experience could and should take precedence over the accelerated breathing.
If it is possible to both over breathe and navigate the experience that arise, this is a good option – particularly for people new to HB.
After some time the homeostatic mechanisms will bring the person back to ordinary – even if they continue to breathe.
So over breathing is more important at the beginning than the end. One exception is if the ‘wheels come off’ in a session.
In addition, if a big process needs more time, as far as possible within the logistics of the workshop, it is optimal to let it run until it completes.
There are completions within larger incompletions but sometimes the inner experience is so accessible it is great to keep going.
Often people complete at around the two hour mark and let go of the breathing and gently come back to real time in the third hour.
Myth: Holotropic Breathwork over breathing is hyperventilation?
Carolyn Green - Holotropic Breathwork is not hyperventilation. The type of hyperventilation that occurs spontaneously when a person panics or associated with some medical conditions is a different phenomenon from the over breathing under a person’s voluntary control and undertaken to access a non-ordinary state.
The old medical knowledge on hyperventilation needs revising. Both HB and spontaneous hyperventilation may blow off carbon dioxide and lead to homeostasis mechanisms that reverse the shift in physiology. But, like a drug, the shift in consciousness that happens with hyperventilated breathwork alone is physiologically limited.
During hyperventilation, the body’s usual mechanisms work to return you to a baseline set point.
This is not the case for Holotropic Breathwork. It is far more complex when all the experiential phenomena are overlaid therefore the biochemical shifts in a HB session are known.
In the end, the ‘theoretical’ risks of over breathing seem trivial compared to the monumental mental health crises.
Myth: A bad trip is a bad thing
Carolyn Green - Our human tendency is to turn away from difficult emotions and experiences. Before breathwork I stuffed my feelings, numbed out in a variety of ways including using physical tension for armour and breathing shallowly. These are good strategies only in the short term to get through the day, life, work, exams, trauma.
When the full impact of our true feelings and the damage done erupts it can hurt but it can be a good hurt. Like a good cry, it is the kind of hurting that is healing.
In safe containers, allowing, opening and expressing these deep wounds is one of the best things you can do for yourself and long term well being. I can’t prove it , but I believe it is protective against many conditions that are related to unexpressed emotional pain.
The bad trip however is not the only, most powerful or only way to greater wholeness. It all depends on how an individuals psyche is unfolding and it is best to develop a deep trust in that mechanism rather than external knowledge or trying to evoke particular experiences.
Myth: Some types of non-ordinary experiences are more useful than others
When a person is over breathing, a chemical shift occurs that acts as an entheogen. This shift helps move a person into an altered state.
If a person is feeling strong emotions during a session, it will affect how they breathe. Some techniques involve deep, continuous and fast breathing. Others will have a quiet deep diaphragmatic style. Some will breath using an athletic style. While other breaths will be too shallow, which can prevent the individual from ever entering HB non-ordinary states.
So it is a myth that there are correct breathing techniques and patterns that are optimal to achieve the in Holotropic Breathwork.
An emphasis on technical breathing can be a barrier to a person from going into and moving through inner healing experiences.
The experiences that arise in non-ordinary states of consciousness are an integration of mind, body and spirit which are accelerated by accessing non-ordinary states. Like all psychedelic medicines, the inner healing mechanisms activated operate below a level of consciousness most will never experience unless HB is done. Forms of HB have the ability to move a person towards wholeness.
Myth: Intentions are critical prior or during Holotropic Breathwork sessions
Holotropic Breathwork does not require specific intention setting. This can seem different and even disconcerting to those who have experienced other psychotherapies and ceremonial approaches, where intention setting IS the central or key focus of the experience.
Stan Grof, in his 60 years of practice, has always emphasized the importance of the experience being guided by the inner healing mechanisms.
In other words, trying to consciously direct a session, by having specific intentions prior to its start, or during, can work like modalities work in ordinary states of consciousness, and is a poor substitute for the intended use of Holotropic Breathwork.
HB facilitators will strenuously refrain from guiding and interpreting the experiences of others.
Unfortunately other approaches may have similarities to HB, but often add additional methods from ordinary psychotherapeutic approaches. Using such an approach, with focused intentioned based sessions, it becomes unlikely the individual will reach or fully access their non-ordinary state.
Holotropic Breathwork is all about surrendering, relaxing, trusting, and expressing the experience in an authentic way for the inner healing mechanism to take full effect.
But there is one very basic intention anyone interested in trying Holotropic Breathwork should come with, and that is to remember why you are doing the work - to feel better, live a healthier freer life, recover from addiction, or trauma, or anything that is truly important to you. HB can become your anchor to in the rough seas that can take place during a session.
6. Does Holotropic Breathwork really release DMT?
The experiences that arise in HB are similar to those of people ingesting DMT. So logically it makes sense that DMT has a role. Dr Rick Straussman, a prominent DMT researcher, says he has known for 60 years that the lungs can produce DMT. However the answer here is likely more complex.
If consciousness extends beyond the brain, then the psychedelic experiences are not simply a drug effect.
We need contemporary research on naturally occurring DMT in the body, and moreover research linking DMT to accelerated breathing patterns and the HB approach, to using breathwork as a psychoactive modality.
The hyperventilation model needs revision. Blowing off carbon dioxide leads to lower oxygen in the tissues including the brain. This makes some areas of the brain go quiet. Less brain activity is consistent with Grof’s original observation that it wasn’t the drugs producing the experience.
Brain activity acts like a reducing valve on consciousness.
So less activity allows deeper consciousness to prevail and move towards wholeness.
Grof compared the physiology to the effect of going to altitude, which also shifts oxygenation. This may explain why cultures that live at high altitudes – like tibetians - have rich spiritual traditions.
We have better scientific methods and technologies for doing this research. It just needs to be put into the service of this research questions. As Grof is not as excited about the emerging research. The important thing is whether it works – and we already know it does.
7. Is there an incredible story or experience you can share with the audience that took place at holotropic session?
In the HB paradigm we don’t value the subtle experiences over the mind blowing one. This is true with any psychedelic medicine. Each is the psyche unfolding into expanded consciousness in just the right sequence. I have felt myself transformed into the ocean.
I have experienced a solid column of gold energy up my spinal column.
I have had an ecstatic experience of giving birth, dying and making love to the universe all at the same time.
I have experienced having the body of a male youth and had my breasts be in the way of some chest pounding that was part of the experience.
Men experience birth.
I have had rebirthing experiences both of my caesarian birth and the usual route.
I had to work around them. Like the meme of Dorothy from Wizard of Oz saying to Alice from Alice in Wonderland ‘I’ve seen some weird shit’.
There are so many incredible stories and experiences that arise from every workshop. This work has the potential to heal our deepest wounds.
When they open up in a session it is often an intense trip but not always. The light may burn away the darkness. Even if there is gnashing of teeth, primal screaming or paralyzing fear, it is all understood and the old held experience being released.
It isn’t every time and there is never a guarantee as to when or if a deep wound will arise for healing because the inner healing mechanisms will find the optimal opportunity for healing.
Experiences that are just on the physical plane, with energetic releases, with no stories, are riddles for our thinking mind - but no less powerful.
Any experience can be the set up for completion or removal of a mental block that will lead you towards the way to expanded consciousness.
The wisdom of this work is that it is not possible to know in advance what type of experience will arise.
They tend to be extra-ordinary experiences and even bad trips are the release of bad and draw the light to follow. Fear, shame and anger all arise to be fully experienced and integrated. It is disheartening to hear anger pushed away because it covers fear.
Fear is a primal emotion but honouring and allowing every emotion in deep work is clearing for anyone willing to take the journey.
Pushing feelings away can lead us to holding on to them for too long. Healing is having full access to all the emotions integrated into a healed psyche, in service of full rich living.
The opportunity to live a simple, peaceful life, rich with connection, purpose and true to our own deeper longings is a beautiful thing. And there is enough excitement, drama and intensity in doing the work that it never gets boring.
Honestly after doing this work for 25 years, I still am surprised and delighted by what unfolds in my own psyche.
8. For those interested in learning more about Holotropic Breathwork and giving it a try locally here in Canada, the USA, or internationally with a guided session, where should they go?
In Canada OCT 4 – 6 there will be a professional development retreat 'Holotropic Breathwork™: a prototype for psychedelic sessions. https://www.psychedelicpsychotherapy.ca/workshop-c-2019
The Grof Transpersonal Training Modules provide the core training.
There is a network of facilitators all over the world.