Holotropic Breathwork

This fall I had the good fortune to participate in a one-week Breathwork Intensive at Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in the Hudson River Valley at Rhinebeck, New York.  Their website is:  eomega.org  At this experiential event there was about a dozen top world leaders in the various practices of breathwork and in the psycho-neuro-biology of the bodymind.  There were also social activists present to suggest ways to spread breathwork around the planet to help create a healthier world.

Stanislav Grof, the founder of Holotropic Breathwork, was also there to share his extensive wisdom about this profound form of breathwork that leads to self-realization and self-actualization.

While we were experiencing how a particular technique would open up hitherto blocked channels in our Psyches with one member of the teaching team, another member of the team would be sharing with us, in a corroborated scientific way, WHY it was opening up these blockages.  The cellular memory can be very deeply influenced when the learning is both simultaneously experienced and also personally understood.  About 20% of the 80 or so participants had previously experienced the highly beneficial results of Holotropic Breathwork, a practice in which the participants experience their deepest Self, their greatest gifts, and are opened up to nonordinary states of awareness.

In the purest form of Holotropic Breathwork the “breather” has only one task…to breath as deeply and fully as possible.

The “sitter” watches over each and every need of the breather: the setting, any interruptions, water, comfort, blankets, etc.

The several “walkers” or “sentinels” travel around the room ensuring that all diadic teams are comfortably and suitably protected and nurtured.  The “sentinel’s” role is basically to act as a “guardian angel” to safe-guard the Sacred Space of the experiential diadic teams.  Thus, the breathers have 2 layers of safety, Sacred care, and nurturing so that they can then go on Spiritual journeys hitherto blocked from their ordinary consciousness.  They are then free to follow their bliss!

The other forms of breathwork that were experienced and discussed at this wonderful retreat were not as deep or as intensive as Holotropic Breathwork.   However, they may be much more practical when trying to spread breathwork out across the world to different societies, cultures, socio-economic classes and institutions.  Many of these diverse techniques can be practised in corporate, hospital, school and counselling settings.  These other forms do not require several hours of focussed loving attention on the breather.  They do not require such a disciplined adherence to a “contract” between the breathers, sitters and sentinels, which is an absolutely essential prerequisite and component of Holotropic Breathwork!

One of the most powerful presentations was given by a New York psychiatrist who has done extensive research on how our brains process creative and inspirational material.  For example, if we have enough GABA (Gabapentin or Neurontin) in the higher function portions of our brain, then we do not so easily revert to the lower mundane functions.  In place of psychedelic drugs, carefully orchestrated breathwork can generate higher states of awareness and presence through naturally produced GABA.

So, breathe deeply and completely and fully enjoy your GABA…

This article was written in October of 2013 by:

Richard M. Haney, M.Ed., Ph.D. (Counselling and Mediation)

Richard has been practising Wholistic Counselling, Coaching, Hypnotherapy and Mediation for the past 25 years in Ottawa.

Richard by phone: (613) 234-5678. By e-mail: richard@magma.ca