Holotropic Breathwork was created by Dr. Stanislav Grof as a method to journey deeper into the non ordinary realms of consciousness, using deep and fast breathing, powerful evocative trance music and healing bodywork. In this long-awaited book, Stanislav Grof and Christina Grof describe their groundbreaking new form of self-exploration and psychotherapy: Holotropic Breathwork. In materialistic science, breathing lost its sacred meaning and was stripped of its connection to the psyche and spirit. This method utilizes the spontaneous healing potential of the psyche that becomes available in non-ordinary states of consciousness induced by accelerated breathing and evocative music in a special set and setting. I plan on keeping in touch with the Holotropic Breathwork network here in Seattle to attend future sessions and will be making more time in my life to dance!!!
Holotropic Breathwork does not use any interventions that come from intellectual analysis or are based on a prior theoretical constructs. It's the high CO2 level that triggars our need to breath deeply (try breathing into a paper bag for a couple minutes.. ). Hyperventilation fools that system by removing the CO2. Now in his 80s, Stanislav Grof is still certifying practitioners of holotropic breathwork and leading seminars for individuals to try it out first hand. The process of self-exploration and therapy in Holotropic Breathwork is spontaneous and autonomous; it is governed by inner healing intelligence rather than following the instructions and guidelines of a particular school of psychotherapy. In most instances, faster breathing brings, at first, more or less dramatic psychosomatic manifestations. The alkalosis during rapid breathing thus leads to reduced oxygen transfer to the tissues.
It is true that faster breathing brings more air and thus oxygen into the lungs, but it also eliminates carbon dioxide (CO2). Instead of emphasizing a specific technique of breathing, we follow even in this area the general strategy of holotropic work - to trust the intrinsic wisdom of the body and follow the inner clues.
Continued accelerated breathing represents thus an extremely powerful and effective method of stress-reduction and leads to emotional and psychosomatic healing. Dr. Grof, along with creating Holotropic Breathwork Training
, also was one of the co-founders of Transpersonal Psychology and is considered to be one of the most influential psychiatrists of the 20th century. Carefully selected music seems to be of particular value in holotropic states of consciousness, where it has several important functions.
There episodes of faster breathing are used in the course of meditative practice (bastrika) or occur spontaneously as part of the emotional and physical manifestations known as kriyas. Until then, I allow myself to just feel a natural high from a very brief period (usually less than a minute or two) of focused, rhythmic breathing. The method itself is simple: While lying on a mat, each breather closes his eyes and starts breathing deeply and quickly until he finds his own rhythm.
I've read many things about Holotropic Breathwork created by Dr. Stanislav Grof and I was very happy to find out there is a place in LA area where I can get to have an experience. By increasing the rate and depth of breathing the defenses are loosened and this leads to release and emergence of unconscious (and superconscious) material. Holotropic Breathwork is an experiential, transformative process that invites a gentle but profound encounter with our internal territories. Breathwork can be an important part of healing emotional, psychological or physical trauma.
Similarly the many schools and teachers of mindfulness are also using breathing techniques that can date back to and beyond the time of the Buddha. However, some people find that mouth breathing is uncomfortable for them in which case nose breathing is fine also. Grof and his wife, Christina, developed holotropic breathing when the use of LSD and other psychedelic drugs were banned in the 1960s.
However, if we take all the aforementioned physiological mechanisms into consideration, the situation of people during Holotropic Breathwork very likely resembles that of being in high mountains, where there is less oxygen and the CO2 level is decreased by compensatory faster breathing.