I am back in Portland integrating an experience I had with holotropic breathwork in Seattle with awe. If you’ve ever experienced an eye opening experience that blew you away then you know the feeling. Something so profound that your experience defies previous wisdom and puts a new spin to life. Ever think that hyperventilation was bad for you? Well in certain circumstances of course it can be, but given the right stimuli, environment and intention it turns out to be a wonderful tool.
It is one of those things you hear about but may never experience. Luckily for us I happen to have quit my job so I may try these different consciousness expanding tools and bring you the details! Although not widely practiced this little known modality of healing can be just as profound if not more so for those looking to expand their consciousness, break down barriers and heal traumas starting from before you were even born. While breath work has become more widely known in recent years such as in Yoga Pranayama very little has been seen in the way of scientific advancements into the knowing how or why these techniques are so effective.
Stanislav Grof has been pioneering this research since the 70’s with little more than a whisper in the mainstream media regarding the astounding potential it shows in the way of self healing. The basis behind this amazing idea is that living beings have an innate healing potential when given the opportunity. Similar to an isolation tank or float spa as they’ve come to be known as your senses are deprived thus giving your mind and body time to internalize. Dissimilar to those tanks though you’re being blasted with sensory overload instead of isolated from it with in the form of hyperventilation, extremely loud music and a sitter who holds space for you. One might look at this combination as inherently uncomfortable and thus damaging, but when you’re in it words don’t quite describe the beauty that you find within. I’d akin it to being in the womb. Lots of spontaneous movement, muffled sounds & a lack of light.
In my first go (which was a half day) I experienced full blown hallucinations of mandala like patterns, unresolved tensions and thoughts being released with ease & what I described as an ecstatic rolling boiling sensation throughout my body. With my experiences in polarity therapy I like to relate things into elements, ie: earth, water, fire, air, ether. So the sensation description which worked for me was a combination of fire, water & air. This was one of the more fantastical descriptions that had crossed the facilitator’s path’s and one which they were delighted with as it’s never been so vividly attained by their senses. In a sense it was like a counterbalance of Yoga Nidra. I was hitting a still point through the most intense breathing I’d ever done. This still point is what one feels when they are in a delta state which is when time seems to stop and all sensory input becomes unconscious or a heightened awareness takes hold & time becomes infinitely long.
Another way some experience this is through psilocybin or magic mushrooms.
While doing holotropic breathing one has a tendency to work their stuff out through serendipitous movements, vocalizations, emotions, sensations, smells & sometimes even purging. The physical, mental & spiritual will clear themselves if you let them & that’s the beauty of this system where others fall short. The breathing allows one to control the rate of flow that these blockages present. If something is too intense one can slow their breathing, but if you are ready to conquer your demons then you can breath deeper, faster & harder! While breathing I was reminded constantly of the beautiful wisdom contained within the tribes throughout the world which breath or dance together in ceremony.
Due to the profound nature of this work I wouldn’t advise anyone try this on their own the first time. There is a reason there is a sitter & facilitator. With that being said though I would recommend anyone who has the desire to better themselves & the openness to try it. I’ve included some of the ones I’ve been working with to learn more about it or to find a facilitator in your area.