Holotropic Breathwork® is a powerful approach to self-exploration and personal empowerment that relies on our innate inner wisdom and its capacity to move us toward positive transformation and wholeness.
The theoretical framework integrates insights from modern consciousness research, anthropology, various depth psychologies, transpersonal psychology, Eastern spiritual practices, and mystical traditions of the world.
The name Holotropic means literally “moving toward wholeness” (from the Greek “holos”=whole and “trepein”=moving in the direction of something).
The process itself uses very simple means: it combines accelerated breathing with evocative music in a special set and setting. With the eyes closed and lying on a mat, each person uses their own breath and the music in the room to enter a non-ordinary state of consciousness. This state activates the natural inner healing process of the individual’s psyche, bringing the seeker a particular set of internal experiences. With the inner healing intelligence guiding the process, the quality and content brought forth is unique to each person and for that particular time and place. While recurring themes are common, no two sessions are ever alike.
“SITTERS” AND “BREATHERS”
Additional elements of the process include focused energy release work and integration practices such as mandala drawing. Holotropic Breathwork is usually done in groups, although individual sessions are also possible. Within the groups, people work in pairs and alternate in the roles of “breather” and “sitter.” The sitter’s role is simply to be present and available to assist the breather—not to interfere, interrupt, or try to guide the process. The same is true for trained facilitators, who are available as helpers if necessary.
CARTOGRAPHY OF THE PSYCHE
One of the most unique and powerful dimensions of HB is its revolutionary expanded cartography of the human psyche described by Stanislav Grof. Experiences occur, and transformation happens, not only in the biographical dimension – our life history from birth up to the present moment. But they also encompass what Grof calls the perinatal and transpersonal dimensions of the psyche.
The perinatal includes the reliving of our birth from conception, in the uterus, through the canal, and into the birth itself. In this dimension, as well as in the birth, it is also possible to undergo the powerful healing episode known throughout world spiritual traditions as psychospiritual birth-death-and-rebirth.
The transpersonal dimension includes the realms of the archetypes described by Carl Jung, as well as many other collective experiences described by world spiritual traditions, and phenomena not previously mapped by any other tradition.
In-depth descriptions of the cartography of the psyche, including Grof’s four perinatal matrices, can be read about in many of Stanislav Grof’s books.