ABOUT HOLOTROPIC BREATHWORK
CHECK HERE FOR THE NEXT RETREAT



WHAT HAPPENS IN BREATHWORK SESSIONS?

The word “holotropic” literally means “moving towards wholeness.” Holotropic Breathing is grounded in almost fifty years of observations and clinical research by Dr. Stanislav and Christina Grof, who have observed and studied the healing potentials of non-ordinary states of consciousness since 1955.

The method is based on insights from modern consciousness research, transpersonal psychology, anthropology, Eastern spiritual practices, and the world's mystical traditions. It uses accelerated breathing, heightened levels of oxygen, evocative music and deep inner focus to help participants enter a non-ordinary state of consciousness.

The process opens up a profound journey into whatever states of consciousness is relevant for the breather at the time. The process brings more energy and awareness into the body, releasing stored stress, repressed feelings, strain and trauma. It activates both unconscious pain and ecstatic bliss as the intelligence of the life force leads us to exactly where we need to awaken. You can examine limiting beliefs and emotional addictions, source new ideas, technologies and healing modalities, understand maps of the way you create life, resolve life long relationship patterns, relieve the fear of death, illness, old age or future events and experience states of pure unconditional love and acceptance.

Breathwork is primarily an experience of yourself in relation to your inner landscapes and the innate healing ability of your own breath and your own psyche.

Breathwork sessions are usually about 3 to 4 hours long. There is an initial individual sharing and intention setting, followed by about 2-3 hours of powerful breathing and then quieter spaces. The session concludes with mandala drawing, a light snack and integration. Whilst there may be recurring themes, no two breathwork sessions are ever the same. See Breathwork retreats for the next gathering.

PRE-SCREENING
This workshop is deeply experiential and may involve intense feelings and energetic releases. If a person relives a traumatic event, they experience physical and emotional reactions very similar to what they had when the event was actually taking place - old injuries may re-experienced and there may be strong physical and energetic movement. It is important to share all your relevant medical history before beginning, both with me and to a lesser extent with the person sitting for you at each session.

These sessions are not advised for persons with a history of cardiovascular disease, including angina, hypertension or heart attack, high blood pressure, glaucoma, retinal detachment, osteoporosis, significant recent physical injuries or recent surgery.

This workshop is also not advised for women who are pregnant or for persons using certain medications. Folks with asthma or a history of childhood asthma, should bring their inhaler and consult with me. Anyone with a history of seizure disorders, psychiatric hospitalization or mental illness needs to discuss this with me prior to registering. The sessions may be disturbing for people who are very psychically sensitive or who suffer from paranoia..

Persons with infectious or communicable diseases are asked to avoid this retreat. Given the depth of expression and sensitivity of breathwork experiences, it is also suggested there be no smoking, drinking alcohol or use of any other mind or emotionally altering substances immediately before, during or after sessions.

While not all of the above conditions necessarily disqualify anyone from participating, you may require special attention and community support. Each participant will be sent a medical history form and a "I take full responsibility for myself and others" form. For the safety of every participant, please be honest and, if you have any questions, contact me.

In the Beginning
For those who are breathing, it is suggested you eat very lightly for a few hours before starting a session to ease the physical discomfort of strong energy movement. It is not necessary to be sure of your intention before you arrive for the session; often it becomes clear as you experience our initial discussion and explore whatever is up for you.

Sessions are normally in a darkened room where you lie on a mat, with a sheet and blanket and either close your eyes or wear an eye mask. There is usually a relaxation meditation and a blessing, anointing or spiritual invocation as you begin to breathe.

Music
There are a diverse range of evocative music used throughout the session. Initially it is very loud, with strong rhythms to engage you fully in the inner experience, to energize you, help you breathe, express and open you to non-ordinary states of consciousness. After an hour, the mood shifts to deeply feeling music, designed to facilitate emotional release that is followed by softer melodies and spacious music consistent with profound introspection and integration.

What you may Experience
The process opens you to whatever set of experiences in specific times and places are currently relevant for you and will activate the healing intelligence of the body and soul. It is important to be able to surrender to the visions, sensations, feelings and energies that arise and move you during a session. There may be times when you feel very deeply, when you need to  express whatever it is that has been stuck, be it pleasure and/or pain.

  • Often old emotional distress is first felt as a physical sensation, so the body may feel things before you can emotionally express them. There could be experiences of tightness, tingling in the extremities and contraction of the body, vibrations or muscle tremors, the need to shake the limbs and move.
  • Some people feel cold, frozen or excessively hot, an indication of energy moving through the feminine or masculine channels of contraction and expansion.
  • There can be sensitivity to lights, smells, touch and sounds.
  • There may be ecstatic feelings of energy coursing through the body or orgasmic releases.
  • Some people may at times feel a little nauseous when there is fear present or they are really sick of something in their lives, or if they have eaten too much before a session.
  • New feelings about past experiences in relation to current circumstances often arise revealing your deepest truths, bringing a sense of relief, insight, surprise and choice.
  • Time may seem to flow more quickly or hours can seem like a moment. The past may seem to be more real than the present or you may have be in possible futures.
  • You may feel as if you are back in the birth canal or are being reborn or even feel like you are dying.
  • You may experience just feelings or energy in the body without any story.
  • You can reclaim lost parts of yourself through conversations with people, present or past, pets, animals, places and objects, using them as symbols or as aspects of yourself.
  • You may go beyond the personal realm, open to the numinous by embodying god or goddesses, spirits or ancestors, archetypes or animal beings, creatures from other worlds or angels or demons, in fact any creature that may or may not exist in anyone's reality.
  • You may be immersed in mythic realities or surrender to the Void, visit Armageddon or the creation of the Earth, or travel to the stars.

However spectacular, non-event or challenging the experience, this is your psyche's way of guiding you towards wholeness. The key is your willingness to surrender to it.

At THE END OF THE SESSION
When you feel finished breathing, you will be invited to draw a mandala to express the energies you have awoken. This symbolic expression may be very primitive, free flowing or as detailed as you wish. You can bring your own art materials with paper to suit your preferences. It is not about whether you can draw or not. It is to assist you in integrating the experience and keeping the symbolic language alive. Mandalas become a wonderful history of your explorations.

My Role
Usually I will discuss the maps for breathwork sessions before we start so you develop the tools to navigate the internal experiences and understand the transpersonal realms of consciousness. I mindfully observe and feel each person's experience and create a safe, loving container for everyone. I only intervene in someone's experience if they get very disruptive, endangering other people, if someone gets very stuck or if specific bodywork is required to help move the energy.

In Groups
Each person will lie on their own mat with a sitter whose role is to protect and care for the breather. The sitter does not facilitate the process but holds deep presence and awareness for the breather. Occasionally focussed released bodywork is used.

When the music is quiet, the sitter may care for the breather in whatever way they need and help them get settled to draw their mandala. Some people prefer to be out in nature during this time or simply remain quiet afterwards because they are sensitized and very open. A quiet, mindful awareness is appropriate between group sessions.

Integration
During integration, we share the mandalas and share each person's experience. The integration is not about process but recognizing the transpersonal, mythic and symbolic meaning of the experience and sharing the wisdom and insights each person gains. Part of the integration process involves developing awareness of the relationships between the transpersonal aspects and current daily life, and with the immature, hurt places we carry and our creation of an adequate inner parent.

Many of the colors, patterns, images and symbols which emerge during sessions or in mandalas have deep meaning and will continue to evolve through dreams, meditations and in ordinary life. They greatly enhance our experiences if we continue to pay attention to these symbols.

After breathwork, it is often helpful to continue the work with other practitioners for emotional development, dietary, medical and physical concerns on an ongoing basis. Breathwork sessions can be hard on the body so massage, acupuncture, cranial sacral, chiropractic and tender care are always recommended afterwards.

Group Safety
I suggest as a matter of confidentiality that the names of those attending groups and retreats are not discussed with folks outside the group. People may be very vulnerable afterwards and it is an act of care to respect their boundaries. I ask participants to refrain from sharing about other's experiences, even to those in the work, unless they have specific permission to do so. You can share as much as or as little as you like about your own sessions but be mindful to whom you are speaking and their ability to hold your experience and the work in a way that can appreciate the depth of the processes.

As an added layer of safety, if you meet people later, check in with them and ask if they are in a place to talk with you about the group, as there may be reasons why they cannot do so at that very moment.

Sexuality
As part of breathwork, people open up to their energy and often experience sexual feelings. It is a natural part of the awakening process and a fundamental experience of birth. If this happens in a group or retreat, people are encouraged to own their experience internally, to enjoy it by dancing and feeling it but not through acting it out with others. There is to be no sexual contact, explicit language or nudity in group sessions. You are encouraged to open to the life force and experience the energy as an internal guide and teacher.

This limitation encourages you to create container for yourself by reclaiming your energy within healthy boundaries, to be sensitive to the needs of others in the group and to awaken to the power of learning to channel your energy in different ways.

Sexual behavior in group sessions does affect everyone whether you are aware of it or not and in sessions you are very unlikely to notice your affect on others who have suffered abuse, incest or lack of respect in their tender formative years. We are exploring new learning environments not trying to recreate and re-enact the wounds of the past. Learning to master the natural flow of your sexual energy opens up a freedom of choice that is essential for any fulfilling sexual relationship.

Technology
It is strongly recommended you turn your phone and computers off for the duration of the breathwork sessions, even in between sessions in a group. The spaces that people experience in breathwork are usually very tender. Paying close attention to those present during and after a session helps us all give and receive the kind of care and protection we all need.

Client Experiences Session Care

Top