by Sasha Alex Lessin, Ph.D., Dean, School of Counseling, Grof-Certified Holotropic Breathworker, Wooger Certified Pastlife Therapist, Katz-Certified Hypnotherapist firstname.lastname@example.org
Stanislav Grof* says four fetal phases flavor human awareness: floating, compression, labor and birth. When you fully feel and flow through them, you reap purpose, pleasure and repose. Grof offers “Holotropic Breathwork,” a method of encouraging this healthy flow.
In Holotropic Breathwork, you close your eyes, listen three hours to music and see images. The four fetal feelings inspire many of the images.
Think of the first feeling, floating, as Pax. Pax stands for “floating” as in the womb, in relaxed times since birth, in times you feel loving oneness.
Slough (compression)–the second feeling stirred by breathwork–depresses. It’s doom, hopelessness, sorrow, limits. Slough feels like the months just before labor, when you outgrew the womb. Keep Slough in your awareness and sense your limits.
The struggle to overcome those limits, Rambo (the third fetal feeling), echos your struggle to survive labor contractions. Labor taught you to perserve and perhaps cooperate.
Finally, Whoopie personifies birth, triumph, ecstasy, transcendence.
See within you–accept and understand–the dance of Pax, Slough, Rambo and Whoopie. Then you know and love more.
Pax and Co. comprise modules of the master matrix programmed in you from conception to birth. In the master matrix sequence, you relax, feel limits, meet challenges, win and relax again. In the exercise below, you constellate each of these modules–Pax, Slough, Rambo and Whoopie–as parts, subselves, or inner voices.
Flow through this sequence and you enjoy repose (Pax), know when you need change (Slough), choose challenges (Rambo), triumph over trails (Whoopie), savor victory and relax (Pax’s back).
But suppose you don’t flow. You deny one of the four feelings. You might ignore how you cage yourself. Or stifle an inner struggle. Then, instead of pulsing through peace, limits, struggle, then triumph, you snag. You ail, agonize, ruin relations, suppress your spirit.
If you repress tears (Slough) or anger (Rambo), you seek situations to make you sad and mad. You feel guilty, hopeless, sad, caught. Or you compete compulsively, fight folks.
Rather than slight Slough and Rambo, image and experience them. Integrate them with the love of Pax and joy of Whoopie.
Pax and Co. show in your roles and dreams nowadays. They also show in images of your history–from conception, gestation, birth, childhood and later. They flavor your fantasies, mythic dramas and prior-lives you picture. You conjure matrix modules as images from nature or the divine.
MASTER MATRIX MODULES MOVE YOUR ROLES
The modules pervade your everyday roles, your subselves. Pax plays Mellow Fellow, Satisfied Lover, Blissed Meditator and the like. Slough shows as Drunkard, Prisoner, Worrier. Driving Businessperson, Critic, Athlete and Hero reflect Rambo. Star, Joyous Dancer or Escaper roles indicate Whoopie.
Each subself needs to love and feel, be loved and felt, protect and be protected. Each can cooperate with the other subselves. Each can help you heal yourself, get along better with other people and repair the planet. Learn to recognize, accept, coordinate and synthesize master matrix subs.
FETAL PHASES FUEL LIFE-STORY SCRIPTS TOO
Pax, Slough, Rambo and Whoopie sustain scripts you got as a kid, practiced in life and still enact. You’ll recognize Pax as the relaxed, peaceful baby, kid and adult you’ve been. You played Slough when you felt trapped, Rambo when you acted as bully or rebel, Whoopie when you enacted ecstasy.
Relive times you got these scripts. Discharge feelings pent-up since then. Realize how you’d have wished the scenes went. Cast your partner to help you reprogram better scripts.
PAX & CO. COME IN PAST-LIFE PLOTS ALSO
When you imagine prior lives, Pax shows as lives where you and others joined, loved, sated or relaxed each other.
Others caged, gassed, executed, suffocated you in Slough lives. Or you killed yourself with drink or drugs. Or plague killed you.
Prior Rambo lives resonate labor. In some Rambo lives, a bully, portraying the contracting canal, raped, punished, terrorized, humiliated, murdered you. In others, you hated, avenged and killed him/her.
Perhaps a Rambo life involved battle or violent suicide. You struggle–centuries ago–as tyrant or rebel, again echoing the struggle of canal and babe. You perhaps relive Rambo lives where you participated in primitive and satanic orgies, fertility rites, temple prostitution, bacchanalian dancing, where you mixed suffering, strangulation, sensuality, ecstasy and spirituality.
Past lives reflecting Whoopie or birth feelings may involve failure, sacrifice, death-falls or ego death, corresponding to the unbearable moment just before birth. Whoopie shows in past-lives when you escaped or vanquished sharks, beasts or human menaces. Whoopie’s there in prior existences when you survived accidents, surgery, illness, storms, quakes, raids, waves, war. In Whoopie sequences from lapsed lives, you triumph–purified, redeemed, cleansed, sacred, safe, free.
Past-life images* let you accept and integrate shame and pain, without taking them personally. Past-life work treats your subselves, body problems and even birth trauma as though they happened–in exaggerated form–in another life.
In the partner exercise, you tell a past-life story without judgement or interpretation. Allow full emotional expression of the pain, horror, shame. You live all the major turning points of the past-life person’s history, including the exact moment of death.
Relive the death. The way you died (eg, hanging) becomes the way you enter (eg, umbicus around neck) the next life.
It’ll seem to you that loss, hurt, guilt, grief, bitterness you felt in the past life led you to defensiveness, rationalizations and a lifestyle to avoid repeating the same hurts.
If you image more than one past-life, you’ll likely see mirror-opposite lives. If you seem victimized in one life (raped, murdered, enslaved), you’ll seem a bully (rapist, killer, master) in another. You and your parent take turns over succeeding lives as parent and spouse; you both change sexes.
Once you relive past-life feelings and forgive yourself and others, the patterns the past-life dramatized disappear in this life.
PAX, SLOUGH, RAMBO & WHOOPIE MANIFEST IN MYTH, FANTASTY & NATURE IMAGES
Holobreathing may give you images of nonhuman past-lives, mythic sequences and fantasies with which you identify.
You image Pax as an anemone, seaweed, jellyfish, fish or whale, astronaut or bird, gold or gems. Pax presents pictures of human, animal, plant, planetary or cosmic oceanic ecstasy, symbiosis, unity, peace, nirvana. You merge in bliss with the Great Mother, deities, other archetypes, or the Universe.
Slough may give you images of freaks and monsters in an ugly, evil, flat, robotic, inhuman world. You see dead deserts, winterlands, moon mountains. Skeletons, insane asylum inmates, the wretched of the world. You conjure tales of eternal torture; you suffer as Jesus, Sisyphus or Prometheus.
You may get Rambo images–struggle symbols–where fierce forces fight. Enormous energies erupt. You visualize volcanos, tornadoes, hurricanes, tidal waves, explosions, rocket blasts, lightning, air raids, novas, quakes, floods. Armies, demons and gods battle. Atlantis, Pompeii, Hiroshima, Sodom or Earth die. Scenes of sacrifice, suicide, massacre, execution, crucifixion, mutilation, murder and torture torment and tantalize you. You feel and fight the Hitler, Abu Nidal, witch, devil, werewolf, tiger, monster and boa within you.
Rambo energy fuels flame fantasies that resonate the final moments of labor. Just before your mother delivered you, you stretched her tissues to the extreme. Her nerves and yours all fired, making you both feel aflame. You represent this as torched towns, flaring forests and witches searing at the stake.
Whoopie images from the unbearable beginning of delivery include death and sacrifice, Shiva, Christ, Dionysus, Moloch, Kali. You see Herod and Hitler–like the birth canal putting ultimate pressure on you at birth–murder babies.
Then you image triumphant heroes (representing birth) vanquish menaces; St. George slays the dragon, Persus the Medusa. God defeats Satan; Thor, the giants; good, evil. You picture and experience union with Mother goddesses, Mary, Isis, Parvati, Hera, your innermost, divine source, the sun, the tao.
You behold brilliant white or radiant golden light, rainbows, peacock designs, Spring. You image majestic halls, mountains, valleys, meadows, lakes, oceans. You watch glaciers crack, snow melt and flow as water; birds hatch, trees blossom, animals bear and feed their young. Reach the mountaintop. Triumph–purified, redeemed, cleansed, sacred, safe, free.
Eyes closed, lie on your back and have a partner read you the cues (except cues in  square brackets). Tell him or her to give you time to respond aloud where asterisks appear (****) and pause between each paragraph.
Cue 1. Imagine descending Halemau Trail into Haleakala Crater to encounter the fetal phantoms inside you and let them dialogue and heal.
With each step, feel more receptive, peaceful, relaxed, open. Though you’re the only one in the Crater, sense a divine, protective, loving presence guiding you on your journey.
At Pyramid Rock, on the crater floor, you swallow 500 micrograms of Sandoz LSD-25.
Walk past Holua Cabin to the sacred lava tube. In it, light a candle and wend through the tube. See moving colors, dancing molecules, dazzling designs–the sensory display that means the acid’s coming on. Notice a shaft of light shine through a vent in the cavern ceiling. Snuff your candle and sit before an empty rock platform illuminated by the shaft.
As the acid comes on, imagine one of your SLOUGH subselves materializing on the platform. See what shape it takes.
Cue 2. Identify with this subself (be it); state your name (examples: Worrier, Sadsack, Prisoner) as it. ****
3. Say what you’re like as this sub. ****
4. As it, state what you want and what you like to do. ****
5. Become yourself, the tripper, seated before the platform again. Ask the subself why it wants what it wants. ****
6. Be the sub and reply. Say what you really need that creates the wants you spoke of. ****
7. As this sub, notice and say how you feel and what the world is like to you. Say what you need to feel good. ****
8. Be the tripper again. Imagine what life would be like if you were this sub-self all the time. State this. ****
9. See this sub climb off the platform and sit facing it.
Visualize one of your RAMBO subselves materialize on the platform.
Identify with this new sub; state your name and say what you are like, what you want and what you like to do. ****
10. Be the tripper again. Ask the subself why it wants what it wants. ****
11. Be the sub and reply. Say what you really need that creates the wants you spoke of. ****
12. As this sub, notice and say how you feel and what the world is like to you. Say what you need to feel good. ****
13. Be Tripper again. Say what life would be like if you were this sub all the time. ****
[Partner who is reading: Take your partner through the sequence of directions, numbered 9-13 above, for a WHOOPIE subself. Do likewise for a PAX subself.]
14. One by one, take turns being your Pax, Slough, Rambo and Whoopie subselves seated around the platform. As each, say your reaction to living in the same mind as the other three subs. ****
15. Alternate expressing yourself in the roles of one, then the other of two subs with strong, seemingly incompatible demands on each other or for the conduct of your life. ****
16. As each sub, say how you can find a RESOLUTION to the conflict by finding out how your deep needs are ultimately compatible. As each subself in turn, discuss ways you can help the others and how they can help you. ****
17. Identify with your Higher Self and tell your subs how to accept each other and cooperate. ****
18. The acid experience deepens, taking you back in time. The subself that has the most pain or anger regresses to the time it developed the patterns that trouble you most.
Identify with it as it goes back in time. As it,
RECALL AN EMOTIONAL UPSET you had as a child. [Pause.]
19. Notice and say how old you are when this upset occurs. ****
Tell (and RELIVE) the upset aloud in the present tense as though it’s
happening now. ****
20. What EMOTION do you experience during this upset? ****
Feel that emotion now. Sink into it more deeply.
21. TELL the people involved in the upset HOW YOU FEEL. ****
[Allow full emotional discharge until breathing returns to normal.]
22. What did you DECIDE as a result of this incident? ****
23. What’d you gain from this decision? ****
What would you like to do that you didn’t do? ****
24. Rerun the scene aloud*, THE WAY YOU’D LIKE IT to have been. Have me play a role in your revision of the upsetting scene? I’ll do it the way you wanted. You can do what you would have liked to. ****
[Reenact the incident again, following the new scenario. Encourage full expression of feelings.]
25. FORGIVE yourself and each of the others involved. ****
26. What’d you learn? Sum it up; make an AFFIRMATION of what you learned. Each time you say the affirmation, it helps you further heal your hurts. ****
Imagine aloud a future time when you live from what you now affirm instead what you decided earlier. ****
27. Imagine a PAST LIFE this subself dominated. Say what that past life was like. Tell and relive the main turning points of the life of the person you see dominated by the subself you’ve been exploring. ****
28. Imagine dying in that life. Move your body as you did dying, then describe your death. ****
29. Say your last words and thoughts till your heart stops beating. ****
30. Forgive yourself and any whom you resented. Do this aloud. ****
31. Separate from the suffering of the person who died and identify with that person’s consciousness. See the light, float peacefully, reunite with loved ones who died before you. [Pause.]
Encounter the karma committee or guide. Hear them review the lessons you learned in the life you just relived. Let them show you the meaning of your experiences. Tell me what you’re seeing. ****
32. Hear your karmic guides give you reminder sentences to pass on these lessons to your current life.
Tell me the reminder sentences. ****
33. Compare the themes of the life story you explored with the themes of your present life. ****
36. Now, the acid trip takes you to the very origin of the fetal phases that powered your scripts and subselves. The LSD lets you experience both what actually happened and the ideal way gestation, labor and birth could happen.
FLOAT IN THE ROOMY WOMB
Imagine and experience the first months when you floated in your mother. Relax–safe, comfortable, satisfied, at one with her womb. You and it meet each other’s needs. Here’s the core of Pax.
Fantasize yourself tiny again, afloat in fluid. Your head’s big as your body. Suck your fingers, rub your cord and genitals. Actually move your arms and legs now, as though they’re surrounded by liquid.
Hear Mom’s heart and inner gurgles. Experience her and yourself as one, at peace, part of each other. Feel yourself absorb her attitudes toward herself, Dad and you. Realize how these attitudes affected you.
Imagine how you feel if she drinks, smokes, snorts, rages, tenses, sickens, shoots-up, takes abuse, works in noise, tries to abort, almost miscarries; if she feels unhappy, unloved or starved. Fantasize and feel the effects of her coitus, pelvic exams and noise-exposure. Notice if a twin crowds you.
Now turn on your side. Bring your knees tightly toward your chest. put your hands under your chin. Curl as tight as you can. I’ll put my body around you and hold your head in place, like the womb, when you grew big in it. [Do so.]
Imagine yourself now in the months before labor, when you outgrow the womb. Feel it press you. Now and then it squeezes, almost crushes you. Squeezes scrunch-off food, warmth, contact, oxygen. You feel trapped, lonely, hopeless, helpless, useless, guilty, sad. Slough starts here.
Then the womb shoves you against the cervix, which opens. When I say, “Begin,” I’m going to let you push out–a few inches with each contraction–through my hands; first your head, then one shoulder, then the other, then the rest of you. If this isn’t how labor and birth really went for you, show me, and we’ll do it first how it was, then again the way you’d have liked it.
LABOR FOR LIFE
You may feel hope as you imagine Mom opening her cervix and pushing you through her vagina. Learn cooperation; you and Mom work together to push you out. Learn to strive for better conditions.
You learn rage, as the canal contracts and crushes you. It puts 100 pounds pressure on each inch of you. Learn Rambo power, as you identify with the canal. It clamps your jaw shut and almost smashes you, specially your skull. You lose warmth and oxygen when the cord loops or catches between your head and Mom’s pelvis. You almost suffocate.
When, struggling toward birth, you feel strangled, you also feel aroused. Sense Mom’s turn-on too as you push through her vagina. Do you link sex and struggle there?
Move again through Mom and muzzle her. Feel how this flavors your feelings toward cunnilingus and deep kissing. As you relive labor, slide through blood, urine, feces, fetal liquid. Fathom how this affects your feelings about body waste and membranes.
If anesthetic invades labor, smell, feel and taste it again. Realize how it clouds your struggle template. Anesthetic predisposes you, as an adult, to quit too soon and drug yourself with alcohol, cocaine or narcotics. To cure quitting and addiction, relive drugged labor. Then enact finishing it (when you push against my hands). Just before Mom delivered you, you stretched her tissues to the extreme. Her nerves and yours all fired, making you both feel aflame. Feel the heat.
Just before you push through my hands, feel the pain–so intensely you feel like you physically die–you felt just before your birth. Then relive birth.
Gasp for breath, jerk around, lose pressure outside your body. Feel pain in your navel and genitals. Feel Mom deliver you, free you from terrific tension. Whoopie’s here.
OK, BEGIN the labor pushes and keep going till you’re born. Allow sound.
[When your partner finishes the labor and birth simulation, hold, rock and stroke him or her as though he or she were newborn.]
Feel blood flow to your lungs. They unfolded and take over for the cut cord, trading oxygen and carbon dioxide.
Imagine eating and excreting on your own.
Witness how birth hailed or hurt; return to temperatures, emotions, tastes, touches, sounds, smells, sights and insights at birth. How did you, Mom, and others regard you? Feel them react to you. Tell me what you see. ****
37. In its peak, the LSD presents you with the mythic, nature and spiritual images most appropriate for your growth at this time. Receive them then tell me what you get. ****
38. Imagine the acid wearing off as you see the sky turn pink through the vent above the platform in the lava tube. Relight your candle and retrace your steps out of the tube in time to see the sun near the horizon. Walk along the floor, then up the trail out of the Crater, coming back more and more into ordinary awareness as you do. When you reach the top, go back to the workshop and lie down next to me. Open your eyes, wide awake.
39. Let’s change places. You take me through this exercise, starting with Cue 1.
** The Adventure of Self-Discovery: Dimensions of Consciousness and New Perspectives in Psychotherapy and Inner Exploration; Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988 and Vargiu, J., “Psychosynthesis Workbook”, Synthesis, Volume 1, 1974, pages 93-98
** Based on Woolger, R., Other Lives, Other Selves, New York: Doubleday, 1987, as well as my own observations and those reported by Grof.