In Dr. Stanislav Grof’s Holotropic Breathing you breathe to music and get holos–experiences, images and insights so you grow. Holos, properly integrated, can cure your psychic, emotional and physical ills, so you enjoy, know and love more. In Grof Breathing, you evoke inner experiences and express them your way. If you’re healthy and happy, Holotropic sessions expand your awareness; if you suffer, breathwork helps you heal.
$150/hour. Schedule a minimum of 3 to 4 hours for this session.
HOLOTROPIC BREATHWORK: DRUGLESS PSYCHEDELIC THERAPY by Sasha Lessin, Ph.D.
A matron, reliving her childhood, rocks and wails, held by a woman half her age; an athlete, re-experiencing his birth, desperately pushes his head through the hands of his partner; a smiling priest sits in lotus and for the first time knows the oneness with God he has preached about for years. About them on pads in the dimly-lit room lie a dozen other close-eyed, hypnotized “breathers”, each attended by a partner. Some breathers writhe, shriek or cry; others remain still, silent and peaceful. Inundated by evocative music and encouraged by focused bodywork, all are deeply immersed in the unfolding of their inner worlds.These workshop participants are engaged in a powerful growth process: Holotropic Breathwork.
Holotropic Breathwork grew from a challenge confronted in 1976 by psychiatrist Stanislav Grof, Chief of Psychiatric Research at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center. Grof and his colleagues had created the most effective psychotherapy ever developed. But the American and other governments banned their work.25 years of meticulous scientific research had proven LSD-assisted psychotherapy the most effective treatment for alcohol and narcotics addiction, emotional, psychosomatic and relational problems, and for the anguish of terminal cancer. Psychedelics, in controlled settings with expert guidance, had also proven invaluable for those seeking personal and spiritual growth.
LSD–a non-specific emotional amplifier with no adverse physical side-effects–let patients watch their unconscious. They saw, felt and resolved painful memories, womb experiences, images of past-lives and spiritual sequences. They released inner conflicts and trapped feelings that had led to their problems. They relaxed, enjoyed life and responded well to stress. Yet, reacting to widespread public abuse and hysteria, the U.S. and other nations ended all legal LSD therapy. Grof had found a therapy that solved most mental health and growth needs but could not use it.
He left government employ and signed on as Scholar-in-Residence at Esalen Growth Center in Big Sur, California. There, over the next decade, he explored alternate, nondrug, means of reaching the deep healing that resides in the unconscious. His wife, Christina, helped him combine methods from art, primal, gestalt, music, movement and Jungian therapy with bioenergetics, psychosynthesis and rebirthing as well as ancient and modern spiritual and shamanic practices. Their synthesis, Holotropic (which means moving toward wholeness) Therapy, met the challenge of a safe, legal means for self-directed inner exploration of the unconscious as powerful as LSD therapy.
Breathwork’s a heady blend. A Grof workshop frees and uplifts you if you can handle deep emotions and welcome spiritual experiences. Only if. Breathwork’s too strong for very disturbed–or weak-hearted–people.
A Holotropic session starts tamely enough. The leader tells participants to expect repressed memories, womb feelings, past-life pictures and spiritual visions.
Participants pair up. One partner of each pair, “the breather,” reclines, watched by his partner. The leader suggests breathers relax deeply, breathe faster and more fully and notice images behind their closed eyes. For a few breathers, these relaxed beginnings deepen into blissful memories of pleasures and triumphs in life, intimations of floating in a loving womb, of undrugged birth into a loving family.
But for a breather who feels trapped or one who never stops struggling, nightmarish images unfold. If he feels trapped, he’ll likely remember times he felt helpless and hopeless. He imagines caged animals, a fetus caught in a womb he’s outgrown, a concentration camp, Hell.
If a breather’s a compulsive struggler, he remembers conflicts; he pictures war or battles with animals. He may arch his neck and push like a fetus fighting for birth.
His feelings may build for two hours, climax and release. Now relaxed and reflective, he draws a mandala to symbolize his experience.
Then the other half of the group breathes. Then all participants review the workshop. What do they get?
Most get freedom. Freedom from being pushed-around by their own internal, unconscious forces. Grofwork frees people from confusing the present with their internal images. When you recognize your images, they stop dimming your view, damping your delight.
Here’s some articles to read to explore Holotropic Breathing and experiences it brings.
Heighten Your Holos: Get More From Grof Breathwork by Sasha Lessin, Ph. D.
Holotropic Breathwork with Voice Dialogue by Sasha Lessin, Ph. D.
Karma Clearing: Dying to this Life by Sasha Lessin, Ph. D.
Pastlives: Learn From Lives Lapsed by Sasha Lessin, Ph. D.
Prepare for Holotropic Breathing by Sasha Lessin, Ph. D.
Spiritual Emergency Psychic Flooding Heralds Spiritual Emergence by Sasha Lessin, Ph. D.