About Holotropic Breathwork
Holotropic Breathwork is an experiential approach to self-exploration that utilises a combination of deeper accelerated breathing, evocative music and focused bodywork to induce non-ordinary states of consciousness with a healing potential.
These non-ordinary states can be similar to those observed in various spiritual practices, including meditation and rituals of different cultures. Through the direct experience of non-ordinary states, practitioners can deepen their awareness of themselves on physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels, as well as gain more universal insights in transpersonal domains. The word holotropic was coined from two words: holos meaning whole and trepein meaning moving towards something. Holotropic therefore means “moving towards wholeness”.
Holotropic Breathwork was developed by Stanislav and Christina Grof through decades of exploration of non-ordinary states, evolving into its present format. Holotropic Breathwork is mostly done in a group setting although 1-1 sessions are possible. In a workshop, participants pair up so that in each session, one person from the pair is the experiencer (the "breather") and their partner plays the role of a "sitter" - being present to assist their breather in case they need support. The roles are then reversed in the subsequent session. Trained facilitators are also present in the sessions providing safety and support for participants.
Each breathing session usually starts with the breather lying down comfortably on a mat, with their sitter next to them. The group is then led through a brief relaxation, followed with instructions for circular breathing for the breathers. After this the music starts, initially dynamic and rhythmical, then slowly transitioning into more melodic sounds for the second hour, and easing into the third hour of quieter, meditative sounds including chanting and nature sounds.
The breathing session is considered to be only 1/3 of the process. The first part is the preparation for the session which includes an opening circle in which participants can get a sense of each other and where important practical information is provided. The remaining third is the integration after the breathing session.
As part of the integration of their experiences, participants are encouraged to draw, paint and write, or to use any other medium that suits them. Often the breathing session can open up content that we can continue to work with afterwards, including using dream work, Jungian sandplay, other integrative therapies and further breathwork sessions.
Holotropic Breathwork provides an opportunity for us to go inside, reconnect and discover aspects of ourselves that we might've not been previously aware of, including our own inner healing potential and resources. It is for this reason that I find it very compatible with Brennan Healing and Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy.