May 24, 2021, Publisher: Breath Hub
Holotropic breathwork helps explore problems, get into a non-ordinary state of consciousness, and return to the ordinary with new perspectives. The individual goes deeper into their inner world, and the emotionally charged subconscious starts to rise to the consciousness. As tension, stress and deeply buried blockages are released, the aim is to achieve holistic healing in body, mind, and spirit.
The holotropic approach triggers strong states of consciousness through a combination of simple techniques. With controlled breathing, music and intrinsic observation, it aims to initiate a natural healing process that releases the energy blockages.
In holotropic breathwork, symptoms are not seen as the disease. They are not some pathogens to be destroyed but guides in the treatment process. And therefore, rather than complications, they create opportunities for treatment. The treatment process consists of temporary activation, intensification, and resolution of symptoms.
Breathing techniques can lead to non-ordinary states of consciousness, just like meditation, mystic, or psychedelic experiences. With the help of conscious breathing in tune with the music and inner concentration, the holotropic breathing technique triggers higher states of consciousness for existing symptoms to be stimulated and hidden symptoms to surface. Research on these experiences shows that higher states of consciousness help heal physical, emotional, and psychosomatic disorders.
The first principle of holotropic breathwork is to activate the self-healing mechanisms ⏤ like the body healing a physical wound without any conscious participation of the mind. So, instead of highlighting a specific breathing technique, it aims to get the individual to follow the inner clues of their unique healing process.
The practical elements of the holotropic approach consist of focus, music and breathwork. The process typically lasts 1 to 2 hours. It is recommended to have company for the first few practices.
To echo the words of Stanislav Grof, the necessary element in holotropic therapy and self-exploration is sustained, focused introspection. Just like in meditation, focus and introspection are tools to access different layers of the mind and higher levels of consciousness.
You can find tips on how to focus better here.
Music is a key element in holotropic breathwork. Usually, it is preferred to use dynamic and uplifting music that reveals emotions, enhances senses, and makes us feel completely absorbed. A continuous flow from an immersive and stimulating rhythm to a higher and more dramatic one is necessary. The gradual increase of rhythm and volume encourages an emotional breakthrough. After this peak, the music gradually goes back to a quiet and calming rhythm.
In the holotropic approach, the breathing rate changes with the rhythm of the music. It is calm before the music starts and it becomes synchronized with the music afterwards. The breathing gradually becomes faster, and eye-opening higher states of consciousness begin to surface. Hyperventilation is the centre of the healing process as it triggers the release of physical, emotional, and mental blockades. After this stage, breathing gradually slows down and becomes completely calm when the music ends.
It is important not to push oneself during conscious breathing and allow the transitions to flow as naturally as possible. The breathing rate should reflect one’s needs during this highly personal process.
Holotropic healing can be practised individually or in a group setting, but it is recommended to have a ‘sitter’ in the first few exercises. The sitter’s role is to make sure everything goes according to plan. This person adjusts the music and keeps the room, the surroundings and the lighting as planned. The sitter is there to support and interact only when needed.