Holotropic Breathwork is a type of meditation practice that originated in the 1960s. Its name derives from the Greek words holos meaning whole or complete, and psychosis meaning respiration. It was developed by Stanislav Grof, M.D., Ph.D., who coined the term “holotropic” in 1967. Holotropic breathwork helps people find balance within themselves and allows them to connect with their true self. The technique has been used for decades as an alternative therapy for people with various health issues such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, addiction, eating disorders, and other conditions.
The development of holotropic therapy
In the early 1970s, Dr. Grof began using this method to treat patients suffering from severe trauma. He found that many of these patients had difficulty processing their emotions and needed help accessing repressed material.
Dr. Grof’s first book on the subject, titled The Holotropic Mind: New Directions in Psychotherapy (1978), describes his experiences treating patients with severe emotional problems. His second book, Beyond the Brain: Birth, Death and Transcendence in Psychotherapy (1980) expanded upon his theories about the mind-body connection. He describes how the brain functions as part of a larger organism called the body-mind. This concept led him to develop the idea of the holographic universe where all things are connected through a field of energy.
How to do holotropic breathwork?
The first step is to lie down on a bed or mat. A facilitator starts playing calming music. Sometimes, they play the same song throughout the entire process. Then, the breathers start breathing deeply — inhaling and exhaling slowly and steadily, without forcing anything out.
The breathwork practitioner is guiding them to specific areas inside their minds. For example, if someone wants to explore their feelings about money, they might focus on the area above their heart. If someone wants to work on being less judgmental, they might focus on their throat. If they want to work on something physical, they can move to a certain part of the body. Or, they can think about what they want to change, and the practitioner helps them find those thoughts.
How is holotropic breathing practiced?
Holotropic breathing sessions typically last anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours and involve music playing throughout the process. This form of breathwork involves taking deep breaths while focusing on one’s internal and bodily sensations.
Holotropic Breathwork is most often practiced with a group of people. The breather practices deep breathing exercises while sitting alone, and the sitter supports her/him throughout the process. The sitter does not participate in the practice unless it becomes necessary. This is because the sitter is there to ensure safety and support the breather. In addition, the sitter is responsible for ensuring that the breather continues to breathe deeply and rapidly.
Holotropic breathwork experiences
Participants report feeling different emotions while doing the work such as fear, anxiety, anger, confusion, joy, sadness, or love. They often describe the experience as being very real, vivid, and intense. Some say that it feels like they are dreaming, others say that it feels like a flashback.
The idea behind holotropic breathwork is that we are all living in a dream world—that our thoughts, feelings, perceptions, memories, and actions are all part of a larger story called life. We live within this story every day without even realizing it. This story is composed of many smaller stories, each one of which represents a single event or memory. These events can be positive or negative. When we think negatively, we create more negativity. When we think positively, we create more positivity.
When we take deep breaths during holotropic breathwork, we’re able to access parts of ourselves that have been buried under layers of negative emotion. By allowing ourselves to feel those emotions, we become aware of what we’ve been hiding from ourselves.
How does holotropic breathwork work?
When you breathe deeply, your diaphragm expands and contracts. When you inhale, the diaphragm moves down, which forces more oxygen into your bloodstream. As the blood flows to the organs, the oxygen reaches them and they begin to function properly. Oxygen also stimulates the production of endorphins, natural painkillers.
When you exhale, the diaphram moves up, forcing carbon dioxide out of the body. Carbon dioxide is toxic to living cells, so when the body releases it, it can be eliminated.
Holotropic breathing is different than normal breathing because you’re not just inhaling and exhaling normally; you’re doing both at the same time. You’re taking in oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide, but you’re also expanding your consciousness beyond the confines of your body.
Ready to give this breathwork technique a try?
Holotropic breathwork is one of many types of alternative medicine used to treat emotional distress. This type of therapy encourages patients to release pent-up energy that might otherwise build up into physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, and insomnia. While there are no FDA-approved treatments for depression, some studies suggest that holotropic breathwork has a huge impact on people’s healing journeys on all levels. If you’d like to try it out, you’re in the right place. Check out the amazing offerings of Breath Masters.