This book by the husband-and-wife duo of Stanislav & Christina Grof, has the secondary title, A New Approach to Self-Exploration and Therapy, had been on my radar for a couple years.
As many of you know, I am a self-experimenter and am open to try new things for performance or to experience new sensations of states of being. I also like to try things before I feel comfortable recommending them to my High Performance clients.
As early as the 1940’s, LSD had been discovered to be a potential useful tool in the assistance of emotional and psychosomatic disorders. When the over zealous drug bans (even for research) came sweeping through in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the use of LSD for research and medical purposes was greatly curtailed. Holotropic Breathwork was developed and refined to be a replacement that could get people into a similar state.
Holotropic Breathwork is a powerful method of self-exploration and therapy that uses a combination of seemingly simple means -accelerated breathing, evocative music, and a type of bodywork that helps to release residual bioenergetic and emotional blocks.
In theory and practice, Holotropic Breathwork combines and integrates various elements from depth psychology, modern consciousness research, transpersonal psychology, Eastern spiritual philosophies, and native healing practices.
To be clear, currently LSD is a Schedule 1 drug, however it is not that difficult to get. People still use it to trip out, many people micro-dose it for cognitive performance and focus, especially in Silicon Valley. I know people who micro-dose safely and effectively. I could have gotten my hands on some, like I did for my psylocibin experience, however I chose to first try out Holotropic Breathwork as an alternative first.
I have to admit, that I was somewhat expecting that the book would lay out all the necessary steps for me or a small group of us to be able to recreate a session. While the book does a wonderful job of detailing many of the aspects required, from the right conditions and setting, to the type of music and procedural aspects, I came to the conclusion that without an experienced facilitator to guide you or assist you as things come up for you, it may not be a good experience.
Ironically, near the very beginning of the book, the authors make it clear that this book will not teach you how to do Holotropic Breathwork on your own. Bummer!
Typically, after a session, participants are encouraged to draw on paper their feelings, thoughts and emotions. These would typically be called Mandalas, that many people might be familiar with. The book shares a number of these full color drawings from past patients, along with the interpreted meanings and some back story on the trauma that person had suffered. I have to say that was very powerful, as well as the many self-stories shared in the book.
The book also explains some of the recurring themes the authors see from certain types of traumas and how it typically manifests itself in people’s actions in their lives. If you have been stuck with a problem for years, this alone may give you some insights.
If I wasn’t already interested in experimenting before reading the book, I am very interested in trying a session myself now. As of the writing of this review, I have yet to connect with a trained and licensed practitioner in my local area to try Holotropic Breathwork for myself. You can guarantee if I do get to experience it, I will share my experience with everyone.
If you work with others or are yourself interested in self-exploration, emotional and trauma releases or breathwork, then this is a book you should consider reading, even if you never choose to do a proper session.
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