My Holotropic Breathwork Experience
A few months back when I was screened to receive ayahuasca, I was asked if I had ever tried Holotropic Breathwork, I had not, I’d never heard of it before. I now know it is a practice for deep therapeutic work so not for everyone. I think when people exhaust the lighter means to feel good, perhaps addressing the more superficial causes, they may be forced to explore their trauma, or psyche and beyond into much deeper work, or remain in the struggle, stuck. Sometimes when the frustration and pain gets too much, we have little to lose, that’s when the real work begins.
My article is only to briefly mention my own experience. With some of these practises I feel it best to dive in and get the experience, rather than the intellect trying to decipher how and why it works. The mind can ruin what would otherwise be a great new journey. If you wish to know more of the details, here is a good primer Twelve Things You Should Know About Holotropic Breathwork.
So I’ll spare you the details of how it all works, just to say Holotropic Breathwork was created by psychiatrist Stan Groff in the 70’s. Groff carried out a lot of work with LSD treating patients. When LSD became illegal Groff went in search of natural ways to achieve similar results, the result is Holotropic Breathwork.
This night was planned by my guides and ancestors.
During my sleepless night, the idea of breathwork came to me, it grabbed me, similar to how ayahuasca grabbed me almost one year ago, I knew I had to take the step, but I also knew breathwork deals with trapped energy, emotions, trauma, so much deeper than the symptom of back pain. A massage would be a more direct route to relief, although massage will not deal with the route cause. I didn’t expect to get an appointment, but felt “lucky” to get one that evening, I later found out that luck was not involved.
So I went into the session very differently from ayahuasca of which I was as prepared as I could have been for, yet one cannot really prepare for ayahuasca as it’s such an out there experience, read my experience of my first ceremony here. So the breathwork was more spontaneous and I didn’t know what to expect, I just instinctively knew there was work in it for me, I needed to be there, more would be revealed.
The practise itself is quite simple, but effective. My session was a one on one, but there are group sessions that I believe can be more intense as the energy in the room can rise as all are working simultaneously. There is a preparation for the space, for protection, perhaps Shamanic, music is played in the background, and as I lay on the mat with a blanket over me, and a fire burning, the facilitator sat beside me and directed me through a guided relaxation, then instructed me through the breathing.
Very soon I began to cough, and to moan, to vocalise, quite naturally whatever energies were being released. My hands and fingers contorted and muscles locked. I began to sweat. My facilitator used her hands to apply pressure on areas where the energy was trapped, my throat, chest and stomach mainly, the crown of my head. I did find the experience quite similar to ayahuasca, but without the fear and intensity. If you’ve read my ayahuasca articles here you’ll know I have a history of purging other energies and demons during these ceremonies. The greatest difference for me from the plant medicine was I found it much easier to step back and observe the process. The energies being purged, my facilitator preferred to say “released”, were granted use of my body and vocal cords, they roared out and groaned with discomfort. I felt no anguish or fear of them as I had done with ayahuasca, I felt more compassion for their struggle, and a respect, feeling moved to observe them and be present for their birth, or death as they moved on. I had no ill will, no aggression to try to cast them out, as I have regularly felt in the plant medicine.
As the session progressed I learned and practised this process more and more, stepping back, allowing, observing. The only time I consciously stepped in was after a purge as my breathing would slow and I felt nothing was happening, in this case I would restart the breathwork practise. But at times, this occurred automatically. The conscious “I” was not directing this exercise.
This releasing continued for quite a while, I’d guess about one hour, perhaps ninety minutes, some of it very energetic.
this night was planned by my guides and ancestors
An important realisation I received very early on and had suspicions even during the day was that the session was planned, this was not a coincidence that I had a sore back and booked in on a Friday evening. In my third ayahuasca session I became aware that this deep work had been planned three to five thousand years ago. In the plant medicine case I’m not suggesting the day and time, and the work involved had been prearranged, but that they knew I would continue on my journey and were aware of a rough time frame I would be ready to reconnect, to awaken, when I had learned whatever I set out to learn, to progress on to the next stage. They guided me towards that room, sowing seeds of interest to get me there. Our guides are always with us, even when we are unaware, they do what they can to nudge us along in higher directions. In these altered states our egos are out of the way, so our guides can make contact much easier, and work on cleaning our consciousness if that is required.
I had contact with Light Beings in my ayahuasca sessions so when the breathwork began I was aware they were present too with small amounts of telepathic communication. They wanted me there that night, this was arranged for me to work with that specific practitioner, to communicate with her and learn from her and to benefit from the breathwork experience. This also was a reconnection for me with the beings, in recent days I had wanted to reconnect, to remember who I am and why I am here, to be reminded. I had visited a portal in my area and contemplated that energy and my own relationship to it. Yet with the passing of time and the stress of life, it’s not difficult to forget the deeper lessons and begin to get bogged down in day to day life.
Overall I took away the experience of how suitable breathwork is for me, how it compliments ayahuasca, teaching me to step back, to observe the process, rather than trying to manage it, perhaps much like life. Also the understanding that my family are with me, and in ways furthering more deep work to help me fulfil the role I am here to inhabit.
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