Holotropic Breathwork® is a powerful approach to self-exploration and personal empowerment that relies on our innate inner wisdom and its capacity to move us toward positive transformation and wholeness. Acknowledging, accessing and supporting the inner healing intelligence and impulse in each individual is the essential cornerstone of this approach.
The theoretical framework integrates insights from modern consciousness research, anthropology, various depth psychologies, transpersonal psychology, Eastern spiritual practices, and mystical traditions of the world.
Holotropic Breathwork® adheres to the Principles of HB as written by HB developers Christina Grof and Stanislav Grof and the Ethical Agreements for HB. Only practitioners certified through GTT are allowed to practice Holotropic Breathwork®.
Holotropic Breathwork® (HB) refers to a process in which deep, fast breathing (just a little bit deeper and faster than usual), in a supportive context, is used as a catalyst for the experience of an expanded state of awareness, also called a non-ordinary state of consciousness or "hylotropic" state.
The expanded state accessed during HB is thought to be inherently healing and evolutionary, bringing to the surface any issues that need addressing and helping the client to resolve them in a creative way. Holotropic Breathwork® has been called “industrial strength meditation.”
After having received an introduction into Holotropic Breathwork®, workshop participants become partners and work in pairs, with one as the "breather" and the other as the "sitter". The breather lies down in a mattress, while the sitter ensures that the breather is physically safe and supported during the session. The instructions for the breather are simply to breathe a bit deeper and faster than usual, keeping eyes closed, starting out in an open, relaxed position; and with as few expectations as possible about the session they are about to have. The deep breathing gradually brings on an expanded state of consciousness, and at that point breathers are asked to simply trust their own inner healing wisdom and follow the thread of whatever emerges. The experience is supported by three hours of music, which begins with drumming or similar evocative music, reaches an emotional crescendo, transition to heartfelt music and finishes with meditative music. Breathers are free to make any motion, move into any posture, or make any sound they wish. Facilitators offer support to any person in the room who might need it. In the next session breathers and sitter swap roles. After the sessions integration of the experience is supported through expressive art work and small group sharing - both being optional. Facilitators are present throughout the workshop to create the safe setting, explain the method, support the process, and work with people whenever necessary.
In a Holotropic Breathwork® workshop, people experience a place of deep safety and profound trust, often for the first time. They learn to take time out from ordinary life for their deeper concerns and dreams. They learn how to bear witness to their own suffering and the suffering of others. They learn how to support one another through a dramatic process of unfolding. They learn that the enormous spiritual treasures of the cosmos are available in each of us. They learn to trust their inner healer. They learn that experiencing their truth is the quickest way to wholeness. They learn to be compassionate to themselves and others. They learn to celebrate their uniqueness and respect other peoples’ differences. They learn that it’s okay to feel little and vulnerable and that it’s okay to feel big and powerful. They learn to empathize with everything in the created universe as part of themselves, and they learn that they too are part of everything. They learn how to trust the deep wisdom of their own psyche, and to stay open to its ever-evolving story. (from Martin Boroson "12 Things you should know about Holotropic Breathwork™" - see FAQ)
For further information on the depth and beauty of Holotropic Breathwork® please see also Stan Grof's article Theory and Practice of Holotropic Breathwork®
For a personal account from a "first-time-breather" see: Tony Balbin on his first Holotropic Breathwork® experience