Holotropic and Integrative
Breathwork are a merging of Shamanic journeying and other time-honored
techniques of obtaining nonordinary states with a form of deep inner feeling
psychology. There is anthropological evidence that the overwhelming majority of
cultures have had some form of ritual to induce nonordinary states of
consciousness. Radiance breathwork has similar aspects, but there appears to
have slightly more emphasis placed on the deep inner feeling work. Vivation also
has some aspects of nonordinary states, but a great emphasis is placed on deep
inner feeling work and integrating those feelings.
Breathwork is about
reconnecting, embracing and integrating all aspects of ourselves. This includes
unresolved and feelings (pleasant and unpleasant) surrounding events (recent,
biographical/childhood events, birth process events, past lives, etc.) which we
have kept buried in our subconscious minds and which can have significant impact
on our psychological and physical health. Such a process, while difficult at
times, can be tremendously healing.
Use of the breath and a sincere
willingness to feel whatever comes up are the keys to accessing these unresolved
issues. The process involves using the breath and sometimes other techniques as
a way to get beyond our ego and defenses and locate issues in the subconscious
mind (and often reflected in the body as tightness or energy blockages) that
need to be felt, embraced and integrated. There is no need to direct the mind to
specific events as the breath will take the person where is needed.
an unresolved issue is brought to the surface, it is felt and experienced deeply
and then embraced and integrated into our beings. This causes a permanent change
in the energy surrounding this issues. Depending upon the type of breathwork
used and the issues which are accessed, there may be anywhere from alot of
emotional expression to none.
Using the breathwork process over time, one
goes deeper and deeper into the inner journey, reconnecting with and integrating
aspects that have been unresolved. This results in a significant healing of the
body, mind and spirit which is very deep and permanent.
The breath is
also a key element which can be used to get in touch with our spirit and
creativity so that we can reconnect with aspects of ourselves that give meaning
and enjoyment to our lives. This too is one of the goals of the breathwork
Pursuing the process of healing and transformation using the
breathwork techniques can be an enormously rewarding process. However, it must
be said that it can be difficult at times, joyous at times, frustrating,
invigorating -- just what one might expect from a deep inner
The breathwork process is not a panacea for all ills. It is
not a substitute for other fundamental holistic healing techniques. Nor is it a
substitute for treatment from a qualified holistic healthcare professional. But
it can be a very powerful and useful technique for healing the body, mind and
I have found that
there are three additional things which have helped me considerably in between
the breathwork sessions:
- Activities which help me keep in touch with my body and stay grounded so
that I am not stuck in my mind all of the time. For me this included hiking,
racketball (and other sports), Bioenergetics (body-centered therapy), and
yoga. There are many activities that would be helpful for staying grounded
and in touch with one's body. Some of these include: dance, tai chi,
walking, swimming, martial arts, etc.
- Regular social activities.
- Meditation or other inner peace or spiritual practices.
didn't use all of these things when I started the breathwork and do not think
that they are prerequisites to doing the breathwork, but I have since found the
activities helpful to me in between the breathwork sessions.
- Health Conditions can have a significant effect on
whether or when it would be beneficial to use breathwork. For example, a
person with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (and possibly others) may need some
preliminary activities before they are ready to get significant benefit from
breathwork. Please read the first Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
case history & analysis for an excellent example as to preliminary
holistic healing techniques which may be needed.
- Addictions such an eating disorders (food addiction,
anorexia, bulemia), alcohol addiction, drug addiction, gambling addiction,
etc. are sometimes considered psychological or spiritual emergencies. I
believe that the eventual use of breathwork techniques can be very helpful
in addressing some of the core issues that contributed to the development of
these conditions. However, I have found that it can be much
better to first stabalize and begin to heal the situation using one or more
of the following techniques:
- Regular supportive counselling/psychotherapy.
- Twelve-Step program (e.g., actually working of the steps in a
- Seeking out supportive atmospheres and living situations to the
- Healthy Nutrition
- Body-oriented practices (e.g., Bioenergetics, yoga, tai chi)
- Meditation (part of the 11th step in the Twelve-Step program)
- Psychological Conditions such as depression, anxiety
attacks, etc. may be helped significantly (over time) using these breathwork
techniques. I believe that it is very important to have a supportive
environment and/or regular visits to a psychotherapist during the breathwork
process to help work with issues that can come up as one gets more in touch
with both the pleasant and unpleased feelings that may have been suppressed.
In some cases, breathwork may be contraindicated. In other cases, it may be
prudent to use other holistic healing techniques and other inner healing
techniques (e.g., meditation) initially before exploring breathwork. Please
talk openly with the breathwork facilitator and your healthcare practitioner
about the situation.
- Physical Illnesses Including Chronic Pain can effect
the breathwork session. Some facilitators are trained and/or experienced in
working with people who have quite a variety of physical illnesses or
chronic pain. Please discuss these issues with the breathwork