Since the 1990s there has been an on-going dialogue amongst breathwork schools about the merits of joining together to promote standards in breathwork training and practice. Is an alliance useful or even possible in a field as diverse as breathwork?
In order for such an alliance to be useful, new paradigms are needed that are appropriate to a technique working directly with non-ordinary states of consciousness. The alliance must also be able to embrace a holistic model of client/practitioner interaction and organizational interaction.
Many breathwork schools have expressed interest and are ready to begin the implementation of cross-country and cross-program supportive relationships. We are at a defining point in the evolution of the breathwork movement.
The active dialogue between trainers started at the seventh Annual Global Inspiration Conference (henceforth GIC) in Italy (July, 2000) regarding the formation of an International Breathwork Certification Alliance. There were thirty breathwork trainers and practitioners from around the world who participated in a presentation on this initiative. The majority wanted to take part in the ensuing efforts to formalize this organization.
Over the past 25 years there has been an explosion in the blending of ancient breathing techniques for health and spiritual awareness with contemporary growth and therapeutic practices. The result has been the evolution of powerful and incisive healing and consciousness changing modalities. This unique, experimental blending has given birth to the field of breathwork which has promoted significant advances in medical, psychological and spiritual domains.
In the current proliferation of techniques, there is great benefit to nurturing alignment amongst schools sharing a common philosophy and regard for quality in training and practice. When such an alignment can be honoured and brought forth with a common purpose, the ensuing interchange and dialogue strengthens all parties. This step demands the courage to go beyond the fear of losing the integrity of what one has developed in isolation, in order to join with others to incorporate a greater good. The time is ripe for this to happen on a global scale – the taking of a bigger breath.
The alliance of breathwork schools can inspire the upholding of mutual standards for trainers, practitioners and students alike. Such an alliance communicates a clear statement to the public about breathwork as a valid, accessible and professional tool for healing and growth particularly suited to this point in our world evolution. It also highlights the attractiveness to prospective trainees who seek the professionalism of recognized training programs based on a holistic paradigm.
The alliance increases the possibility that breathwork students in the future might continue their education in various schools. This could eventually lead to interchangeable training modules similar to the transfer of credits between universities with common educational standards.
Mutual recognition of one another’s certification process is critical if breathwork schools and programs are to advance beyond feudal competitiveness. Breathwork by its very nature induces non-ordinary states of consciousness and its successful practice requires a blend of the intuitive and the scientific.
Clearly, a new paradigm for the process of certification is needed if certification is not to become another repressive tool for control. Like any tool, however, it must be recognized that it is only as good and useful as the loving intentions of those who participate in its creation and implementation.
Models of breathwork certification vary widely amongst schools. Yet there is a commonality incorporating these kind of tenants which are mutually respected among Alliance schools and programs:
Working Principles for the Certification of Breathworkers
- Integrity in practice starts with an inner commitment to use breathwork for the greatest good of one’s self and others.
- Certification is ultimately an agreement between practitioners about shared values and standards amongst themselves and with the public they are addressing.
- Training standards are guidelines indicating the forms breathwork trainers currently consider the most appropriate to help students develop their awareness and skills in linking the physical breath with spiritual purpose in themselves and others.
- Participation in certification is a commitment to honouring one’s growth in awareness of the spirit of breath in all.
- All certification involves self-credentialing – a voluntary dedication to a growing self knowledge of who one is, why one is here and how breathwork serves one’s deepening awareness of both, while helping open the door for others to do the same for themselves.
- A professional breathworker accepts this dedication as their highest intention and commits themselves to holding this priority.
- A professional breathworker invites honest feedback from colleagues concerning how they live this priority in serving themselves and others.
- A professional breathworker periodically renews their commitment to excellence and engages in continuing education for professional enhancement.
- Certification is not meant to be exclusive or restrictive or comprehensive, but supportive and suggestive in using the highest united intention of the collective consciousness of a dedicated planetary breathwork community.
- Breathwork involves non-ordinary states of consciousness and requires a high level of personal integrity in its use and respect for the sacredness of the client’s process.
A more comprehensive discussion of the training factors involved in mutual recognition of certification of breathworkers is in “New Paradigms for Standards in Breathwork: Birth of the Global Professional Breathwork Alliance,” J. Morningstar, The Healing Breath: A Journal of Breathwork Practice, Psychology and Spirituality, Vol. 3, # 4, 2002, www.healingbreathjournal.org/thb41abstract.htm.
The Birth and Evolution of the Global Professional Breathwork Alliance
The GPBA has been taking form progressively each year since its inception at the Global Inspiration Conference in June 1999 (Spain). Jim Morningstar, who made the original proposals for an international alliance, received a vote of confidence to serve as coordinator of the GPBA in its nascent stages.
Others who volunteered to work on the Alliance formation in the beginning of it’s creation include: Binnie A Dansby (England), Catherine Dowling (Ireland), Dan Brule (USA), Tamara Penn (Canada), Marga Parellada (Spain), Harrison and Blanche Tanner (Canada), Peter Kane (USA), Robin Lawley (Italy), Judee Gee (France), Tilke Platteel-Deur (Holland), Layla Edwards (Venezuela), Nemi Nath (Australia), Franceen King (USA), Jane Okondo (England), Leonard Orr (USA), Ann Harrison (Australia), Jonnie Lee (Australia), Jessica Dibb (USA) and Denise Burgess (Australia).
By early 2000, a survey of breathwork schools had been refined and sent out.
In 2001, the survey results from 22 schools were collated and presented publicly, three possible membership categories were formulated, the website was produced, and Jessica Dibb recieved a vote of confidence to join Jim Morningstar as co-coordinator of the alliance.
In 2002, principles, ethics and training standards were elaborated and put forth and these were ratified in June 2003.
Schools and individual members began joining the GPBA in 2004.
One of the major forums at the Global Inspiration Conference, June 2001 in the US, was “New Paradigms for Standards in Breathwork: Toward an International Breathwork Certification Alliance,” which Jim Morningstar moderated with Gay Hendricks, Tav Sparks and Jessica Dibb. Over 30 breathwork schools and practitioners gathered during this forum and subsequent meetings, giving birth to the beginnings of working Membership Categories. Consensus amongst the schools was to focus on the promotion of training standards and interchange amongst schools, rather than universal credentialing of breathworkers. Over the course of many meetings at the GIC 2001, a structure for this new paradigm emerged which provides for three levels of school/program/practitioner participation. It allows for shared promotion of breathwork, mutual recognition of training programs’ intent and principles, and a variety of Forms of interchange. The structure entails three membership categories in which breathwork programs might participate in this alliance:
Affiliate Member Affiliate Membership is available to the general public, students of breathwork and non-GPBA certified practitioners who support the Ethical Practice of Therapeutic Breathwork and agree to the Ethical Standards Procedures.
Certified Practitioners Breathwork practitioners and trainers who have fulfilled the GPBA-recognized professional standards for breathwork training.
School/Training Program A breathwork school/training program that has offered trainings in compliance with the GPBA standards of breathwork training for the last two years.
Current listing of GPBA members
Current individual and school members of the GPBA are listed in the Membership Directory page (see Menu).
The orientation of each participating school and practitioner can be clarified by following the links to their respective websites and/or contact sources.
Incorporation of the GPBA
In 2005, the first international board meeting was convened from June 1-5, in Maryland (USA).
The initial board of directors is comprised of 8 voluntary members; 6 directors of breathwork schools who have been teaching professional level breathwork trainings for at least 15 years, and 2 other members who have the particular skills and dedication important to the GPBA’s functioning. The maximum number for the board of directors has been set at 12.
Current GPBA Board members :
Advisory Board members –
Binnie Dansby, UK: email@example.com
Judee Gee, France: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeremy Youst, USA: email@example.com
Ann Harrison, Australia firstname.lastname@example.org
Tilke Platteel-Deur, Holland email@example.com
Alice Wells, USA: firstname.lastname@example.org