Issue # 22 April 2014
Welcome to the GPBA eNews.

Welcome to the GPBA eNews. You are receiving this newsletter because of your connection to Breathwork.

The GPBA eNews is a quarterly publication. The eNews is designed to provide inspiring articles on breathwork for professional breathworkers and the general public, to give expert advice on the process and facilitation of breathwork and to give information on the Global Professional Breathwork Alliance membership and events sponsored by us.

The general eNews is a free service of the GPBA.  You will notice that some of the content is only available to members. We’d like to take this opportunity to invite you to become a member. The MEMBERS ONLY version of the eNews is reserved for our members and provides full content, special articles and Q&A sections for those involved in professional breathwork. For this and other membership benefits click here: Membership.

In this Issue you will find:
2014 Second Annual Omega Conference: Breath Immersion: From Science To Samadhi


Therapeutic Breathwork
by Jeremy Youst

The Expanding Breath – The Evolving Human
by Carol A. Lampman

Holotropic Breathwork
by Stanislov Groff, MD

Members Only

Therapeutic Breathwork and Body Themes: An Integrative Approach to Six Major Breathing Patterns – Part II
By Jim Morningstar, PhD and Joanna Farina, MA

Breathwork Trainings Around the World

2014 OMEGA Flyer

JYbioTherapeutic Breathwork
by Jeremy Youst

“Everything breathes: breathing is the inspiration of Life within all living forms of reality. All matter is in a continual state of particle exchange. In humans, breathing is the biological basis and spiritual expression that renews life, propels awareness and focuses body-mind functioning in time and space.” (1st Principle of Conscious Connected Breathing – J. Youst)

Therapeutic Breathwork is the purposeful application of conscious, connected breathing in one-on-one or group settings, guided by a skilled practitioner and the Spirit of Breath, and held within a sacred container of a therapeutic intention, relationship and community.

The Spirit of Breath in this case refers to the multi-dimensional collective intelligence that naturally seeks harmony, balance and fulfillment, and seems to surround and guide the act of conscious breathing. Working therapeutically with the Spirit of Breath inspires most aspects of the client-therapist relationship, and provides for a heightened sense of safety, honesty, integrity and reality.

For thousands of years humans have found by changing the rate, ratio, volume and flow of the respiratory cycle, there can be experiential and perceptual shifts in consciousness, spiritual awareness, cognition and self-identity.  More recently, when applied therapeutically, the shifts experienced in conscious, connected breathing seem to be linked to a deeper sense of inner connection, somatic groundedness, emotional empowerment and psycho-spiritual integration.

Therapeutic Breathwork engages all aspects of body, mind and spirit in its approach to empowerment and healing. The three primary areas of benefit are:

1) Body-mind therapy
2) Personal Development
3) Spiritual Empowerment

Each one of these areas of focus may be engaged within the full scope of a Therapeutic Breathwork session, and therefore requires a unique combination of skills on the part of the therapist. Therapeutic attention may involve a variety of cognitive and psychological tools, goal orientation and coaching skills, familiarity with of trauma and PTSD, body-mind as well as affective awareness, and even sensitivity to non-ordinary realities. Regardless of this diversity, however, what makes Therapeutic Breathwork uniquely powerful and integrative is its utilization of a basic, self-regulating, biological mechanism uniquely fashioned for balancing stressed nerves: the human respiratory system.

On its own, the act of respiration naturally energizes, cleanses, purifies, uplifts and reconnects the human organism to a state of maximum balance as well as higher states of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. A few full, relaxed exhales naturally helps to release stress and engage the body’s parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) nervous system. Combining these inherent capabilities with conscious choice accelerates the healing effect by activating a person’s awareness and supporting their desire to grow and improve oneself.  Therapeutic Breathwork not only enhances these qualities with conscious intent, but also seeks to engage the intelligence within the breath itself in order to escort or guide the process of self-discovery, emotional freedom and spiritual transformation.

The first step in this practice is in reminding the body how to breathe an “open, healthy breath”, i.e. the natural, relaxed and uninhibited breath most of us began with as infants.  Then, by consciously “picking up the inhale”, i.e. starting the next breath right away and closing the natural pause or gap, and by letting the exhale flow out, unencumbered and free, the connected or circular breath is established.

This type of breathing initiates an increase in body awareness that often leads to whatever physical, emotional and/or mental patterns are currently preventing a full and easy life and a full and easy breath. How a person breathes reflects how a person lives and responds to their life, and the reclamation of this open, relaxed breathing is crucial to recovering from the long-term effects of stress-related living as well as offering new response patterns to the specific effects of dis-ease, imbalance and trauma.

The first primary component of Therapeutic Breathwork is body-mind therapy. According to current thinking and research, healthy body function is deeply interwoven with and directly connected to our lives, and our day-to-day emotional and mental states. Breathwork as a body-mind therapy immediately addresses the ability to go from restricted breathing to open breathing, from stress to relaxation, from dis-ease to ease, and from personal dysfunction to full, healthy human function. Similar to its physical role, respiration when consciously engaged also sponsors a means to emotionally clarify, purify and integrate subconscious imbalances (sometimes called suppressions) as a way of releasing tension and creating higher states of awareness, balance and performance.

Breathwork as therapy engages a client’s past in a way that is relevant to their evolution in two fundamental ways:

1. During the breathing portion of the session what needs to be addressed MOST tends to show up FIRST.

2. The clients are ACTIVELY involved and must initiate the conscious breathing process for themselves.

Therapeutic Breathwork is empowering. It embraces the idea that the client is in charge of his or her session, and at the body-mind level knows what is needed to assist them on their path of healing and transformation. Even though a variety of styles of breathwork interventions may be used according to a variety of methodologies, the principal focus of the body-mind therapy should be to align with and create a therapeutic plan for addressing the client’s presenting issues.

Assisting a client to find an open, healthy breath often begins a process that speaks to how, when and where he or she had to protect (contract) themselves (and shut down their breath) in order to survive the various physical, emotional and mental traumas of their life.  A client’s story is indelibly engrained in their bodies, but with the energetic activation of the breath in the body, suppressions begin to soften and emerge, initiating a healing process that unfolds into conscious awareness, energetic movement and body-mind integration.  Therapeutic Breathwork utilizes a unique combination of innate, somatic intelligence as well as client-centered empowerment, and over a series of sessions leads to feelings of peace, safety and a greater sense of well-being.

As a tool for personal development, the dialogue portion of a Therapeutic Breathwork session aims to coach an individual towards new and healthier levels of self-awareness, intentional living and creative expression. The empowering aspect of this part of the work helps a client to explore new perspectives of personal growth: improved self-esteem and self-acceptance, more effective assessment of reality, life purpose issues, healthier communication in their relationship to their bodies, themselves and others, etc. It also acts as a “safety bridge” and prepares them for energetic bodywork. The client is guided through a variety of techniques and tools that seek to engage and direct their life, creatively and with a sense of meaning and purpose.

This aspect of client support and exploration is considered equally important, and is founded upon the formation of a safe and caring therapeutic relationship. It may involve such methods as biographical inquiry, family of origin story and systems work, voice dialogue, behavioral goals and practice assignments, life skills and purpose work, as well as creating  network of support with outside referrals, depending upon the background and skill level of the breathworker. In addition, addressing and affirming a client’s intention mentally prepares him or her for deep internal shifts of perspective that often come from the core somatic experience involved in breathwork.

Integral to a successful client outcome may be the need to work in concert with other health practitioners, therapists, couple mediators, and addiction and spiritual counselors, not only for the client, but also for the practitioner in terms of supervision. Breathwork is not meant to replace traditional therapy per se, but can provide a very powerful complement to a client’s in-depth healing process. Also, because of the current cultural and professional sensitivity of doing bodywork that involves touch, a Therapeutic Breathworker must be clearly and fully trained in sensitivity to safety, body and abuse issues, as well as receive regular supervision that supports the highest degree of ethics and professionalism.

Self-responsibility is essential in this aspect of the therapeutic process, not only for the client, but also for the professional breathworker as well.  Because this method of therapy oftentimes involves a co-creative and empowerment-oriented relationship, the more traditional lines of professional interaction, distance and engagement may be less applicable, requiring the highest degree of self-awareness and self-responsibility on the part of the practitioner. Self-reflection and mirroring becomes an integral part of the process (the issues you must face are often mirrored in your client). First and foremost, therefore, as is often the case in most body-mind therapies, the practitioner must be willing to engage in regular self-work, inquiry and therapeutic self-reflection, individually and in conjunction with outside professionals.

In layman’s terms, the essence of this type of mind-body approach is founded upon a “Walk-the-Talk” style and methodology. At the deepest level, what the practitioner has ‘real-ized’ through his or her own internal process and growth often becomes what is believable and therefore attainable for the client. It is essential, therefore, for a Therapeutic Breathwork session to be educational as well as remedial, reflective as well as re-evaluative, to utilize a perspective that tempers if not transcends the normal pitfalls of therapeutic interaction, through the engagement of an ‘unknown’ or spiritual quality and dimension.

Lastly, Therapeutic Breathwork willingly endorses an individual’s journey towards spiritual empowerment as an integral part of the healing and self-discovery process. Some research has shown that a natural byproduct of connected breathing is the stimulation of the longer brainwave patterns (long wave Alpha, Theta and even Delta) normally found during various stages of sleep, transcendent or meditative states of consciousness. As the inner intelligence of the client’s own body, heart, mind and soul are encouraged to lead a session, the Therapeutic Breathwork practitioner must also be able to attune to and carefully negotiate the activation of energetic and transcendent patterns, as well as the possible presence of what has been called “non-ordinary states of reality”.

Frequently during a session, a client will appear to temporarily transcend the normal flow of time-space and experience states or dimensions of deep integration and/or ecstatic reunion with something larger than themselves. The Therapeutic Breathwork practitioner not only anticipates these transcendent states, but must also be able to “midwife” the client in such a way as to encourage assimilation of these experiences into their understanding, and eventually into their daily lives. Because of this, attending to the spiritual aspects of breathwork necessitates an additional facility on the part of the breathwork practitioner that goes beyond normal therapeutic interaction and intervention.

The spiritually transcendent part of this process seems to be an integral part of breathwork, even if it is not emphasized or even consciously recognized or engaged. It may confound some traditional methodologies (and practitioners!), but points in the end to the fact that every client’s inner spiritual experience is uniquely their own. A skilled practitioner must have suitable training to be available to and maintain a presence of understanding with a client’s inner and intuitive experience, even of they may not fully comprehend what has just happened.

Together, these three aspects of body-mind therapy, personal development and spiritual empowerment make up the core components of Therapeutic Breathwork, and help to identify it as a uniquely powerful and dynamic healing modality. With the current rise and support of professional and ethical standards of breathwork internationally, Therapeutic Breathwork may soon be seen as the cutting edge to healing and personal empowerment as well as an equally effective adjunct to psychotherapy and spiritual disciplines.

Jeremy Youst is a certified breathwork practitioner and the founder/director of the GPBA accredited Power of Breath Institute in Spofford NH. He has been skillfully facilitating empowerment for individuals and groups for over thirty years.  The Power of Breath Institute specializes in delivering high integrity Therapeutic Breathwork training to individuals and professionals who wish to become certified Breathworkers through its 2-year training program. www.powerofbreath.com

Carol LThe Expanding Breath – The Evolving Human
By Carol A. Lampman

What can we do but keep on breathing in and out, modest and willing, and in our places?  ~Mary Oliver

Our breath, along with our journey through life, is an ever expanding experience. There is something mysterious about the breath that we, in the Western culture, are only beginning to understand.  In the East, knowledge of the energetic and transformational effect of the breath goes back centuries.   They knew that the breath moved the vital life force energy (prana, chi, kundalini, etc), creating currents of energy that had a profound effect on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of our being.  They understood that the energy generated by the breath had the capacity to heal, expand and purify on all levels.

In the West, the process of breathing has been grossly underestimated, but today, the scientific understanding of the breath and its support of the physical body continues to grow.   Studies prove that, in addition to supplying life giving oxygen to the cells of the body, respiration profoundly affects almost every system in the body.  Research has shown that the breath has a profound effect on every aspect of the body, brain chemistry and the nervous system.What many of us have known for a very long time is now being validated.  There is no magic pill that will make it all happen instantly but the work with the breath is surely the fast track to greater freedom.

The breath accesses the inner levels of the body, emotions, mind and spirit.   These levels  form a matrix within which every aspect and every experience is organized and interconnected.   They  are unified and cannot be separated; we have a body fueled by the breath, imbued with emotions, ruled by the dictates of the mind and fused by Spirit.   The breath moves the life force energy which animates and integrates the totality of our being.  It is the link between the conscious and unconscious, allowing us to travel to unexplored inner realms for growth and self-empowerment.

The natural, organic altered state created by the breath unites us with the greater awareness and wisdom of our essence.  There is a mechanism within each of us, the inner healer, that knows exactly what is needed in order to return to health and wholeness.  The basic principle is that “whatever is most needed” to restore us to our original nature will emerge spontaneously during the altered state created through the use of the breath.  This remarkable, inner wisdom knows what is needed, at the right time and in exactly the right sequence, for the ultimate transformation to occur.

From the viewpoint of using the Breathwork as a professional tool, this is truly an exciting time. Our understanding of this energetic process of  breathing continues to evolve and expand as we understand the nuances of working with the breath as a therapeutic modality.  Breathwork itself, while being quite simple, is woven with complexities due to its multi-dimensional nature.  The altered state created by the breath makes it a remarkable container for many other therapeutic modalities.  When built on a strong foundation, the basic technique can be easily blended with tools of voice dialogue, Reichian work, Inner child process, Body work, Dream Analysis, Psycho-Spiritual work and so much more.

The undeniable potential of modern day Breathwork is attracting  more traditional therapists into the field.  The natural basis of this method makes it appropriate and applicable to so many qualifying professions who will incorporate and use the method within the scope of their original occupations.  A traditional therapist will use it in one way, an educator or coach in another, body workers apply the tools to their method, and health care professionals find their own unique applications. I often explain what we bring as facilitators to our sessions in this way: There are three kinds of therapists in the world.  The first kind sits on the river bank and instructs the person how to swim.  The second one gets into the water and shows the client how to swim.  The third kind swims with the client, not too far ahead and not too far behind.  This is who we are as facilitators of the breath.

Over the years, there is one particular area of confusion about Breathwork that I have encountered. Many facilitators see Breathwork as “deep process work” and feel it should be approached in this manner.  The level of training along with the personal experience or background of the facilitator is likely to have influenced their point of view. It is true that it can be intense and powerful, but it is only one facet of a very diverse modality.  The uniqueness of the method is that it adapts itself to the client and the specific needs of the moment.  Any given session may be soft and gentle or dynamic and energetic.  You can never know what might emerge or what will be needed in advance.It is important to allow for the natural process to emerge spontaneously.The facilitators are most effective when they set aside their ideas or thoughts about what could or should happen in a session.

Emotional Anatomy is a vital component of the work with the breath.  So many  people have no idea who they are as emotional beings and how important it is to be able to access, understand and draw on the feedback of our emotional responses. The process of freeing the body-mind from long held emotional energy is imperative to reclaiming equilibrium.  However, the emotional process can be very addictive and the facilitator needs to be watchful for signs of those who repeatedly seek the excitement of the emotional release. The “high” that follows is a temporary state and what goes up, will eventually come down. This ping pong effect becomes a block in and of itself.  There is resistance to giving up  the “high” that  results from the movement of so much life force energy.   There comes a time to let go of the drama in order to create a life of peace, joy and happiness.

As a practitioner working with the breath, you are sometimes a facilitator, often a coach, and always a teacher.  One of the most important uses of Breath as a therapeutic tool is that of stress management.  75% of the reasons we seek medical help are stress related.  All of the benefits of “The Relaxation Response” are side effects of working with the breath.   A part of your role is to teach this method to your clients as a stress management and self-development tool.  You could teach Emotional Anatomy so that people learn about who they are as emotional beings.  Dis-ease  is the result of  the holding back of healthy emotional expression.  You can clarify how our biology is imprinted through difficult experiences and how beliefs are formed. You could provide the tools to look “underneath” the current story to a deeper truth. There is nothing more powerful than supporting clientsas they discover “how and why” they are creating the same reality again and again.  There is such satisfaction in bringing your presence to another person as the individual discovers that change is not only possible, but that the solutions have always existed inside. You could teach Breathing as Meditation as a resource for connecting to the wisdom of the heart.

There is no doubt that with the support of a well-trained facilitator, the client climbs out of the hole.  Once mastered, the same method can be used by the client to climb to the stars.  As a Breath Therapist and facilitator, you are a trusted ally, neutral guide, skilled technician and teacher to your clients and groups.  It is important to bring  breathwork out into the world from a very realistic, yet  multi-dimensional point of view.  The work itself needs to stay grounded in both practical terms and in its various applications. This is the only way that modalities that use the breath will be openly accepted and recognized in the professional world.   While it is powerful, it is completely safe when used as taught.  This natural and organic method works with the part in each of us that knows exactly how to come back into balance.  It is a diverse, adjunct modality that can be uniquely combined with many other methods.

This process is one of self-empowerment.  It is only when we (the client) hand over our power to others that we are at risk.  It is when we (the facilitator) take that power and presume to know for others what is best for them, that we interfere with the natural organic process. It is when we interpret or take responsibility for the outcome of the session that we dis-empower others. This reinforces the victim personality and traps the facilitator in the role of the rescuer. The responsibility lies fully with the client.  The facilitator needs to be willing to support the  clients in their process or their resistance until they are ready to take the next step.  There is truth and there is timing.  We may know a truth, but is the client ready to hear itat this time?  And, what if we are wrong?  How damaging might that be? When we trust the inner healer, it will come from the client or be revealed as part of the session. I am not saying that the tools are not important because they are. There are times when we might confront or give a push to a client we know well.  What I am saying is that we are teaching them to connect to their inner wisdom which will lead them to their own answers.   This is Self-Empowerment!

When we honor these sacred boundaries, we are teaching others that their own wisdom can be trusted.  We will only allow ourselves to go so far … so fast.  Why?  Our ego structure, along with its defenses, is designed to keep us safe in an unpredictable world.  It is true that the beliefs contained in this construct were created before the age of reason, but it has been continually reinforced during the years since childhood.  It is deeply entrenched.  If we let go all at once or move too fast in the process, we may begin to unravel at the seams.  This can be frightening, in fact, terrifying to us.  There is no hurry and no destination, it is enough to handle one piece at a time.

I believe each person carries within the potential for greatness and the expression is unique to each person. My personal mission is to hold this vision for the individuals until they can connect to it within themselves.We are not broken and the task is to dismantle the structure and the defenses, one belief at a time. Suppressed emotions are released in a way that is contained and not overwhelming. Step by step, the process can be used to support our clients while they climb out of a deep hole and the same process can be used to climb to the stars.  It takes time and space to integrate and rebuild before moving to the next step.  It is all in divine order and we have all the time we need.

As you move through the gate of the heart, assisted by the breath, eventually you will know Love as the only truth.  The power of your inner wisdom will begin to guide you in directions that may surprise you.  Opportunities will present themselves in such a way that you will know that your potential is held by higher hands.  There will be no hesitation and you will step out of the way,  allowing pure love to lead you.   With your eyes and heart wide open, you will be shown where to go and what to do as you co-create with the Divine Energy of the Universe.   You will experience each day as a moment to moment adventure unfolding before you. The breath will bring you to the joy of just BEING.  There is no place to go, it is all right here in this one glorious moment belonging solely to YOU.

According to the concept of transformational evolution, first clearly
articulated by Lamarck, evolution consists of the gradual transformation of organisms from one condition of existence to another.   ~Ernst Mayr


Carol  is a Holistic Therapist, Certified Breathwork Trainer and an Advanced Clinical Hypnotherapist.  She has trained in Integrative, Cathartic and Rebirthing Breathwork, Hypno-Behavioral Therapy, Reichian Process work, Release Therapy, and Pre and Perinatal Birth Psychology.  A medical background working with catastrophically ill children and her personal experience with childhood trauma led Carol to a career in the field of holistic therapies. Her professional focus is the mind body connection, the emotional process and its relationship to physical and psychological health. Carol developed the Integral Breath Therapy (IBT) and Integration Process Therapy modalities for professionals.  She travels Internationally training educators, coaches, mental health and health care providers in Breath as a therapeutic and transformational tool. Carol has an instructional CD, Breathe: The Foundation, which explains her unique approach to the breath and how to use it for self-exploration.  Additional meditation CD’s will soon be available by the following titles: Meditations for Personal Growth, Meditations for Healing and Meditations for Awakening. www.BreathTherapy.net  www.IntegrationConcepts.net www.CarolLampman.com

Holotropic Breathwork

GrofBy Stanislav Grof, M.D.
Reprinted from The Complete Breath, (2012) Morningstar, J. (ed)

Holotropic breathwork is an experiential method of self-exploration and psychotherapy that my wife Christina and I developed at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, Calif., in the mid -1970s. This approach induces deep holotropic states of consciousness by a combination of very simple means – accelerated breathing, evocative music, and a technique of bodywork that helps to release residual bioenergeic and emotional blocks. The sessions are usually conducted in groups; participants work in pairs and alternate in the roles of breathers and “sitters.”

The process is supervised by trained facilitators, who assist participants whenever special intervention is necessary. Following the breathing sessions, participants express their experiences by painting mandalas and share accounts of their inner journeys in small groups. Follow-up interviews and various complementary methods are used, if necessary, to facilitate the completion and integration of the breathwork experience.

In its theory and practice, holotropic breathwork combines and integrates various elements from modern consciousness research, depth psychology, transpersonal psychology, Eastern spiritual philosophies, and native healing practices. It differs significantly from traditional forms of psychotherapy, which use primarily verbal means, such as psychoanalysis and various other schools of depth psychology derived from it. It shares certain common characteristics with the experiential therapies of humanistic psychology, such as Gestalt practice and the neo-Reichian approaches, which emphasize direct emotional expression and work with the body. However, the unique feature of holotropic breathwork is that it utilizes the therapeutic potential of holotropic states of consciousness.

The extraordinary healing power of holotropic states – which  ancient and native cultures used for centuries or even millennia in their ritual, spiritual, and healing practices – was confirmed by modern consciousness research conducted in the second half of the twentieth century. This research has also shown that the phenomena occurring during these states and associated with them represent a critical challenge for current conceptual frameworks used by academic psychiatry and psychology and for their basic metaphysical assumptions. The work with holotropic breathwork thus requires a new understanding of consciousness and of the human psyche in health and disease. The basic principles of this new psychology were discussed in another context (Grof 2001, 2007).

Essential Components of Holotropic Breathwork

Holotropic breathwork combines very simple means – faster breathing, evocative music, and releasing bodywork – to induce intense holotropic states of consciousness; it uses the remarkable healing and transformative power of these states. This method provides access to biographical, perinatal, and transpersonal domains of the unconscious and thus to deep psychospiritual roots of emotional and psychosomatic disorders. It also makes it possible to utilize the mechanisms of healing and personality transformation that operate on these levels of the psyche. The process of self-exploration and therapy in holotropic breathwork is spontaneous and autonomous; it is governed by inner healing intelligence, rather than following instructions and guidelines of a particular school of psychotherapy.

Most of the recent revolutionary discoveries concerning consciousness and the human psyche on which holotropic breathwork is based are new only for modern psychiatry and psychology. They have a long history as integral parts of ritual and spiritual life of many ancient and native cultures and their healing practices. Basic principles of holotropic breathwork thus represent rediscovery, validation, and modern reformulation of ancient wisdom and procedures, some of which can be traced to the dawn of human history. As we will see, the same is true for the principal constituents used in the practice of holotropic breathwork – breathing, instrumental music and chanting, bodywork, and mandala drawing or other forms of artistic expression. They have been used for millennia in healing ceremonies and ritual practices of all pre-industrial human groups.

Through our research, we came to the conclusion that it is sufficient to breathe faster and more effectively than usual and with full concentration on the inner process. Instead of emphasizing a specific technique of breathing, we follow even in this area the general strategy of holotropic work – to trust the intrinsic wisdom of the body and follow the inner clues. In holotropic breathwork, we encourage people to begin the session with faster and somewhat deeper breathing, tying inhalation and exhalation into a continuous circle of breath. Once in the process, they find their own rhythm and way of breathing.

We have been able to confirm repeatedly Wilhelm Reich’s observation that psychological resistances and defenses are associated with restricted breathing (Reich 1949, 1961). Respiration is an autonomous function, but it can also be influenced by volition. Deliberate increase of the pace of breathing typically loosens psychological defenses and leads to a release and emergence of unconscious (and superconscious) material. Unless one has witnessed or experienced this process personally, it is difficult to believe on theoretical grounds alone the power and efficacy of this technique.

The Therapeutic Potential of Music

In holotropic breathwork, the consciousness-expanding effect of breath is combined with evocative music. Like breathing, music and other forms of sound technology have been used for millennia as powerful tools in ritual and spiritual practice. Monotonous drumming, rattling, chanting, instrumental music, and other forms of sound-producing techniques have long represented the principal tools of shamans in many different parts of the world. Many preindustrial cultures have developed quite independently drumming rhythms that in laboratory experiments have remarkable effect on the electric activity of the brain (Goldman 1952, Jilek 1974, 1982; Neher 1961, 1962). The archives of cultural anthropologists contain countless examples of trance-inducing methods of extraordinary power combining instrumental music, chanting, and dancing.

In holotropic therapy, it is essential to surrender completely to the flow of music, let it resonate in one’s entire body, and respond to it in a spontaneous and elemental fashion. This includes manifestations that would be unthinkable in a concert hall, where even crying or coughing is seen as a disturbance and causes annoyance and embarrassment. In holotropic work, one has to give full expression to whatever the music is bringing out, whether it is loud screaming or laughing, baby talk, animal noises, shamanic chanting, or talking in tongues. It is also important not to control any physical impulses, such as bizarre grimacing, sensual movements of the pelvis, violent shaking, or intense contortions of the entire body. Naturally, there are exceptions to this rule; destructive behavior directed toward oneself, others, and the physical environment is not permissible.

We also encourage participants to suspend any intellectual activity, such as trying to guess the composer of the music or the culture from which the music comes. Other ways of avoiding the emotional impact of the music involve engaging one’s professional expertise – judging the performance of the orchestra, guessing which instruments are playing, and criticizing the technical quality of the recording or of the music equipment in the room. When we can avoid these pitfalls, music can become a very powerful tool for inducing and supporting holotropic states of consciousness. For this purpose, the music has to be of superior technical quality and sufficient volume to drive the experience. The combination of music with faster breathing has a remarkable mind-manifesting and consciousnes-expanding power.

The Use of Releasing Bodywork

The physical response to holotropic breathwork varies considerably from one person to another. Most commonly, faster breathing brings, at first, more or less dramatic psychosomatic manifestations. The textbooks of respiratory physiology refer to this response to accelerated breathing as the “hyperventilation syndrome.” They describe it as a stereotypical pattern of physiological responses that consists primarily of tensions in the hands and feet (“carpopedal spasms”). We have now conducted over thirty-five thousand holotropic breathing sessions and have found the current medical understanding of the effects of faster breathing to be incorrect.

There exist many individuals in whom fast breathing carried over a period of several hours does not lead to a classical hyperventilation syndrome, but to progressive relaxation, intense sexual feelings, or even mystical experiences. Others develop tensions in various parts of the body, but do not show signs of the carpopedal spasms. Moreover, in those who develop tensions, continued faster breathing does not lead to progressive increase of the tensions, but tends to be self-limited. It typically reaches a climactic culmination followed by profound relaxation. The pattern of this sequence has a certain resemblance to sexual orgasm.

In repeated holotropic sessions, this process of intensification of tensions and subsequent relaxation tends to move from one part of the body to another in a way that varies from person to person. The overall amount of muscular tensions and of intense emotions tends to decrease with the number of sessions. What happens in this process is that faster breathing extended for a long period of time changes the chemistry of the organism in such a way that blocked physical and emotional energies associated with various traumatic memories are released and become available for peripheral discharge and processing. This makes it possible for the previously repressed content of these memories to emerge into consciousness and be integrated. It is thus a healing process that should be encouraged and supported and not a pathological process that needs to be suppressed, as it is common in medical practice.

The tensions that we carry in our body can be released in two different ways. The first of them involves catharsis and abreaction – discharge of pent-up physical energies through tremors, twitches, dramatic body movements, coughing, and vomiting. Both catharsis and abreaction also typically include release of blocked emotions through crying, screaming, or other types of vocal expression. These are mechanisms that are well known in traditional psychiatry since the time when Sigmund Freud and Joseph Breuer published their studies in hysteria (Freud and Breuer 1936). Various abreactive techniques have been used in traditional psychiatry in the treatment of traumatic emotional neuroses, and abreaction also represents an integral part of the new experiential psychotherapies, such as the neo-Reichian work, Gestalt practice, and primal therapy.

The second mechanism that can mediate release of physical and emotional tensions plays an important role in holotropic breathwork, rebirthing, and other forms of therapy using breathing techniques. It represents a new development in psychiatry and psychotherapy and seems to be more effective than abreaction. Here the deep tensions surface in the form of unrelenting muscular contractions of various duration (“tetany”). By sustaining these muscular tensions for extended periods of time, the organism consumes enormous amounts of previously pent-up energy and simplifies its functioning by disposing of them. The deep relaxation that typically follows the temporary intensification of old tensions or appearance of previously latent ones bears witness to the healing nature of this process.

These two mechanisms have their parallels in sport physiology, where it is well known that it is possible to do work and train the muscles in two different ways, by isotonic and isometric exercises. As the name suggest, during isotonic exercises the tension of the muscles remains constant while their length oscillates. During isometric exercises, the tension of the muscles changes, but their length remains the same all the time. A good example of isotonic activity is boxing, while weight-lifting or bench-pressing distinctly isometric exercises. Both of these mechanisms are extremely effective in releasing and resolving deep-seated chronic muscular tension. In spite of their superficial differences, they have thus much in common and in holotropic breathwork they complement each other very effectively.

In many instances, the difficult emotions and physical sensations that emerge from the unconscious during holotropic breathwork sessions get spontaneously resolved and the breathers end up in a deeply relaxed meditative state. In that case, no external interventions are necessary and the breathers remain in this state until they return to the ordinary state of consciousness. After getting clearance from the facilitators, they move to the art room to draw a mandala.

If the breathing, in and of itself, does not lead to a good completion and there are residual tensions or unresolved emotions, facilitators offer participants a specific form of bodywork which helps them to reach a better closure for the session. The general strategy of this work is to ask the breather to focus his or her attention on the area where there is a problem and do whatever is necessary to intensify the existing physical sensations. The facilitators then help to intensify these feelings even further by appropriate external intervention.

Supportive and Nourishing Physical Contact

In holotropic breathwork, we also use a different form of physical intervention, one that is designed to provide support on a deep preverbal level. This is based on the observation that there exist two fundamentally different forms of trauma that require diametrically different approaches. The first of these can be referred to as trauma by commission. It is the result of external intrusions that had damaging impact on the future development of the individual. Here belong such insults as physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, frightening situations, destructive criticism, or ridicule. These traumas represent foreign elements in the unconscious that can be brought into consciousness, energetically discharged, and resolved.

Although this distinction is not recognized in conventional psychotherapy, the second form of trauma, trauma by omission, is radically different. It actually involves the opposite mechanism – lack of positive experiences that are essential for a healthy emotional development. The infant, as well as an older child, have strong primitive needs for instinctual satisfaction and security that pediatricians and child psychiatrists call anaclitic (from the Greek anaklinein meaning to lean upon). These involve the need to be held and experience skin contact, be caressed, comforted, played with, and be the center of human attention. When these needs are not met, it has serious consequences for the future of the individual.

Many people have a history of emotional deprivation, abandonment, and neglect in infancy and childhood that resulted in serious frustration of the anaclitic needs. The only way to heal this type of trauma is to offer a corrective experience in the form of supportive physical contact in a holotropic state of consciousness. For this approach to be effective, the individual has to be deeply regressed to the infantile stage of development, otherwise the corrective measure would not reach the developmental level on which the trauma occurred. Depending on circumstances and on previous agreement, this physical support can range from simple holding of the hand or touching the forehead to full body contact.

Use of nourishing physical contact is a very effective way of healing early emotional trauma. However, it requires following strict ethical rules. We have to explain to the breathers before the session the rationale of this technique and get their approval to use it. Under no circumstances can this approach be practiced without previous consent and no pressures can be used to obtain this permission. For many people with a history of sexual abuse, physical contact is a very sensitive and charged issue. Very often those who most need such healing touch have the strongest resistance against it. It can sometimes take a long time before a person develops enough trust toward the facilitators and the group to be able to accept this technique and benefit from it.

Before closing this section on bodywork, I would like to address one question that often comes up in the context of holotropic workshops or lectures on experiential work: “Why should reliving of traumatic memories be therapeutic rather than represent a retraumatization?” The best answer can be found in the article “Unexperienced Experience” by the Irish psychiatrist Ivor Browne (Browne 1990). He suggested that we are not dealing here with an exact replay or repetition of the original traumatic situation, but with the first full experience of the appropriate emotional and physical reaction to it. This means that, at the time when they happen, the traumatic events are recorded in the organism, but not fully consciously experienced, processed, and integrated.

In addition, the person who is confronted with the previously repressed traumatic memory is not any more the helpless and vitally dependent child or infant that he or she was in the original situation, but a grown-up adult. The holotropic state induced in powerful experiential forms of psychotherapy thus allows the individual to be present and operate simultaneously in two different sets of space-time coordinates. Full age regression makes it possible to experience all the emotions and physical sensations of the original traumatic situation from the perspective of the child, but at the same time analyze and evaluate the memory in the therapeutic situation from a mature adult perspective. It is also interesting to mention that breathers reliving various traumatic memories who, for an outside observer, appear to be in a lot of pain and suffer immensely, have actually typically a subjective feeling of purging pain from their bodies and experience relief rather than emotional and physical pain.

Mandala Drawing: Expressive Power of Art

Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning literally “circle” or “completion.” In the most general sense, this term can be used for any design showing complex geometrical symmetry, such as a spiderweb, arrangement of petals in a flower or blossom, sea shell (e.g. a sand dollar), image in a kaleidoscope, stained glass window in a Gothic cathedral or labyrinth design on its floor. The mandala is a visual construct that can be easily grasped by the eye, since it corresponds to the structure of the organ of visual perception. The pupil of the eye is itself a simple mandala form.

In ritual and spiritual practice, the term mandala refers to images, which can be drawn, painted, modeled, or danced. In the Tantric branches of Hinduism, Buddhism, Vajrayana, and Jainism this word refers to elaborate cosmograms composed of elementary geometrical forms (points, lines, triangles, squares, and circles), lotus blossoms, and complex archetypal figures and sceneries. They are used as important meditation aids, which help practitioners to focus attention inside and lead them to specific states of consciousness.

Although the use of mandalas in the tantric branches of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism has been particularly refined and sophisticated, the art of mandala drawing as part of spiritual practice can be found in many other cultures. Examples of particularly beautiful mandalas are the nierikas, yarn paintings of the Huichol Indians from Central Mexico, portraying visions induced by ritual ingestion of peyote. Elaborate sand paintings used in the healing and other rituals of the Navajo people and the bark paintings of the Australian Aborigenes also include many intricate mandala patterns.

The use of mandalas in spiritual and religious practice of various cultures and in alchemy attracted the attention of the Swiss psychiatrist C. G. Jung, who noticed that similar patterns appeared in the paintings of his patients at a certain stage of their psychospiritual development. According to him, the mandala is a “psychological expression of the totality of the self.” In his own words:  “The severe pattern imposed by a circular image of this kind compensates the disorder and confusion of the psychic state –  namely, through the construction of a central point to  which everything is related.” (Jung 1959 b).

Instead of drawing and painting utensils, participants receive a rich selection of illustrated magazines, catalogues, calendars, greeting cards, and postcards. They can also bring their personal photos from the family album or pictures of people, animals, and landscapes they have themselves taken. Using scissors, they cut out pictures or fragments thereof that seem appropriate to portray their experience; they fit them together and glue them on pre-cut mat board cards. If they participate in ongoing groups, they end up eventually with a deck of cards, which have deep personal meaning for them. They can take these cards to a friend’s house, to sessions of individual therapy or support groups, or use them as decorations in their home.

The Course of Holotropic Sessions

The nature and course of holotropic sessions varies considerably from person to person and in the same person also from session to session. Some individuals remain entirely quiet and almost motionless. They might have very profound experiences, yet give the impression to an external observer that nothing is happening or that they are sleeping. Others are agitated and show rich motor activity. They experience violent shaking and complex twisting movements, roll and flail around, assume fetal positions, behave like infants struggling in the birth canal, or look and act like newborns. Also crawling, slithering, swimming, digging, or climbing movements are quite common.

Occasionally, the movements and gestures can be extremely refined, complex, quite specific, and differentiated. They can take the form of strange animal movements emulating snakes, birds, or feline predators and be associated with corresponding sounds. Sometimes breathers assume spontaneously various yogic postures and gestures (asanas and mudras) with which they are not intellectually familiar. Occasionally, the automatic movements and/or sounds resemble ritual or theatrical performances from different cultures – shamanic practices, Javanese dances, the Balinese monkey chant, Japanese Kabuki, or talking in tongues reminiscent of the Pentecostal meetings.

The emotional qualities observed in holotropic sessions cover a very wide range. On one side of the spectrum, one can encounter feelings of extraordinary well-being, profound peace, tranquillity, serenity, bliss, cosmic unity, or ecstatic rapture. On the other side of the same spectrum are episodes of indescribable terror, consuming guilt, or murderous aggression, and a sense of eternal doom. The intensity of these extraordinary emotions can transcend anything that can be experienced or even imagined in the everyday state of consciousness. These extreme emotional states are usually associated with experiences that are perinatal or transpersonal in nature.

In the middle band of the experiential spectrum observed in holotropic breathwork sessions are less extreme emotional qualities that are closer to what we know from our daily existence – episodes of anger, anxiety, sadness, hopelessness, and feelings of failure, inferiority, shame, guilt or disgust. These are typically linked to biographical memories; their sources are traumatic experiences from infancy, childhood, and later periods of life. Their positive counterparts are feelings of happiness, emotional fulfillment, joy, sexual satisfaction, and general increase in zest.

As I mentioned earlier, in some instances faster breathing does not induce any physical tensions or difficult emotions, but leads directly to increasing relaxation, sense of expansion and well-being, and visions of light. The breather can feel flooded with feelings of love and experiences of mystical connection to other people, nature, the entire cosmos, and God. More frequently, these positive emotional states arise at the end of the holotropic sessions, after the challenging and turbulent parts of the experience have been worked through.

It is surprising how many people in our culture, because of strong Protestant ethics or for some other reasons, have great difficulties accepting ecstatic experiences, unless they follow suffering and hard work, or even then. They often respond to them with a strong sense of guilt or with a feeling that they do not deserve them. It is also common, particularly in mental health professionals, to react to positive experiences with mistrust and suspicion that they hide and mask some particularly painful and unpleasant material. It is very important under these circumstances to assure the breathers that positive experiences are extremely healing and encourage them to accept them without reservation as unexpected grace.

A typical result of a holotropic breathwork session is profound emotional release and physical relaxation. After a successful and well-integrated session, many people report that they feel more relaxed than they have ever felt in their life. Continued accelerated breathing thus represents an extremely powerful and effective method of stress reduction and it is conducive to emotional and psychosomatic healing. Another frequent result of this work is connection with the numinous dimensions of one’s own psyche and of existence in general. This is also frequent occurrence in ritual and spiritual practices of many cultures and ages.

Holotropic breathwork sessions vary in their duration from individual to individual and, in the same individual, also from session to session. It is essential for the best possible integration of the experience that the facilitators and sitters stay with the breather as long as he or she is in process and has unusual experiences. In the terminal stage of the session, good bodywork can significantly facilitate emotional and physical resolution. Intimate contact with nature can also have a very calming and grounding effect and help the integration of the session. Particularly effective in this regard is exposure to water, such as a stay in a hot tub or swim in a pool, a lake, or in the ocean.

Mandala Drawing and the Sharing Groups

When the session is completed and the breather returns to the ordinary state of consciousness, the sitter accompanies him or her to the mandala room. This room is equipped with a variety of art supplies, such as pastels, magic markers, and watercolors, as well as large drawing pads. On the sheets of these pads are pencil drawings of circles about the size of dinner plates. The breathers are asked to sit down, meditate on their experience, and then find a way of expressing what happened to them during the session by using these tools.

There are no specific guidelines for the mandala drawing. Some people simply produce color combinations, others construct geometrical mandalas or figurative drawings or paintings. The latter might represent a vision that occurred during the session or a pictorial travelogue with several distinct sequences. On occasion, the breather decides to document a single session with several mandalas reflecting different aspects or stages of the session. In rare instances, the breather has no idea what he or she is going to draw and produces an automatic drawing.

Later during the day, breathers bring their mandalas to a sharing session, in the course of which they talk about their experiences. The strategy of the facilitators who lead the group is to encourage maximum openness and honesty in sharing the experience. Willingness of participants to reveal the content of their sessions, including various intimate details, is conducive to bonding and development of trust in the group. It encourages others to share with equal honesty, which deepens, intensifies, and accelerates the therapeutic process.

In contrast with the practice of most psychotherapeutic schools, facilitators abstain from interpreting the experiences of participants. The reason for it is the lack of agreement among the existing schools concerning the functioning of the psyche, its principal motivating forces, and the cause and meaning of the symptoms. Under these circumstances, any interpretations are questionable and arbitrary. Another reason for staying away from interpretations is the fact that psychological contents are typically overdetermined and are meaningfully related to several levels of the psyche. Giving a supposedly definitive explanation or interpretation carries the danger of freezing the process and interfering with therapeutic progress.

A more productive alternative is to ask questions that help to elicit additional information from the perspective of the client who, being the experiencer, is the ultimate expert as far as his or her experience is concerned. When we are patient and resist the temptation to share our own impressions, participants very often find their own explanations that best fits their experiences. On occasion, it can be very helpful to share our observations from the past concerning similar experiences or point out connections with experiences of other members of the group. When the experiences contain archetypal material it can be very helpful to use C. G. Jung’s method of amplification – pointing out parallels between a particular experience and similar mythological motifs from various cultures – or to consult a good dictionary of symbols.

Follow-Up and Use of Complementary Techniques

On the days following intense sessions that involved a major emotional breakthrough or opening, a wide variety of complementary approaches can facilitate good integration. Among them are discussions about the session with an experienced facilitator, writing down the content of the experience, drawing additional mandalas, meditation, and movement meditation, such as hatha yoga, tai-chi, or qi-gong. Good bodywork with a practitioner who allows emotional expression, jogging, swimming, and other forms of physical exercise, or expressive dancing can be very useful, if the holotropic experience freed excess of previously pent-up physical energy. A session of Dora Kalff’s Jungian sandplay (Kalff and Kalff 2004), Fritz Perls’ Gestalt therapy (Perls 1973), Jacob Moreno’s psychodrama (Moreno 1948), or Francine Shapiro’s eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) (Shapiro 2001), can be of great help in refining insights into the holotropic experience and understanding its content.

Advantages of holotropic breathwork are of economic nature; they are related to the ratio between the number of participants in breathwork groups and the number of facilitators. It was estimated that a classical psychoanalyst was able to treat about eighty patients in his or her entire lifetime. In spite of all the changes psychotherapy has undergone since Freud’s times, the ratio between the number of clients needing treatment and the number of professional therapists required for this task continues to be very unfavorable.

By comparison, holotropic breathwork utilizes the healing potential of group members, who alternate in the roles of breathers and “sitters.” Participants do not have any special training to be good sitters. A typical group requires one trained facilitator per eight to ten group participants. Although it might be objected that traditional group psychotherapy has a similar or even better therapist/client ratio, it is important to take into consideration that in breathwork groups each participant has a personal experience focused specifically on his or her problems. Sitters also repeatedly report what a profound experience it was for them to assist others and how much they had learned from it.

We have observed that a significant number of people, who have attended holotropic breathwork sessions, tend to become very interested in the process and decide to enroll in the training for facilitators. The number of people from different countries of the world who have participated in our training and have become certified as facilitators has recently exceeded one thousand. This “chain reaction” effect of holotropic breathwork is a very hopeful sign for the future.

In addition, many people who had experienced verbal psychotherapy before they came to holotropic breathwork often compared favorably the results of a small number of breathwork sessions with what they achieved in years of talking therapy. I hope that in the near future these impressions will be confirmed by well-designed controlled clinical studies.

Browne, I.  “Psychological Trauma, or Unexperienced Experience.” Re-Vision Journal, 12(4)(1990):21-34,
Freud,S. and Breuer, J. Studies in Hysteria, New York: Nervous and Mental Diseases, 1936.
Frost, S. B. Soul Collage. Santa Cruz, CA: Hanford Mead Publishers, 2001.
Goldman, D. “The Effect of Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation on the Human Electroencephalogram.” EEG and Clinical Neurophysiology, 1952.
Grof, S. Psychology of the Future: Lessons from Modern Consciousness Research. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2001.
Grof, S.  The Ultimate Journey: Consciousness and the Mystery of Death, MAPS, Sarasota, FL, 2006.
Grof, S.  “Psychology of the Future: Lessons from Modern Consciousness Research.” In: Nove perspektivy v psychiatrii, psychologii, a psychoterapii. Breclav: Moravia Press, 2007.
Huxley, A.  The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, Great Britain: Penguin Books, 1959.
Jilek, W. J.  Salish Indian Mental Health and Culture Change: Psychohygienic and Therapeutic Aspects of the Guardian Spirit Ceremoniel. Toronto and Montreal: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston of Canada, 1974.
Jilek, W.  Altered States of Consciousness in North American Indian Ceremonials. Ethos 10 (1982):326-343.
Jung, C.G. The Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious. Collective Works, Vol.9.1., Bollingen Series 20., Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1959 a.
Jung, C.G.  Mandala Symbolism. Translated by R.F.C. Hull. Bollingen Series/Princeton,
Kalff, D. and Kalff, M. 2004. Sandplay: A Psychotherapeutic Approach to the Psyche. Cloverdale, CA: Temenos Press, 1959 b.
Katz, R.  “The Painful Ecstasy of Healing”. Psychology Today, December,1959 b..
Kellogg, J.  “The Use of the Mandala in Psychological Evaluation and Treatment.” Amer.Journal of Art Therapy (1977). 16:123.
Kellogg, J.  Mandala: The Path of Beauty. Baltimore: Mandala Assessment and Research Institute, 1978.
Laszlo, E.  Science and the Akashic Field: An Integral Theory of Everything. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2004.
Lee, R.B. and DeVore, I. (eds). Kalahari Hunter-Gatherers: Studies of the !Kung San and Their Neighbors. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1976.
Martin, J..  LSD Analysis. Lecture and film presented at the Second International Conference on the Use of LSD in Psychotherapy held at South Oaks Hospital, May 8-12, 1965. Amityville, New York. Paper published in: H. A. Abramson (ed,) The Use of LSD in Psychotherapy and Alcoholism. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill. (1965):  223-38.
McCririck, P.  The Importance of Fusion in Therapy and Maturation. 1966.
Moreno, J. L.  Psychodrama and Group Psychotherapy. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences,  1948, 49 (6):902-903.
Neher, A, “Auditory Driving Observed with Scalp Electrodes in Normal Subjects.” Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, 1961. 13:449-451.
Neher, A. 1962. A physiological Explanation of Unusual Behavior Involving Drums. Human Biology 14:151-160.
Perls, F. S.  Gestalt Approach and Eyewitness to Therapy. Palo Alto, CA: Science and Behavior Books, 1973.
Reich, W.  Character Analysis. New York: Noonday Press, 1949.
Reich, W.  The Function of the Orgasm:Sex-Economic Problems of Biological Energy. New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 1961.
Shapiro, F.  Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing: Basic Principles, Protocols, and Procedures. New York: Guilford Press, 2001.

Currently, Dr. Grof is Professor of Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies in the Department of Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness, and teaches at the Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, Calif.  Dr. Grof served as Chief of Psychiatric Research at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md. He was also Scholar-in-Residence at Esalen Institute.  Dr. Grof’s extensive research includes experiential psychotherapy using psychedelics and non-drug techniques, especially the holotropic breathwork (a method he developed with his wife Christina), alternative approaches to psychoses, understanding and treatment of psychospiritual crises (“spiritual emergencies”), the implications of recent developments in quantum-relativistic physics, biology, brain research, and other avenues of the emerging scientific paradigm, for psychiatric theory and consciousness studies.


jimmorningstar2Therapeutic Breathwork and Body Themes: An Integrative Approach to Six Major Breathing Patterns – Part II
Jim Morningstar, PhD and Joanna Farina, MA

It is the purpose of this paper to introduce body theme classification, its structural, behavioral and proposed neurological correlates. And further we will demonstrate how an integrative approach can be used in therapeutic breathwork and other healing modalities most effectively with these body theme patterns.

In Part I of this article published in Issue #22 of the GPBA news, we presented a brief introduction to the Neurophysiology of Body Themes and Bioenergetic Roots of Body Themes. We then elaborated on each of the six themes: their physical, psychological and developmental indices as well as their breathing patterns. In Part II we are presenting the Breathworker Goals and Integrative Approaches to wellbeing for each of the themes, both in the clients and in the breathworkers.


For further information on Therapeutic Breathwork and Breathworker Training contact: Jim Morningstar, Ph.D. Director, Transformations Incorporated and the Transformations Breathwork Training Program info@transformationsusa.com

References Cited

Bentzen, M. (2006). Shapes of Experience – neuroscience, developmental psychology and somatic character formation. In G. Marlock & H. Weiss (Eds.), Handbook of Bodypsychotherapy. Schattauer.

Glazer, R., Friedman, H. (2009). The Construct Validity of the Bioenergetic-Analytic Character Typology: A Multi-Method Investigation of a Humanistic Approach to Personality. The Humanistic Psychologist, 37:24-48.

Glazer, R. Friedman, H. (2010). Bioenergetic Therapy. The Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. Vol 2010:234-235, 1800-1802.

Joseph, R. (1999). Environmental Influences on Neural Plasticity, the Limbic System, Emotional Development and Attachment: A Review. Child Psychiatry and  Human Development. 29(3).

Morningstar, J. (1980/1998). Spiritual psychology. (3rd ed., pp. 76-96). Milwaukee: Transformations Incorporated.

Porges, S.W. (2001). The Polyvagal Theory: Phylogenic Substrates of a Social Nervous System. International Journal of Psychophysiology 42:123-146.

Porges, S.W. (2003).  Social Engagement and Attachment: A Phylogenic Perspective. Annals New York Academy of Science 1008:31-47.

Schore, A.N. (2001).  The Effects of Early Relational Trauma on Right Brain Development, Affect Regulation, and Infant Mental Health.  Infant Mental  Health Journal  22(1-2), 201-269.

Siegel, D.J. (2001). Toward an Interpersonal Neurobiology of the Developing Mind: Attachment Relationships,  “Mindsight,” and Neural Integration.  Infant Mental Health Journal, 22(1-2), 67-94.

Stern, Daniel N. (1985). The Interpersonal World of the Infant. New York: Basic Books.

c 2013 Transformations Incorporated

Breathwork Trainings Around the World

We are including in each newsletter a schedule of trainings by GPBA registered professional breathworkers. Please send your entries before the deadline date to
helaine@pathofpurpose.com edited to a maximum of 150 words total for training events  to be presented up to six months from the newsletter publication date. Only submissions ready to print according to these guidelines will be included.


SOURCE Estonia will be hosting introductory workshops and intake days in both Estonia and Sweden Contact Karita Mikko, mikkokarita@gmail.com

28 May – 1 June SOURCE Warm Water Breathwork and Celebration/Presentations


Tantric woman: Feminine alchemy
From 7 to 11 May 2014 – 5 days
In this space dedicated to women only, we explore the actuality of who we are, as well as our unlimited potential for openness, surrender and self-realization. The alchemy of our collective spirit is utilised as an invaluable resource for creating connection, support and encouragement amongst a sisterhood of questing, alive and thriving women.
Facilitation: Judee Gee
Dates & hours: From Wednesday 7 May at 2 pm to Sunday 11 May 2014 at 2 pm
Venue: Centre Chrysalide, Plouhinec (56) – North West of France.
Conditions: Open to all women
Contact for registration: www.ecole-etre.com, judee@ecole-etre.com

Sacred fire, fire of life!
From 2 to 8 August 2014  – 7 days
This is a lively summer group with an emphasis on active meditation and self-expression at all levels of the body, mind and soul. You will explore your capacity for relating consciously and intuitively with yourself, others and with nature. Focus is bought especially to the healing of issues related to sensual and sexual identity, and the development of authentic self-expression.

Facilitation: Judee Gee & Eirik Balavoine
Dates & hours: From Saturday 2 August at 2 pm to Friday 8 August 2014 at 2 pm
Venue: La Magnanarie – Villedieu (84) – South of France.
Conditions: Open to everyone. This group is taught in French.
Contact for registration: info@ecole-etre.com

Germany & Holland

Open Information Day
Lecture by Tilke Platteel-Deur & Hans Mensink. All guest receive a breathwork session to get acquainted with the work.
12 April – 2014

Where do I go from here? – Intake Weekend
With Tilke Platteel-Deur, Hans Mensink & Heidi Stein
23 – 25 May 2014

United States

Advanced Practitioner Training
Incorporating Mindfulness with Breathwork: The Key to Getting Results That Last
with Jeremy Youst, Power of Breath Institute
April 26-27, 2014 10 am – 6 pm
The latest in neurobiology as well as other related scientific research, shows that combining Breathwork with MINDFULNESS gets to the very heart of healing, and can truly address why people after years of therapy still suffer, get stuck and don’t heal.

Advanced Practitioner Training
The Art and Skill of Outdoor Water Breathing
with Jeremy Youst, Power of Breath Institute
August 14-17, 201410 am – 6 pm
The Art and Skill of Outdoor Water Breathing is a fully experiential retreat that teaches the skills necessary to safely and effectively facilitate outdoor warm and cold water breathing with a specialty focus on intuitive facilitation in the rebirthing style. In addition to the methodological understanding of how to do this with individuals as well as groups, you will also experience water breathing in two settings, a warm water lake and a cold water stream.

An Introduction to Therapeutic Breathwork for Caregivers
with Jim Morningstar, PhD
Breathworker Certification Training – Module 1      June 27 7pm- June 29, 2014 1pm
Basics of breathwork and its uses in professional practice.

Energy Release and Body Themes in Breathwork  with Jim Morningstar, PhD
Breathworker Certification Training – Module 5     August 14, 2014 9 am – 5:30 pm
Practice in body reading and releasing techniques.

The Anatomy of Breathwork  with Jim Morningstar, PhD
Breathworker Certification Training – Module 4     August 15, 2014 9 am – 5:30 pm
Evolution of breathwork and its effects, physiological to spiritual.

Breathwork in Waterwith Jim Morningstar, PhD
Breathwork Certification Training – Module 2   August 16, 2014 12:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Practice in use of water in dealing with peri-natal issues.

Group Breathworkwith Jim Morningstar, PhD
Breathworker Certification Training – Module 3       August 17, 2014 9 am – 5:30 pm
Practice in constructing and leading group breathwork.

Therapeutic Breathwork Studies Certificate and Mentoring Programs
with Jim Morningstar, PhD

A Certificate in Therapeutic Breathwork Studies through the School of Integrative Psychology and the Transformations Breathworker Training Program can be obtained via online studies by completing all the seminars and passing the online tests for the Practicum in Breathwork and the Breathworker Certification Modules. SIP certificates have growing recognition in educational and health related fields.
-may be combined with experiential supervision for practitioners.
Become an approved Breathwork Mentor and have access to curriculum, training notes and marketing materials: http://www.transformationsusa.com/Breathworker-Mentor-Invitation-registratiion.pdf