Holotropic Breathwork: A New Approach to Self-Exploration and Therapy

Holotropic Breathwork: A New Approach to Self-Exploration and Therapy

by Stanislav Grof, Christina Grof

ISBN-10: 143843393X

ISBN-13: 9781438433936

Pub. Date: 08/01/2010

Publisher: State University of New York Press

The definitive overview of this transformative breathwork.

In this long awaited book, Stanislav Grof and Christina Grof describe their groundbreaking new form of self-exploration and psychotherapy: Holotropic Breathwork. Holotropic means 'moving toward wholeness,' from the Greek holos ( whole) and trepein (moving in the direction of). The breathwork

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The definitive overview of this transformative breathwork.

In this long awaited book, Stanislav Grof and Christina Grof describe their groundbreaking new form of self-exploration and psychotherapy: Holotropic Breathwork. Holotropic means 'moving toward wholeness,' from the Greek holos ( whole) and trepein (moving in the direction of). The breathwork utilizes the remarkable healing and transformative potential of non-ordinary states of consciousness. These states engender a rich array of experiences with unique healing potential—reliving childhood memories, infancy, birth and prenatal life, and elements from the historical and archetypal realms of the collective unconscious. Induced by very simple means—a combination of accelerated breathing, evocative music, and bodywork in a safe and supportive setting, Holotropic Breathwork integrates the insights from modern consciousness research, depth psychology, transpersonal psychology, anthropology, Eastern spiritual practices, and mystical traditions. The Grofs' work with holotropic states of consciousness has introduced revolutionary changes to psychiatry, psychology, and psychotherapy. Written in a clear, easily understandable style, this indispensable book summarizes their remarkable insights.

"Stanislav Grof is one of the most important pioneers in the scientific understanding of consciousness. He and his wife, Christina, have contributed both to its intellectual and experiential understanding through their work with Holotropic Breathwork. Their book on this new approach to self-exploration and therapy is a must read." — Deepak Chopra, author of Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul: How to Create a New You

"This fascinating, informative book invites you to open your mind to explore the depths of the psyche and transpersonal dimensions of consciousness. Stanislav and Christina Grof, who pioneered this powerful, innovative approach to therapy and personal growth, offer sound advice, thoroughly grounded in decades of practical experience." — Frances Vaughan, author of Shadows of the Sacred: Seeing Through Spiritual Illusions

"Take a few rapid, staccato breaths and open this book. You will have a great read, and at the same time maybe discover a new kind of consciousness, just waiting inside of you to be revealed.

"Stanislav and Christina Grof are modern pioneers of consciousness and this book is their map of the territory. Holotropic Breathwork reveals how the Grofs developed their revolutionary healing techniques, often told through fascinating stories of people being transformed by the breathwork process. The Grofs are at the center of the current psycho-spiritual revolution in the West, and this book is a testament to their role in our collective healing." — Wes Nisker, author of The Essential Crazy Wisdom and Buddha's Nature: A Practical Guide to Discovering Your Place in the Cosmos

"The Grofs offer the first comprehensive text of the theory and practice of their pioneering and integrative model of experiential psychotherapy and self-exploration. This 'psychology of the future,' with its extended cartography of the psyche, provides irrefutable evidence that spontaneous episodes of nonordinary states of consciousness have great healing, transformative, and even evolutionary potential for humankind. History will record that Holotropic Breathwork and the certification training and program designed by the Grofs advanced the field of psychotherapy far beyond the contributions of Freud and Jung." — Angeles Arrien, author of The Four-Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer, and Visionary

"In this remarkable book Stanislav and Christina Grof summarize their pathbreaking discoveries of the past thirty years. They make two significant contributions, one to science, the other to our shared future. The first, by showing that altered states of consciousness have a dimension that is veridical—'imaginal' rather than 'imaginary'—and thereby transcend the outdated but still persistent belief that our experience of the world is limited to information conveyed by our senses. The second, by demonstrating that the altered states achieved inter alia through their holotropic breathwork method reduce aggression and enhance tolerance, compassion, ecological sensitivity, and a sense of planetary citizenship. Since these are the very qualities we urgently need to cope with the global emergency in which we presently find ourselves, their contribution to the future of humankind matches their contribution to the future of psychology." — Ervin Laszlo, author of The Connectivity Hypothesis: Foundations of an Integral Science of Quantum, Cosmos, Life, and Consciousness

"Holotropic Breathwork appears to have the potential for facilitating psychological insights and transformations that can be remarkably rapid and deep." — Roger Walsh, coeditor of Higher Wisdom: Eminent Elders Explore the Continuing Impact of Psychedelics

"You hold in your hands a visionary book, one that offers a new understanding of healing, mental health, and human potential, along with powerful techniques to bring about these transformations. Developing such an integrated understanding, which combines science, experience, and spirit is critical for the twenty-first century." — from the Foreword by Jack Kornfield

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Product Details

State University of New York Press
Publication date:
SUNY series in Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology Series
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents

Foreword ix

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xix

Chapter 1 Historical Roots of Holotropic Breathwork 1

1 Sigmund Freud and the dawn of depth psychology 1

2 Humanistic psychology and experiential therapies 2

3 The advent of psychedelic therapy 3

4 Abraham Maslow, Anthony Sutich, and the birth of transpersonal psychology 4

Chapter 2 Theoretical Foundations of Holotropic Breathwork 7

1 Holotropic states of consciousness 7

2 Dimensions of the human psyche 12

3 The nature, function, and architecture of emotional and psychosomatic disorders 14

4 Effective therapeutic mechanisms 16

5 Strategy of psychotherapy and self-exploration 16

6 The role of spirituality in human life 20

7 The nature of reality: Psyche, cosmos, and consciousness 25

Chapter 3 Essential Components of Holotropic Breathwork 29

1 The healing power of breath 30

2 The therapeutic potential of music 32

3 The use of releasing bodywork 37

4 Supportive and nourishing physical contact 40

5 Mandala drawing: The expressive power of art 44

Chapter 4 The Practice of Holotropic Breathwork 47

1 Use of Holotropic Breathwork in individual sessions and groups 47

2 Setting and interpersonal support system 49

3 Theoretical preparation of participants 53

4 Screening for physical and emotional contraindications 55

5 Practical instructions for breathwork sessions 61

6 Preparation for the session and the relaxation exercise 63

7 Conducting Holotropic Breathwork sessions 66

8 The spectrum of holotropic experiences 67

9 The role of the facilitators 87

10 Mandala drawing and the processing groups 91

Chapter 5 Integration of the Breathwork Experience and Follow-Up Work 99

1 Creating conditions for optimal integration 99

2 Easing the transition to everyday life 100

3 Conducting follow-up interviews 102

4 Using various methods complementing Holotropic Breathwork 104

Chapter 6 Trials and Tribulations of Holotropic Breathwork Facilitators 109

1 Encounter with the military junta in Buenos Aires 109

2 Competing with the exhibition of Doberman pinshers 113

3 Culture-bound challenges for Holotropic Breathwork facilitators 114

4 Technological ordeals in Holotropic Breathwork sessions 117

5 The pisspot, oinking piglets, and smoldering Kleenexes 120

6 Supreme ordeal Down Under 121

7 Conducting Holotropic Breathwork in adversarial settings 122

Chapter 7 Therapeutic Potential of Holotropic Breathwork 125

1 Healing of emotional and psychosomatic disorders 125

2 Favorable effect on physical diseases 127

3 Effect on personality, worldview, life strategy, and hierarchy of values 129

4 Potential for healing of cultural wounds and historical conflict resolution 133

Chapter 8 Therapeutic Mechanisms Operating in Holotropic Breathwork 147

1 Intensification of conventional therapeutic mechanisms 147

2 Dynamic shifts in the psyche's governing systems 152

3 The therapeutic potential of the death-rebirth process 153

4 The therapeutic mechanisms on the transpersonal level 155

5 Healing as a movement toward wholeness 157

Chapter 9 Physiological Mechanisms Involved in Holotropic Breathwork 161

1 Biochemical and physiological changes 161

2 Holotropic Breathwork and the "hyperventilation syndrome" 163

3 Psychodynamics of psychosomatic disorders 169

Chapter 10 Past, Present, and Future of Holotropic Breathwork 177

1 Training of Holotropic Breathwork facilitators 177

2 Holotropic Breathwork and the academic community 179

3 Benefits of the holotropic perspective 181

4 Holotropic states of consciousness and the current global crisis 182

Appendix 1 Special Situations and Interventions in Holotropic Breathwork Sessions 185

1 The experience of choking and of pressure on the chest 185

2 Experience of muscular tensions and spasms 186

3 Problems related to blockages in the genital area, sex, and nudity 188

4 Overactive, erratic, and aggressive behavior 192

5 Working with demonic energy 194

6 Excessive self-control and inability to let go 195

7 Working with nausea and the tendency to vomit 196

8 Standing and dancing in the sessions 197

9 Reliving the memory of biological birth 197

Appendix 2 Holotropic Breathwork and Other Breathing Techniques 199

Bibliography 201

Index 211

About Grof Transpersonal Training 219

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