What is Holotropic Breathwork
"Western science is approaching a paradigm shift of unprecedented proportions, one that will change our concepts of reality and of human nature, bridge the gap between ancient wisdom and modern science, and reconcile the differences between Eastern spirituality and Western pragmatism."
-Stanislav Grof from “Beyond the Brain”
Holotropic Breathwork® is a powerful practice of self-exploration and healing that integrates the latest insights from modern consciousness research with anthropology, various depth psychologies, transpersonal psychology, eastern spiritual practices, and mystical traditions from around the world. It combines breathing practices and evocative music in a safe set and setting, allowing individuals to access states of consciousness that have the potential to transcend space, time, and linear causality, and activates the natural inner healing process of the individual's psyche. The process is simple yet profoundly transformative. With the inner healing intelligence guiding the process, the quality and content brought forth is unique to each person and for that particular time and place. It can bring about transformation at all levels of self.
We all have encounters which occur in our personal history - from the circumstances of our birth to the daily conditions and conflicts we encounter in the world. And for many there may have been experiences an emotional, physical, or even spiritually traumatic nature. These events can create constrictions that impede the flow of our creative energy and prevent the natural process of our development. These constrictions may keep us from attaining our true personal potentials, restricting our connection with our community, or even with ourselves, and stifling the natural intelligence of spirit that allows us to experience the fullness and satisfaction to life.
Consequently, we may experience difficulty in our lives, in our interpersonal relationships, or from a general loss of interest of awareness of one’s life purpose to a constriction from new experiences and interactions with others. We may also feel stress, anxiety, or physical discomforts that conventional medicine cannot relieve. The power of the breath offers us a direct way to resolve these problems by accessing our own internal power for change. It helps us achieve our full potential by helping us to overcome feelings that we are stuck, trapped, blocked, or burdened. Focused release work may also be used as needed within the session to allow release of blocks anchored within the body that manifest during the work, or to facilitate the ongoing process. Other important components of this practice include creative expression through artwork, and group sharing to help integrate and complete the breathwork process.
Holotropic Breathwork® was developed by Stanislav Grof, M.D., Ph.D., and Christina Grof. Dr. Grof is an internationally renowned figure in the human potential movement, a founding member and chief theoretician of transpersonal psychology, and a pioneer in the field of consciousness studies with more than fifty years’ experience researching the healing potential of non-ordinary states of consciousness. Christina Grof is an innovator in transpersonal approaches to addiction and is the author of "The Thirst for Wholeness" as well as co-author with Dr. Grof on such title as “The Stormy Search for the Self: A Guide to Personal Growth through Transformational Crisis” and “Holotropic Breathwork: A New Approach to Self-Exploration and Therapy.”
Through his ground-breaking scientific research conducted in Prague and later at Johns Hopkins University, as the Chief of Psychiatric Research at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center in Baltimore, Maryland, Dr. Grof came to understand that significant transformations of the psyche can occur in non-ordinary states of consciousness that were not possible with other forms of therapeutic practice. For this reason, he developed a safe and effective way of using one’s own breath to induce these states. While other forms of breathwork have been developed based on his ground-breaking work, most have removed many of the very features that make Holotropic Breathwork™ so effective, and it remains the gold standard against which the others must still compare themselves.
It has been estimated by the Grof Foundation, that in the decades since the first training group graduated in 1988, approximately 100,000 individuals have experienced Holotropic Breathwork. Internal research suggests participants, on average, return for on average a minimum of 10 sessions each; thus at least one million Holotropic Breathwork sessions have taken place the past two decades. Events in the US and abroad have drawn in crowds of participants as large as several hundred to experience this work. Over 37 papers by scholars and researchers in many countries have been written to address and examine the healing potential of Holotropic Breathwork; these include peer-reviewed articles, dissertations and scholarly papers.
“I lived for over ten years at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, where I was the director of programs, and in the course of those years virtually every conceivable form of therapy and personal transformation, great and small, came through Esalen. In terms of therapeutic effectiveness, Grof’s was by far the most powerful; there was no comparison.”
-Richard Tarnas, from “The Passion of the Western Mind”
"Seekers consistently relate that every aspect of healing they have encountered in their holotropic journey has been generated, not by the ﬁat of some external individual, group, or technique, but from a mystery at the core of their deepest selves."
-Tav Sparks, from “The Power Within: Becoming, Being, and the Holotropic Paradigm”
Click here to watch an excerpt from a presentation by Dr. Grof:
Stanislav Grof: Holotropic States of Consciousness
For additional information about Holotropic Breathwork, visit the FAQ page at the Grof Foundation