The Holotropic Breathwork Community

Supporting healing and transformation

Building Bridges to the Holotropic Experience

Hey, everybody!

I'm in Georgia this weekend, visiting with my oldest son, Ason, and my two grandsons, Dallin and Kellin. I'm happy. Just wanted to pick up where we left off last week -- about translating perinatal language -- and share a bit about some work we have been doing in Australia, and will also soon be doing in the US.

For the past two years, and again later this year, we have been presenting one-day workshops in different cities -- either something along the lines of Return to Our Own True Roots: The Wellness Model of Addiction and Recovery, or Movie Yoga: Turning Your Life Into an Epic Adventure. What's elegant is that the model for these two seminars is virtually the same. We just slot in the specific content related to each central subject, and of course, the title. But then the deeper principles and structure of the workshops are identical, and -- here's the cool part -- are really just a barely veiled way to present the Holotropic perspective in a manner that is simple, short, non-threatening, and user-friendly.

So, here's what it looks like: We begin with an experiential exercise -- a music thing, preceded by some initial guidance. The guidance entails a quick reference to the power that's going to be doing all the work this day: our Inner Healers -- very important, very core. With Return to Roots , the group goes out and finds their tree, which they will relating to the whole day -- that's the central metaphor. What we are learning now is that participants are not so much interested in just talking and theory -- they want experiences. Of course, if this was HB, they'd be getting a big-time experience. So our job in these one-days is to provide other experiential exercises, based on HB principles. And the guided music adventure is a good start. They open up, get involved -- on board, so to speak.

Then, just as in all HB sessions, we continue with the three basic components of working in NOSC -- preparation, session (or experience), and integration. Here's the prep: we start with the APS, Movie Yoga's "Awareness Positioning System" (my version of the GPS for cars) -- what we used to call in the training the Yoga of the Cross -- about the two vectors on which we all live: 1) the horizontal, everything outside us, and 2) the vertical, our inside nature. And how all healing requires that we must see the outside world as triggers that can be worked through from our inside nature -- just like a breathwork, where we are always reminded to "take it internal", let the music, sounds, etc. be a trigger to point us to our internal reactions.

Next, we explore life and transformation as psycho-spiritual death and rebirth -- again, like HB -- using some of the metaphors I mentioned last time: the Hero's Journey and seasons of transformation -- that kind of thing. And the way we do it is through Movie Yoga -- and a mini-perinatal show using clips. This way it can be both educational as well as therapeutic and fun. Then, before lunch, we prepare the group for the central experiential exercise, which will take place after everyone has eaten. This is what we call sometimes the "Life Dance" -- a dancing, sitting, standing, or lying down exercise that lasts for about twenty minutes -- nobody looks at each other; that way, they can feel uninhibited. We don't have to use heavy drumming -- just evocative second hour transitional type music, breakthrough, and third hour material -- as long as it's got "that thing", that juice.

Now, the power of this Life Dance has really surprised us. The first time I did it was for a Common Boundary conference in about '94, where they wanted the "full HB monte", but only offered me about eight hours to do it in. So, we did this dance experiment, and participants in the group had amazing experiences -- with biographical, deep transpersonal, and even perinatal material. I was so excited. The implications seemed huge: that with a proper set and setting, like with Walter Pahnke's Good Friday Experiment, as Stan and Christina have always said; plus emphasis on the Inner Healer, the extended cartography, and so on, people can have quite powerful healing experiences. And here's the kicker: it doesn't have to be just with lying down and breathing; it can happen in many other ways, including dance. And of course there's already a deep tradition of ecstatic dance, so really it's not so surprising.

Finally, we close with, you guessed it, a sharing session, guidelines about going home and how to be with the process on-going, including developing a support system or re-connecting with the ones they already have. Plus a refocusing on the theme of the day, and providing ways to continue that exploration should they so choose. And that's about it. We have seen people who reported that they were "skittish" of HB, but after the one-day workshop, they couldn't wait to sign up for the next Holotropic seminar, which they did. And we even had someone who had been to HB and had quite a difficult time, report that through the different metaphors and exercises we used in the one-day, they felt like they really understood the Holotropic perspective for the first time. Not only that, she then began to use HB principles -- death/rebirth, the Inner Healer, and so on -- with their own clients.

So, that's about it for this time. As I said, this week I'm with my Georgia boys. Who knows what Spirit has in store for us. If I get all deep with my crew, I may just do a quick "check-in" from the road next week, with more to follow later. Thanks for all.

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Comment by Allen Howell, M.Ed LMHC on February 16, 2010 at 1:22am
Being an Uncle to a 5 year old nephew and 7 year old niece, I have the best job ... spoiling them and then handing them back to their parents all ramped up (who have to deal with the after-effects .. lol). I am constantly amazed at how receptive and open young kids are, how directly involved in their experiences, how honest in their emotional reactions. Everything is new and wonderous to them and seen as opportunities to express their feelings without shame or self-censorship. I've watched them watching films where they are reduced to giggles, enthralled, or terrified while I try to sit there and "act" like an adult by not overreacting. In every scenario they strike me as so much more uninhibited about their emotional transparency than us jaded old poops. It is only in growing up that are conditioned not to wear our emotions on our faces, whether its in what we watch on TV or what we encounter on the streets. Being emotional becomes equated with weakness, naiveté, and therefore must be suppressed. HB was critical in my own rediscovery of emotional awareness ad openness, and I long to be that free again. We can learn so much from children about beginners mind.

They keep me young. Plus, my brother and I being night and day to each other's personalities, I can't wait to teach these little ones such contraband words as "environmentalism, social justice, self-exploration, and transpersonal." That's what uncles (and aunts) are for, right?

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