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Expanding the Language of the Perinatal

Hey, everybody!

Over the years many of us have discussed the implications of modifying Holotropic terminology to meet the needs of special populations. So I'd like to share a little about this issue. At certification last October, the group was digging in for the traditional marathon perinatal show. Only of course now the format is a tad different. Since nobody can recreate Stan's original eight to twelve hour -- or as was the case in the very first certifications, sometimes sixteen to eighteen hour slide extravaganzas -- I've resorted to an all-day movie clip presentation instead. What a surprise, me using movies. So, as a lead-up to the clips, we were discussing the perinatal in general. And many in the group got excited, and reported that they felt relief, as well as validation, when we discussed the possibility of using alternative perinatal language in certain settings.

I guess for many of us over the years, we kind of imagined that this might be off limits, or a bit heretical. We have always stressed the importance of staying true to sound Holotropic principles when we are disseminating HB information. And this is a good thing. But nowhere has it been written, nor have either Stan or Christina ever said, that we couldn't translate our language to suit the needs of the various audiences we were addressing.

So when I asked Stan to take a run through the Movie Yoga manuscript before it was published and give his feedback, I was a little concerned about how he would react to what I had done with the perinatal in that context. As those of you who've read it know, death/rebirth is the basic structure around which the movie yoga game is built. And one of the reasons I wrote it was to find a way to make the Holotropic accessible to people who might never be exposed to it in any other way. But since I was trying to reach a rather broad, possibly non-psychologically oriented audience, I changed the language a lot, called the matrixes "zones", gave them simplified and what I hoped were representative yet "catchy" names, and basically tried to make it fun and accessible to people with maybe no interest in therapy of any kind whatsoever. And Stan was pretty pleased with it, was very supportive, and totally "got" what I was up to. We had quite a lively discussion, for example, about what to call the 1st Matrix. I ended up going with the Safe Zone, even though we both felt it didn't really cover all that the 1st Matrix offers. But after pouring over it a while, it was about as good as we could get it. But the others -- the Trapped Zone, the War Zone, and the Free Zone -- seemed to do a better job.

I went so far as to ask Stan straight up whether he approved of us translating the language for different audiences, as long as we transmitted the truth of the principles. And of course, he was excited about it. So this is what I shared at certification before the movie clip perinatal show. And there was like this palpable sense of relief in many in the group. They expressed how they have been thinking the same thing for quite a while, but weren't sure it was kosher. So I tossed out some of the ways I've been sharing it in various places in the world, as well as what I had done with the perinatal in Movie Yoga. And then others talked a little about what they were doing in their groups. And overall the sense in the room was one of both relief and validation that they were supported and on the right track.

I've always said that one of the truest ways to know we have really owned a body of knowledge is that we will be able then to share this knowledge with others, not like parrots of someone else's words, but with the personal metaphors that have emerged from our own hearts. Stan and Christina have always said they don't want clones. So the expression we use in any setting ought to be motivated by our own intuitive sense of what the needs are of this particular group. So I went on to share how I had been thinking about the perinatal in terms of, for example, Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey, and then something Cary and I have been talking about for a long time, the perinatal in terms of "seasons of transformation". And I'm delighted to share that experiments such as these have been met with open minds and hearts in many places in the world, and with many groups who had little or no understanding and interest in either traditional or ground-breaking psychological terminology, such as that in the transpersonal and Holotropic lexicon.

And this leads me to want to share with you what we have been experiencing in some of these international settings. And to also talk about specific ways we have modified, not just the language, but actual settings in which Holotropic principles can be experienced without violating what is sacrosanct about Holotropic Breathwork. Strategies which can give seekers a taste of the tradition in a safe supportive manner than still holds much of the power of work with the Inner Healer in enhanced states of awareness. So, let's do that next time. I look forward to exploring these ideas with you. And I hope, and in fact bet, that many of you are already thinking and feeling along these lines as well. In which case, if nothing else, these musings can be a bit of a collective validation of some genuinely new and creative ways you are already experimenting with to be of service to others in the world using the Holotropic perspective.

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Comment by Roland (Lenny) Gibson on February 10, 2010 at 2:31pm
It's great to see that you are laying the foundation for developing the popular interest in Holotropic Breathwork separately from the academic/professional psychology track.

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