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The Spiritual Lineage Paradox in Holotropic Breathwork

I'd like to say a few words about lineage, and how I see it in terms of Holotropic Breathwork. Lineage appears to be part of most of the world spiritual traditions. I'm not trying to make a case for HB being a spiritual tradition, in the same manner as the other recognized traditions. However, its spiritual power is evident, and everyone I've talked to who uses it systematically reports that no matter what reason they began their HB journey, the method eventually took them into the sacred or numinous dimensions of existence. Plus, core breathing, the Inner Healer, extended cartography, focus on death/rebirth, and many other components make a strong case for HB being a spiritual discipline. At the very least, many of these components are found in other traditions as well.

After my initial major revelatory experience that happened when I was twenty, the first books I discovered were the ground-breaking series by W.Y. Evans-Wentz, one of which was "Tibet's Great Yogi, Milarepa". So I got all excited about Tibet, and Milarepa and his lineage, the Kargyupta School, and his teacher Marpa. It was an inspiring read then, and still is now. Marpa was tough! And I love to hear Ram Das talk about the dilemma of being attached to his guru and to his lineage, when other teachers are giving him hell for this attachment. So he says, well, he'll give up all attachments except for his lineage. Makes for a great teaching mystery for us on whatever path we're on.

So then I think about HB and Stan and Christina and this thing about lineage. And I remember a month-long at Esalen, when we were discussing lineage, and Stan and Christina talked about their unique experiences with Muktananda. And about how, if we were to look through the lens of lineage, then it's possible to imagine Muktananda and Kashmir Shaivism being part of an HB lineage. And some more of us ventured to share what we felt might be our lineages as well. It was fun, as well as valuable, in terms of making conscious certain themes of out past. But, there's a bit of a paradox with this whole lineage thing when it comes to HB and each of us who have found it useful. Here's how I see it:

Remember how I said last week that Stan is like Mick Jagger in Russia? It's true, I'm barely exaggerating. Some of them get seriously starry eyed around him. But one of the things that attracted me most to HB to begin with was this unique absence of the shadow side of all the guru thing. Stan and Christina's humility has always been a core inspiration to me. How they say they felt "hired" to do HB, or that they were just "riding the wave" wherever it took them. They are charismatic world teachers. And wherever they go, people are drawn to them, not just because of HB, but often because of the projections people make upon them -- oh, you are so great, when I'm near you I get shaktipat, etc.

But here's a paradox: The core teaching of HB is about the Inner Healer -- about how healing always comes from the inside, not from some outside person. This is what makes HB so special. But, for many seekers, just hanging out with Stan and Christina makes this truth fly out the window. It's easy for all of us to fall into the illusion that our healing comes through somebody else. And the problem of course is exacerbated for those of us who want to be practitioners, because we have to be clear enough not to see ourselves as healers, or to get caught in counter-transference when our participants tell us how great we are.

But back to lineage. This leads us to the question of exploring our own inner lineages, just as we did at Esalen way back when. Especially as we consider how HB will unfold for the next generations of participants and practitioners. For me, I can see how certain lineages may have unfolded through Stan and Christina -- streams of inspiration they are aware of, and some they may not be conscious of, but which will always be a mystery. But here's the important thing, as I see it: When it gets to each of us who come after them, the lineage stops being linear. In a sense, it goes sideways, to each and all of us equally. And how we choose to utilize the gifts of HB are up to us, always guided by our own Inner Healers, that special core gift of HB. Most of us will use it for our own growth. Some will use it in their work with other seekers. Some of us will continue to work in the training, in a world-wide organization like AHBI, or in our own communities. Some of us will use it as an inspiration for creativity and artistic endeavors, others for research, and for many more reasons. The possibilities are endless, all guided by the Inner Healer within each of us.

Some of us may feel a lineage emerge from within as we trace our unique heritages. It's always appropriate to be grateful for our teachers and helpers, like Stan and Christina, and whoever they may be. But then, just as they have always taught, to look deeply within ourselves, be empowered from within to bring forth our own unique contributions, whatever they may be, whether it involves working with HB with others or not. If I may be so bold, the HB lineage is just not a lineage any more, if it ever was. Lineage is a fun way to look at it. We can certainly learn valuable things about ourselves as we explore its paradoxes. But ultimately we will always be led to our own inner selves, as Stan and Christina have always taught. This is the greatest Holotropic gift of all.

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Comment by Robert Décarie on April 28, 2010 at 12:26am
Hi Tav,

These days, I spend time very slowly reading The Ultimate Journey. And I am amazed by the patience, gentleness, skill, depth and passion Stan uses to bring all the threads with all lineages to surface.

With Stan, lineage seems to be so profuse. What I retain is being faithful to the calling.

And the calling has brought me to HB. My thread for now.

Hope to be seeing you soon. Robert
Comment by Ale Scigliano on March 9, 2010 at 4:39pm
Hi Tav, I believe this blog has deeply touched me. I read it several times, perhaps it's because of the time of my trial. It doesn't stop moving me from different places. I fully agree with you. I'm convinced that the lineage of HB is trust, surrender to our own process, to our inner healer, and all this with love to our internal work teaches us humility.

So I think, maybe for having done that way, the best thing that can happen is the systematic work, breath every month at least one year before the formation of the GTT. I believe that it is not enough between module and module to develop trust and surrender on this "tool" so complete that is the HB.
Throughout these years, I see how some people have been certified, making very little systematic work ....Efforts to strengthen the HB with other complementary techniques, picking here and there, confusing and delaying their process.
I feel that without going through a personal process where we develop the compromise, trust, surrender and love for ourselves, we reduce this wonderful and complete tool, the HB, with just a mechanical o commercial act, losing the purity, the essence of the work apart from giving our own resistances to the people. For me, making the process that offer the moduls plus the systematic breathwork, in the long run and with time, it's possible to develop the best qualities of the essence, as the service well comprehended. That's why I think it's necessary the continuity of our inner work.
A big Hug, ale

Hola Tav, creo que esta nota me a tocado profundamente. Ya la leí varias veces, quizás sea por el momento de mi proceso, el tema es que no deja de conmoverme por diferentes lugares. Concuerdo plenamente con vos. Estoy convencida que el linaje de HB es la confianza , la entrega a nuestro propio proceso, a nuestro sanador interior, y todo esto con amor a nuestro trabajo interno nos enseña la humildad.
En mi opinión creo, tal vez por haber hecho ese camino, que lo mejor que nos puede pasar es el trabajo sistemático, respirar todos los meses al menos un año antes de la formación de la GTT, considero que no basta entre modulo y modulo, para desarrollar la confianza y la entrega en esta "herramienta" tan completa que es la HB.
A lo largo de estos años, veo cómo algunas personas se han certificado , haciendo muy poco trabajo sistemático.... tratando de reforzar la HB con otras técnicas complementarias , picoteando acá y aya, confundiéndose y dilatando sus procesos. Siento que si no se atraviesa un proceso personal en donde desarrollemos el compromiso, la confianza, la entrega y el amor por nosotros mismos , reducimos a esta maravillosa y completa herramienta como es la HB en un simple acto mecánico o comercial, perdiendo la pureza y la esencia del trabajo, además de brindarle a la gente nuestras propias resistencias. Para mi, haciendo el proceso que brinda los módulos como las respiraciones sistemáticas a la larga y con el tiempo se termina desarrollando las mejores cualidades de la esencia como el servicio, bien comprendido... Por eso es necesario la continuidad en nuestro trabajo interior.
Un gran abrazo, ale
Comment by José Luis Franzini (cacha) on February 14, 2010 at 10:13pm
Hi Tav, it’s been a long time..

Thank you for your contribution in the theoretical matter, concerning the topic of lineage.
It is an interesting topic for me and that often I have questioned in my spiritual search.

Maybe for my rejection to the Institutional thing, I never liked the lineages, nor the idea of a Teacher or School that tells me what " I had to do "; though after reading Gurdjieff, I accepted the importance of a Teacher who guides my search.

Though I believe that the HB has a certain ingredient of lineage, what I liked most about it is precisely the importance that centres on the Inner Healer and to emphasize that the role of the facilitators is simply to accompany the process of the person, precisely guided by the Interior Healer.
Without doubts we must give the sure and contentious context that we always talk about, in order that the respirator could get thoroughly into his or her process. But up to there …
Doing not doing.

I think it is fundamental to understand and cherish this concept that we are simply accompanists and not healers of nothing nor nobody.

I feel deep gratitude to Stan and Christina (although I do not know her personally) for their work, research, their dedication, their generosity of sharing it and humility to transmit it in the way they have. Being able to share personal conversations and doubts with him.

I also feel this enormous gratitude to those who were my teachers, along with Stan, as you have, Diane whom I feel my archetypal mother, though she likes to call me Brother . The deep gratefulness I feel towards Ana Maria for having brought GTT to South America, which allowed me to access to the formation and who has sustained during the crisis.

Likewise, I feel that there is a huge commitment and responsibility in each one of us, the facilitators, who are continuing the work of Stan and Christina, whether from work in workshops, as well as those who are responsible for the training of facilitators, of transmitting as reliable as possible, the contents of the possible lineage of Holotropic Breathwork and its theoretical content.
It is very common to see throughout the time, how it has been rendered meaningless the content that teachers have transmitted, because of the real incomprehension of the contents or because of the ego of those who continue the educations.

I believe that often it happens because the comprehension stays only at the level of intellect and is not apprehended from the Being.



This legacy that we have received, I feel that we must cherish it and take care of it from the individual commitment of the continuation of the internal work and the accretion of the Holotropic experiences

Although I am sure that none of us is free of ego, I am also certain that the only way of being able to mitigate it is being increasingly deep in the search and in the integration of these experiences.

Thanks to all those who transmit this knowledge and hopefully the Holotropic lineage will keep the freshness and integrity that originated it.
Comment by Roland (Lenny) Gibson on February 6, 2010 at 4:02pm
Geez, Tav, Mick Jagger? How about someone with a little more class--like Beethoven. In the context of depth psychology that could suggest Freud as Bach and Jung as Mozart.

Musical comparisons aside, however, it is essential to give full import to Stan’s lineage in the Western tradition. Reading a contraband book by Freud was his original awakening to psychology. In “Beyond the Brain,” Stan acknowledges Jung as the first modern psychologist. Not only is this original lineage, but it is the primary lineage history will place Stan in. Freud uncovered the importance of individual biography in psychology. Jung uncovered the transpersonal dimension. Freudian and Jungian ideas, however, create an uneasy tension that Stan’s theory of perinatal experience resolves. Stan has provided the critical bridge between individual and transpersonal, which ranks him equal with his two predecessors and establishes the third leg of the tripod on which depth psychology will develop.

The other critically important note to sound regarding Stan’s lineage must be Albert Hoffman. Anyone who has seen them together has heard that resonance.
Comment by Ale Scigliano on February 2, 2010 at 7:29pm
> Gracias Tav, muchas gracias por tus palabras que comparto por mi experiencia con la Respiración Holotrópica y por sentir tus palabras profundas y muy ciertas. Quisiera compartir un mandala que habla de esto: "Peregrinaje a mi Buddha Interior"
Lamentablemente en el blog no hay herramientas para que este mandala se pueda ver, por eso Tav te invito y los invito a todos a mi pagína web de esta gran y hermosa comunidad.
Nuevamente gracias, Ale

> >Thanks Tav, thank you very much for your words, I share them because of my experience with Holotropic Breathwork and because I feel your words as deep and very true. I'd like to share a mandala that talks about this: "Pilgrimage to my Inner Buddha"
Unfortunately on the blog there are no tools for share this mandala, so I invite you and I invite everyone to my website of this great and beautiful community.
Again thanks, Ale
Comment by Allen Howell, M.Ed LMHC on February 2, 2010 at 1:51am
How about that Stray Cat Lineage? (I say with starry eyes). Thanks Tav, that was wonderful.
Comment by Daphnee on February 2, 2010 at 12:30am
love it!
Comment by Joyce Lee Cochran on February 1, 2010 at 11:34pm
Thanks for this, Tav. I'm excited about your blog! As I see it, HB is a framework in which it is possible for those of us who are a part of it to discover, explore or enhance our spiritual lineages. The practice of HB can support folk in their spiritual journeys because it has the potential of giving access to the numenous -- a Jungian-type word for the Big Cloud around us that contains an indwelling force or spirit. But HB (thank heavens!) does not impose its own spiritual lineage because that's up to each participant to bring or work out for him/herself. I love HB because it gives me a place to encounter deep aspects of my being such as my Inner Healer as well as the other archetypal figures from the Collective Unconscious whom I meet in that sacred imaginal realm that HB can take me to. But at this point in my life the last thing I need is a lineage that tells me who I need to revere, how and why -- no more dogma, thank you. I just want a place, as you so apltly say, where I can encounter my own inner self -- even my Self, again in the Jungian/transpersonal sense of that term. So thank you for your words and for your reminder of this great gift that HB offers.

A tongue-in-cheek aside: If Stan and Christina could be considered the King and Queen of HB, then You are most definitely the High Priest :-) I love you, Tav! Blessings, Joyce Cochran
Comment by John Leipold on February 1, 2010 at 11:33pm
Although the work done in HB is deep inner work which often leads us to profound understandings of ourselves within the cosmos, there is a "flavoring" which takes place as each teacher passes on their accumulated understandings, as Stan does, and as the other GTT staff members do in the modules. So, perhaps this concept of "lineage" is not really so foreign or out of place, although without doubt this perspective is littered with pitfalls when counter-transference is not recognized as it happens.

From a deeper perspective, though, we each have our own spiritual lineages which are composed of not only our teachers, but the accumulated experience of our own and our species past and current lives, and therefore no lineage can be pure in respect to the original teacher's, because it will always be filtered through our own comprehensions, especially as we impart our understandings to others, such as in introductory talks on breathwork to new breathers.

The concept of lineage does indeed create an interesting perspective for each of us, and speaking for myself, the concept of the inner healer is an integral part of my thought lineage now, after my experiences with breathwork and my studying of Stan's writings. I will always be grateful for his and Christina's many contributions, and for the way they have helped me to transform my life. I will also be forever grateful for all the other teachers I have encountered in HB, not only for their wise words, but mainly for their profound sense of compassion, without which, the support felt in the NOSC just wouldn't be the same.
Comment by Liliana Vasquez Mock on February 1, 2010 at 11:30pm
Dear Tav: thank you so so so much for speaking about this. This: "The core teaching of HB is about the Inner Healer -- about how healing always comes from the inside, not from some outside person" went straight to my heart and brain. It felt like I was reading exactly what I was needing. Thanks from my heart and brain. Love, Lili

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