My Holotropic Breathwork Experience
I wanted to share an amazing experience. Actually it’s a myriad of experiences that spawned from trying something new; Holotropic Breathwork. It would be dishonest to say I had never heard of it before. I had read about it in a book I received as a present in 1998. That book happened to be my first experience of realized manifestation, meaning I actually realized I had manifested something. That book was The Holographic Universe Theory by Michael Talbot. I recommend it. I also recommend that if you know someone who you really think should read it, buy them their own copy. I bought this book 6 times before I realized it’s special enough to keep once you’ve got it. The friendly hands you let lay on your copy will be the last time you ever see it. Isn’t it wonderful to find books that can be such a powerful blessing?
When I read The Holographic Universe Theory, I was a young girl of 18. The book was fascinating but there was so much science in it that I couldn’t understand. I found myself accepting it as truth because scientists had discovered this or that, math proves it and so on and so forth. It was empowering but mildly. It began, however, a journey of self discovery that I have pursued to this day and is ceaseless. My most recent experiment on this journey of self discovery and enlightenment led me back to that book and a new understanding of its contents. And that, in and of itself, is the beauty of a holographic understanding of experience.
Recently, I moved my office in with Circle On The Square; a wonderful group of healers and teachers. My becoming a part of this group was also an episode in an alignment of events to perfectly meet my needs. It is another story for another time but I am so thankful to be involved. When I began my practice with them, I noticed a flyer for a Holotropic Breath Workshop. My curiosity was piqued. I spoke aloud how I would love to attend this class. As the time drew near, the lovely ladies that host said that those who worked with The Circle could attend for free. Well, if it’s free, it’s me. I couldn’t wait!
It began early in the morning. We learned that we would partner up with one of the group we didn’t know, so as to not project any beliefs onto that person that might interfere with their experience. One of us would breathe in the morning while the other sits for them and then switch for the afternoon session. Each session would be three hours long. I chose to sit first and breathe later.
Sitting for my partner was an interesting experience. We are not provided many opportunities in life to selflessly hold space for another, without directly involving ourselves in the situation. All I was there to do was to make sure they were breathing, to provide them with water, tissue, more/less blankets, to make sure they didn’t cause harm to themselves, or to help them to the bathroom. It’s a wondrous experience to be there for someone you barely know, if you even know them at all. As a massage therapist/body worker, I am geared to use my knowledge and get involved. Not this time. Just sitting there, holding what Rosan, one of the ladies hosting, called, “Keeping a sacred appointment.” What powerful words to so correctly describe our responsibility as sitter! I’m going to leave that there and where I may come back to it later, I would like to move forward to the breathing.
When it was my turn to breathe, I laid on the soft mat on the floor, complete with sheets, blankets, pillows and under-knee support. I was very comfortable. My partner and I discussed our ‘contract’ as in what hand signals I would use for tissue, water, bathroom, etc. No words would be needed. I made sure my body felt comfortable and I settled down to see what I could see.
In a holotopic breathwork session, there are three hours of music. The first hour is very beat-heavy; lots of drums, with bass reverberating through the floor and shaking your insides. The music is extremely loud. The second hour is very epic and the third, more meditative and calming. While the music is playing, the breather breathes faster and deeper than normal to achieve a non-ordinary state of consciousness.
When I started to breathe, I’m sure I was having the thoughts of everyone else in the room. “This isn’t going to work for me; I’m not going to do this right. Everyone will have an awesome experience but me…” the typical self sabotaging thoughts. Somewhere through my doubt, I noticed something. I noticed a little, nagging, sad feeling, lurking around the edges of my awareness. Before the session started, the facilitators told us to exaggerate anything we were experiencing. To move our fingers more if they started moving, to feel something more if we were feeling something; to bring it to the surface. So I made this sad feeling grow.
“I’m sad that I felt totally neglected by my mother when I was a young child.” Wow. Where did that come from? It came from me. It was real. I was feeling it. There was no denying that this was something that was really bothering me even though in my day to day life, it wasn’t something I thought about. I felt very sad and angry. I thought, “How dare she?!” And it went farther. I somehow plugged in to the relationship she had with her mother. I felt her sadness as she felt ignored by a mother who was trapped in a feeling of helplessness due to an abusive relationship. I felt this long line of sadness that stretched back generations of women in my family.
Then I saw my son, Dexter, and my daughter Melaine. I felt how they feel neglected and ignored by me. At that point, any reservations I had about holding my composure in a room of strangers fled. I sobbed. The wall was broken open and the guilt, remorse, and realizations of pure selfishness accompanied by extreme self loathing, scorched my spirit.
After feeling this way for a while, my mind started to come back to the music. My temperature would fluctuate. I was feeling cold and wondering at what just happened. My mind drifted to a picture a friend had shared. It was of a Saint who had her breasts removed while being tortured by the Inquisition. She was a statue, smiling, holding a platter displaying her severed breasts. My body began to get warm, then hot and I was back in whatever craziness was happening to me.
I saw the statue as if I were there. As I was looking at her, I felt an immense helplessness. I felt betrayal on a deep, primal level. The awareness expanded and it seemed like I had tapped in to a stream of female suffering. It went back years and years; the death, the killing, the rape. I felt so many, individual sufferings that became a whole sweeping song of torment. Being held down, forced, murdered, left to watch as those we love were killed, tortured, raped, and overpowered, and the ever-present feeling that the oppressor believed we were somehow less. It infuriated me.
That is when this adventure took a gruesome turn, as if what I’d already seen hadn’t been grotesque enough. When I say what I am about to, I wish there were a way to put into words the feeling of it. In my mind I saw a Middle Eastern woman on her knees. It was dirty. It was the desert but in a town or city. She was screaming at the sight of a dead little boy lying in the street. Either shot or half blown up, I can’t remember the details of him. I was locked on to her. Her helpless cries that would not bring back her son, would not end the fighting, would not end the immeasurable killing, screamed endless death.
Then I saw what I can only assume were people who worked with radical Muslim political groups responsible for so much struggle. For the sake of this paper, we’ll call them terrorists. They were laughing at her from across the street. And it came to me how these men had come from wombs of WOMEN! It seemed like an endless cycle. We birth them into the world, they grow up, and some of them prey on the very essence of what gave them life. Some of those men kill, rape, torture children and kill them.
A feeling of acceptance started to creep over me. I felt like the lesson I had learned was that women love, fiercely, and it was our personal curse that we would love what hurt us so deeply. It was a thing to be swallowed so we could continue on our paths as mothers, healers, lovers and so on. I signaled to my sitter and to Rosan that I was done and ready to leave the room. Luckily, they won’t let you leave the room until they’ve checked you out. She looked me in the eyes and asked me how I felt. I told her, “I feel that I’ve learned an important lesson and now I just want to go sit in the grass and cry about it.” She said, “Why don’t you lay back down and I’m going to stay right here with you. I will be right here.” She placed her hands on either side of my head and I closed my eyes.
“I’m going to need you to bring up that feeling. Make it stronger. Hold it in your mind.” I didn’t want to, but I did not enjoy the way I was feeling at all and if I could pull myself out of it, I would do it. I brought up the only images I knew would get me there fast. I thought of dead children. The tears began to flow again and quickly turned to sobs that racked my chest and hurt. Little girls and boys having been hurt; Mothers crying, Grandmothers crying, no end in sight, we are doomed to be treated as the lesser sex though we love so much…
Somewhere, under the surging fire of helpless fury, there was a great big Something. It was strong. It was very intense. It called to me. I saw the children on the ground surrounded by their weeping families and then below them I could see into the Earth. I saw a definite Feminine figure moving from the depths of the Earth up closer to the surface. She didn’t break the surface but she took and absorbed, through the soil, every tear and every drop of blood. She took them into her and she loved. She loved and she used that energy, transforming the death into Life in an endless cycle. There was no judgment of good or bad. She just Loved. This is where I learned the real lesson.
It was not a curse. A Woman’s ability, capacity for and tenacity to Love is our greatest strength. I also felt the wonderful Men out there that enjoy and benefit so greatly from our naturally healing, nourishing Love. And though we have suffered evil men and they will continue to arrive here on the planet, the strength of our Love has not faded. It is very strong. I realized I had separated myself from it over the years of my life and experience. However, to feel it, be surrounded by it, to swim in the pure, unconditional Love that is here for us, I only wanted to share it. I only wanted, from that moment on, to share my unconditional Love with others. I wanted to enjoy Loving my Man. I wanted to share my Love with my children. I wanted to share my Love with the people at The Circle. I wanted to take the energy that was around me, pull it into myself, transform it and release it back into the World, just like the awesome Great Mother I was so blessed to have witnessed.
Another very powerful lesson I learned at this same time in the breath work was the vision of how to heal ourselves and the planet. I saw, so crystal clear, that this world needs Us. This world needs women to embrace who they are. It’s not weapons, politics, ranting, nagging, manipulating, bullying, lobbying, voting, or anything like that. One word sums up what this world needs from women.
Yes, that’s it. If we, as women, could open up to that space in ourselves that is devoted to the naturally ingrained want/need to nurture, replenish, protect, to Love, we can truly forgive. We need to face Man, look at him fully, take his full presence into our soul, feel it, caress it with our energy, open ourselves up to the point of true vulnerability and with every particle of ourselves, look Man in the eye and say, “I FORGIVE YOU.” Let the past fall away. Let the ways that society has poisoned our minds against each other, fall away effortlessly. He is Man. We are Woman. We complement each other, complete each other and together, we can make Heaven on Earth. When the blinders of culture have been removed, Man is so remarkable. Man’s strength, focus, and will are a precious gift to our species just as Woman’s nurturing, caring, Spiritual Love balances the power for a union that hums its completeness. It’s so marvelous, the untapped riches waiting for us from each other!
Then we must turn that open, vulnerable heart towards each other and ourselves. The peace of mind that would come by looking inward at those internalized insults and judgments is staggering! It’s been heard and engrained in our minds so much that it’s our own voices we hear, repeating the rhetoric towards Womankind. It’s the fear that we have taken to carrying, like pack mules being led around by a society benefitting from our fear about the freedom of our bodies. The fear that makes us want to leave our children to focus on climbing ladders constructed with Males in mind. Not the act of working and providing but that single minded focus that bears us away from the nurturing of our families. The fear that keeps us from opening, fully and without restraint, to our husbands because we’ve been led to believe it a weakness, somehow bound and gagged by the burden of a Family who could flourish with our selfless Love and Nurturing. If we turn those thoughts off for a moment; the fear, anger, helplessness and gaze at each other as Sisters. We can forgive each other and start over, to truly Love each other for the beautiful, nurturing Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, Grandmothers, Caregivers, Lovers and Friends that we brilliantly are. TO CELEBRATE EACH OTHER!!! In our bodies, we mimic the creative nature of this planet. I love that! It makes me so ecstatic that I want to run screaming down the street how much I love being a woman and how I’m grateful my body is such an amazing work of Mother Nature as my body is itself, Mother Nature!
When I came out of it, I looked at Rosan and I knew my face looked completely different. She smiled and let me up. I felt very emotionally raw still, but I also felt an amazing peace I had never known before. I also felt a sense of purpose. My sitter helped me to the art room where we are encouraged to draw or make collages to help process the feelings and experiences the breath work brought about.
The lovely ladies that put together the workshop made us a healthy, delicious dinner. All of the participants enjoyed eating together and there was a definite closeness as we had all gone through something big. Not only does each individual have a process, there is a group process that unfolds as well. It really is a holographic experience on many levels.
At the end of the day, we gathered in a circle to share, if we chose, whatever we felt comfortable sharing. It was neat because it was not a stage for discussion for others to interpret your experience. We simply took turns sharing and that was it. It was a very empowering experience. After we shared, we helped put the room in order and we went our separate ways.
My Holotropic Breathwork day was the tip of the entire iceberg for me. It opened something up in my thinking that proceeded to unfold over weeks. This isn’t a therapy that you undergo to feel better and the effects last for a few days. This is an experience that lasts forever because it opens your mind and you will forever be a changed being. The days and weeks that followed kept teaching me more and more about my own beliefs that were suffocating my expansion. I was drawn toward books on my shelf that I hadn’t picked up in a long time. I was drawn back to the Holographic Universe Theory by Michael Talbot. I was drawn to The Heart of Listening ‘A Visionary Approach to Craniosacral’ by Hugh Milne.
This experience has helped my level of facilitating in bodywork and massage. The idea of ‘Holding a sacred appointment’ has expanded the results of sessions with clients. The truly beautiful part of this work is not how it has enhanced my abilities as a person who works in healing, but that is has enhanced my abilities in healing myself. In fact, that is probably why my work is improving. How you do one thing in life is how you do everything in life, and it always starts with yourself. What a beautiful lesson!
As I have taken this workshop twice and will again as many times as I can, I will tell you about my second time. It was nothing like the first. I didn’t go into a rage; I didn’t feel sad or helpless. The next time was like a yogic sleep. I would hear the music, and then slip out of consciousness, muscles would tense and release and I would relax more deeply. In all reality, it seemed my last breath work allowed me to do Cranial Sacral therapy on myself. It was a beautiful journey though it seemed the deep effects of the session didn’t manifest fully until the next morning.
The morning after, I awoke and eagerly went out into the cold with the dogs. My first thoughts in the morning are not usually about our dogs. But this morning, I heard one whining and I wanted, deeply, to make him happy. We walked and walked and I was so astounded by the beauty surrounding me. I was laughing and crying. Let me tell you, I live on the North side in a less than desirable neighborhood, but I saw so much beauty that I just kept looking and looking and absorbing everything. Later that day, driving around with my children, listening to John Denver ‘Sunshine On My Shoulder’, I became so overwhelmed by how much I loved my kids, how proud of them I was, and how the Love I felt might make the car fly apart from the sheer awesomeness of it. I had to park at the end of the parking lot and get my act together before I could stop sobbing enough to get groceries!
The kids thought it was funny and we all thoroughly enjoyed laughing together. It was a moment of reveling in the pure joyous experience of Loving the hell out of my family. Some might scoff at that or say I was out of control of my emotions. Some might say I need to keep my head out of the clouds. You know what I say? If I can have joy, gratitude, the experience of the sheer abundance of Love that there is for me, why should it not bring tears to my eyes? Why would I not lose myself in something so worthy?
This last breath work really sealed it for me. Joy is everything. Love is WORTH IT!!! It feels good to throw a fit because life feels so abundantly wonderful. I fully support joy fits! The last workshop also inspired me to seek out books and teachers. This time, I went to the library and checked out everything Esther Hicks that I could. I love the work she does. This time when I listened to her speak, it spoke to me on a level that I understood much better because I could feel the connection she was speaking of.
In conclusion, after my quest into Holotropic Breathwork, my life has begun unfolding in the most beautiful, inspirational ways. I am so thankful to Rosan and Dorothy who facilitate the workshops. I have never met more compassionate, loving people. They inspire me as my own Divine Feminine nature continues to expand and develop within me. There are few things I’ve done in my life as worthwhile as these workshops. I will go to many more. I will keep expanding. And through the example of my life, I will spread the feeling of Love, joy and abundance in all areas.
Thank you for spending a bit of your time with my words and I. Always a pleasure to share with you. I hope that the wonderful energy created by any exchange we have is shared with people who are ready to receive it. I Love. I Love You. I Love the amazing expanding consciousness that is our Universe. I Love the Us that is beyond it. Thank you for being here and experiencing alongside me, as me, connected to me.
November 29, 2014