Theory and Practice of Holotropic Breathwork

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Therapeutic Potential of Holotropic Breathwork

Christina and I have developed and practiced holotropic breathwork outside the professional facilities - in our monthlong seminars and shorter workshops at the Esalen Institute, in various breathwork workshops in many other parts of the world, and in our training program for facilitators. I have not had the opportunity to test the therapeutic efficacy of this method in the same way I had been able to do in the first twenty years of my professional career when I conducted psychedelic research - in controled clinical studies with a systematic follow-up.

However, the therapeutic results have often been so dramatic and meaningfully connected with specific experiences in the sessions that I have no doubt holotropic breathwork is a viable form of therapy and self-exploration. We have seen over the years numerous instances when participants in the workshops and the training were able to break out of depression that had lasted several years, overcome different phobias, free themselves from consuming irrational feelings, and radically improve their self-confidence and self-esteem. We have also seen on many occasions disappearance of severe psychosomatic pains including migraine headaches and radical and lasting improvements or even complete clearing of psychogenic asthma.

In many cases, holotropic breathwork sessions led to dramatic improvement of physical conditions traditionally seen as organic diseases and belonging to the domain of medicine. Among them was clearing of chronic infections (sinusitis, pharyngitis, bronchitis, and cystitis) after bioenergetic unblocking opened blood circulation in the corresponding areas. Unexplained until this day remains solidification of bones in a woman with osteoporosis that occurred in the course of holotropic training.

We have also seen restitution of full peripheral circulation in several people suffering from Raynaud's disease, a disorder that involves coldness and skin problems on hands and feet, and striking improvement in a few cases of arthritis. In both instances, the critical factor seemed to be release of excessive bioenergetic blockage. The most astonishing observation in this category was a dramatic remission of advanced symptoms of the Tayahashi syndrome, a progressive occlusion of arteries in the upper part of the body, a condition considered incurable and lethal.

The therapeutic potential of holotropic breathwork was also confirmed in clinical studies conducted by practitioners who had been trained by us and independently use this method in their work. We have ourselves had on many occasions the opportunity to get informal feedback from people whose emotional, psychosomatic, and physical symptoms improved or disappeared after holotropic sessions in our training or in our workshops. This has shown us that the improvements achieved in holotropic sessions are often lasting. I hope that the efficacy of this interesting method of self-exploration and therapy will be in the future confirmed by well-designed clinical research.