10. Is Holotropic Breathwork violent?

From years working as a therapist and a Holotropic Breathwork facilitator, and from my own personal journey, I have learned that there are violent feelings, desires, and reactions in each of us. The question is to what extent we know about these and can work with them skilfully, as opposed to being surprised by them, projecting them onto others, or acting them out in the world.

Certainly Holotropic Breathwork allows people an unrivalled opportunity to work with their own anger and rage. Clients feel confident that they will not hurt anyone, including themselves. They are permitted to make as much noise as they wish. Thus they are really free to vent their violent feelings. Anyone wandering into a workshop, without understanding this, might assume that the work is violent. But I believe that what is happening is just a dramatic enactment of the interior of the human psyche, which of course includes violent feelings. Just because people can experience violent feelings in a holotropic session doesn’t mean that the process is violent. Most people who attend a Holotropic Breathwork workshop have, in my opinion, made a decision to face the truth of themselves, including their shadow, so that they can be more peaceful in their ordinary lives.

Certainly, engagement with anger can be challenging for people. Many people, after years of being depressed, or disconnected from their anger, discover so much anger that they need to learn anger management techniques, or take up a sport, just to process or handle this upsurge of feeling. But while this upsurge of anger can be challenging in the short term, in the context of healing, it is progress.

A Holotropic Breathwork facilitator would never make the expression of angry feelings an agenda for a client. The expression of angry feelings is merely one of the many possible experiences that might emerge in a session. Indeed many Holotropic Breathwork sessions are peaceful, joyous, or playful. Having co-facilitated nearly 10,000 Holotropic Breathwork sessions, I have certainly seen a lot of anger, but I have seen even more sadness, grief, vulnerability, gentleness, wisdom and wonder.