The term ‘altered states’ was widely used in the early days of the transpersonal movement, but with its suggestion of abnormality or pathology, it has become less and less favoured. The term “non-ordinary states of consciousness” is preferred, as it does not judge these states positively or negatively. Grof also tends to call these states of consciousness simply “holotropic”, which means “moving toward wholeness.” In other words, Holotropic Breathwork simply opens us to a state of consciousness that helps move us toward wholeness.In recent years, I have heard some people use the term “extraordinary states of consciousness”, which suggests the beauty and possibility of such states.
Personally, however, I have come to believe that such states of consciousness—like dreams—are always present; they are only extraordinary if we aren’t already aware of them. I believe that the symbolic world is actually happening all the time, but we are just too ‘awake’ to notice. My current understanding of Holotropic Breathwork is that it simply brings us into deeper dimensions of the present moment, revealing a bit more of the colourful spectrum that is reality, right now.