I really didn’t know what to expect from the Holotropic Breathwork session I embarked on this past weekend with Stanislov Grof. Adam decided not to go because he felt he was getting what he needed at SoulFood Book store. In fact he told me he had done a breathwork session with someone there just days before.

Stan gave an introductory talk about breathwork on Friday evening before the 12 hour long Saturday Session. He indicated that the breathing combined with the music induces a non-ordinary state of consciousness that allows one to re-experience past events (especially childhood traumas) in a way that allows for a more healthy integration of the experience with the psyche.

We chose a partner that evening and were told that we would be taking turns being a breather and sitter. Saturday morning 120 of us (60 pairs) met in a large room.  I began as a sitter and cared for my partner as he went through what looked like, by his tense body movements and facial expressions, some very painful experiences.

When it became my turn in the afternoon I laid back on my mat with eyes closed and started the deep rapid continuous breathing recommended. It didn’t take long before my ears began ringing and I started getting the feeling that I might be fainting. Having fainted several times in my life I knew the feeling well and decided to slow the breathing down a bit. The music began a very loud tribal drum riff.   Soon my body was moving and I got up on my knees and started moving with the music.  We were told not to stand and I noticed in the morning session that most people remained supine on their mats during the session. The music was driving my movements and soon it felt like I was being danced.  I felt like I was in a tribal drum circle and was moving with abandon.  It felt wonderful and I must have danced wildly, from the knees up, for what might have been 2 hours.  The driving music slowed and I laid back on the mat and soon began feeling gratitude for the love and support my mother and sisters had given me. They are all gone now but I felt their presence so strongly.  I also remembered our dog that we had to put down 3 years ago and felt deep sadness. So no childhood traumas, but many profound memories about those I have lost in the past.

That evening we broke into groups of 20 and related our experiences. Hearing the other incredible stories I began to feel I had just skimmed the surface and felt I might have gotten ‘deeper’ if I had remained on my back. However, I would not have traded that experience of being danced for anything!

I plan on keeping in touch with the Holotropic Breathwork network here in Seattle to attend future sessions and will be making more time in my life to dance!!!

8 Responses to “My Holotropic Breathwork Experience”

  1. Vivian Fulk

    Glad you liked it! I call it psyche wrestling. It has helped me so very much. I have been 3 times and go as often as I can.

  2. Georgia Cammann

    Congratulations Phil on accessing non-ordinary reality! That’s where all the real wisdom and growth comes from. There are so many ways to do it and it’s often much easier than people realize to make use of it. Breath on….. 🙂

  3. Mike

    Thank you, Phil, for writing about these subjects! I love the direction you’ve taken! I, too, leapt from photography to the spiritual path. I wonder why that is….

    My spiritual path began two years ago as an exploration, but is now wonderfully part of my daily life. Legitimate shamanism is alive and well here in the PNW – I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with several communities here that heal with shamanic techniques in ceremony, sometimes with indigenous lineage. If you or Adam is interested, it’s here, alive and accessible.

    Thank you, again, for your curiosity and passion!


    • Phil Borges

      Thank you for reaching out Mike and sharing. I’m interested to learn more about the shamanism community here in the PNW and will be in touch further.

  4. Wildflowers' Mov't

    sounds like the trance state of dancing to your own rhythm or rhyme…lovely

  5. Stacey

    What a wonderful experience. It’s amazing what a combination of music and breath can do. I did one holotropic breathwork retreat. It was not with Stan, it was in Tampa with someone trained to perform it. It felt like something inside me opened up, and I could not stop crying during the journey home. Everything moved me. Most of the time, I am holding tears inside because I feel strong emotions. It felt great to just let it flow, and really feel again. Like reuniting with an old friend.


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