Posts Tagged ‘Holotropic Breathwork’

So last November I finally tried a Holotropic Breathwork workshop, which I’d had my eye on for a long time.  Stanislov Grov developed Holotropic Breathwork as an alternate way to access non-ordinary reality and the transpersonal realms, and I’d heard good things about it, so I attended a workshop in Topanga Canyon facilitated by local practitioner Michael Stone. I enjoyed the work so much that I had planned to attend another workshop this month, but I’m actually digesting the material that came up for me last time, so I’m going to wait a beat before going to another session.  I’ve found that too much healing and growth without integration isn’t productive for me, like binge eating, so I try to pace myself.


What came up for me at November’s workshop dovetailed beautifully with the material on shadowwork I’d been working with.  During my session as a “breather” (during the workshop you are both a breather and a sitter, where you support another participant during their breathwork), I was shown that I needed to develop a healthier relationship with chaos.  I was shown that my intense reaction to people who use cell phones during a movie in a movie theatre, for instance, was a pointer to this need to loosen the boundaries of control.  When we find our buttons pushed in a way that’s out of proportion to the circumstances, if we pay attention, we’ll find pointers to areas of growth – if we listen.


So, how to develop a “healthier relationship with chaos”?  What did that mean?  Should I not say anything when someone started texting next to me during a movie?


I was shown that if we don’t allow enough healthy chaos into our lives, it can escalate into more destructive, dangerous ways of getting our attention.  We can’t keep everything in life nice and tidy, and if we try, life has a way of rebelling.  One minute we’ll be exchanging Christmas presents with friends and the next minute we’ll be driving down the freeway in a friend’s Porsche at 102 miles an hour without a license.  (True story.) Developing a healthy relationship with chaos doesn’t mean putting ourselves or others in danger; it means creating a release valve so it doesn’t have to get to that point.


Some healthy ways to allow chaos in can be simple things like dancing formlessly around the house with the music turned up loud, writing stream of consciousness writing with no project in mind, leaving a patch of your backyard intentionally wild, spending time in the wilderness, buying some magic markers and a blank journal and letting ourselves play with colors for no reason other than the joy of it.  It’s about leaving room for creative chaos, moving from our heads and into our hearts, allowing some rough edges and unexplained questions, exploring the edges of our comfort zones.

IMG_3566 journal art

Journal art chaos, © Lynda Skeen


Navajo rug weavers, for instance, leave a mistake in their rugs. “The traditional teaching of the Navajo weaving is that you have to put a mistake in there….It must be done because only the creator is perfect. We’re not perfect, so we don’t make a perfect rug.” (http://www.nativetimes.com/archives/22/1217-navajo-weaver-shares-story-with-authentic-rugs).  Allowing some chaos into our lives is not just about being afraid of being imperfect, but honoring the fact that we are imperfect.  Perfectly and gloriously imperfect.


So now if I start getting pissed off in the movie theatre, I try to take a deep breath before saying anything and pay attention to what’s going on inside since I know this is a trigger point and a portal for growth for me.  I might still decide to say something, but it’s with the understanding that there’s a huge range of possibility between obeying the rules and existential chaos – the Holotropic Breathwork brought up that this was a false choice I had bought into somewhere along the line, that everyone needed to stay in line all the time or the world would fall apart.  It’s not how I thought I lived my life, but it revealed a cause for some underlying stress.


When we start allowing a bit of healthy chaos in, it opens the door for more compassion, more forgiveness, less suffering.  It’s so interesting to pay attention to how we react when we or someone else “colors outside the lines.”  Can we approach it with curiosity and kindness, or do we clamp down and try to squelch evolution from moving forward?  Because life is messy.  Growth is messy.  But allowing ourselves and others some elbow room can make the process a whole lot more pleasant.

IMG_3567 journal art

Journal chaos close-up, © Lynda Skeen


(For more information about Holotropic Breathwork,

see Michael Stone’s website:  www.holotropicbreathworkla.com.) 

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: