Process of a holotropic workshop
An experience in holotropic breathwork, be it in combination with shamanic work or alone, consists of the preparation, the session, which consists of the actual breathwork and possibly shamanic elements, as well as the integration. The transitions are fluid.
Put simply, it is a "surfing" in states of changed consciousness in which the ego has ceased to be a point of reference and focus. Instead, the personal ego now keeps its balance in the waves of the ocean of consciousness and becomes an attentive witness of what is happening. The ego has given up its claim to absoluteness in favor of the "mind", the spirit, in whose dynamics and movement the essential thing is waking up. "
Ingo B. Jahrsetz
"Holotropic breathwork is a more controllable process [compared to taking a psychedelic substance], since you're starting and stopping on your own.
The voluntary nature of it is courageous in ways different from taking a psychedelic drug since it requires more of a letting go than being overwhelmed. However, the same voluntary nature means that it's sometimes difficult to overcome your own defenses and delusions. "
The preparation of each individual begins subtly with the decision to participate in the workshop; this becomes more specific in a personal conversation in advance to clarify any contraindications and to establish initial contact. At the beginning of the workshop, the theoretical basics and the practical process are explained in a general discussion. The group slowly finds itself.
The actual breathwork session takes place in pairs, with the participants alternating in the roles of breathing (breather) and accompanying (sitter). With their attention, the sitters prepare a kind of "safe space" for the breathers and are available for small assistance such as handkerchiefs, drinks or going to the toilet. The breathers lie on the mattress. After a short relaxation meditation, the music begins with powerful rhythms and the breathers begin to breathe intensely, deeper and faster. This breathing opens the gates to expanded states of consciousness.
From the outside these states can look very differently: some people are completely calm as in deep meditation, some move in the most varied of ways. Some scream, moan, cry, laugh, or speak in unfamiliar languages. Some express fear or anger. Some breathers ask for help in expressing certain emotions or feelings. Looking inside, the whole range of transpersonal experiences is possible. These experiences vary from breather to breather and from workshop to workshop.
The breathing session is an internal and mostly non-verbal process in which external influence is reduced to the absolutely necessary minimum, as long as the breathers do not ask for it. Only at the end of a breathing session, which usually lasts around 3 hours, will you be asked about the health of the breathers. If any tensions or emotions are still physically noticeable, it is advisable to dissolve them with targeted body work or to get them moving.
When combined with shamanic work, holotropic breathwork is framed and carried by shamanic elements. These can be guided meditations, despachos (nature-mandalas), energetic rites or other techniques that refer to the Q'ero tradition from the Peruvian highlands. Depending on the individual process, and therefore very differently, they can deepen the experience or they already help to process it. Together, this results in a space of experience that is always filled and experienced anew. Trust in the inner wisdom of each and every individual forms the basis and allows precisely those elements to be brought to the fore that are the right ones here and now.
Here you find more information about the shamanic journey.
Integration often begins on the mattress. In the longer workshops with shamanic work, the transition from session to integration is much more fluid. Primarily it is about giving the body and soul, both of whom have worked hard, the care and space that is necessary to process what has been experienced. This is supported by a creative expression, mostly the painting of mandalas, as well as a first rational processing by formulating the experience in words.
Even in the days after a workshop, breathers are recommended to take care of themselves and treat themselves well. Depending on personal preference, this may include walks in nature, hot baths, creative expression or simply time for yourself. It is important to allow thoughts and emotions to continue to arise and to give them space.