Part of what made the weekend so cool was being able to hear directly from Stanislov Grof, a pioneer in transpersonal psychology, non-ordinary states and their healing potential, psychedelics research and about a dozen other things. He has written many books that you can dig into to learn about his research and experiences.
As for my experience; it began as all Holotropic Breathwork does, with me lying flat on my back on the floor in a large room with 100 other breathers and sitters. We are paired up, so each breather has a sitter to watch over them, then we switch in the afternoon. You simply breath deeper and faster than normal, keeping oxygen circulating through you, never pausing. They blast all sorts of cool tribal, mystical music for three hours and you just stay open to whatever happens.
Things started slow for me. I heard screams and sobs around me and a few songs into the session I wondered if I would feel anything except a nice, calm meditative state. I was sort of floating about blissfully. Then I had the weird urge to move and shimmy. In my first Holotropic experience I hadn't budged at all, so this was new. I squirmed left and right on my back and realized I couldn't separate my legs. I was a tadpole. I had this sense of swimming toward life. It was pleasant and fun. After a few minutes I felt arms grow but they seemed like blunt clubs only, I couldn't do much with them. Then these pulses of energy, like I was riding huge waves, swept through me. It felt like my spine was traveling along a roller coaster track, while at the same time I was in the world's strongest massage chair. My flesh felt like it was vibrating and being pulled back, as if I was leaving the launch pad headed into outer space. On the mat I'm twitching with leg kicks and surges of energy down my entire body. Next came this tremendous pressure all over me, something pushing in against me from all sides. It was strongest at my head. I was scared and I thought "I don't want to go through this alone." The pressure intensifies, my head feels like it is about to burst into flames. The fear increases, then I felt the presence of my wife, Lori. I want to reach out to her and hold her hand, but I can't move. I want a hug. That is when the tears start. She says - "You aren't alone."
Suddenly I'm relaxed. Completely at peace, feeling blissful, calm, and at one with everything. Then I'm unconscious. I don't recall anything until I realize I'm back in the room laying on my back breathing normally. The music is still going. I open my eyes and see people around me still breathing, wailing, even some up and dancing about. I'm a bit disappointed I didn't go for the whole three hours, but I feel so blissed out it doesn't matter after all. I look at Kevin who is sitting beside me and tell him, "I think I'm done." Later I learned that two hours had gone by, I thought it was only twenty minutes or so at the time.
One of the professional facilitators, John, comes over and says I still have plenty of time. He suggests I try breathing again and see what happens. I say OK and close my eyes once more.
A few moments into breathing I'm thinking nothing is going to happen because I'm trying, then I'm soaring in some out of body experience and I start laughing at how wrong I was about this being over. Suddenly, I'm crying - but with no sad thoughts or emotions behind it. I rock back and forth on the mat to comfort myself. I have no control over my body, but I feel full of love. I keep rocking and it feels great. I feel like I'm in some confined yet comforting place. I want to tell someone I want a hug. I can't speak. I can't move my arms. I cry. I sob and gasp for air laying on my back. I hear the music stop and I know it is time to be over. I slowly open my eyes and look around the room. I feel very out of it, not in my body yet. I cry a bit. I notice Stacia, a facilitator laying by my side on my left. Wow, I wonder how long she's been there, almost spooning me without my knowing. I look to my right at Kevin - it's like the warmest smile I've ever seen. I open my mouth to say something and start bawling. I'm crying on my back and can't breathe. I sit up to catch my breath. Now that air is flowing, the sobs and tears really come. But again, there is no emotion or thought, just this huge release of... energy? shit? I don't know. I'm on my knees, with my head in my hands on the mat sobbing. Seems like ten minutes of solid bawling. I'm now surrounded by Kevin, John and Stacia. Every time I think it's done I sit up, try to speak, and start crying again. Finally I'm able to spit out that my only thought was that I wanted a hug. I get lots of them.
I still feel like I'm not in my body, especially my arms, they are numb slabs. Kevin and Stacia work with me, holding my arms as I pull against them, to help me get some feeing again. I stand and feel like I'm walking on the moon. Over the next hour that fades away.
|Mandala September 25, 2010|
The next phase is drawing a Mandala of the experience. I try to make mine a depiction of all I can remember from the experience. My inner nursery schooler thrives, and my drawing looks like it was done by a four year old, but I like it.
It seems I had some sort of prenatal experience and was born again. I have felt PHENOMENAL all week. Each work day has even amazed me, everything feels brand new and vibrant. And every hug has been AWESOME.
I'm already signed up for another Holotropic weekend in December. This time Lori is joining me. Woohoo!