Holotropic Breathwork

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Hagoth
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Holotropic Breathwork

Post by Hagoth » Sun Jun 12, 2022 7:24 am

OK, while I'm talking about crazy stuff, is anyone here familiar with holotropic breathwork?

This is something I avoided looking into for a long time because of how enthusiastically it has been embraced by some of the New Age crowd, but then I found someone who does live group sessions without any Age of Aquarius woo woo (he actually gave it a tiny bit of a Christian spin), so I signed up.

I was absolutely blown away.

My first thought was that if I had EVER had an experience even remotely similar to that while taking Moroni's Challenge I would probably be jumping up to bear my testimony at every opportunity.

I bring this up because we have been talking so much about psychedelics and, now that I have had quite a bit of experience with both things, I see a lot of overlap and some very similar, very positive, post-experience results. There are some real advantages to breathwork: it is legal, all you need to do it is a pair of lungs, and it only takes a half hour or so.

I don't know much about the science behind it yet, which is something I hope to remedy soon. Although it comes from very ancient Shamanic breathing practices, this type of breathwork was reintroduced by Stanislav Grof, a psychologist who was doing psychedelics research until the Nixon administration freaked out and shut down all clinical inquiry. He started looking for ways to produce similar results without drugs and discovered shamanic breathing.

Basically, it's nothing more than sustained, controlled hyperventilation via specific repetitive breathing techniques. What it has in common with psychedelics and meditation is the suppression of the Default Mode Network. The result for me is that it's like a month of meditation compressed into a half hour. My son had the same experience with it. His take is that typical meditation requires you to clear your mind of thoughts (i.e. the DMN loop) and focus on your breathing. He sees breathwork as an amplification of that technique: it involves a degree of effort that necessitates that you focus on your breath and leaves little room for normal DMN activity. The controlled hyperventilation gradually floods your brain with oxygen and further suppresses DMN and boosts you into an altered state of consciousness. It's kind of like that ego disillusion sensation you have from standing up too fast from the bath, but over a longer period of time and with a sustained and very pleasant afterglow and sense of clarity. It's hard to believe you could find yourself in such a place without drugs.

I spent quite a bit of time looking for ways to reproduce the live guided experience with YouTube videos (mostly crap), online subscriptions (much better but not quite what I experienced in the live session) and finally a fairly expensive online course (which, halleluiah, almost fully reproduced the live experience). I ended up putting together my own audio recording of what I found to be the most useful techniques to help guide friends through the experience. It works well for me, even listening to my own damn voice. This is not some kind of product I'm trying to promote or anything, just a little personal gift for friends.

I would be happy to share it with any of you who are curious and can spare a half hour of your busy day to be amazed. PM me if you want to try it, I would love to get your feedback. I won't be disappointed if I don't hear from anyone. It definitely sounds like one of those too good to be true things. But if you want to give the ol' snow globe a really good shaking in the simplest, most direct way possible, feel free to drop me a line.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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FreeFallin
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Re: Holotropic Breathwork

Post by FreeFallin » Sun Jun 12, 2022 7:35 am

Very interested!! Sending you an email. :)

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Hagoth
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Re: Holotropic Breathwork

Post by Hagoth » Sun Jun 12, 2022 12:45 pm

Some follow-up after a bit of study:

I was not quite accurate in categorizing holotropic breathing as "hyperventilation." Circular breathing is the appropriate term, which refers to performing intentional, conscious inhalation, even though your brain doesn't give the automimic signal to do so. Although fundamentally related, the two types of breathing - circular and hyperventilation - are associated with separate branches of the autonomic nervous system. The primary result of circular breathing is not so much hyper-oxygenation of the blood as decreased CO2. The difference between the two is that hyperventilation is tied to the Sympathetic Nervous System and is associated with fight-or-flight, whereas circular breathing modifies the the Parasympathetic Nervous System which is operates a completely different sets of nerves that are more involved with things like relaxation, eating, and sexual arousal, "rest-and-digest" or "feed-and-breed," as opposed to "fight-or-flight."

Studies have shown that holotropic breathing measurably reduces state anxiety level and heart rate variability (HRV), both of which are significant factors in the likelihood of heart attack and stroke.

The result in the brain is that it produces an EEG signal similar to "trance states" produced by shamanic and mystical techniques with similar emotional and "spiritual" effects. I have not yet seen any fMRI brain scan comparisons.

You will see psychologists and neurologist compare this type of breathing to psychedelics in terms of the mental effects and post-experience results.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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FreeFallin
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Re: Holotropic Breathwork

Post by FreeFallin » Tue Jun 14, 2022 7:56 pm

Hagoth wrote:
Sun Jun 12, 2022 7:24 am
....I spent quite a bit of time looking for ways to reproduce the live guided experience with YouTube videos (mostly crap), online subscriptions (much better but not quite what I experienced in the live session) and finally a fairly expensive online course (which, halleluiah, almost fully reproduced the live experience). I ended up putting together my own audio recording of what I found to be the most useful techniques to help guide friends through the experience. It works well for me, even listening to my own damn voice. This is not some kind of product I'm trying to promote or anything, just a little personal gift for friends.

I would be happy to share it with any of you who are curious and can spare a half hour of your busy day to be amazed. PM me if you want to try it, I would love to get your feedback. I won't be disappointed if I don't hear from anyone. It definitely sounds like one of those too good to be true things. But if you want to give the ol' snow globe a really good shaking in the simplest, most direct way possible, feel free to drop me a line.
Hagoth, thank you for sharing your recording with me. I found it easy to understand and follow with clear enough description of the experience that I stuck with it even when it felt challenging and I felt stressed in an odd way. The simple meditation at the end was lovely and helped me find helpful insights. I will try the shorter meditations soon to see if I can ease into the experience a little more gently. I'll post here later when I have more experience.

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Hagoth
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Re: Holotropic Breathwork

Post by Hagoth » Wed Jun 15, 2022 6:41 am

Thanks Freefallin. That session requires some hard work, especially the first time when you don't know what to expect. You get an A for effort! A lot of people just give up when it starts to get hard, but like so many things, that's when the magic begins. I designed it to really push you over the rainbow, so my friends could see just how powerful this technique is at creating an altered state of consciousness. I did 4 or 5 of these sessions in a week and the aftermath in the following week was very similar to the week after a psychedelic trip.

After you get to a certain point it is easier to refresh the experience with 10-15 minute sessions every other day or so. This has replaced meditation for me and I get better results. But everyone is different. I also find that starting with 10 minutes of breathwork can really clear my mind and drop me right into the sweet spot if I do want to sit and meditate longer.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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Red Ryder
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Re: Holotropic Breathwork

Post by Red Ryder » Wed Jun 15, 2022 8:37 am

I’m interested.

Edited to add update:
Hagoth thanks for sending this. Here’s my return and report.

I was laying in bed when I remembered you had sent this. The time was around 11:45PM. So I put in my ear buds since Sister Ryder was asleep and started to listen.

I was laying in bed.
The narrative was easy to follow.
The music was relaxing.

At the beginning I had to focus on the breathing until I found the right rhythm. My hands and feet started to tingle as you described could happen. At the point where you say to exhale and let out a loud sigh, scream, or expletive 🤣 I really couldn’t do that since it was late and I was laying in bed. Instead I just focused on the exhale, pushing out the air until my lungs were completely empty. I followed the 3 repetitions only pausing once when at the 25:31 mark my phone paused the playback and I had to push play again.

At one point my back started to ache due to laying flat on my back in bed. That position aggravates my back from a herniated disc at L5-S1 I suffered about 3 years ago. I readjusted my position putting my knees up and refocused on the breathing rhythm and quickly the pain went away.

I didn’t get to a trance like state probably because of the minor interruptions. On the third rep after inhaling deeply and holding my breath and clenching arms and legs etc, I did feel a rush of blood to my head. Upon exhaling I began to see speckles of light directly above my head and a man wearing only a robe told me to join none of the other churches. OK, Moroni didn’t appear but I can only describe the light in the back of my eyelids as a “glitter rain”.

My mind felt open and relaxed. Returning to normal breathing, it felt like each breath circulated more relaxation upon my mind. It felt completely relaxing to the point where I fell asleep. I woke up about an hour later when I rolled over and the earbuds jammed my ear waking me. I put my phone back in the nightstand charger and quickly fell back asleep.

I plan to listen and do again preferably not at midnight with minor interruptions. so that I can try and get to the trance like state. It’s possible I just couldn’t fully relax because I didn’t want sister Ryder to wake up to me breathing super heavy in bed with my phone on. You know what Mormons will always think…
“I switched baristas” —Lady Gaga

Those who do not move do not notice their chains. —Rosa Luxemburg

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Hagoth
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Re: Holotropic Breathwork

Post by Hagoth » Wed Jun 22, 2022 2:39 pm

Red Ryder wrote:
Wed Jun 15, 2022 8:37 am
Hagoth thanks for sending this. Here’s my return and report.
Thanks for the feedback RR! If your back is a problem you might want to try it while sitting in a comfortable chair. The short sessions I sent you can be done sitting up too. Lately I've been doing short sessions and going right into meditation and it's like you really hit the ground running with a still, clear mind.

I've had a couple of people tell me they've gone full altered state with this recording, so I'm glad to know it works for others.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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DPRoberts
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Re: Holotropic Breathwork

Post by DPRoberts » Mon Jun 27, 2022 7:30 am

I'm interested. I want to try drugs as well, but I'm afraid that would freak out Mrs. DP, and I wouldn't feel good about doing that behind her back. I have been trying to get better at meditation since I have had some significant experiences there but mostly has been hit and miss.
When an honest man discovers he is mistaken, he will either cease to be mistaken or cease to be honest. -anon
The belief that there is only one truth, and that oneself is in possession of it, is the root of all evil in the world. -Max Born

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Hagoth
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Re: Holotropic Breathwork

Post by Hagoth » Wed Jun 29, 2022 4:16 pm

DPRoberts wrote:
Mon Jun 27, 2022 7:30 am
I'm interested. I want to try drugs as well, but I'm afraid that would freak out Mrs. DP, and I wouldn't feel good about doing that behind her back. I have been trying to get better at meditation since I have had some significant experiences there but mostly has been hit and miss.
I sent you some links via PM.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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DPRoberts
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Re: Holotropic Breathwork

Post by DPRoberts » Fri Jul 01, 2022 11:07 am

Hagoth wrote:
Wed Jun 29, 2022 4:16 pm
DPRoberts wrote:
Mon Jun 27, 2022 7:30 am
I'm interested. I want to try drugs as well, but I'm afraid that would freak out Mrs. DP, and I wouldn't feel good about doing that behind her back. I have been trying to get better at meditation since I have had some significant experiences there but mostly has been hit and miss.
I sent you some links via PM.
Thank you, Hagoth. I'm taking next week off work, so I will have some time to try these. I will let you know how it goes.
When an honest man discovers he is mistaken, he will either cease to be mistaken or cease to be honest. -anon
The belief that there is only one truth, and that oneself is in possession of it, is the root of all evil in the world. -Max Born

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DPRoberts
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Re: Holotropic Breathwork

Post by DPRoberts » Sun Jul 24, 2022 4:13 pm

I just did your recording. This was my third time. I also tried two of the other recordings. I like yours the best. Your voice is very soothing, and the sound mixing sounds professional.

I'm curious what the experience is like for you. This was as deep of a meditative state as I have experienced. The intensity of the breathing does have the effect of crowding out distractions that tend to creep into my other meditation sessions. But I am wondering if there is more to be gotten out of this than I am getting. I am also interested in what is similar and what is different in comparison to your experience with psychedelics. I did have one session where I saw blurry flutters of light shaped somewhat like butterflies, but that was as close as I got to something visionary. How would you describe your experience?

Today was my best experience yet with your recording. I think I was less afraid to go all out with it and that helped.
When an honest man discovers he is mistaken, he will either cease to be mistaken or cease to be honest. -anon
The belief that there is only one truth, and that oneself is in possession of it, is the root of all evil in the world. -Max Born

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Hagoth
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Re: Holotropic Breathwork

Post by Hagoth » Mon Jul 25, 2022 12:27 pm

DPRoberts wrote:
Sun Jul 24, 2022 4:13 pm
I'm curious what the experience is like for you... I am also interested in what is similar and what is different in comparison to your experience with psychedelics.
You're asking me to compare something that is very difficult to describe with something that is impossible to describe! :D

The body load (physical sensations) I get from mushrooms feels quite similar in some ways to the physical sensations of a very intense breathwork experience, like high frequency energy travelling around my body. With breathwork it is concentrated more in my hands, head and feet. Psychedelics are more torso, pelvis, and head - sometimes it feels like what I call "angel fingers" running all over my body. I seldom get significant visuals on breathwork, whereas psilocybin is highly visual, even more so than LSD, with extremely high resolution fractal images and visions. I can't remember if I mentioned it, but I tried breathwork with a low psilocybin dose and had a very visual experience that was more like DMT than mushrooms. I want to explore this more, once I finally shake this damn COVID.

Like you, breathwork takes me deeper into a meditative state than I have experienced with any other form of meditation. When I exert a lot of effort on a longer breathwork session I even experience a profound altered state that is something like ego dissolution. The first time I did it in a live session I experienced tetany that caused my arms/hands curled up onto my chest. A short time late I was hallucinating that I was holding balls of energy in my hands.

When I get into a deep state after a longer session I continue to be surprised at how profound and spiritual it can be, and how long the effects stay with me. The effect also seems to be cumulative over time. I feel like breathwork compresses the effects of meditation into a shorter timeframe. Psychedelics even more so.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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DPRoberts
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Re: Holotropic Breathwork

Post by DPRoberts » Tue Jul 26, 2022 10:30 am

I knew I was asking you to describe the indescribable, but I think you did an admiral job of it. Thank you.

This adds another tool to the spiritual toolkit that i will continue to use (using the word "spiritual" in a way that has nothing to do with unseen beings, in case Fluff reads this). But it also confirms what I suspected, which is that I still need to try psychedelics to add another dimension to my efforts toward expanded consciousness.
When an honest man discovers he is mistaken, he will either cease to be mistaken or cease to be honest. -anon
The belief that there is only one truth, and that oneself is in possession of it, is the root of all evil in the world. -Max Born

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Re: Holotropic Breathwork

Post by wtfluff » Tue Jul 26, 2022 1:09 pm

DPRoberts wrote:
Tue Jul 26, 2022 10:30 am
I knew I was asking you to describe the indescribable, but I think you did an admiral job of it. Thank you.

This adds another tool to the spiritual toolkit that i will continue to use (using the word "spiritual" in a way that has nothing to do with unseen beings, in case Fluff reads this). But it also confirms what I suspected, which is that I still need to try psychedelics to add another dimension to my efforts toward expanded consciousness.
I'm everywhere. Or maybe: I read everything (on NOM...)
Faith does not give you the answers, it just stops you asking the questions. -Frater Ravus

Keep the company of those who seek the truth - run from those who have found it -Václav Havel

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Hagoth
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Re: Holotropic Breathwork

Post by Hagoth » Thu Jul 28, 2022 9:32 am

DPRoberts wrote:
Tue Jul 26, 2022 10:30 am
This adds another tool to the spiritual toolkit that i will continue to use (using the word "spiritual" in a way that has nothing to do with unseen beings,
That's how I feel. I learned from the mushrooms thread that I have come to use "spiritual" in a different way than most people, which can cause misunderstandings. But I don't know a better word for that specific state of consciousness, which is a real brain state that can be imaged and measured. To me it is something like a sense, maybe best called sense of wonder, and I think it can exist in equal degrees regardless of context, and even entirely unattached to context. Some of my most cherished "spiritual" experiences have been spontaneous, out-of-the-blue moments of what I can only describe as enlightenment. That is also what I get from breathwork; pure experience unburdened by specific context.
DPRoberts wrote:
Tue Jul 26, 2022 10:30 am
in case Fluff reads this). But it also confirms what I suspected, which is that I still need to try psychedelics to add another dimension to my efforts toward expanded consciousness.
You know where to find me.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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DPRoberts
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Re: Holotropic Breathwork

Post by DPRoberts » Tue Aug 02, 2022 8:23 pm

Yes I do. I just joined the Divine Assembly, so that's a step toward taking the sacrament. Next step is figuring out how to tell DW without freaking her out. I was talking about How to Change Your Mind on Netflix with my kids on Sunday. I think I will find ways to work it into conversations more often.
When an honest man discovers he is mistaken, he will either cease to be mistaken or cease to be honest. -anon
The belief that there is only one truth, and that oneself is in possession of it, is the root of all evil in the world. -Max Born

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Re: Holotropic Breathwork

Post by stealthbishop » Wed Aug 03, 2022 6:40 am

I joined The Divine Assembly as well. Not a card carrying member yet but I'm on the books and subscribed to the newsletter.
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Put me to the test
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You need to confess"

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Hagoth
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Re: Holotropic Breathwork

Post by Hagoth » Fri Aug 05, 2022 8:56 am

There's a fascinating book called Breath, by James Nestor that talks about the modern rediscovery and reintroduction of breathing techniques that date back as far as 5000 years, and the importance of breathing correctly. It's really worth reading. It talks about the high-energy type of breathwork that I prescribe in this thread and other techniques that work in different ways on the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems, and explains the physiological reasons for how breath modification can rewire chemoreceptors in your brain and body to improve not only respiratory problems but anxiety, blood pressure, etc.

This may be anecdotal, but I have started monitoring my blood pressure again after a hiatus. I am seeing an interesting pattern that has appeared since I started doing breathwork. For instance, my BP this morning was 142/84 (average of multiple readings). Immediately after taking that reading, I took a walk, did 15 minutes of holotropic-style breathwork and 5 minutes of resonant (meditative) breathing. My BP dropped to 126/69. I checked BP after each of those steps and each caused a drop. I will continue to chart my BP multiple times/day and see if the breathing techniques show consistent and/or long term benefits. I'm also going to get a pulse oximeter and a full-time Heart Rate Variability (HRV) monitor. Should be an interesting little hobby.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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Hagoth
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Re: Holotropic Breathwork

Post by Hagoth » Thu Aug 11, 2022 7:05 am

Just a little follow-up. I guess my BP monitor isn't broken. Every day for the past week I have been seeing a drop in systolic blood pressure of 15-20 points after 10-15 min of holotropic-style breathwork followed by 5-10 min of resonant breathing. For the first time in my life it's going below 120, which is happening every day now. Crazy. I'm going to talk to my doctor about this. I'm curious and hopeful about what will develop over the long term.

BTW, if you want to try this breathing technique, download a free app called Paced Breathing and set the inhale and exhale times to 5.5 seconds, with little or no pause at the top and the bottom. This is another circular breathing technique, but much slower than the previously described technique, that dates back thousands of years across many cultures. Since it is so widespread I figure there must be a good reason so many mystical traditions converged on this exact timing. The curious 5.5 second breath length (averaged from different traditions that fall in the 5-6 second range) has evolved to be the same in the meditative practices of mystics from Buddhist, Hindu, Sufi, Christian, Native American, Polynesian, and other traditions. Something really interesting is going on here that seems to resonate with human brains everywhere.

The app provides an audio guide that I find helps me stay clear-minded and centered on breathing more than any previous meditation technique I've tried. This technique calls for nose breathing and can be augmented by a vocalization (even just humming) on exhale. I do this right after a short breathwork session and it's powerful - for me anyway. Your mileage may differ, but if you meditate, or want to meditate, I would recommend this as a good option. Just push start, clear your mind and follow the rhythm.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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FreeFallin
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Re: Holotropic Breathwork

Post by FreeFallin » Fri Aug 12, 2022 6:23 am

Hagoth wrote:
Thu Aug 11, 2022 7:05 am
...BTW, if you want to try this breathing technique, download a free app called Paced Breathing and set the inhale and exhale times to 5.5 seconds, with little or no pause at the top and the bottom....
Thanks for sharing your experiences here Hagoth. I'm going to check out the app and book. Looks very interesting.

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