GROF® Breathwork is an experiential method of self-exploration and healing designed to induce deep holotropic states of consciousness through a combination of very simple means – accelerated breathing, evocative music, and focused bodywork that helps to release residual bioenergetic and emotional blocks. By activating the unconscious and mobilizing blocked energies, GROF® Breathwork mediates access to all levels of human experience including unfinished issues from our post-natal biography, traumatic physical or emotional events, perinatal memories, death and rebirth sequences, and a variety of transpersonal experiences that can reach mythological, archetypal, and universal realms.
A form of the holotropic breathwork developed by Stan and Christina Grof in 1974 at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, GROF® Breathwork is based on insights from modern consciousness research, depth psychology, and various spiritual practices. GROF® Breathwork represents Stan Grof´s work as he wishes it to be practiced and taught.
Breathwork sessions are usually conducted in groups. Participants work in pairs and alternate in the roles of “breathers” and “sitters.” The process is supervised by trained facilitators who assist participants whenever necessary. Following the breathing sessions, participants express their experiences by using art materials and sharing accounts of their inner journeys in small groups.
GROF® Breathwork differs significantly from traditional talk therapy. It shares certain common characteristics with the experiential therapies of humanistic psychology, such as Gestalt practice and the neo-Reichian approaches, which emphasize direct emotional expression and work with the body. This work is of value to persons interested in deep inner exploration, self-knowledge, and spiritual awareness. It is an excellent experiential adjunct to psychotherapy, as well as a powerful method of self-care for helping professionals.
GROF® Breathwork currently is being used as a training tool for those interested in better supporting work in non-ordinary states of consciousness. The skill set involves learning how to carefully prepare people for deep non-ordinary state work; how to create ethical, respectful, and safe settings; how to cultivate the naturally therapeutic presence critical for effective sitting or guiding; and how to provide skillful guidance related to the integrative process that follows a deep experience. All these skills have great relevance in relation to supporting those in psycho-spiritual crisis, the dying process, the recovery from trauma or addiction, or preparing for work in the emerging field of psychedelic psychotherapy.