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Holotropic Breathwork -- Safe? Options
 
TrYpt / PhEnEtHyl -AMinE
#1 Posted : 12/30/2007 10:14:20 PM
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http://en.wikipedia.org/...i/Holotropic_Breathwork Dr. Grof's Holotropic Breathwork is a meditative hyperventilation exercise which increases the blood's alkalinity and supposedly simulates a near-death experience (it may increase natural levels of the neurotransmitter N,N-DMT in the brain). I recently tried the holotropic breathwork for a period of 30 minutes whilst listening to the SonicAid creativity album (music meant to stimulate various brainwave patterns). Where the visual and mental experience seemed similar to a very weak DMT experience, the physical properties are what forced me to stop. I began to feel numbness in my hands, feet and around my mouth and nose and had extreme difficulty moving my hands. I this point I came to the conclusion that this must somehow be akin to suffocation and may potentially be extremely dangerous so I ceased the breathwork immediately and had a glass of water. Does anyone know anything more about the possible dangers of the holotropic breathwork / hyperventilating ... I am specifically interested in risks of suffocation death and/or brain damage. I don't believe I will try this again but perhaps if it proves to be safe.
There are many profound and important things in life.... I just happen to think that most of them have to do with serotonin.
 

Trippy glass for trippy people.
 
Zen
#2 Posted : 12/31/2007 4:20:26 PM
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Where did you find the techniques for this? From what I have read there is a lot of training involved for the administration of the breathwork. Peace, Zen.
 
TrYpt / PhEnEtHyl -AMinE
#3 Posted : 12/31/2007 4:28:41 PM
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I read a general overview of the basic technique in Grof's [i:e46425ff6a]When the Impossible Happens[/i:e46425ff6a]. Most of the training for facilitators has more to do with helping people deal with difficult experiences brought on by the breathwork and less to do with the actual breathwork technique itself, which is actually fairly simple. Facilitators need to know how to guide people through their experience and calm persons who may be re-living extremely traumatic events, so yes, indeed, there is a fair amount of training for such. Grof says not to do the breathwork without a facilitator, but I figured if I have been able to deal with experiences brought on by entheogens, I could handle those brought on by the breathwork.
There are many profound and important things in life.... I just happen to think that most of them have to do with serotonin.
 
EZ4U2Shoot
#4 Posted : 1/4/2008 11:11:06 PM

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[quote:0414d2730a="TrYpt / PhEnEtHyl -AMinE"]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holotropic_Breathwork Dr. Grof's Holotropic Breathwork is a meditative hyperventilation exercise which increases the blood's alkalinity and supposedly simulates a near-death experience (it may increase natural levels of the neurotransmitter N,N-DMT in the brain). I recently tried the holotropic breathwork for a period of 30 minutes whilst listening to the SonicAid creativity album (music meant to stimulate various brainwave patterns). Where the visual and mental experience seemed similar to a very weak DMT experience, the physical properties are what forced me to stop. I began to feel numbness in my hands, feet and around my mouth and nose and had extreme difficulty moving my hands. I this point I came to the conclusion that this must somehow be akin to suffocation and may potentially be extremely dangerous so I ceased the breathwork immediately and had a glass of water. Does anyone know anything more about the possible dangers of the holotropic breathwork / hyperventilating ... I am specifically interested in risks of suffocation death and/or brain damage. I don't believe I will try this again but perhaps if it proves to be safe.[/quote:0414d2730a] If what you mean by safe is, "Can you die by doing this?" then yeah, it is safe. At worst case you can do it until you pass out. Once you pass out though your breathing will return to normal. You might wake up with a nasty head ache but you will live. EDIT: I guess, in theory, you could die if you happened to pass out and your face land in a bowl of water and you drown or you end up face down on a plastic pillow or something stupid like that. Also, if you really want to go to those extremes then you may as well end a half hour session by putting the palms of your hands to the sides of your neck and pressing against your jugglers and then holding your breath in that state as long as you can. :END EDIT However, keep in mind that what you are actually doing is depriving your brain of oxygen. It's safer than huffing gas, but it is the same basic result. In moderation it isn't going to cause any permanent damage but I certainly would not recomend doing it every day. If you do, then expect to start developing a nasty head ache that just doesn't seem to go away. In short, I think you'd probably be better off just smoking DMT. At least that way you are still getting ample oxygen supply to your brain.
 
spaceship
#5 Posted : 1/5/2008 2:35:26 AM

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the physical nature of the act of practicing this comes across to me as a bit uh... desperate? maybe not quite the right word, but it seems very... ... i'd prefer to sit in a gale force wind and get into that (or a light breeze for that matter), than to force one out of and inside of myself? on another note, my only experience of anything similar is when i used to play the panpipes very often. at points you are using a separate inhallation and exhallation for each note, and playing lots of notes very rapidly. i've had stronger physical sensations doing that for 10-20mins solid than on any drug i've taken (quite a few), you kind of trip too. playing like a maniac whilst already tripping also very nice Smile as an aside - apparently the name pan-pipes comes from a story where pan was chasing some particularly sexy nymph whom he loved - she hid herself at the side of a pond in the form of some reeds, so he cut them up and used them to make music. something like that. as for the south american ones, if anyone knows stuff about their history/mythology, i'd love to hear it.
 
TrYpt / PhEnEtHyl -AMinE
#6 Posted : 1/7/2008 8:52:05 AM
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EZ4U2Shoot, That's pretty much what I figured, but I thought perhaps, in some way, my own biology/medical-oriented thinking might be a little too judgmental of Grof's techniques. Just thought I'd check here to see if I could stir up any point of view closer to Grof's own.
There are many profound and important things in life.... I just happen to think that most of them have to do with serotonin.
 
Philosopher
#7 Posted : 2/13/2015 10:55:49 PM

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I am also wondering wether this holotropic breathwork is safe/healthy. I see what you are saying, you may just pass out then regain normal breath, you wont die. I am more concerned about depriving my brain of oxygen long enough for some small amount of damage to occur. If one practices this type of breathwork weekly, it is important to know its affects even if they are small because they may add up.

I tried to do holotropic breathing but I just felt light-headed and tingly then I stopped because it didnt feel healthy, or safe to my brain. I started seeing flashing tiny dots, like static on a tv. The only other times I've heard about this static accompanied with the bodiy sensations I felt were due to inhalants. I havent taken them, personally, so I cannot fully atest. But what I've heard about inhalants is they get you high by blocking your brains access to fresh Oxygen, and the static you are seeing, is your brain shutting down, dying. People die very often from inhalants, even after they pass out.

I've been researching how much oxygen is actually being deprived during this state and if it is similar to other situations of hyperventilation or inhalation. But I literally found nothing. Not one article pertaining to the safety due to oxygen deprivation. If anyone has any studies or articles pertaining to this, that mention the harmful effects or risks, please post.
We are surprisingly similar.
 
RhythmSpring
#8 Posted : 2/14/2015 2:03:16 AM

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Check out this podcast and fast-forward to 17:50. There's an insightful bit on the safety of holotropic breathwork.
From the unspoken
Grows the once broken
 
brewster
#9 Posted : 5/8/2020 1:17:27 PM

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Hmm.. so she doesn't like it. Her point is that hyperventilation can induce oxygen deprivation. This is because, in hyperventilation, one breathes off most of the CO2, which is important for the oxygen to be used. So, if one hyperventilates, the body can't make use of all the oxygen that is being inhaled.
Her second point is that this changes the body's PH and there might be risks with that as well.

I mean, hm. It certainly sounds plausible, but then again, holotropic breathwork has been around for decades, and there seems very little evidence of physiological problems associated with using this kind of method. So I'm skeptical towards the claims she makes...
 
corpus callosum
#10 Posted : 5/8/2020 5:29:41 PM

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Prolonged hyperventilation, by "blowing off" CO2 excessively renders the pH of blood alkalotic; this has the effect of promoting the binding of Ca2+ (calcium ions) to a protein called albumin which, by reducing the amount of free Ca2+ ions, causes neuronal hyperexcitability producing muscle spasms in the face and hands, and can cause tingling around the mouth or in the fingers.

Once the hyperventilation stops, provided there are no confounding factors, blood CO2 will rise to the normal range and the pH changes/abnormal Ca2+ distribution will correct itself and the symptoms would pass.
I am paranoid of my brain. It thinks all the time, even when I'm asleep. My thoughts assail me. Murderous lechers they are. Thought is the assassin of thought. Like a man stabbing himself with one hand while the other hand tries to stop the blade. Like an explosion that destroys the detonator. I am paranoid of my brain. It makes me unsettled and ill at ease. Makes me chase my tail, freezes my eyes and shuts me down. Watches me. Eats my head. It destroys me.

 
brewster
#11 Posted : 5/8/2020 5:39:11 PM

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Thanks for the explanation!

Yeah, that seems to be the basic mechanism with H.B.. I mean, as far as I understand, it seems to be relatively safe to practice this from a physiological standpoint. Grof has a chapter on screening for physical contraindications. These include the typical things like cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, pregnancy, convulsive disorders, physical injuries and recent operations and psychogenic asthma.

The way I understand it, if these aren't present, there hasn't been a substantial amount of reports indicating serious problems. Of course, there isn't so much research, and some things might have flown under the radar. It is an intense practice and probably not 100% riskfree.

But as far as I read it, the main risks to be considered are psychological risks of intense stuff coming up that might be too much to be processed. But here my non-professional assumption is that the situation is pretty much identical to taking classical psychedelics.

Grof writes that most people who undertake breathwork sessions don't need any assistance, and for the matjority of others, a sitter without a lot of special training can provide the assistance needed: some physical touch, some reassurement and just the basic support of knowing that someone is there to take care of things. Practically identical to a tripsitter, right?

But yeah, there are some people who have pretty massive trauma coming up and who need more support, in some cases, the sessions might last for days until integration has happened.
 
dragonrider
#12 Posted : 5/8/2020 5:50:19 PM

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This is basically the same as the wim hof breathing method, various forms of yoga, as well as some forms of meditation.

The wim hof method has been analysed and studied by scientists, and it has been shown to temporarily reduce the activity of the immune system.
You get a huge adrenaline boost, wich in return triggers the release of cortisol and other stresshormones.

If you have an overactive immunesystem, it helps by turning it down a few notches.
In a study subjects where being injected with a substance that normally puts the immunesystem in overdrive modus, leading to flu-like symptoms.
The breathing method prevented that from happening.

If however, you need your immunesystem to be fully active, it is probably not helpfull to do these type of breathing exercises.

In the case of corona, for instance, it looks like damage can occur both from a weakened, as well as from an overactive immuneresponse. But the latter is only the case once you've got sick already.
 
brewster
#13 Posted : 5/8/2020 9:01:27 PM

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Interesting! Hmm... maybe the focus is a bit different? At least in Grof's texts, the focus seems to be totally on psychological healing and trauma processing. Also, there is the framework of certified facilitators, and a certain structure of the sessions. I mean, its not just the breathing technique, but also the duration and the musical accompaniment, support if needed and an integration phase afterwards.
So I assume that in the end, the difference between Holotropic Breathwork in that sense and Wim Hof methods are rather substantial... but that is absolutely not saying one is better than the other, just that I have the impression that there are important differences.
 
dragonrider
#14 Posted : 5/8/2020 9:32:44 PM

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Yeah, i was looking more at it from a health and safety perspective. And from that point of view they are pretty simmilar in what happens with the bloods pH, etc.
 
brewster
#15 Posted : 5/9/2020 12:39:29 AM

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Ah I see. Yeah, thats true, of course.
 
donfoolio
#16 Posted : 5/13/2020 12:11:47 PM

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I just finished rereading Grof's "The adventure of self-discovery".

It's quite fascinating.

One point concerning physical safety is that people, when they "let go", can
become highly agitated and bless themselves and others.

For this reason, Grof recommand absolutely not to experiment with this technique alone.

I think occasional use of breathwork doesn't affect the body more than other techniques like sleep-deprivation, fasting and so on.
5GISD
 
exquisitus
#17 Posted : 5/13/2020 9:08:52 PM
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Simple answer: NO

It's not at all about liking it or not.
It's all about taking stupid risks.

You like taking stupid risk, by all means do it.

You are not intelligent enough, but easily manipulated by people either not intelligent enough or after your money, by all means do it.

It's that simple.

This whole story keeps replaying time and again countless time ad infititum...
Yeah, people do stupid shit for no reason at all, but that's just boring in the grand scheme of things...
 
brewster
#18 Posted : 5/13/2020 9:38:50 PM

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donfoolio wrote:

One point concerning physical safety is that people, when they "let go", can
become highly agitated and bless themselves and others.

For this reason, Grof recommand absolutely not to experiment with this technique alone.


You mean hurt themselves and others? Can you explain what you mean by "this technique"? Does it refer to something special or to Holotropic Breathwork in General?

donfoolio wrote:

I think occasional use of breathwork doesn't affect the body more than other techniques like sleep-deprivation, fasting and so on.


Have you tried it? My impression is that it depends to a large degree on the duration, the intensity of the breathing and the stuff coming up. But yeah, in order to really, fully let go and enjoy the full healing potential, one should know that someone else is there to take care of things.

What I meant by physical safety is that there seems no reason to believe that the breathwork will damage the brain, or stuff like that. But yeah, in the sense you mentioned, if one wants to make it safe, that means doing it with a trained person.

Everything else is a risk - how large, seems to depend on several factors.

exquisitus wrote:


You like taking stupid risk, by all means do it.

You are not intelligent enough, but easily manipulated by people either not intelligent enough or after your money, by all means do it.



I have to say that I can't follow what you mean exactly. What does "taking stupid risks" mean for you in the context of Breathwork? Doing it alone? Doing it at all?
 
dragonrider
#19 Posted : 5/13/2020 10:08:53 PM

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exquisitus wrote:
Simple answer: NO

It's not at all about liking it or not.
It's all about taking stupid risks.

You like taking stupid risk, by all means do it.

You are not intelligent enough, but easily manipulated by people either not intelligent enough or after your money, by all means do it.

It's that simple.

This whole story keeps replaying time and again countless time ad infititum...
Yeah, people do stupid shit for no reason at all, but that's just boring in the grand scheme of things...

There is actually very little risk in these kind of breathing techniques.

Unless ofcourse, you have some serious health issues like a corona infection, cancer, cardio related stuff, other infections, or maybe if you have had epileptic seizures before.

The worst that can happen is passing out. But then your CNS immidiately takes over and you will simply continue breathing. You cannot realy cause oxygen levels to become dangerously low by these kind of techniques. If you're in good health that is.
 
Jonabark
#20 Posted : 5/13/2020 11:32:04 PM

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I play flute. Don't smoke, can hold my breath longer than most, though less as I age. I have tried Grof technique several times, but alone. I have never had numbness or a headache during or after. It takes a lot of breathing for me to bring about much of a change and it goes so far and stops going further. I did not have a psychological change or self encounter of any intensity.
Sometimes I give up because after an hour or hour and a half it just gets old.. Almost always after awhile my hands get tingly, which I am used to from Qigong ( no oxygen deprivation there). The best experience was one of elation starting about 1/2 hour in and lasting a long time. There was a feeling of priorities reordering toward love and acceptance. There was an internal musicality that matched the native american music I listened to. There were exceptionally lively and positive thoughts. That was about it. I patiently and expectantly waited for more but that was it.


I have also experimented with Wim Hof's technique and combined it with sauna followed by ice cold creek. Hof's technique includes 3 segments of- 30 deep breaths then period of holding the breath after an out-breath so most air is out of lungs, then deep in breath and holding for count of 20. He recommends following with either physical exertion like push ups( usually while holding breath) or ideally partial immersion in very cold water. It generally leaves me very clear headed and feeling physically vibrant if I am driving to teach a class. When I go in cold water I have had the experience of strong heat rising up my spinal column, very pleasant.

Kundalini Yoga has similar methods and variations.

I suspect there is a huge ceremonial contribution to the effectiveness of this method and there may be, as with many disciplines an extra charge and power coming from an experienced leader who has successfully negotiated the terrain. Stan Grof may be a cosmic facilitator of certain things like rebirth and clearing birth related trauma to such a degree that that is what happens in his use of the technique as it did in his use of psychedelics.

 
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