The practice of Holotropic Breathwork, like most depth therapies, is an art more than a science. At its best, breathwork does not take place in a few hours. It requires that participants be persuaded into an attitude of open-mindedness and invited into an appreciation of community adventure. The essence is an experience that transcends any particular circumstances that engender it – an experience that springs to light in the soul and becomes self-sustaining. It is ultimately the nature of the soul that is the fundamental matter of interest for exceptional experience. Its locus cannot be found by those who would look here or there, for it lies in that boundless expanse within that knows no coordinates.
Dreamshadow and Psychedelics Today are collaborating on a 15-week live, online course on philosophy and psychedelics, starting on Wednesday evenings starting October 28, 2020
The history of Western philosophy lays groundwork for understanding the importance of psychedelics today. Philosophy began with the Greeks as a quest for the meaning of life. Orphic, Dionysian, and Eleusinian initiations celebrated experiences of death and rebirth, inspired the great tragedies, and nurtured mystical experiences that influenced philosophers’ inquiries into the meaning of life.
In the long path to our modern technological culture, philosophic endeavor endured many twists and turns – to the point today where it needs refreshment from the ancient psychedelic knowledge. How does history of western philosophy have significance for us now?
We will explore the practices and ideas of Socrates and Plato and their predecessors, the impact of Rome and the Middle Ages. We will examine the Cartesian-Newtonian turn toward modernity and its benefits and deficits as they have developed today. Finally, we will consider the cosmology of Alfred North Whitehead and other contemporary ideas for their value illuminating psychedelic experience.
For enrollment information, visit history of western philosophy
Stan and Christina Grof developed Holotropic Breathwork at Esalen Institute as an alternative to psychedelic therapy. Esalen had fortuitously engaged Stan as Scholar in Residence when prohibition defunded his psychedelic research at Johns Hopkins. As Scholar in Residence, Stan had time for extended writing to produce his first and many subsequent books, and to create the workshops that became Holotropic Breathwork.
Holotropic Breathwork combines group process, intensified breathing, evocative music, focused bodywork, and expressive drawing in a way that facilitates transpersonal experiences similar to psychedelic sessions. Groups of participants provided Stan with more extensive accounts than could individual psychedelic therapy. The growing body of data from breathwork inspired him to develop holotropic theory – beyond his groundbreaking discovery of the psychological importance of the human birth process – to its archetypal and cosmological dimensions.
This lecture will recount the history of the Grof’s work, explain its significance for personal self-discovery, its connections with the work of Carl Jung, and its implications for the future of the psychedelic renaissance. The renaissance undergirds the most important psychotherapeutic research in modern times, research that promises genuine cures for depression, addiction, and anxiety about dying.
Lenny Gibson holds Ph.D.’s in Philosophy and Clinical Psychology, has 55 years of experience working with exceptional human psychological experience, and trained with Stan and Christina Grof from the beginning of Holotropic Breathwork. Recently Lenny and his wife Elizabeth founded Dreamshadow Group (www.dreamshadow.com), a Vermont-based nonprofit dedicated to the creative application of exceptional experience based on an approach combining personal development and community building in the context of a process-based metaphysical framework. The Gibsons have conducted hundreds of Holotropic Breathwork workshops in the US and internationally over the last quarter century. Lenny is a founder and currently Vice Chair of Community Health, a Federally Qualified Health Center serving forty thousand patients in the Rutland Vermont region.
Jean Wood will be the primary facilitator for the December Holotropic workshop in Topsham, Maine. She will introduce Lenny to the group, add thoughts or personal experiences of her own, and will assist in answering questions for the group. Jean has been participating in Holotropic Breathwork sessions since 1989, and certified as a facilitator with the Grof Transpersonal Training (GTT) in 2006. She has facilitated in large groups with Stan Grof and staff at Naropa University, Omega Institute, and Kripalu, and has assisted with smaller groups in the Pacific Northwest. She has long used this work as a primary psycho-spiritual discipline for her own personal growth and learning, and is always eager to share it with others. She lives in Maine and offers weekend workshops in the Midcoast area as well as in Boston. Jean is a botanist, naturalist and inveterate gardener with a master’s degree in botany from the University of Wyoming. She has long been fascinated by the potentials of self-exploration and inner healing, and finds the natural world to be a powerful source of connection to the inner world and the human soul. She is also a student of astrology, pursuing – and awed by – the archetypal correlations between the planetary transits of participants and their experiences in our workshops.
Dreamshadow is now an Affiliated Program as part of the Center for Process Studies’ Process Phenomenology Project. “Experience is fundamental to reality. As Alfred North Whitehead wrote, the “final real things of which the world is made up….are drops of experience, complex and interdependent.” The Process Phenomenology Project focuses on research and programming pertaining to the nature of experience. This involves a wide range of themes, including transpersonal psychology, psychedelics, philosophy of mind, and more.”
How can insights from process philosophy and transpersonal psychology be applied to create a more sustainable, just, and humane civilization for future generations? In the context of the deepening global crisis, the Center for Process Studies recently convened a small, interdisciplinary group at the Claremont School of Theology to focus on this urgent issue. The goal of the “Exceptional Experience” Conference, held March 21-24, 2019, was to examine ways in which Whitehead’s metaphysics can be applied to foster ecological intelligence. Twenty-six participants with a variety of perspectives gathered to build community, brainstorm, and identify opportunities for change and adaptation.
Read the full conference summary here: Conference Summary, Process Perspectives.
We thank Sophie for permission to share these images. Here is how she describes them: “A slideshow I made of the mandalas I drew after each of my Holotropic Breathwork sessions. Each experience was powerful, and seeing them together is as well.”