I have been diving down deep into my psyche these past few months. Partly because my lover is traveling so I have ample time to connect with myself (let's talk about solitude within a partnership next time- I have many thoughts on this) and partly because this is my universal rite of passage into the next stage of my life.
I have been exploring all types of healing modalities to help peel back my layers when a fellow recommended I try holotropic breathwork. I was intrigued and a workshop popped up in my hometown.
We met at the Shamanic Healing Center with 15 other strangers for a day of breathing. I had no idea what to expect except that I was required to bring an eye cover, blankets, specifically a plastic water bottle, wear layered clothing and be ready for a 10 hour + day without eating anything in the morning.
"Holotropic Breathwork is a powerful approach to self-exploration and personal empowerment that relies on our innate inner wisdom and its capacity to move us toward positive transformation and wholeness." (taken from holotropic.com)
Holos (whole) and trepein (moving in the direction of something) means "moving toward wholeness." There is a "breather" and a "sitter" whose duty is to simply watch over the breather without interfering, interrupting or trying to guide their process.
We sat in a circle and talked about various protocols, like how to guide your breather to the bathroom and what to do it they really start thrashing around. It was all very laid back and matter of fact.
I found my partner and then I volunteered to "breathe" first. I tied my bandana around my head and got really comfy under my blankets and pillows. The lights went off and we went through a simple relaxation technique lead by the shawoman. We were told to inhale as much as possible and exhale as much as possible and to shorten the space in between. And to keep breathing until we were surprised. Then, what I can only describe as psychedelic world trance music was blasted and the shawoman spoke, "Enjoy your journey."
I continued to breath hard almost mimicking the beat of the music. I got a little panicky and uncomfortable- like I was in the midst of a high heart rate workout. I was determined to keep up my breathing and soon I dropped down into the depths of what I believe to be my subconscious.
The shawoman warned us to not share our experience with too many people as it can hamper the healing processes. So...I won't go into the details of my journey- it is sacred to me. I feel renewed, released and a sense of wholeness. A connectedness to the earth and a strength in my own inner wisdom. That I can be my own healer and my own nature is so exquisite and beautiful.
It was powerful.
A big take away I had from the workshop is:
a) everyone, I mean everyone, no matter race, religion, creed or sex, is carrying a heavy load either from childhood, collective conscious, past life or trauma from this life.
Every type of person was in this room. Even a farmer. I don't know why that surprised me- but it did.
b) holding space for strong emotions. Being a sitter I watched over my breather with great care, concern and love- even though I didn't know her. As she screamed and cried I felt compelled to come soothe her. Yet, we were not allowed to. I had to allow her to go through her process and she had to with me. I witnessed and was a container for scary, uncomfortable emotions- but emotions that had to be brought up to the surface, worked through and ultimately resolved. Without story, without fear, without our human condition of categorizing and judging (judgement and ego is something we need but must be aware of). Learning to trust myself as a container for heavy emotion was so profound. A lesson I will carry with me the rest of my life.
After my breathing experience we were led into a room, with chocolate, and told to draw our mandala's. Mandala's are a graphical representation of center. Centering to the ego in relation to psychic wholeness on our journey's of individuation- a Jungian term by which we confront our unconscious in order to find our uniqueness, our Self.
I have had this vision come up several times during the past few weeks of a wild-haired woman wearing a floor-length velvet red robe, adorned and embroidered. Fully knowing herself and powerfully stepping into the unknown, the Great Mystery, fully harmonized her masculine and feminine essences.
I will certainly be exploring more of my subconscious in the years to come.