Holotropic States of Consciousness
For 1000’s of years humankind has entered into Holotropic States of Consciousness in many different ways, in different cultures around the globe. Why? For the purpose of knowing, accessing creative potential and healing for the benefit of individuals and for the benefit of the tribe.
The Holotropic journey gives us the chance to look at our patterns of behaviour, the helpful ones and the not so helpful to know ourselves from the inside out. When we really know ourselves, the light and the shadow tendencies, and embrace all of that which we are, a profound love and trust is built with the self from within. It makes it easier to own aspects of ourselves that we might have been projecting out onto others. Going out into Holotropic states, gathering these aspects of ourselves up and bringing them back home makes a safer world not only for ourselves but for those around us too – partners, family, friends and work colleagues and the natural environment on which we depend.
Adventuring in Holotropic states, with right “Set & Setting” can safely bring to the surface, for processing and healing, trauma that may have been influencing our way of being in the world for many years. It can be incredibly liberating to do the work to express and shake off the shackles that have bound us for so long whether it was a single episode of trauma or cumulative over a period of time.
Thinking of Working in Holotropic States?
- Sleep deprivation
- Various forms of Breathwork
- Extreme sports
- Ecstatic dancing
- Vision Questing
- Using sacred medicines such as Blue Lotus, Peyote, Ayahuasca, Cacao, mushrooms, herbs
- Synthesised medicines such as Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
to name a few.
We each have a very powerful, innate healing process but sometimes our protective ego can block or divert its volition. Stan Grof calls this innate process the “Inner healer”.
When you enter Holotropic States, your ego dissolves sufficiently to allow the inner healer its natural tendency to move us towards wholeness – “Holotropic” means moving towards wholeness. The inner healer searches the mind and body for content that holds a strong energetic emotional charge and makes it available at the threshold of consciousness for processing and healing. There is no cognitive decision making around what we will work on and how we are going to work on it – whatever the inner healer offers, it is important and significant.
Safety, Safety, Safety…
You can go to some very deep places when working in Holotropic States and to ensure that you get the most from your session and that it is a safe and meaningful experience there are some important considerations and preparation you need to make – due diligence you could say.
Choosing the right facilitator/practitioner
- Have they signed up to a code of ethics?
- Does the code include confidentiality and physical, psycho and sexual boundaries?
- Are they members of a professional body?
- Can they demonstrate a credible training lineage with reputable masters and teachers for the method they are offering?
- Are they committed to ongoing professional development?
- What is their commitment to their own personal and spiritual development?
- Do they take regular supervision?
- How long have they been practicing?
- How busy are they?
- Do they come well recommended?
Ensuring a safe setting
- Are participants appropriately assessed and vetted for the experience?
- Is the facilitator able to offer alternative methods if their offering is unsuitable?
- Are contraindications for the method laid out?
- Is the preparation for the experience sufficiently thorough and well laid out in advance?
- Is there an appropriate ratio of facilitators to participants?
- What protocols does the lead facilitator follow when selecting their supporting team?
- Does the facilitator’s supporting team members sign up to a code of ethics?
- Does the facilitator ask participants to sign up to a code of behaviour?
- Are first aid facilities/skills available?
- Does the facilitator/team have the competence to contain emergencies appropriate to the method of expertise – Eg psycho-spiritual, possession, out of body experiences?
- Does the facilitator/team have the competence/confidence to support participants with serious physical disease, physical complications or disabilities where needed?
- Have fire risks been mitigated?
- Does the facilitator offer an integration and aftercare package that is appropriate to the method for entering the Holotropic State?
- Does the facilitator have a network of professionals covering a range of healing modalities that they can refer participants to, to support their integration?
Questions for participants to ask of themselves
- What is my intention for doing this work?
- Am I choosing the most appropriate method for entering a Holotropic State for my personality and for my biography?
- Is the method I am choosing the right one for this point in time in my personal/spiritual development?
- Have I researched sufficiently the facilitator for my chosen method?
- Do I get a sense that the facilitator knows their own limits?
- Do I have the right support in place for when I return?
- Do I have a committed daily spiritual practice that keeps me grounded and centred?
- Do I have the tools to practice an inner inquiry?