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Grof and Mack Breath Work

Grof and Mack Breath Work

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Published by: Earick Von Werkindirk on Nov 18, 2011
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Reflections on Breathwork and Alien Encounter Experiences: Stan Grof's Recollect ions by Stanislav Grof, M.D.

Excerpted from The Inner Door, vol. 15, no. 3, August 2003. The full length arti cle (not available here) includes statements from John E. Mack, M.D. and Elizabe th Gibson, in addition to the recollections of Stan Grof, M.D. John and I met in 1987 at a meeting in the Big House of the Esalen Institute, a beautiful mansion perched on a cypress-covered cliff overlooking the Pacific Oce an on the Big Sur Coast. This small working conference was organized by the Sovi et-American Friendship program, initiated by Michael and Dulce Murphy as a chann el for ¡°grassroot diplomacy.¡± It involved four prominent Soviet scientists and represe ntatives of foremost American academic and research institutions, including John Mack, Candace Pert, and Dean Ornish. Michael Murphy invited me to join the group and give a talk on transpersonal psy chology and the challenges it presents for the current scientific worldview. Dur ing my talk, I mentioned the work Christina and I had been doing with holotropic breathwork. This generated great interest among participants and they all wante d to have a personal experience of this technique. The group decided to forgo th e afternoon program on the next day and have a holotropic breathwork session ins tead. Holotropic breathwork was very popular at Esalen and it was easy to find enough people who volunteered to be sitters for this special group. As could be expecte d, bringing a powerful experiential element into the meeting completely changed the nature of this international encounter, which up to that point had been stri ctly intellectual. By the end of the afternoon, the Russians were in a close emo tional and even physical contact with their American sitters, and we felt an atm osphere of genuine friendship.

The sharing group was very powerful and moving. The experiences involved regress ion into childhood and infancy, birth experiences and, in several instances, tra nspersonal and spiritual elements. One of the Russians had a profound experience of union with God and, to the surprise of everybody present, was willing to tal k about it. ¡°Of course, I remain a Communist,¡± he concluded his sharing, ¡°but I understa d now what people mean by God.¡± Dr. Belkin, the leader of the group was so touched by the experience, that he later arranged for Christina and myself an official i nvitation from the Soviet Ministry of Health to come to Moscow and give lectures and workshops. John was very surprised and impressed by the depth of his own experience that in cluded a convincing episode of a past life in Russia. As he told the group, this session took him deeper into his unconscious than he was able to reach during t he years of his training psychoanalysis. He was interested in further exploratio n of Holotropic Breathwork and asked me what would be the best way to do it. I t old him about a training group for facilitators that we were about to launch in the near future and he decided to enroll. The first meeting of this group took p lace in the beautiful setting of Hollyhock Farm, Cortez Island, British Columbia . At the time we met, John was very deeply involved in the peace and antinuclear m ovement, but professionally, he was very ¡°mainstream¡± ? a brilliant academician, criti cal and skeptical, and committed to the traditional scientific worldview and to Freudian psychoanalysis. I will never forget seeing John on the first day of the Hollyhock training on the deck overlooking the ocean, having breakfast and read ing a mainstream newspaper; I believe it was the New York Times. Since the train ing took place in an isolated and remote location, he was concerned that for twe lve days he would lose connection with the world; to prevent it, he arranged the

is a psychiatrist with more than forty-five years of experi ence in research of non-ordinary states of consciousness.¡± I feel deep admiration for his intelle ctual courage and integrity. He is one of the founders and chief the oreticians of transpersonal psychology and the founding president of the Interna tional Transpersonal Association . rather than what it was . he was so fascinate d by the phenomena he was witnessing that that he decided to continue and became a very respected and well-loved member of the group. During the training another group member brought to John¡‾s attention the phenomenon of alien abduction experience and mediated his contact with Budd Hopkins. John thought that this twelve-day meeting was the entire t raining. It turned out that during our initial discussion about the Breathwork training. unlike many mainstream scientists. whether the se were his own inner journeys or those of the other group members. an d gives lectures and seminars worldwide. M. Stanislav Grof.the first module of a comprehensive three-yea r training program. John and I had somehow failed to communicate about the format of the program. John showed an extraordinary open-mindedness and i ntellectual honesty. feeling excited about them. John again reacted as a genuine and open-minde d scientist should: he decided to conduct his own extensive research.newspaper to be delivered to him daily at the Hollyhock Farm. I also gave him a copy of an article by Keith Thompson about UFO abduction experience as a trigger of spiritual emergen cy. He represents for me a model of what a scientist sh ould be ? an individual embracing challenging and potentially revolutionary obse rvations. one o f the foremost researchers in the field. and pursuing them with great determination . But by the time he discovered his error. even if it meant jeopardizing his tenure at Harvard. However. who are closed to any new informatio n that threatens their worldview and hold on to their beliefs with the tenacity of religious fundamentalists. And it cer tainly is a further tribute to his intellectual honesty that he was willing to p ublicize his findings. Grof conducts professi onal training programs in holotropic breathwork and transpersonal psychology. Fascinated by the phenomenon. He embraced the new experiences and observations with deep interest and intellectual enthusiasm. as a genuine scientist should. Co ming to Pocket Ranch.D. After many years of knowing John and having witnessed his transformation from a brilliant traditional scientist to an avant-garde researcher spearheading the pa radigm-breaking study of ¡°anomalous phenomena. even when it means facing ridicule and ostracism from the rest of the academic community.

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