Written by Kylea Taylor
A guidebook for a Different Kind of Journey
Review by Gunnel Minett
Breathwork is the generic term for techniques aimed at therapeutically accessing alternative states of consciousness. There are many reasons as to why this should be a desirable practice: some people may be interested in the healing potential of breathwork. The simple expedient of changing the way we breathe can have both psychological and physiological benefits. This is ancient knowledge drawn from Eastern techniques such as Qi Gong, Tai Chi and Yoga. But it’s also based on modern techniques such as Holotropic Breathwork, Conscious Connected Breathing, and the Buteyko Method.
Some people are attracted to breathwork via experiences of mind-altering drugs that have offered them a glimpse of altered states of consciousness which they would like to investigate in a safe way. Others may be searching for a therapeutic technique to help them through difficult times in life, or to deal with unresolved past experiences that they feel are holding them back.
The author of this book, Kylea Taylor, has had many years of experiences working with Holotropic Breathwork. She offers a list of reasons as to why people are drawn to breathwork, based on client questionnaires. In contrast to some other ‘inspirational’ books, she also lists reasons why the technique is not suitable for everyone. Because of the intensity of breathing involved in the technique, people with certain medical conditions may suffer unwanted side-effects.
The book has a very down-to-earth, informative approach. In a very systematic and clear way the book dedicates chapters to; non-ordinary states of consciousness, the components of a Holotropic Breathwork session, the theories of Holotropic Breathwork explained via the ‘Map of Consciousness’ developed by Stan Grof’s (the originator of the technique).
In a separate section the author deals with the healing of trauma, addiction recovery and childhood sexual abuse. One common result of Holotropic Breathwork is that it brings up memories of past trauma. These need to be properly handled in order to help the person deal with what may be very serious issues.
The book also has a section on the spiritual aspects of breathwork. This is a very important for many who practise the technique, since they may have powerful emotional, even life-changing, experiences, which the conventional Western religions may not be able to adequately deal with. In particular. people who’ve had drug-induced experiences of altered states of consciousness may find it very difficult to return to ordinary life. Although sometimes completely inexplicable, these types of experience may be so strong as to be absolutely life-changing. To have help and guidance during such situations is essential. Without such help the person may become stuck in an emotional and cognitive limbo for a long period after the experience.
The final section is dedicated to the support side of breathwork. Both the person doing breathwork and the therapist assisting others can benefit from support on an ongoing basis. This may be in the form of peer-support for the therapist and/or support groups for them and their clients.
In summary, the book is an excellent guide for anyone interested in a different kind of journeying through their inner space. It is a must-read for anyone who is drawn to this type of breathwork.