Heading to a Harbin workshop on holotropic breath work, which can take one places... It was explored a lot more in the 1960s and 70s, I think, than it is today.
I didn't get to the workshop.
But I did Holotropic breath work about a month ago at Harbin - :)
~ Right out of the 1960s?
Holotropic Breath Work was Wild
Lovely Dree with a faux European accent, comes to Fern kitchen – where I'm cooking some eggs with tomatoes, onions, pepper, and parsley, with a little Vollkorn Brot - 5 grain bread - for dinner. I've seen her around for a few days. She has lovely, long, blond hair, and a smiling, warm, open face. A number of men have been paying attention to her over the week, and cooking with her. We've only said hi in passing. I asked her where's she's from? She's a little mysterious. Sweden, I wonder? She's spent some 2 years in Austria, - in Graz. We speak a little German together. She's not from Germany, so I say "Hungary?," the "Czech Republic?" "Poland?" "No." I don't find out. (Is she from Slovenia? - this raises a series of other questions in my mind vis-a-vis CE, who had a lovely Polish girlfriend, and who no longer comes to Harbin).
Dree is wearing a short pink dress, and looks a little bit like a flower-child from the 1960s. She offers me a little bit of her tea, with half-and-half cream and honey. I decide to go to the event. She says she's often late to things, so she heads to the Temple at 6:50 pm and I finish cooking my dinner quickly, and walk with bowl in hand down to the Harbin Temple in the garden to the Holotropic Breath Workshop.
N is setting up his drums in the Temple. Things are a little chaotic. He mentions a workshop he took in 1981 with Stanislov Grof MD at Esalen on Holotropic breath work. He engages Indian rituals. He's originally from Europe, has long white hair and wore a red bandana around his hair, mentioned living in the Middle East for many years, is a Harbin resident, and has come and gone from Harbin a number of times.
He offers us little structure. He seems like he hasn't done this too much before. Do we want to have an assistant? Or not? I walk across the room to where Dree is lying down and ask if she wants to work together. There are probably 15 people in the workshop. She says yes. Assistants have been used in the past in Holotropic Breath Work, which some, who have had some experience at this, are familiar with. We're instructed to make ourselves comfortable - very comfortable - with cushions. We put a lot of cushions under us, in slightly uneven ways. They are comfortable. The cushions in the Temple are perfect for this.
Dree starts on her back, and I'm her assistant. There's little direction, except to start breathing. Breathe deeper. Breathe actively and vigorously. Dree begins to go numb and says so to me. She mentions something about an injury she's had. Having taught yoga with attention to alignment, I wonder if it's her assymetrical body position on the pillows, possibly pinching a nerve along her spine. She wonders if it's her breathing. She continues to breathe deeply. N circles the room getting people to breathe actively, - he is pushing quite firmly on their chests, and creating a cacophony in the air. Music plays in the background, which is also 'energizing.' The music becomes somewhat discordant. The atmosphere is chaotic and people are vigorously pumping their breath through their bodies. Dree is still going numb – in her face, hands, she says, and I worry a little. I suggest she does some yoga twists, thinking in terms of symmetrical yoga positions as a possible solution.
I invite her to my blankets and area across the room, and fold them with care symmetrically and align them for a restorative yoga breathing position. Then she lays down. At first I think she is free of the numbness. But it hasn't stopped, - it's part of the breath work.
We change partners, and she becomes my assistant, but mainly sits by me as I deepen my breath, and absorb the music and N's words. "Breathe deeply ... More deeply," he exorts. He sings some Indian chants and continues to play his drums.
Then I do start to breathe deeply, - and do go a little numb . . . and the process does become wild – almost psychedelic – and wildly freeing, as I tune into the music, and continue to breathe deeply. You kind of learn what your belly wants while doing this. The music itself is transporting, and since I'm somewhat experienced at letting go, and going with what comes up, this helps me explore freedom and rich, almost trippy, imagination. The process offers fascinating avenues into the mind, if done repeatedly. And despite its wildness, and slightly too much chaos at first, I did open avenues to freedom and release, that were new for me, and great.
Angela and Victor's yoga, much more gentle, also can get into some of these uniquely 'psychedelic' or trippy places, and many other subtle states of being, using rich language and remarkable vision.
To explore these processes further... :)
It was very nice to return to the pools today, ~ to return 'home,' in a way.