What is HologenicTM Breathwork?

A contemporary approach to self-realization based on time-honored ancient traditions of breath practice and self-exploration

Click here to enjoy a free 30 minute Daily Dose breath meditation.

A contemporary approach to self-realization based on time-honored ancient traditions of breath practice and self-exploration

The roots of this approach: East meets West

Hologenic Breathwork draws from both eastern and western traditions of breath practice, aimed at elevating consciousness and enhancing overall well-being. Derived from the Greek word “holos,” meaning whole, and “genic,” which denotes generative of, this method employs breath and a unique self-inquiry process to empower individuals and groups to rediscover their innate abilities to self-organize and heal.

One foundational stream of Hologenic Breathwork originates from the pioneering work of Dr. Stanislav Grof and Transpersonal Psychology. Since the 1970s, Dr. Grof and his wife Christina have integrated breathwork as a pivotal tool for self-exploration, merging psychology with spirituality. By altering breath patterns in group settings for 2 to 3-hour sessions, supported by music and followed by mandala drawing, this approach has proven effective in responsibly inducing Altered States of Consciousness (ASC). Transpersonal Psychologists have increasingly utilized Dr. Grof’s Holotropic Breathwork as a safer, more predictable alternative to psychedelics, accumulating substantial data on its efficacy in treating PTSD, depression, and other psychological disorders.

Another influential stream comes from eastern practices such as Pranayama (yoga) and Tummo breathing (Tibetan Buddhism), traditions that have fostered consciousness elevation and mind-body healing for millennia.

For Tibetan monks, Tummo serves as a method to increase body temperature and stabilize consciousness during meditation in extreme cold. This involves a combination of hyperventilation, breath retention, and muscular engagement, leading to enhanced awareness and conscious control over autonomic responses to stress. Similarly, yogic practices like Pranayama teach mastery over the autonomic nervous system, stabilizing consciousness and opening the mind to subtle perception essential for spiritual and psychological healing.

Modern science underscores the intricate relationship between breath control and the central nervous system, highlighting how structured breathwork influences and integrates various levels of neural functioning. This includes our relationship to our bodies, emotions, and mental processes, thereby supporting the rediscovery of our wholeness and the process of self-realization.

Lastly, Hologenic Breathwork is influenced by approaches popularized by Wim Hof, who has simplified controlled breathing techniques, meditation, and cold exposure into the Wim Hof Method. This method is renowned for its ability to enhance immune function, regulate stress, and facilitate rapid healing of physical tissues. The documented success of these approaches in treating conditions such as post-traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety underscores their transformative potential.

Hologenic Breathwork represents a fusion of ancient wisdom and modern science, offering a profound pathway to self-discovery, healing, and enhanced well-being.

Hologenic Breathwork: Its development as a path to Integrated Awareness.

The “Daily Dose” Format

Perry and Johanna Holloman have developed this method through years of experience working with individuals and groups. They have a daily breathwork practice integrated into their lives which serves as a support for their own self-inquiry and reminder of the power and depth of this approach. This practice, which they call the “daily dose” practice, is a 30-50 minute long breath meditation which can be done alone at home, with groups and in private 1 on 1 sessions with clients. It is useful as a way of building breath and body awareness, teaching a combination of breath control and increased/deepened breathing techniques which support both mental health and spiritual growth. Consisting of progressively deepening phases of circular, connected breathing, the daily dose practice supports the development of resilience within the nervous system relating to stress. Stress is a common contributor to the lack of vitality many experience in their lives. When we are contracted, emotional and spiritual development, which requires an openness to our vulnerability, is more difficult. Agitation and tension makes us more reactive and defensive in situations that require more calm, clear responses. Over time, stress negatively affects the quality of our lives in terms of our health, our work and our relationships. Hence it is invaluable to an effective practice, which quickly and reliably settles the nervous system and opens the inner door to our connection to presence and what we call “integrated awareness”.

The 2-3 Hour Long Group Meditations

The daily dose practice also serves as a wonderful “primer” for the longer breath meditations which consist of 2-3 hour sessions followed by artistic expression (writing, painting, music making) and Gestalt Inquiry. The longer breath meditations were inspired from years of experience with Holotropic Breathwork, involving hyperventilation to evocative music, supported in some cases by Reichean style bodywork, and followed by mandala drawing. We evolved our own approach to include different forms of artistic expression, including other styles of drawing/painting, writing, and for some, musical expression. Our main focus has been on connecting the practices of Hologenic Breathwork with Integrative Gestalt™ creating a powerful process supporting psychological and spiritual growth. The main practice in Integrative Gestalt is called Inquiry which focuses on the development of awareness for the purpose of deep self-discovery. Inquiry involves the investigation into our biographical experiences to understand not only our fears, longings and wounds but also to directly experience our deeper essential nature: who it is that we really are and how to support ourselves in connecting to that which is most authentic in us. The process of Gestalt Inquiry in connection with Hologenic Breathwork is a powerful accelerant for our development emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. The longer 2-3 hour breath meditations give us the opportunity to work through resistances that lie at the “root of the mind” often in pre-verbal or deeply traumatized, defended realms only accessible through the “felt-sense” of our experience accessed through the body and breath. Beyond our biographical patterning of inner defenses and survival strategies, Hologenic Breathwork opens our being to realms of subtle perception only available when the structures of the ego have become permeable and transparent, allowing us to experience our vast, true, authentic nature as the ground of all that we actually are. Gestalt Inquiry supports us over time in actualizing into daily life the insights made available through Hologenic Breathwork integrated as regular practice.

Who is it for? 

Hologenic Breathwork is suitable not only for those seeking healing from various conditions but also for anyone wanting to become more present, balanced, and grounded. This practice opens and frees the breath, helping us feel at home in our bodies. It energetically and emotionally uplifts and connects us with the deeper, more authentic spiritual dimension at the core of our Being and all of reality with embodied immediacy. This discovery can expand our awareness and foster a profound sense of belonging and meaning in our lives.

Contact Perry at phollomanconsulting@gmail.com for private breathwork sessions online or at the Esalen Institute.

“By metabolizing our experiences, we become what we love.

This reflects a mysterious paradox of the body: it can be either the body of the ego or the body of presence in any given moment, depending on our state of consciousness, our focus of awareness, and our self-perception. The promise of spiritual development includes expanding our awareness in each seemingly mundane moment of the day. This shift moves us from the narrow confines of the ego, governed by survival fear and the pleasure principle, to the felt-sense recognition of ourselves as living presence. Crucially, this spiritual journey does not require us to leave the body behind, to transcend it, or to disown it. Instead, through our sincere work on our conditioning and by freeing our breath, the body itself becomes a sacred portal into the NOW, transforming into the light-filled, subtle, and awake Body of Being, rooting us deeply in the present while opening us to the dynamic, unfolding mystery of existence.”

~ Johanna Holloman