Further Reading

Here’s a list of some of the most essential and well known books by Stanislav Grof, author of the holotropic breathwork method. It is not absolutely necessary to be familiar with the books in order to genuinely benefit from the practice of Holotropic Breathwork, but for those who want to access the true power of the practice, reading at least one of these works is a must.

The Adventure of Self-Discovery

The Adventure of Self-Discovery (1988) is a classic that has served as the first choice for many newcomers to the transpersonal paradigm. It opens with an introduction of the core concepts unique to Stanislav Grof’s work. After laying out his extended cartography of the unconscious, including the Basic Perinatal Matrices, Grof moves on to present a lengthy list of descriptions of all imaginable kinds of transpersonal experiences, accompanied by real-life stories collected over the years from his patients and clients. In the second part of the book, Grof offers a closer insight into the theory and practice of the holotropic breathwork method.

The Adventure of Self-Discovery (1988) is a classic that has served as the first choice for many newcomers to the transpersonal paradigm. It opens with an introduction of the core concepts unique to Stanislav Grof’s work. After laying out his extended cartography of the unconscious, including the Basic Perinatal Matrices, Grof moves on to present a lengthy list of descriptions of all imaginable kinds of transpersonal experiences, accompanied by real-life stories collected over the years from his patients and clients. In the second part of the book, Grof offers a closer insight into the theory and practice of the holotropic breathwork method.

Psychology of the Future

Psychology of the Future (2000) is a comprehensive, entry-level summary of all the essential concepts of Grof’s life-long work. After reading it, you will have a good, overall understanding of what transpersonal psychology is all about, and you will have the basic, most important concepts of Grof’s work at your disposal. This book will help you to successfully confront the challenges of sustained holotropic breathwork practice and to integrate your experiences from states of expanded consciousness methodically and with confidence. For the average beginner, either this, or The Adventure of Self Discovery are the books to go for.

Psychology of the Future (2000) is a comprehensive, entry-level summary of all the essential concepts of Grof’s life-long work. After reading it, you will have a good, overall understanding of what transpersonal psychology is all about, and you will have the basic, most important concepts of Grof’s work at your disposal. This book will help you to successfully confront the challenges of sustained holotropic breathwork practice and to integrate your experiences from states of expanded consciousness methodically and with confidence. For the average beginner, either this, or The Adventure of Self Discovery are the books to go for.

Beyond the Brain

Beyond the Brain (1985) is the most comprehensive and scholarly of Grof’s books. It contains everything you will find in Psychology of the Future, but adds significantly more detail and depth. The text is dense and often introduces radical ideas that will challenge the reader’s imagination. Those who are not accustomed to reading technical language may find the text difficult and an occasional peek into a dictionary may be necessary. On the other hand, those who have read Beyond the Brain will have a most solid and well grounded understanding of the theory behind holotropic and psychedelic therapies.

Beyond the Brain (1985) is the most comprehensive and scholarly of Grof’s books. It contains everything you will find in Psychology of the Future, but adds significantly more detail and depth. The text is dense and often introduces radical ideas that will challenge the reader’s imagination. Those who are not accustomed to reading technical language may find the text difficult and an occasional peek into a dictionary may be necessary. On the other hand, those who have read Beyond the Brain will have a most solid and well grounded understanding of the theory behind holotropic and psychedelic therapies.

The Cosmic Game

The Cosmic Game (1998) is a shortish book, not very technical or difficult to read. It is uplifting and inspiring. It’s the kind of book one might enjoy reading just before bedtime, preparing the mind for vivid dreams full of symbolic meaning. In this book, Grof explores the philosophical and metaphysical ramifications of working with non-ordinary states of consciousness, drawing many connections to the world’s great spiritual traditions and mythologies. Chapters like „The Problem of Good and Evil“, „Birth, Sex and Death“ or „The Mystery of Karma and Reincarnation“ make The Cosmic Game an unputdownable read.

The Cosmic Game (1998) is a shortish book, not very technical or difficult to read. It is uplifting and inspiring. It’s the kind of book one might enjoy reading just before bedtime, preparing the mind for vivid dreams full of symbolic meaning. In this book, Grof explores the philosophical and metaphysical ramifications of working with non-ordinary states of consciousness, drawing many connections to the world’s great spiritual traditions and mythologies. Chapters like „The Problem of Good and Evil“, „Birth, Sex and Death“ or „The Mystery of Karma and Reincarnation“ make The Cosmic Game an unputdownable read.

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The popular term “set & setting” which is now widely used in Depth Psychology and psychedelic circles, was originally coined by Timothy Leary in the early 1960s.

This is to say that, during the transpersonal experience, we may, for instance, experientially identify with some other being, e.g. an animal or a person, in contrast to our usual identification with our regular self. During this experience, we will be fully and intimately aware of that being’s mental and physical constituents and characteristics, as it experiences them in and of itself. However, we may also experientially transcend the associated sense of “I-ness” itself. This is the “self-reflecting” aspect that remains constant across both the examples considered — experiencing yourself as the ordinary “you”, as well as the “you” being the animal or other person. The psychedelic or holotropic experience may, on occasion, move beyond this sense of “I-ness” altogether. At that point, there is no “you”.

In the theory of Psychoanalysis, we have the classic categories of id, ego and superego. Roughly speaking, the id represents unconscious biological drives, the superego internalized rules of conduct from childhood (personal hygiene training, boundary enforcement, etc.), and the ego a self-aware “I”, functioning as a balancing mediator between the other two. In the expanded, holotropic state of consciousness, we may, for instance, have a vivid experience of identifying simultaneously with our regular self and the self of our father, resulting in a new perspective on our relationship with our actual father, as well as the relationship of the respective internal sub-personalities (ego and superego). At other times, our experience may exceed the boundaries of the psychoanalytic model (if, for instance, we happened to be previously familiar with it, and tended to view the internal workings of our mind through its optics) so dramatically and to such a degree, that it would render the entire Freudian conceptual construction completely irrelevant. Consequently, it would be necessary for us to adopt a broader, more comprehensive image of our self.

“While the traditional model of Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis is strictly personalistic and biographical, modern consciousness research has added new levels, realms, and dimensions and shows the human psyche as being essentially commensurate with the whole universe and all of existence.” Grof, 1985, Beyond the Brain

Some indigenous peoples have been using psychoactive plants (and sometimes animal products) for healing and spiritual purposes for thousands of years. Many of them developed original, elaborate contexts for this, both theoretical and practical. These so-called shamanic traditions can be found within tribal communities all over the world, with the Amazonian region being the richest, both in quantity and variety.

Abraham Maslow’s book “Religions, Values and Peak-Experiences” is widely recognized as the initiatory paper of Humanistic Psychology.

You can find a list of Stanislav Grof’s books in the Study section of this website. There is also a list with additional recommended reading, links and further information sources in the Integration section.

Since bodywork obviously involves some degree of physical contact, it is important to say that, in Holotropic Breathwork, bodywork is always initiated by the breather, and never takes place without the breather’s consent. GTT certified facilitators are carefully trained in Focused Energy Release Work and are required to follow high ethical standards in their practice.

An exception here may be a single-participant session, with only the breather and a qualified facilitator present. Even single-participant sessions, however, can be conducted with a sitter present, in addition to the facilitator.

Holotropic Breathwork® is an internationally registered trademark, and only holders of a GTT certificate have the right to use it for their public practice.

The promise that is the basis of the term “Promised Land” is contained in several verses of Genesis in the Torah. In Genesis 12:1 it is said:

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.”

In other words: “Go and have an adventure!”

Grof elaborated on the concepts of both COEX Systems and Basic Perinatal Matrices already in his first book Realms of the Human Unconscious, originally published in 1975, which was shortly after he was forced by the new legislation to abandon his psychedelic research.

In the ancient Chinese Taoist tradition, the term Wu-Wei is to be found. Among its English translations we find the likes of “non-doing”, or “effortless action”.

The cited verses appear in the seminal, most ancient Taoist text Neiye (內業) or Inward Training. The text describes breath meditation techniques and qi (氣) circulation.

Excerpt taken from Harold D. Roth’s book Original Tao.
(credits: Wikipedia)

Tav Sparks deceased on August 9th, 2020.
Rest in Peace, Tav.

Fun Fact

According to Wikipedia “The last country to produce LSD legally (until 1975) was Czechoslovakia”.

LSD-25 model

Skeletal formula and ball-and-stick and space-filling models of the lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) molecule.
(credits: Wikipedia)

The word “psychedelic” consists of two Greek words: “ψυχή” [psukhḗ] meaning “mind, soul”, and “δῆλος” [dêlos] meaning “manifest, visible”. Thus the word “psychedelic” means “mind-manifesting”.

The famous Flammarion Engraving depicts a man, clothed in a long robe and carrying a staff, who is at the edge of the Earth, where it meets the sky. He kneels down and passes his head, shoulders, and right arm through the star-studded sky, discovering a marvellous realm of circling clouds, fires and suns beyond the heavens. It has been used as a metaphorical illustration of either the scientific or the mystical quests for knowledge.

That is to say, insight into the nature of the actual “substance” of the mind, as opposed to merely the internal dynamics of it.

This same principle can be found in other words too, like the word “heliotropic” meaning “moving toward the sun” (used with reference to plants that tend to follow the movement of the sun).

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holotropní dýchání, holotropic breathwork, holotropic bohemia

Quantum mechanics is a difficult subject, and few, if any, people really understand it in its entirety. Fortunately, a number of authors have done a fantastic job in popularizing the basic ideas involved, e.g. Amit Goswami, Fred Alan Wolf, Michio Kaku and Fritjof Capra (The Tao of Physics, 1975), among others. As to general systems theory, Fritjof Capra delivered a good and accessible introduction in his books The Turning Point (1982) and The Web of Life (1996).

Tím se míní vhled do podstaty samotné „matérie“ mysli, tedy nejen do její vnitřní dynamiky.

Slavná Flammarionova rytina zobrazuje muže oděného v dlouhém rouchu a s holí, nacházejícího se na místě kde končící Země hraničí s oblohou. Muž klečí a hlavou, rameny a pravou rukou prostupuje oblohou posetou hvězdami a objevuje podivuhodnou říši kroužících mraků, ohňů a sluncí za nebesy. Obraz byl tradičně používán jako metaforická ilustrace buď vědeckého, nebo mystického hledání poznání.

Subtle energy is a concept of a natural force currently not recognized by Western science. It was, however, widely adopted across multiple spiritual and medicinal systems all over the world. Among the most well known systems utilizing this concept are Taoism and Yoga, where subtle energy is regarded as “Chi” or “Prana”, respectively. In Sanskrit, Prana essentially means breath, “life force”, or “vital principle”.

Podle stejného pravidla jsou utvořena i jiná slova, například „termotropický“ v překladu znamená „pohybující se za teplem“ anebo „heliotropický“ můžeme přeložit jako „směřující ke slunci“ (v odkazu na rostliny či jiné organizmy otáčející nebo ohýbající se za zdrojem tepla, anebo sledující pohyb slunce).

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