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Unexpected Aftereffects
Holotropic Breathwork
Citation:   bicycleride1943. "Unexpected Aftereffects: An Experience with Holotropic Breathwork (exp29809)". Jan 7, 2004.

I attended a holotropic breathwork session toward the end of November. Within a few days afterward I began to experience quite pronounced 'phantom' body aches, I eventually checked myself into the ER believing that I may be having a heart attack. Nope - $1000 later, it wasn't a heart attack; but, that's worth knowing right?

This ER visit followed some 'home treatments' of breathwork the day after my initial breathwork session, in which I recreated the holotropic breathwork environment (by standing in front of my stereo speakers in the afternoon and later that night, lying down in darkness, listening with headphones to loud intense syncopated music [Enigma works most effectively] and initiating continuous rapid breathing). It's not that I went looking for these follow-up experiences, I simply felt compelled to 'get there'.

I re-experienced 'rebirthing' events (i.e. highly charged emotions with some screaming, occasional sobbing, and with an uncomfortable sense that I needed to crawl out of myself - in the middle of the night - I'm sure the neighbors were very interested by this point). Don't try this at home kids!

A session on New Year's day with a chiropractor bought on another brief 'rebirthing' experience, with the usual body contortions, emotional tension, and some screaming with intermittent sobbing (at least he thought it was 'interesting').

Here's the side effects:

1) unaccounted for muscular pain (I'm on prescription Ibuprofen 800mg),

2) electrical-like 'body jolts' at the most inopportune times (I mostly lurk in the shadows now),

3) hyper-emotional reactions to events, songs, thoughts, etc. Most things now have an emotional significance that I hadn't previously experienced. I cry listening to music or conversation that I overhear, I even weep with certain types of music. I want to hear music far more than I ever have before, but only if it doesn't contain sharp pops or loud bass beats.

4) I just realized a new one: I'm easily sidetracked (less focused perhaps?).

Side note: check out the CD titled, _Agnus Dei - Music of Inner Harmony_ 'an anthology of sacred choral music.' Also, the sound track to the movie _The Mission_ is incredibly moving, especially the pieces, 'On Earth As It Is In Heaven', 'Ave Maria Guarani' and . . . okay I'm back, i just had to stop for 'Brothers' and then was jolted back with that damned first note from the next piece, 'Carlotta'. And watch the flute and chori high notes on the next one, 'Vita Nostra'.

Lights and moving things can be captivating to the point that I'm completely mesmerized. Entering a meditative state now is far too easy, as it can interfere with my normal attention mode, plus there's the 'jolts'. Unexpected loud sounds cause me to jump into the air like I've been whacked by a 2-by-4.

Some people seem to think this is somehow funny and will repeat whatever caused my strange behavior. I think that either they think they didn't really see what just happened and want to verify their observation, or there is an innate and clearly sado/masochistic tendency in the human animal.

I just went through a profoundly emotional afternoon of anxiety, a painful feeling of emptiness, uncontrollable sobbing, a sense that my environment 'wasn't right', an inability to carry out simple tasks, and an overall sense that I was losing control of myself. (can someone say, manic-depression?)

Fortunately, I quickly located a common and readily available herbal supplement that immediately removed me from these effects and brought me to a far more pleasing reality (any reality would have been better than that one). To my very happy surprise, the physical body pain was completely eliminated for a few hours. I wish I could remember the name of the herbal supplement . . . it wasn't one which I normally use, but it was far more effective at eliminating my particular pain than the prescription Ibuprofen 800mg.

As I'm taking Wellbutrin for depression, I'm wondering if somehow the holotropic breathwork session created a situation where my usual antidepressant is now inducing the dreaded and highly unpopular 'Serotonin Syndrome' that is ravaging our inner cities.

Also if - okay remember to skip over 'Penance' completely - Also if anyone like Frederick Bois-Mariage could deliver one of his highly articulate and (mostly lost on me, though not completely lost) neuro-chemical expositions on what may be happening, I would be very interested.

A few thoughts - just because an altered consciousness technique isn't dependent on some illegal drug for its effect (or legal in the case of the future of MDMA) doesn't mean it shouldn't be approached with due care. I certainly underestimated the extent of the physic consequences of what I understood to be a very controlled and controllable event when I underwent the holotropic breathwork session. Of course, no one can predict what happens as a result of this or any other technique.

I have a new respect for both the capacity of the body/mind and how we can influence this aspect of ourselves toward a more receptive state of consciousness. This is probably old hat for most of you - don't get me wrong though, I have nothing against old hats.

Perhaps Rob Heffernan described my mental state when he wrote, 'if you knew what kind of speculations go on in my mind and what labyrinths of thought I sometimes manage to believe in, I would be quite embarrassed.'

After I wrote this, I talked with some individuals about the 'electrical-like jolts' and it appears that this is somewhat common (if this can be considered common) for initiates of intensive meditation and breath practices - chi or kundalini effects - its all beyond me. At least I've been assured that it works itself out eventually.

Exp Year: 2003ExpID: 29809
Gender: Male 
Age at time of experience: Not Given
Published: Jan 7, 2004Views: 33,229
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Hyperventilation (141) : Not Applicable (38), Post Trip Problems (8), Health Problems (27), First Times (2)

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