The Birth Trauma from a Holistic Perspective

by | Apr 23, 2022 | Article, Holotropic Breathing | 0 comments

It is about time to look at birth trauma from a holistic perspective. For many people, their entry into this world is probably the most dramatic event of their entire life. Therefore, it is not uncommon that hidden traumas are concealed there, as the whole process is usually shifted into the unconscious. Nevertheless, this traumatic occurrence can be the source of pathological imprints and blockages that conventional methods often do not have access to.

In my series of articles, of which this post is a part, I span the larger frame of how facilitators can use holistic procedures such as CranioSacral Therapy or Holotropic Breathwork to access transpersonal levels to invalidate hidden traumas. Birth traumata are the most common phenomenon and often surface in expanded realms of consciousness in a therapeutic context.

The experience of birth trauma

Birth trauma in therapy practice

Birth traumata are a common topic in my holistic therapy sessions. It is always a minor miracle to be allowed to enter a client’s experiential field. I consider it a privilege to be there, observe and experience the processes that open up, gently follow them, and give support when needed. However, it is also a challenge to behave non-directive, stay on the edge of resistance, wait, track, and be present in complete awareness, regardless of what wants to come to the surface in my client.

The unprocessed experiences that most often surface in my practice are birth traumas manifest in specific patterns. Therefore, we need to explore the more prominent holistic picture behind this issue, starting with the holotropic paradigm.

Holotropic Paradigm

The inner mindset of “The Beginner’s Mind” has always been a great help to me in my CranioSacral sessions. This approach comes from the holotropic paradigm and means approaching the client with a beginner’s mind without bias. From my own observations, I have found that the therapist’s expanded knowledge of the various categories of experience also allows the client to venture into deeper levels of consciousness during the session. This realm is the area of the psyche where the facilitator can often locate birth traumata.

I distinguish primarily between biographical, perinatal, or transpersonal levels of consciousness. During my fair practice, I recognized that the detailed knowledge of the perinatal phases, respectively the matrices according to Grof, can add considerable value to the CranioSacral session.

The experience of a birth trauma

Subconscious fixation through birth trauma

Birth trauma can burn into the psyche through various experiences. For example, it may be that by administering anesthesia to the mother (and therefore to the fetus), the venture and consciousness of the fetus during this birth cycle may be significantly affected. This context can result in a subconsciously fixed person in certain life situations. Take, for example, a problematic 2nd Matrix experience. Such trauma may express itself through life patterns of depression and victimization as a late consequence.

Consequently, a demanding 3rd Matrix experience may be characterized by recurrent life events involving struggle and aggression. Or let us consider a challenging 4th Matrix experience: it may be manifested by problems with achievement and success. Severe pain or preceding trauma can also color the experiential field of all processes in all possible stages. These circumstances result in particular blockages.

System of condensed experiences

Stanislav Grof coined the phrase “the System of Condensed Experiences” (COEX system) to draw the connection between specific birth trauma, later life trauma, and even transpersonal trauma.

Specific themes seem to be deeply interconnected. The client may repeat particular experiences in a similar form in an unconscious attempt by the person to bring the original trauma to consciousness and completion. Grof refers to this as a “healing impulse“—a stimulant to convalesce. Other forms of therapy also speak of the impulse of repetition to invalidate or neutralize the original trauma within the modified reenactment.

Personal experience

From my own experience, I always find it brilliant and fascinating to be able to recognize the interaction between birth and the unconscious patterns of action. A clear causality shows up in my own delivery. I will come to that in a moment. Grof’s model also shows up again and again coherently in the example of my clients and how their individual birth experiences form the templates for their later patterns of behavior.

Our birth experiences are our blueprint, which we apparently mostly unconsciously consider as a premise when we encounter major changes or challenges again in our lives. This means that when we experience a significant upheaval event in our lives, we unconsciously and spontaneously revert to the same patterns we used at birth.

Two significant traumas

In that context, I can also speak of my own experience. I had a relatively normal birth, and yet at least two situations occurred that shaped me and influenced me in my later life. To that end, I would like to describe the first significant situation briefly: Being the second born, my mother knew in advance what to expect. What she was most afraid of was a perineal tear. This condition had previously been acute during my brother’s birth, and it had caused my mother severe pain and severe postpartum problems.

Due to her negative preconditioning, I was in some ways slowed down and stopped in my progress by my mother during the last phase of my birth out of her fear that my little head would also hurt her. Her fear became mine because I felt her anxieties.

Birth trauma and psychological imprints

My birth trauma from early subtle oppression coupled with responsibility for my mother’s pain had revealed itself in certain patterns in my later life. Whenever it was a matter of finishing a project or making a meaningful change or decision, I had to recognize how I unconsciously began to slow myself down before reaching the goal. In addition, there was an abstract feeling of fear in me that I could hurt someone with quick action. It even went so far that I just got sick and couldn’t move.

Even though this birth trauma can still activate today, I was allowed to transcend this subconscious programming by realizing it. It is a way of becoming conscious. This realization will enable me to make a clear decision to move forward at my own pace and not be stopped. I may still act with (too) much consideration, but I no longer have to fear hurting others.

Recognizing Individual Birth Patterns

There are many such birth patterns. If possible, it helps to talk to the mother and others who know the specific circumstances of the birth. However, what one needs to know emerges mainly over time as one continually works in expanded or transpersonal states of consciousness.

In expanded states of consciousness, such as those experienced in CranisoSacral Therapy, the entire COEX complex with its linked events, emotions, and sensations can be retrospectively reviewed, re-experienced, and ultimately invalidated. Only when the trauma could be neutralized, there is no more need to repeat the experience—just as I was able to experience it in the context of my own birth experience.

Holistic Trauma Therapy

Neutralizing birth trauma

I use various techniques to neutralize birth trauma—we also speak of invalidation. Holotropic breathing is, in my experience, the most effective approach to bringing such imprints to the surface. With sound evidential reasoning, Stanislav Grof has documented the birth matrices in such detail were it not because this is a constant phenomenon in holotropic therapy. However, CranioSacral Therapy is also a gentle approach to recording and working through such birth traumas.

Once the birth trauma is identified, homeopathy can also be a potent tool to invalidate the experience. In particular, Antonie Peppler’s Creative Homeopathy offers very effective complex remedies for this purpose, which can significantly accelerate the process.

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