The Holotropic Paradigm

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

This article is about the holotropic paradigm and its basic principles. This approach is a variant of holistic healing methods, which fundamentally understand the interactions of mind and body. This post is the 2nd part of a series of articles that explain what expanded states of consciousness are and how we can naturally induce and ultimately use them therapeutically. This approach serves us to neutralize trauma and overcome psychological blockages.

To this end, I will explicitly discuss techniques such as CranioSacral Therapy and Stanislav Grof’s entire model, starting with his perinatal matrices, in subsequent posts. But first, here are the principles of holotropic therapy.

Principles of Holotropic Therapy

What is holotropic therapy?

So what is the Holotropic Paradigm? Let’s start by clarifying the term. As mentioned in my previous article, holotropic literally means “aiming at” or moving toward wholeness. One could also speak of holistic to this form of therapy.

Life is movement and without movement life does not take place.

M. Feldenkrais

This strategy of the Holotropic Paradigm is based on the fundamental philosophical assumption that the average person in our culture is far from using his true potential and abilities. This assumed state leads the individual to identify only with his physical body and ego. This misidentification leads to an inauthentic, unhealthy, and unfulfilling way of life and the development of emotional and psychosomatic disorders.

The development of agonizing symptoms with no organic basis – psychosomatic in nature – becomes inevitable. These symptoms are a form of communication of the soul to make the consciousness aware of a repressed aspect. In this context, one also speaks of symptom language. But back to the crisis that is initiated by this.

Such a breakdown can occur in a certain area of life – in marriage and sex life, in one’s job, or in the things, one ambitiously strives for and at the same time affect a person’s life.

Crisis as an opportunity

The extent and depth of this crisis more or less parallel the development of neurotic and psychotic phenomena. Although the resulting situation is a low point or even an acute emergency, it also offers great opportunities.

The main goal of the techniques used in self-awareness therapies is activating and exploring the unconscious (non-consciousness, according to J. Upledger – developer of CranioSacral Therapy). Further, in releasing the energy bound in emotional and psychosomatic symptoms (energy cyst in CST) and transforming the stationary equilibrium of this energy into a stream of experiences.

Holotropic therapy promotes the activation of the unconscious to such an extent that an extraordinary state of consciousness is established. There the deeply hidden emotional wound can reveal itself to be healed.

The Inner Healer

Combination of Craniosacral and Holotropic Breathwork

My fascination with holotropic therapies, such as CranioSacral Therapy and Holotropic Breathwork, became even greater when I learned that both approaches recognized the same entity that plays an important role in healing—the “inner healer” or “the inner physician” in CST.

Thus, experiencers of holotropic breathing consistently report that every aspect of healing they experienced on their “holotropic journey” was not brought about by an external person, group, or technique but by the mystery at the core of their deepest being. They relate that whatever that mystery ultimately is, the experience is the heart of the holotropic practice. They often refer to this deep power within by a humble name: the inner healer.

Understanding the inner healer

The name in holotropic therapy can vary because for some people, the terms doctor or healer have negative connotations, so terms such as the “inner wisdom,” “healing wisdom,” “healing power,” “source,” and “higher consciousness/self,” “soul,” or the like are used. Which form, voice, or energy this “inner healer” then finally takes is completely individual. However, it is always about connecting and harmonizing the ego-self with the subconscious higher self.

The application theory of this concept seems obvious to me. Whatever the client experiences, sees, and feels, it is the inner doctor who allows this whole process to take place in the first place so that healing can happen, and the holotropic therapist creates a framework, is a companion, and acts supportively in mediation.

The role of the facilitator

In Holotropic Breathwork, the companion is called a “facilitator.” It is interesting to note that the word “facilitator” translated from English also means mediator, which is what happens during the dialogue with “the inner doctor” and various other parts of the body during CST. The Latin “facilitare” means to facilitate.

The therapist gets in touch with “the inner doctor” and the various parts, body parts, spirit guides, or even entities to dialogue or negotiates with them. The intention is to accompany the client on his path to healing and facilitate this path as much as possible.


Sustainable healing always comes from within

We may be able to fix a broken leg or intervene in a pathogenic physical event in a compensatory way, but true healing always comes from within from the perspective of holotropic therapy. However, as holotropic therapists, we may support this process by mediating and setting healing impulses. However, it is up to the client’s free will to open up to this dialogue. There are various techniques for this, such as CranioSacral Therapy and Holotropic Breathwork, which I would like to introduce in this series of articles. We can also include information medicine, to which homeopathy also belongs.


In my follow-up article, I would like to first focus on the dimensions of consciousness according to Stanislav Grof so that we can gain an overview of where we set the healing impulses with the mentioned techniques and where the mediation process between body, mind, and soul takes place, or where we can locate the inner healer.

Further questions

Continue to the follow-up article >


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