The Second Perinatal Matrix according to Grof

by | Apr 18, 2022 | Article, Holotropic Breathwork | 0 comments

According to Grof, the second perinatal Matrix is associated with “cosmic devouring and hopelessness.” In a previous article, I introduced the birth matrices of Stanislav Grof, and now I would like to show explicitly how the second phase of birth trauma can show itself in a regression. In addition, my series of articles illuminates the entire spectrum around the therapeutic processing of trauma through techniques such as CranioSacral Therapy and Holotropic Breathwork.

Such techniques can evoke expanded states of consciousness that allow us to act on the unconscious levels of the psyche. In this process, we recognize repressed and hidden traumas that have led to lasting imprints and psychosomatic effects. In holistic or holotropic therapy, these transpersonal dimensions are the playing field of blockages and psychopathological patterns. Therefore, knowing the perinatal matrices in detail is practical for identifying and to invalidate hidden traumas in therapy.

The Second Birth Matrix

The Second Stage of Birth

The second perinatal Matrix is related to the first clinical stage of birth.

The second fundamental matrix is the situation in which the birth process begins. Now it is uncomfortably tight, and on top of that, the uterus starts to contract. The blood supply is partially cut off, possibly creating a suffocation-like feeling in the child.

The cervix—the neck of the uterus—is not yet open. Thus, a “no exit,” a hopeless and claustrophobic situation, is created, which has been observed as a source of the so-called “bad trips” in the various regression therapies.

Phenomena of the Second Matrix

Possible visions are devouring dangerous spiders, snakes, or octopuses. Being devoured represents the transition from freedom to life-threatening constriction and can be compared reasonably well with the situation of a fetus being pressed into the mother’s pelvic opening.

A violent physical and psychological suffering begins—the sensation of an unbearable and hopeless situation that will never end. Various visions of hell set in, characterized by the feeling of being trapped or hopelessly imprisoned in a cage. In addition, there may be feelings of agonizing guilt and inferiority—feelings of futility and the absurdity of human existence.

Physical Symptoms

Ominous dark colors and unpleasant physical phenomena such as pressure, palpitations, sensations of heat and cold, sweating, and shortness of breath are perceived. The symbolic counterpart to the fully developed first stage of delivery is the experience of hopelessness or hell.

The person in question feels trapped in a nightmarish world, as if in a cage, and subjected to incredible psychological and physical torment. The situation usually appears unbearable, without end, and hopeless. These emotions somatize quite individually on the physical level.

Example of Second Matrix

A Case Study from CranioSacral Therapy

This is the case example of client Franziska (name changed), possibly connected with the second perinatal Matrix level of experience. She has an EC (Energetic Cyst) at the thoracic inlet and neck. It seems subjectively very dramatic for her. She can’t get air. She only feels high pressure. Much of the tension is in the sternum and further down the body. She wants the therapists to pull her by all extremities.

This image might remind an outsider more of torture than treatment.

Franziska doesn’t know what to do and can’t find a way out of this situation. She wants to get out, but how? She keeps asking the same questions and feels like she is subjected to firm pressure and is in a full-body spasm. Furthermore, Franziska is thoroughly identified with this situation, and it is challenging to steer her toward solving healing resources.

Associations with Real Life

This woman lives in this same situation in her real life. She is constantly telling people she doesn’t know how to go on. She knows she has to change something but doesn’t know how to. Furthermore, she suffers intensely and is under constant internal pressure. Franziska has many kinds of pains in her body, and she is somewhat depressed and listless, and psychologically, she is negative. Accordingly, she sees no meaning in life now—not even in treatment. Feelings of incredible frustration and hopelessness are present.

The Client’s Ambivalence

In this case, cooperation is also impossible; the client is ambivalent, and the topic always revolves around the same thing in the therapeutic dialogue. CranioSacral Therapy may not be the right therapeutic approach for this client. Secondly, the issue is so complex that it requires regular psychotherapeutic support. As a group (multi-handed treatment), we focused only on the purely structural treatment of the sphenoid and general stabilization and relaxation measures.

Also, locating a place in the body that feels good to the client makes sense—resource work would be one way to stabilize. From a purely external point of view, for us outsiders, little has “moved” in the client, which is also the essence of the 2nd Matrix level. But this is a judgment that can prove to be wrong. Even “not moving” has its place in the 2nd Matrix.


However, when we later discussed this case with our lecturer, she agreed that CranioSacral Therapy alone was inappropriate. It would have been helpful for the client to start intensive body-oriented psychotherapy to open up new perspectives in her mind that things can be different. More intensive self-awareness therapies, such as Holotropic Breathing, would have possibly achieved a breakthrough. Also, combining homeopathic remedies is a viable strategy for people like Franziska stuck in the second perinatal Matrix.

Continuation of the Matrices

Summary of the Second Matrix according to Grof

If you think the 2nd perinatal Matrix is an unpleasant encounter, you have not yet learned about the 3rd phase of the birth process. With that, I would like to invite you to my next article about this realm of experience. Here, we will deal with death and rebirth.

Overview of the Matrices

Questions concerning the Topic

Continue to the 3rd Matrix >

About the Author

Hello, my name is Eva Ursiny, I am a craniosacral therapist, homeopath and certified facilitator for Holotropic Breathwork. I live and work in Ursy, in the canton of Fribourg. I have always been interested in what is widely referred to as “Transpersonal States of Consciousness, Holistic Medicine, Hermetic Philosophies and Yoga.” I am publishing the essence of my research on this site.

Eva Ursiny Holistic Therapy
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