The Third Perinatal Matrix according to Grof

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

According to Grof, the third perinatal Matrix is associated with the “struggle before death and the subsequent rebirth.” In a previous article, I have already introduced the birth matrices of Stanislav Grof, and now I would like to present in detail how the third phase of birth trauma can present itself in a regression. In addition, my series of articles outlines the entire spectrum around the therapeutic processing of trauma through techniques such as CranioSacral therapy and holotropic breathing.

Such techniques can be used to initiate expanded states of consciousness that allow us to act on the subconscious levels of the mind. We recognize repressed and hidden traumas that lead to lasting imprints and their psychosomatic effects in this process. In holistic or holotropic therapy, these transpersonal dimensions are the mental level where the causes of blockages and psychopathological patterns are found. Therefore, it is useful to know the perinatal matrices in detail to identify and work on hidden traumas in therapy specifically.

3rd Birth Matrix | According to Grof

Struggle before death and rebirth

The 3rd perinatal Matrix, according to Stanislav Grof, is related to the second clinical stage of childbirth.

In the 3rd Matrix, uterine contractions continue, the cervix dilates, and the arduous process of propelling through the birth canal begins. This means a tremendous struggle for survival, massive mechanical pressure, and oxygen deprivation, i.e., imminent suffocation. It is associated with an extreme increase in fear, pain, and pressure, and there can be a kind of sexual energy generated by the suffocation. There may be other sexual images and perceptions associated with it.

Phenomena of the 3rd Matrix

Phenomena of the 3rd Matrix usually begins with intensifying suffering into cosmic dimensions with a possible simultaneous sensation of pleasure and pain. Visually, bright colors, explosions, and fireworks can manifest before the inner eye. Visions of wild adventures and exploration of dangerous terrains, death, and rebirth experiences may appear.

Physically, there may be intense reactions such as pressure pains, impending suffocation, and muscle tension that are discharged in a tremor- and twitch-like manner. Nausea and vomiting are possible in the 3rd Matrix, with violent sensations of heat and cold, sweating, and heart trouble being other indicators.

3rd Matrix Example

A case study from craniosacral therapy

In CranioSacral Therapy, we know the importance of treating the large transverse structures, the diaphragms. Even though a fetus is supplied with oxygen through the umbilical cord, it can be compressed during this phase. Thus, the very common sensations of suffocation can occur in the fetus.

In CranioSacral Therapy (CST), it is always important to treat the lower diaphragms first, and only then the thoracic inlet. Effective treatment of the thorax is only possible if we first treat the umbilical region, which is between the two lower diaphragms. Relaxation is usually only possible in this order. This was also the case with our colleague Ronja (name changed) during a CST multi-hand treatment.

Ronja’s Energy Cyst

We knew that her EC (energy cyst) was in the neck and navel area. The treatment has developed slowly: she does not know where she is, she does not seem to understand much cognitively, but the physical experience is powerful. She makes several violent head movements, then strong body movements.

She wants to free herself somehow but seems stuck, and in the process, she can’t get any air. I’m the leading therapist, held down at her neck (where I was at the EC from the beginning) by Ronja herself. After a while, her right arm starts to move slowly, and is encouraged by her colleagues to continue this movement. This arm (right one) then tries to push me away, but I am held at the neck area with her other arm (left one).

Reenactment of the trauma

I apparently played the role of the umbilical cord, which is stuck so that Ronja can’t breathe. An assistant treats the second EC in the umbilical region. In between, Ronja also experiences feelings of nausea. This situation lasts for most of the treatment. It is like a struggle or wrestling.

Finally, Ronja frees herself from the umbilical cord, and the process continues with intense full-body movements, curling up, followed by sitting up and turning back and forth on the couch. Again and again, she also tries to stretch, accompanied by several therapists. Until finally, there is a full-body relaxation.

Continuation of the matrices

Summary of the 3rd matrix

As described by Stanislav Grof, the 3rd Matrix of holistic therapy can be seen in Holotropic Breathwork. It can also be experienced in regressions in the context of CranioSacral Therapy. The birth process is a phase that resembles a struggle for survival and can leave deep psychological impressions, mostly shifted into the subconscious. These hidden traumas can lead to lasting imprints that bind people’s potential and block individualization.

In holistic therapy, we specifically enter expanded states of consciousness to uncover these traumas and scan these transpersonal dimensions for blockages and imprints. For more on this, see my series of articles.

Overview of the perinatal matrices

Questions about the topic

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