“The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. He who knows it not and can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. It was the experience of mystery even if mixed with fear–that engendered religion.” ~ Albert Einstein (*1956, p 7)
Sacred Breathwork™ A Psychospiritual Technique
Sacred Breathwork™ was created by Dr. C Michael Smith, PhD, LP:
Sacred Breathwork™ is a powerful healing and consciousness expanding sacred ceremony developed in a group and community context at Crow’s Nest Center for Shamanic Studies, in the USA and Europe. It is the product of a 30 year practice and evolving synthesis by C. Michael Smith, Ph.D. (Mikkal) with major influences from the shamanic heart-path, the analytical psychology of C.G. Jung, the holotropic theory and breathwork technique developed by Stanislav Grof, M.D., from which it has been significantly influenced and departs, and from the practice of focusing on a felt-sense, developed by Eugene T. Gendlin, Ph.D. (C.M. Smith, personal communication, August 4th, 2012)
In essence, Sacred Breathwork™ is a psychospiritual technique of the same category as other approaches permitting a form of sacred psychoanalysis, such as the Transpersonal, Depth, and Jungian sectors of psychology. Each of these allows for spiritual-centered modes of being and, depending on the clinician, may welcome the integration of indigenous traditions. To summarize, Sacred Breathwork™ is defined as a sacred, shamanic-influenced, psychospiritual medium that promotes self-exploration through breathing and sonic induction into non-ordinary states of consciousness, to be used in a group setting. Conventional psychologists often pathologize spiritual phenomenon, instead of appreciating the multiplicity of human beings — such as the dimensions of spiritual-self — or simply do not know how to identify and assist a client with a spiritual discrepancy. Sacred Breathwork™ promotes departing from pathologizing the client by welcoming the sacred intersection of inter-subjectivity in the forms of experienced interiority and co-creativity. This act requires emphasis on the sacred, ability to hold space, facilitator and client knowledge, and appreciation of ideas shared.
“Like the role of a licensed psychotherapist or psychologist, it cannot be fulfilled without a lived practice and experience. There is an intimate knowledge that cannot be obtained within a conventional academic setting. A clinician must understand how to adequately shift between paradigms when merging the two. Learning both the language and application of the academic and the healer moves one into a new category of profession or calling. It is vital not to misidentify which symptoms to treat–spiritual, psychological, or physical–and to choose the method most appropriate to the identified symptom and the individual client. Also, the work of indigenous healers or shamans has a unique relationship with the community from which it is derived.
This is where intuition, intention, and cultural context come into play, as well as the clinician’s own work of personal development. The practitioner, whether clinician or shaman, must establish a trusted system that goes beyond simply providing treatment. In Sacred Breathwork, the community reveals itself as part of the system.” Dr. Beers 2015
Dr. Angela May Beers, PsyD underwent intensive training to become a certified Sacred Breathwork™ facilitator from September 2011 to February 2014. Her training was through Crows Nest Center for Shamanic Studies ran by Dr. C Michael Smith, PhD. Collectively Dr. Beers has now participated in, facilitated and co-facilitated over 50 Sacred Breathwork™ sessions with groups of six or more individuals at a time. Additionally, Dr. Beers conducted research and wrote her dissertation on Sacred Breathwork™, Consciousness, indigenous spirituality and evocative music. Her research on Sacred Breathwork™ has uncovered significance relating to community, ceremony and the sacred, as well as the importance of ritual and creative expression in humans. Her research work also focused on the significance of Culture and Misappropriation: Addressing Ethnicity Ethics. “It is important to address the ethical dilemma of delivering this spiritual modality in academia because the basis of this technique pre-existed in an indigenous society, one that continues to endure misappropriation, racism, colonization, and oppression . . .” Dr. Beers 2015.
Dr. Beers has also presented some of her research findings on Sacred Breathwork™ at the American Psychological Association Division 32: Society for Humanistic Psychology in Santa Barbara, CA in March of 2013.
A psychospiritual technique of ceremonial engagement of non-ordinary states of consciousness through sacred space with evocative music, breathing techniques, ritual, creative and group processing.
Through this psychospiritual technique, we invite the potential of transformation, healing, and awakening. Participants engage their inner world, imagination and evoke the numinous.
Sacred Breathwork™ is used in conjunction with sacred analysis and embodied knowing, such as the felt sense, which helps the client further understand and integrate the experience. This is where Jungian psychoanalysis in respect to the sacred builds upon and plays a complementary therapeutic role, providing a reflection of the client’s inner, outer, and spiritual worlds and invites the multidimensional self to explore archetypes of commonly known mythologies and fairy tales. Furthermore, incorporating the shamanic into Sacred Breathwork™ is necessary as the technique utilizes ritual — inclusive of evocative music and abdominal breathing — to induce non-ordinary states of consciousness. The process also uses tools that in some form have been exercised in a communal space within these [Indigenous and Wisdom tradition] cultures and which have been identified in the western world as being shamanic. Sacred Breathwork’s combination of evocative music and hastened abdominal breathing invites self-discovery and the resolution of psychological and emotional conflict because it engages and brings awareness to the unconscious. This, in turn, allows the breather an opportunity to explore and, if needed, reenact discord in a safe setting.
Grof outlined holotropic sessions as group work, but Sacred Breathwork goes beyond the group and works toward establishing a full sense of community. In this type of work individuals pair-up to commune in breathwork, alternating as a breather and then an ally, with attentive, trained facilitators ready to step in to support or assist. There are a series of ritual elements, including psychoeducational groups, creative expression, and group processing, in conjunction with the breathwork session, which strengthens the bond between partners and can act as a healing agent itself. It is necessary to pay homage to Stanislav and Christina Grof for introducing Holotropic Breathwork into the therapeutic field.
The Grofs wrote extensively on important features of consciousness and developed a transpersonal cartography called the Basic Perinatal Matrix theory, a holotropic framework for consciousness that includes the Systems of Condensed Experience (COEX) that is of utmost importance to understand when utilizing this psychospiritual modality, as it explains the transpersonal phenomenon often encountered that conventional psychology falls short on. The holotropic mind is identified as fields of consciousness transcending space, matter, and linear causality (S. Grof, 1990). The holotropic mind is a collective cosmic intelligence expressed and reflected as consciousness.
If you wish to know more, please contact Dr. Beers, and book a consultation, for a Sacred Breathwork™ session!
More information on Stanislav Grof.
Group maximum 12 adults breathing at a time, 22 participants including the allies – 6-8 hour intensive Sacred Breathwork™ workshop.
Because of the profound experience Sacred Breathwork™ can have and the sincere need for intimacy, the maximum amount of participants breathing at a given time is 12. This is a 6 – 8-hour commitment. The community component is an important piece of the healing process, therefore it best to have at least 4 participants, paired and alternating in experience. Community in this sense is not just about showing up for the experience but actively engaging in one another’s journey. This is part of the importance as to why all breathers must have an ally, which emboldens the sacredness of the set and setting. This aspect of the process alone takes years for a facilitator to develop, along with their own self-mastery work. Like healers in many traditions, this type of calling requires innate abilities, a fruitful initiation, a successful apprenticeship, and the aptitude to integrate and apply teachings experienced.
- Must have an equal amount of participants to ensure sacred space.
- Private Sacred Breathwork™ sessions for couples are available (60 – 90 minutes).
- If traveling beyond 50 miles of office location, travel fees will have to be factored in.
Please contact Dr. Beers for details, discounts, payment and arranging for a Sacred Breathwork™ session.
*It is important to note these services are holistic psychospiritual modern methodologies integrating spiritual techniques, that when performed and engaged are not acts of psychological services.
*Einstein, A. (1956). The world as I see it. New York, NY: Kensington.