Breathwork and Psychedelic States?

Can you really have Psychedelic experiences through Breathwork? This piece is a curious wondering out aloud in response.

I invite you to notice your body, take a few slow breaths and if you will suspend any disbelief or beliefs you might have. As if, you were approaching this topic, fresh, with an open mind.

Firstly, I would highlight, we don’t have to seek a peak experience in Breathwork.. there are many simplicities and subtleties to how we can both listen with, and craft the Breath. Altering our states to rest, mediate, deepen presence, explore relationship, energise and invite inspiration or recover post work out… the Breath flows through everything we do.. right?

It’s important to note there are many techniques and practices with-in the field, of Breathwork. In this piece I am mainly referring to the techniques induced via Conscious Connected Breathing and Breath-Holds. And further in, I include other methods in my wondering out loud to altered states and Soul.

I appreciate the simplicity of the Breath, with-in the complexity of these times we face, both as a guide and a resource. How it can be a bridge between, the conscious and unconscious. Wether tracing it flowing organically, or shaping it intentionally. Inviting us to become aware of the dynamic tension (or not so!) between these relational polarities. Activation, relaxation. Will power and choice.. acceptance and trust.

How ever we choose to enter Breathwork and through the emergence of experience, journey … from soothingly gentle, enlivening and releasing, through to psychedelic potential. The inter play between the Breath, Body and Psyche is unique for each individual and different each day.

As I sense it, in Breathwork there’s something to trusting the process of our own Body, Breath and Psyches innate inner wisdom, in synergy with our conscious intention for the journey, amongst the collective atmosphere… cyclically exploring, expanding into, letting go, to let emerge… being in relationship with the Body and theUnconscious, trusting our capacity to breath into and release through, what might lift up for us to experience… 

And, many of us have a drive and need, often unknown or unmet in modernity… to reveal Sul and connect with spirit, savouring the flavour of nourishment that comes from connection with the numinous.

Psychedelic. “Soul revealing” – soul, psyche, our own with-in the collective – or another way to word around the wordless might be our “unique ecological niche” in the inter dependant relational web and “some-happenings” (not a thing) else – irredescent, mysterious, beyond our concepts.

Note Soul is different from Spirit(s). Think of the essential qualities of, Soul being, Unqiuness, down and in. Spirit being, Universal, up and out. “Soul as mediator between Matter and Spirit”. And to confuse us even more we can consider the Animus Mundi, Soul of the World, amongst Land and Kin being enSouled too. Doing so might invite a disolution of concepts and our creatively adjusted ways of knowing in this culture. And a “resoultion” as resolution to respond responsibly, into the relational reality we are with-in.

Our societal and cultural programming, which values certainty, has transactionlised much of our relationalty, largely having our gravity of awareness in the intellect. Amongst wide scale market capture of many aspects of life. Think of our landscapes of meaning we are bound into, of industrial distraction, digital abstraction, enthused with wide spread amnesia, apathy and anaesthesia. Perhaps creatively necessary? Which, disconnect and defend us from the untended to grief and sensuousness of reconnecting, through the split of Body, Mind and Soul. Individually, collectively and from the wider Ecology. A tangle of epic proportions and paradoxical binds, most of us do not see we are in. Much of which looks “normal’ on the surface, but perhaps is not normal yet common for this society and very short amount of deep time. “We can’t see the world properly until we sense the lenses we are seeing through and tend to our shadow” James Hillman

I say all of the above holding the paradox of loving and respecting many aspects of our current dominant culture. And, its roots need a tending too. How might we re-sense through, the structures of fixed literal non-sense. As important as they might seem to be?

In this sense, opening our senses. Psychedelic experience. In this case with Breathwork, can invite an exploration of agency. Resensitising through desensition, through our own Body and Breath. Being with, and responding through what we might face into, in these threshold times. Embracing a capacity for ambiguity, paradox and uncertainty.

The etymological roots of Psyche invites some curiosity. Greek “psykhē “the soul, mind, spirit; life, one’s life, the invisible animating principle or entity which occupies and directs the physical body; understanding, the mind (as the seat of thought), faculty of reason,” also “ghost, spirit of a dead person;” “psykhein” -“to blow, breathe,” also “to cool, to make dry.”

Breathwork can, in my expereince and observing those I work with. Soften the binds of the rational mind, and enliven our sensing. Rhythmic breathing invites the pre-frontal cortex to down regulate, this is where our intellect and default mode network reside. (DMN is part of the neuro-phenomolgical fingerprint of how we automatically sense our state, implicit meaning and relate) Animating our other windows of knowing. Sensing, Imagining, Thinking and Feeling. 

What happens when we invite breadth and depth to the term Psychedelic.. and experiences that reveal soul.. might be an inviting move in the resuscitation of Soul in our culture. 

Wether a glimmer of insight, a relational revelation, a somatic turning of sensation, the expression or repressed emotion, an alluring or troubling image, a clear flash inspiration or moment of direct sensory connection with “others”… 

These types of experience are not abstract or intellectual concepts. They are direct phenomenological experience, those of heart, flesh, blood and bone, inner terrain of body and inner atmosphere of mind intertwined with feeling tone and able to be embodied (or inviting the questioning expansion of body, boundraies and personhood?). Available as a spectrum of experiences unique to individual and perhaps flavoured by group atmosphere, culture, heritage, place and Soul.

As I see, this brings up a continuing questioning when these Soul revealing direct experience’s are had through simply breathing? Alongside a mryaid of other ways through, lineages, ceremonies, practices, medicines. Acknowleding the pan-cultral commonalties that provide groundwork and guidance with altered states. How do they relate with Psychedelics states?

A note if this is unfamiliar to you. Welcome your cynical or curious parts… How might it be to consider that the, deep imagination is different from conscious fantasy? What would change for you through a direct experience? What if, the inner landscapes and atmospheres, have their own animacy and agency. How might we, relate with and tend to, our inner experiences? Cultivating ways of being with, responding to and through, the collective Psyche. 

Yes we can look to understating through science; bio-physicology and neuro-phenomelogical, these are useful lenses and anchors of understanding, yet these are often rooted in our ultra rational world view… what of, the whole”ing”, the deeper relational reality permeating our experience, the mystery”ing”?

What might happen if we invite a normalising and inclusion of altering our states?.. wether through endogenous or exogenous methods, spontaneously and:or relationally, though activity or ingestion…. on our own or in community?

How do we currently include or excluded altered states in our culture? What do we limit? What might we be missing? What do we rely on?… How do we even recognise our current states and needs. How do we tend to and express this? Are we relating transactionalu or intimatly? In fixed and rigid ways, repeating patterns, or fluid and adaptively?. Treat these as some seeds of questions, here, to be with, tend to and perhaps lived into.

It’s my sense, that a healthy culture would recognise, appreciate and even celebrate the necessity of difference and diversity. Both in persons, our ways of being and our ways of sensing, the variety of states. Which in-form our structures, both the personal and collective. Including ourselves in the “great conversation” as Thomay Berry calls its, and as many others have done pan-culturaly over time. This takes the cultivation and participation of healthy egos, perhaps in-difference to creatively adjusted egos to the prevading relational dynamics of domination, manipulation and extraction. Healthy egos rooted in Soul, tending to care, curiosity and reciprocity in relationship, with self, each other and the more than human, Ecology.

Imagine a healthy and robust conversation around these states. It might increase the relationally, application and meaning with. and decrease the potential risk that can appear with the terrain of altered states. 

For example, a person being overwhelmed, unable to contain an experience, identifying with experience and becoming inflated. A healthy culture, I believe would supporting our being with, tending to, and relating with. Processing reflectively, inviting a turning through of nutrients from the experience, for both growth and compositing of identity and meaning. 

What if we were to culturaly embrace, the vitality and vibrancy of connecting with the variety of altered states, outer and inner, unity consciousness, rapture, ecstasy, communication with ancestors or energies, somatic chrunings, synaesthesia, dream states, or tranquility. And the mryaid of in-betweens. Is our culture in a healthy relationship with the Psychedelic, the dynamic tension between revealing and concealing of Soul… Are we in right enough relationship…? with ourselves, each other, and the more than human world?

I digress, possibly meaningfully? In essence, I hope to have confused you, perhaps stirring or caring for some curiosity. Can Breathwork create Psychedelic States?

In my experience and those I’ve journeyed with, it depends, often yes… perhaps more importantly this question invites the exploration of What is Psyche?… What is Soul?.. What reveals it? What conceals it? Without seeking a certain answer. How can invite a living into this question?

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