Treating the Mind Through the Body Body Psychotherapy. Part 4

During the introduction period, Klein said her doctorate was in counseling psychology. She stated that she had met the Grofs in the 1970s and that, after training with them, she had begun conducting holotropic sessions in 1987. One participant described himself as a cabinetmaker by trade, an actor-director and a student of yoga. Another said he was a part-time businessman and a part-time rebirther. Rebirthing, like holotropic breathwork, employs hyperventilation. Its purported goal is to resolve repressed attitudes and emotions that supposedly originated with prenatal and perinatal experiences. Practitioners encourage patients to re-enact the birth process. The rebirther told us he had experienced holotropic breathwork for the first time three days before. “I feel really pretty nervous and scared,” he said. The third client described himself as a musician, an inventor and a cabdriver. He said that this session was his third with Klein.

During orientation, Klein stated:

Once you make the choice to be here, I ask the commitment that you stay the whole day — that, no matter what comes up during the process, if you have an experience that you have to get out of here, you check with me first; and, if I agree that it’s okay that you leave this room, that means that you either are in the dining room or the kitchen, or you’re welcome to stay in the yard. … The reason is that this work facilitates non-ordinary states of consciousness and we can really go into experiencing past trauma. We can go into a non-ordinary state where our sensitivity is heightened. And, for your protection, it’s important to stay for the whole day and to reach closure [“a sense of completion”]. … Opening up actually is easier … than any of us think, but integrating — going back into the ordinary world — sometimes takes a little more doing. … It’s very easy to kind of trip out on intense music when we’re given permission, but if you’re going to a scary place, how can you come to closure? … Part of the contract is to stay for the duration.

Klein stated that, during a session a few months before in the same room, all the participants had been sweating except one — a woman whose Arctic “experience” had left her “freezing” even with five or six blankets covering her. Klein said that some of her clients had screamed as loudly as she’d ever heard anyone scream. Klein expounded:

The range is very great. … We can experience — and relive — childhood trauma, birth trauma … and [have] experiences of past lives, future lives. We can hang out with deities. We can laugh for an hour and be in ecstasy, and we can have an experience of really being in hell and in pain. … What we get is really what’s under the surface to come up.

… In this process, which is homeopathic as well as shamanic in terms of its theoretical affiliation, if somebody comes and says, “I’m feeling depressed,” I’m going to say: “Allow yourself to feel completely depressed. Let go of the resistance to depression.” … [If you are scared,] then allow yourself to be completely scared.

Later, she added:

You could be meeting with gods or you could be meeting with demons. You could have become a rock. You could be experiencing yourself as a tree. You could be a woman giving birth. … You could experience yourself as a victim being killed. You could be experiencing yourself as Hitler killing. I don’t know what’s going on, but I will assume that whatever’s going on is for healing, and I will encourage you to stay with it.

… There’s no right or wrong. … You can’t do it wrong. … There’s no place to go where you’re out of the ballpark. Everything’s in the ballpark: having the experience, not having an experience, being with the gods, being with the ants, being happy, being unhappy. … If you have very strong sexual feelings that you want to act on, that’s OK. What I will do is — to the best of my ability, which is pretty good, and with your partner’s help — just afford you privacy under the covers. … Many people have had the experience of … a very, very primal connection with the earth and wanting to take clothes off.

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