However, in no way are these experiences meant to indicate what holotropic breathwork or cellular consciousness is like, let alone supposed to be. Everyone’s experiences in these nonordinary states are unique to themselves and are as diverse as the Universe itself. Yet the material that follows is, in the least, thought-provoking. They are printed here to fill a request some readers have put forth to include in publications concerned with altered states of consciousness some actual reports and accounts of real experiences that people have had—the raw, primary, subjective data—and not just the theories, discoveries, speculations, practical issues, or generalizations that arise from them later, accumulated together.
The editors of Primal Spirit welcome submissions of others’ experiences in nonordinary states for possible future publication—especially experiences that reveal, imply, or provoke new insights or understandings of this wild frontier of inner exploration.
Just a Membrane Away (February 8, 1992)An important thing that happened during the holotropic session was that after experiencing sperm feelings, and going into the egg, and the egg swirling around . . . in the beginning there was a lot of heavy duty nausea, a lot of it. I was very sick. I felt like I remember being sick like that at certain times of my life, and I just wanted to die. And I felt like I was back there at the beginning of life and feeling how shitty it is to be physical, right from the beginning . . . and feeling like: yes, this is what charac-terizes the physical plane; physicality just feels sickening.
And then there was a bhajan tape on. And I couldn’t help thinking lots of times about my Sai Baba connection and even picturing Puttaparthi and everything. There were several different bhajans. And suddenly I got this whiff of incense out of nowhere [there was no incense anywhere in the room]. And then I made the connection that I was feeling exactly the way I was feeling in Puttaparthi when I had dysentery. And it came to me that I had not fully processed the pain I’d gone through over there. And so here it was coming up again prompted by the smell of incense.
And I was making the connection, thinking about how I haven’t wanted to burn incense since that time because it’s associated with that feeling of nausea. And since that nausea goes all the way back to the beginnings, when we first came into life, it makes sense that I wouldn’t want to be triggered into that. I also realized that Baba had been setting me up to feel these feelings, about sperm and egg and everything, through the getting of the dysentery and how He was taking me to some pretty profound feelings over there, just in getting sick and dealing with life being a life and death matter and wanting to leave it and deciding to stay and everything.
Other things that happened: I got a glimpse into some primordial evil. At one point I started to feel real powerful, and there were a series of images of war in my consciousness. And I could understand how people could murder and rape, because it was so powerful to be caught up in stuff like that rather than to feel the pain of the body. And it dawned on me that I could easily have been murdering and raping in other lifetimes and that other people do also.
And it’s got to do with how we come into this life and there’s all this pain in the physical body, and we act it out in all kinds of ways, including getting caught up in wars and things which are just this hyped-up organized energy which seems better than feeling the pain. And that was a pretty grisly area to look at about physicality and the horror that exists in it.
I also realized that I was feeling tremendously exhausted going through the sperm . . . egg . . . and I was having some blastocyst feelings for the first time. I was feeling like I was multiplying. At one point I felt as though I were trying to connect with the uterine wall and all kinds of things like that. There were, occasionally, good feelings, but mostly it was pretty uncomfortable and not nice.
One thing that occurred to me: Of course I want to transcend the physical plane! I said when I introduced myself in the go-around before the workshop that I’d done this hundreds of times in the last twenty years; and I’ve been born literally into hundreds of lives, and I’m tired of coming here, and feeling this pain. And it occurred to me that that is what Baba is doing to me—having me get right to the core of understanding pain, so I can decide finally to give up this addiction to the physical plane and stop coming back here. At one point, for example, at the end, it occurred to me like Baba said: "It’s a prison."
After the sperm and egg feelings, and the egg getting nauseated going down the fallopian tube, and the conception feelings, I was having these feelings that were like cells multiplying. I was also feeling like a zygote and my hands were going out, taking things in and throwing things out. I was thinking how everything in my life is a reenactment of these early things, like right down to the tiniest things like taking tissues in and throwing phlegm out while I’m lying here in this workshop.
I remember one spot in the experience where I was feeling the imperfection on the physical plane, and then at one point in that Mary Lynn had water ready for me. And so I realized there are some good things here too, that there is love, and so on—some flashes of light in it all.
I did have a lot of opening and closing of my legs also. I even had some egg-welcoming-the-sperm feelings at the same time as I was feeling like I wanted something, I wanted to reach out and hug the music it was so beautiful. And the movements of my hands made me realize I was like the egg pulling in the sperm. I had an insight into how the egg wanted to unite with the sperm and what it’s like to want to unite with something—to have something wonderful on this physical plane with all this pain . . . that there are some things that you want, and that’s why the egg pulls the sperm in.
Again there was a lot of lying there and feeling like a one-celled animal, and that being both good and bad and if nothing else, being different. At one point I remember focusing on all these feelings and they weren’t good and they weren’t bad, just different. They were interesting
I kept on thinking about the immensity of experience. The music kept having me look into all these areas of experience from all these times and places and everything else—physical and non-physical, never been physical, and so on. All this universe of experience . . . and I just kept tapping into it, all these spaces. And a lot of it wasn’t great or bad; it was just different. I can’t say I really liked it; but if you’re going to be here, it’s interesting to see what all there is.
And I went through a period where I wasn’t quite feeling conscious; and all kinds of things were happening that were almost on a dream level, that had to do with shapes and forms.
Finally, towards the end, music came up that made me really cry. And it had to do with feeling or thinking about all the people in my life and all their pain . . . and my pain, but mostly theirs, and all the people that are sad. I had a strong sense of connection and caring for them. I couldn’t believe how much caring I had inside of me. It was a real juicy feeling. I felt like I was feeling something fundamental, like when I was a kid.
I kept thinking about how when we are in our hylotropic mode [i.e., the everyday consciousness mode], we go away from these kinds of things, from those kinds of feelings. We get caught up in things and plans and duties, but underneath it all the only juicy thing that makes life worth living is this feeling of connection with everybody. I kept thinking as an example how Mary Lynn and I, when we watch TV and see all the pain of people around the world, and how we really feel a connection with these people and we cry for them and their pain.
And that’s how it felt, that’s how it felt when I was a kid before I had to shut down because the pain was overwhelming. It’s just too overwhelming to see people like my father and my mother, my brother Chuckie, all these people in my life who have so much pain.
I felt like I was actually primaling for them, for the world; letting out the feelings of pain for the whole world, and I felt like I really wanted to do that; I really wanted to help. I realized how that is my major motivation: I really want to help.
I realized that is the answer to pain, that’s why I’m doing all the reading, looking so hard in all those books I’m reading. There’s no end to the amount of books I want to read, because right around the corner I may find the answer to pain. And I’ll be doing it for myself but mostly for the whole world. I want to help the pain stop.
And then at another part of it, it was almost like there was a membrane around me. And I could sense there was something wonderful which was like the spiritual reality, that we were just a membrane away from it; we’re always just a membrane away from it. And especially me, my whole life I’ve felt like I’ve been on the edge of this spiritual reality and caught on the physical plane, caught in my own consciousness and just a fuckin’ short jitter-bug away was this wonderful bright yellow existence, this whole wonderful perspective about everything. Actually it’s this juicy feeling about everything, and what makes life meaningful is the occasional upsurge of this juicy feeling that just gives you a feeling of something that makes it all worth while—some reason to be here.
And I feel like that is probably the reality on the spiritual plane all the time, and that we just get glimpses of it here; and I feel like it’s just a membrane away. And my whole life I’ve been just a membrane away from it, and just striving to find the answer to getting there, to find the answer to what this is all about.
Another thing I was thinking about in the course of my session was what good work this is and how—regardless of what I had been thinking about it when I was doing it with Stan Grof a couple of weeks ago—that I feel like this is certainly taking me to all kinds of goddamn places. It’s certainly getting me past where I was in Primal, getting me beyond that; so certainly it’s damn good stuff.
I mean I just kept thinking that this is something that reminds people of the real reasons for being alive; and if that’s not important, nothing is. But, if nothing else, I sure as hell felt: it works! The music was great; it did all kinds of wonderful things to me, taking my mind into all kinds of incredible places; it was almost like being stoned or like being on acid.
I remember thinking at one point about Mary Lynn and the cat and the dog that I had when I was a kid. I was thinking about how much pain there is in existence, and how my life has been in pain. For example, there was one time when my face just went into this incredible frown, and I was crying and crying after the frown happened. I began to realize how that was my essence: this Frown, a big part of me—there’s just so much sadness in my life. I was thinking about what just happened recently with my father and all kinds of stuff. There was just so much sadness.
I was grieving hugely for that, and then I was also thinking about how there were also things in my life that were good—like Mary Lynn and the cat. And I was thinking about our trailer, and about the kind of a life I have now, the cozy times we have. And then I was thinking about how there was that dog when I was younger, various cats, and so on. And I was thinking about that time in Puttaparthi when that cat came to me, and I realized how there had always been something—that no matter how much pain there was, there was never too much pain. That’s when I got into the feelings about the membrane, or maybe that wasn’t when I got into those feelings.
It was as if your needs are taken care of in some way or other. Life really was a sickness. But the sickness was for the purpose of you getting eventually healthy, that you weren’t given more sickness than you could handle; there was always something to alleviate the pain, to enable you to continue on; that you would always be able to stay one step above the "pit" so to speak. You would be kept above it. Your purpose here was not to be "tortured" or irrevocably damaged by pain—it was to be able to learn from pain, but mercifully so, so there was always something to keep you here and to comfort you when you really needed it. And I was feeling like that was God’s evidence in our lives, that He’s always just a membrane away making sure it doesn’t get too extreme here.
One last thing I should mention is that after this final crying during my breathing session—about all these people in my life and my connection with them and that juicy feeling I had when I was a kid caring for everybody, really wishing I could do something to help all my family, and not feeling that I was helpless, but really caring, really wanting to help—well there was this feeling of huge compassion, and it was a good feeling. I mean it was actually joyful—it’s hard to describe.
But anyway after that I was left with this huge, very deep feeling of relaxation like I have rarely experienced, if ever. And I didn’t want to come out of it. I lay there for a while after that feeling like I was an energy field, especially in my hands. I felt like a locked-in energy field just buzzing, and I didn’t want to come back. I was so calm, not in pain, so comfortable that I felt like I wanted to keep this feeling with me always; it would be a wonderful place to come from in the world, to have inside me, to stand on, from which to view the world . . .
A Juicy Glowing Blastocyst on the Rise (February 8, 1992)I was just thinking how the mandala that I drew earlier was a picture of my feelings, but it ended up looking like I was this glowing blastocyst: And I was trying to reach out to these cells. And what that was representing was my juicy feeling, wanting to help all these people that I felt connected with, like my family. I realized how that’s a feeling that’s gone with me throughout my life, and so it’s amazing how this reflects a certain biological stage in our early life.
What the mandala was showing was this juicy glowing blastocyst—which I felt I was when I was lying in that comfortable space coming up out of this underlying blue, comfortable, wonderfully comfortable, blue waves; with all these black signs of pain trying to fuck with it, and put out its light, but at the same time wanting to reach out to these other people [these other cells].
But it looks like the blastocyst is coming out from the spirit world, and it’s being attacked by all these one-celled animals that want to eat it up or something—which could be something biological—but it wants to reach out to connect with the uterine wall. Incredible.
A Ball of Experience, or Sidling Up to the Implicate Order (February 9, 1992)I want to add this to my holotropic experiences of yesterday. There were times when I felt like the music was tapping me into all kinds of experiences; it was all just a ball of experience, and the music was giving me glimpses of what experience was like in all kinds of different ways, all different parts of time and space; and it was fascinating.
It wasn’t all either good or bad—it was just different, interesting. In fact a lot of it was not even good—it’s just that it was so different it made it interesting.
I did have the sense at one point that maybe there was a couple of past lives that I was tapping into. And one concerned my being a priest. I remember my feelings of wanting to put my hands up in the motion of blessing somebody with the sign of the cross, and how that seemed so natural to me. In tapping into this I had the sense of myself dressed as a priest and having my hands like that—it felt natural.
Another past life concerned something which was en-tirely opposite. I don’t remember what that was: perhaps a warrior. And then there have been feelings recently of identifying with black community and black lifestyle; feeling very wonderful and natural and "at home" in that way of being.
The Implicate Order As Uterine Wall (February 9, 1992)Another note: After I looked at my mandala, it occurred to me that the people I was trying to reach out to could be thought of as cells, which I as a blastocyst was trying to implant into. And in the course of the sharing that fol-lowed the holotropic session, I felt myself distinctly unresponded to, that I had reached out several times and got no response from all the people around me.
This seemed to reflect exactly what the situation would have been on the cellular level. It’s possible this was indicating that I as a blastocyst was trying to implant into the cellular wall and found no response, found it to be difficult, and that the uterine wall was unresponsive.
This relates to how I perceive my mother to have probably been emotionally unresponsive to my needs and my desires to connect with her. This relates to my feelings of total despair when I’m unable to get through to Mary Lynn, and also to my feelings of despair and agony in not being able to get through to my family—who can now be seen as reflecting these various cells that I’m trying to connect with.
The Vast Hole of the "Not the Tribal" (April 27, 1992)The session today was pretty uneventful; I’m pretty tired.
There was one somewhat profound thing that happened though. And it had to do with a particular piece of music that sounded like African tribal men who were chanting real fast at one point. And then there was what sounded like an old woman doing this real squeaky-sounding thing with her voice, which was part of what they were supposed to be doing all together, and it was integrated with the rest. And all together it was a very bizarre sounding piece of music, with drums.
And what it triggered in me was as follows: I had been having these feelings of just loving the music even though it was strange. I had been doing that for several pieces, even though it was strange; and I wanted more and more of it. In fact, I was reaching out to grab it [the music], like I was a blastocyst reaching out to connect with the wall or something, or like I was an egg reaching out to connect with the sperm. And it was that kind of great desire—just loving it.
I was thinking over and over again about the beauty, the beauty of it all, how beautiful everything is. And then I began to realize it was love, and then there was this feeling of being like in a primal setting [like being in a primal culture, tribe] and feeling what it’s like to be loving everybody and wanting them, and thinking that they were beautiful . . . so beautiful to be alive and to be with people. And it was just this feeling of love for them and beauty about being alive.
And then I thought about myself being in this place [in the holotropic training group], and I thought it was similar. But there was also something different, which was that the Western world did not have tribes. People are brought up separate from each other, and the Western culture has created this vast hole in people and how that wasn’t bearable, all the time we were in existence. And it’s just the saddest thing, about this gigantic hole in each and every one of us because none of us had a home, we lacked that place where we belonged, we did not have a tribe.
Another strange aspect of this session was whereas I really enjoyed the music, and the music could not be loud enough for me in the beginning, afterwards it seemed too loud. I didn’t like it at all then.
The Sound of Creation, or "‘Tis Bliss to Exist" (April 28, 1992)It’s the holotropic session of Tuesday of the first module. It started out with a long period of movement and that mid-space between consciousness and unconsciousness, and it was O.K.
And then just like yesterday, it was right about in the middle that a certain musical piece started to be really delicious; and I couldn’t help wanting to breathe with it and become part of it more and just express my feeling of deliciousness. And I started to breathe more and started to enjoy breathing more with the music and moving a little with the music, and then at a certain point the sperm movement started to happen in my body.
And then it was shortly after that when I recognized certain egg feelings in me. Again I was feeling this deliciousness, a feeling of attraction and desiring, just loving everything, loving the music, and my hands were going out to the sides. I was going into all kinds of opening and closing movements, almost like a sea creature or sea vegetable. My hands were going all kinds of ways, like a floating movement; but then I became centered on these egg movements, like bringing in, and my body came together this one time very much like what Farrant talks about when he describes bringing your arms together and bringing the egg in; and so there was that kind of a thing going on.
And after a while I was lying there and I felt rather round; I was feeling amazingly round. And I remember the last thing—when I was feeling like I was the egg—my hands went out to the sides and I was waving them up and down. And it was this amazing feeling of softness in my hands. It was like I was in an altered state, hard to describe.
But I began to feel like I was switching into a different mode of consciousness, like I was on a strange drug, or I was becoming a different kind of a creature.
But then after that there was this sensation of feeling very big, very round rather. And then it was just these small movements in my hands, and my hands reaching out and putting something back, reaching out and putting something back; and it was going on in my hands and my legs.
And that went on for a little while, and then it started to get more and more. A lot of it was the music, like wanting to take in the music. Or I was doing it in tune with the music, like I was this pulsating one-celled animal.
And then the most amazing part of it was that as this one-celled animal I was expanding, getting bigger. It was a wonderful feeling, and there was also a sense of power. It was a beautiful feeling; and then this piece of music came on with a sense of power to it.
I was reaching my hands and legs in four directions, like reaching out, reaching out my hands and my feet. And I realized that this was my bliss in life, this sense of reaching out and expanding, getting to know more and more, getting to be more and more, getting to be more and more creative in more directions. This is the bliss that I follow, and it’s making me happier and happier in my life right now.
It was like, here I was, right from the beginning, feeling this bliss as an early template, as a fertilized egg becoming more and more, expanding and multiplying; it’s that wonderful feeling of expanding and multiplying and reaching out more and more, just an infinite amount of more is out there to reach out to.
And it was just so much; I had this feeling like "God," or maybe I was God; this was a God-like feeling, but this was the bliss of God; this is what it is all about, this expanding and reaching out, eternal experience, eternal bliss.
It was just so wonderful that I had to start expressing it, I had to vocalize it, little by little, with sounds coming out of me, almost synchronistically, with the music. Like I didn’t plan it that way but these sounds like "ooooooh" and "oooo" started coming out of me with the music. They were the only expression for that wonderful feeling I was having that I could think of. It was the only proper expression of that wonderful feeling, and I began to realize there was a real lack of ways to express the bliss, that there were many ways to express pain, but so few ways to express joy and bliss. We are really limited in this way.
And physically it was like my hands were expressing this bliss; each time I reached out it was this wonderful feeling of joy and just being alive.
And I also began to realize a connection with the haiku I had written. The haiku was a perfect premonition of what I was now feeling—the haiku being, A strong plant blossoming, Digging deep and casting high, ‘Tis bliss to exist.
That was a perfect premonition, because that’s exactly what it felt like to me when I was stretching in each direction: digging deep and casting high, taking in and then throwing it out again as far as I could . . . and this wonderful feeling of power and bliss in being able to do this and knowing that it was endless, eternal. It was bliss, and so I expressed that for a long time.
And then I seemed to tire of that, or the music changed. And after a while I went into a period where I felt like I didn’t want to be on my back, and I went to one corner of the mat. And I told myself it was because it was wet where I’d been, but I went to one corner and I lay on my side.
And all of a sudden that made sense. My hands were moving like little fetal hands; and I was still feeling blissful. In fact I was thinking: "I don’t want to become a big baby and have BPM II." I just wanted to stay a blastocyst. But I noticed that even as a fetus I was still grocking and digging and having a great time; and the music was still wonderful and I was still floating around. I still had movement in my hands and in my body to go with the music, to just groove with the rhythms of existence. And I felt like I was getting bigger. It seemed like I was going through a stage where I was really fetal, on my side. But then I felt the need to get up on my knees. And there was this really strong compulsion to get, like, on my head, to have my head down, and to have all the weight in my neck.
And when I did that finally—and it took me a while to get into that position, because it felt like the confines of gravity were working against me—I just wanted to tumble! But I couldn’t do that because I wasn’t in a gravityless situation. But eventually when I did get into that position it felt very right. And that was pretty good, too, but it was kind of cramped. And so I eventually stopped—it was too painful to maintain very long.
So I turned over on my side and just listened to the music. And then I spent a lot of time just listening to the music and realizing how great it was to exist and how beautiful it all is and how beautiful people are. And I began to think that that’s why we come here, to have this wonderful experience of reaching out to people.
And I began to realize that the blastocyst knows some-how that it’s reaching out to everyone else in the universe, even when it’s just a blastocyst. It’s reaching out because it knows the bliss of connecting with others. And the mandala that I envisioned would just be these cells multiplying outward with these snakelike arms reaching out in several directions to spin oneself around, or to reach out for more, or to just reflect the sensuous wonderful feeling of being alive and growing.
This is great. I’m real glad I’m doing this, and I hope I can continue to capture these feelings and to come from this space.
I want to say one other thing, and that’s that I realized at one point that I used to do things where—when I’d have a holotropic or a primal session—that I would go and do a review of all my past issues of pain. It was almost like doing a summary first, and then at the end I might get into something new. But I would often do the summary: Like I would sometimes be repeating the trauma of not having my mother after birth— and my lips would be sucking and there’d be nobody there; and going through the pain of getting out of the womb—being stuck in the womb; and just do that whole repeat. And then sometimes after doing all of that I’d go into sperm feelings.
But this time it was as if my body was doing a review, a summary of all that I’d learned: life from sperm to egg, fertilized egg, blastocyst, all the way to fetus, and then all the way to the second stage, all the way to BPM II—like the whole sequence of BPM I was being reviewed. And I thought this is a much better time to be doing a review of than of what happens later on, after the pain starts [from BPM II onwards, as mentioned in the previous paragraph].
So this is what I was experiencing, this wonderful being a creative process. I was experiencing creation. They say Om is the sound of creation, the creative sound; everything comes from that—the primordial sound, primordial symbol. So I kept wondering if my "ohing" sounds would turn into Om [it never exactly did].
One other thing: I was feeling one time how what I was expressing was the feeling of love, that I was feeling love and expressing that. And that there is a pain in unexpressed love; the pain [of life] is that we express all our pain [and suffer through all that], and we don’t get to feel the great love, which is kept in check. And the pain is that the love is not able to be fully felt or released unless we do this kind of work, of course.
More Nestling Up With the Implicate, or Before and After the Western Fall (Split) (June 19, 1992)This is a holotropic session of this day:
It started out when the music was very rhythmic, and the hands were doing a lot of fertilized-egg kinds of movements and embryonic kind of stuff. And sometimes I was having images of Prague and of inside the city—especially Old Town Square and the towers.
And I kept having pictures of people who had lived here, and all the suffering that had gone on here, and the striving. I kept picturing the people who had lived and written books and everything, plays and philosophies, inside their little rooms—all the different kinds of lives that people had here.
I kept picturing Swami and kept saying: "Oh Swami," as if I were feeling and acknowledging what had gone on here: the feelings and desires, the struggles and the yearnings, and all those human things and feelings that had passed through this place. And I felt sad for all these people, the hardship they had gone through and all the feelings. And then I got up and went to the bathroom.
And when I came back it was just very peaceful. The drumming and everything was just something that was there. And I enjoyed parts of it: There were African parts, and they would have drumming and I would understand what it would be like to be an African person in a tribe.
At one point, however, the African tribe music sounded different or not good. And I had the feeling that this was singing from another tribe, not my own, an enemy tribe or something; I didn’t like it.
And then as it went off into different phases of music I would often feel very good—very interesting and beautiful in a certain way. And then it went into Native American chanting; and I thought that was incredible, that I must have been an Indian at one time . . . just wonderfully beautiful.
And it was either just before or just after that there was this Gregorian-type Church music. And one of the things that I kept having—scenes from Prague going through my head the entire time—and one of the scenes was the inside of a church.
And when the Gregorian music came on, I pictured the inside of that church again. And one of the interesting things was I realized at a certain point that people in the room around me were screaming [they actually were, in reality]—and there was a lot of that going on—and I had this feeling as if—when the Gregorian music was on—that the people in the church, the priests that is, that they had this reality going on in which they were keeping out all the screaming people, they were keeping them all outside the church, trying to repress that, trying to deny the reality of that. And so I felt like I was tuning into the reality of this place: That they [the priests and ecclesiates] would forcibly try to repress this other element and keep it out of their consciousness, would refuse to acknowledge, let alone deal with it.
Mickel is a Primal Breathwork facilitator whose experience in primal
therapy, rebirthing, and holotropic breathwork extend over twenty-four
years. He combines this focus on psychological growth with an equally long-standing
interest and involvement in mysticism, shamanism, and the anthropology
and philosophy of consciousness; and he has written extensively on the
relation of psychology and spirituality. He is the founder of SSILLY God
Ventures and is the webmaster of this site and the editor of this magazine,
Spirit, as well as of the journal, Primal Renaissance: The Journal
of Primal Psychology, which is published by the International Primal
Association. He can be contacted at 15511 Monte Rosa Ave, Guerneville,
CA 95446; phone (570) 262-1166; e-mail email@example.com.
Comments? E-mail me by clicking on: firstname.lastname@example.org Mickel Adzema
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