A later start this morning for the final session of the workshop, meeting in small groups and then a Q & A with Grof. I enjoyed hearing the widely varying experiences of the breathwork session yesterday. No one in our group had as deep an emotional experience as I did, but reported more of the dreamy, visioning quality of experience. Made me wonder again – am I more “damaged” than others? Special? The facilitators, trained Holotropic Breathworkers, helped everyone feel validated and reiterated that all experiences are normal. Ordinary, in the non-ordinary realm? The facilitators then talked about integration, that touchy time where we take this experience back into our normal lives. But I’m already there, ready to share this with any and everyone who is interested. More confirmation for my practice of journaling, which Joyce said is ideal for helping the right and left brains harmonize. Hmmm, I’ve been journaling for 30 years now, and never thought about it that way. I just knew I had to write. And that when I didn’t write, things went south fast. I wonder how this blog fits into this interpretation.
The Q & A with Stanislav Grof was exquisite. His relaxed, gentle response to everyone’s questions, even the skeptics, was refreshing. The topics ran the gamut: visions of extraterrestrial travels, becoming other animals, archetypes from the collective unconscious, the impact Holotropic Breathwork could have on the planet, and the validity of the original LSD research. On Friday night, Tav introduced Grof as “the Carl Jung of our times”, and I began to believe this was an accurate moniker. Testaments to this claim: Grof’s dozens of books and texts, thousands of research subjects, and an openness to delving into unconscious, non-linear, perinatal and transpersonal experiences. His MD helps lend credibility to those who need such proof of scholarly achievement and credential. The original research was fascinating, occurring in then-Soviet Prague, so he couldn’t report on the spiritual and transpersonal aspects of his subject’s experiences. When asked if the drug was creating the experiences as hallucinations, Grof said he came to understand that the substance was only a catalyst for the holotropic experience, since non-ordinary states can be reached through breathing techniques alone. I don’t know what I think about all the transpersonal stuff (here my allowing the question is actually remarkable in itself), but most of the 200 people at the workshop seemed in agreement.
As hard as it was to leave, I stole myself away, making only cursory goodbyes. I had a long ride ahead to get to the hostel at Pigeon Point Lighthouse before dark. On the map via Google it was only 37 miles. Unfortunately I didn’t really take into account how long it would take crossing the Sawyer Ridge, nor a bridge out on Skyline Boulevard causing a 5 mile back track detour. I got to Half Moon Bay after 5pm, with 20 miles still to go to reach the lighthouse. Again chasing the sun below the horizon, this time the last hour of my ride in the dark, only with the fog cover and nearly full moon it wasn’t actually completely dark. Between the moon and my Droid LED headlight, I felt confident moving at a fair pace. Very little traffic, not too cold. I got in a good rhythm going, and before long I was overjoyed seeing the beacon through the fog.