Breakingdown, Breakingthrough

- by Margaret Coyne -

18th Holotropic Breathwork Workshon - 26-10-'96

Woke up around 6.00am. Began to cry again, feeling really sorry for new mothers who have no one to discuss with, the huge experience they've just been through. For a long time I've thought that this may be a contributory factor in post-natal depression, as the birth possibly re-opens past traumas, leaving the mother then desperately needing to talk through all her fears and anxieties. I missed my own children. I finally got up around 7.10am to have my shower.

At 9.00am we all went into the session room, where following a short meditation, Tony, Suzanne and Michael led us through a lovely Naming Ceremony, whereby each one of us in turn called out three names that were important to us, and then the group repeated them back to us.

It was around 9.45am when the first of today's sessions got underway. Matthew was first to breathe. I never lacked so much confidence as a sitter as I did this morning. I really felt I would not be able to cope and even during the early stage I was in a total panic. All I could do was sit and rock myself, at times, very violently. Overall, Matthew had quite a powerful session, so towards the end he needed to sleep. It was at this point that sheer panic set in with me. Tony sat beside me and I told him how I was too terrified to go back into the outside world tomorrow.

I also told him it might be because I was moved around so much as a young child, that when I settled in someplace, I found it very painful to leave. He was so understanding and promised he would help me as much as he could this afternoon. Matthew was ready to leave at around 1.00pm, and as before, he didn't need any help afterwards, except for a glass of water.

Following dinner, the afternoon session started at 3.30pm. As we settled on our mattresses, I was extremely nervous while listening to Suzanne reading yet another beautiful poem. By the time I completed the relaxation exercises, I was calm enough to begin my journey:- "Around ten minutes into the breathing I begin my usual scratching and yawning. Following that, the familiar pins and needles also set into my hands and arms, and about twenty minutes later, my head begins to roll from side to side. Shortly afterwards I raise my legs, then minutes later, I let them fall open. There is pressure on my lower tummy and down into my vagina, and I begin to wriggle in the effort to free myself from this discomfort. Almost immediately I start screaming and crying "No, no, no", as I try to push away an imaginary person or thing off me. This continues for what seems to be about an hour. Every so often I turn over onto my side, and in a curled up position, I make comforting little noises, rocking my body really hard as I do so.

Now I begin to arch my back, pushing my head into the cushion behind me. As I start to rotate, someone takes hold of my head, and I recognise the voice as Tony's. He continues to apply pressure to my skull which has me screaming and kicking out in resistance, until finally, exhausted by physical pain, particularly in my head, I no longer need to push free from my place of confinement.

I'm now confronted with the most dreadful part of my journey - my fear. As always, it's a big black jelly-like substance hovering inches away from my face. Tony desperately tries to get me to go through it, but I'm too scared, beginning to cough and choke each time I make even the slightest attempt to move towards it.

Still, I force myself to try and reach out and touch it, but I only begin to gag and spit as it really nauseates me. This part of the session continues for what could have been the best part of two hours.

Out of all this terror comes something truly beautiful. Lying on my back I see a tiny Chinese man with a little yellow face, dressed all in black and he's slowly making his way down from the ceiling towards me in a kaleidoscope of colours. I'm giggling and making excited little sounds as I reach out to touch him, but he stops just as I've almost made contact. He's so beautiful and I'm so happy that I want this moment to last forever, but sadly it's gone in a flash, although I'm not left feeling sad. In fact, quite the opposite has happened. I'm filled with a wonderful sense of peace, the like of which I haven't felt in a very, very long time.

As I near the end of my session, Tony moves me back up onto the mattress, and as he's doing so, I become very frightened, not knowing what's happening to me. He reassures me that everything's OK. Somebody covers me with the duvet and I curl up and rest for a while.

I'm not sure what length of time elapses before Ellen comes over and asks me if I would like a hug. I eagerly accept her offer, and as she sits back against the wall, taking me in her arms, I cuddle in as close as I can possibly get, while she wraps me up in the duvet. I'm once again a tiny baby sucking on the back of my hand and feeling so secure. Ellen constantly talks to me, telling me "what a pretty little baby" I am and soforth. I respond with satisfied little noises. This is Heaven and I don't want to leave it.

After about half an hour or so I'm feeling safe enough to leave Ellen's arms and after I've given her lots of hugs, I settle down on the mattress once again for another little rest, before leaving the room at 7.50pm". I was on a complete high walking into the kitchen and spoke to everyone I met. In the dining room I remained by myself and drew my Mandala while eating my dinner at another table.

I couldn't sit down while eating. My Mandala was of a person with legs wide apart and arms raised in a protective posture. Three red circles depicted anger and one large circle represented sadness. After dinner, I returned to the kitchen where I helped with the washing, tidied up and chatted excitedly with everyone. I was having a ball.

I think it was around 10.00pm when we all returned to the session room for the Cleansing Ceremony. This lovely celebration began with Suzanne and Michael slowly moving down through the room "cleansing" each one of us and the walls with a smudge stick. Following that, all the facilitators "cleansed" each other, then it was our turn.

With beautiful Native American music in the background, one partner stood, arms and legs slightly apart, while the other partner slowly moved the smudge stick all around his/her body. It was a very moving experience, although as per usual, I couldn't exactly enjoy mine as l was so nervous.

When it was all over at around 1.00pm, the dancing began with the sound of M People's "Search for the Hero". Everyone just did their own thing which was really great. By around midnight, most people had left the room.

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