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Psychedelic Medicine

Association

Psychedelics and Breathwork with Kyle Buller

Summary

This episode of the Plant Medicine Podcast features a conversation with Kyle Buller on psychedelics and breathwork. Kyle is co-founder and host of the Psychedelics Today podcast and he has studied breathwork since October 2010 with Lenny and Elizabeth Gibson of Dreamshadow Transpersonal Breathwork. Kyle earned his BA in transpersonal psychology from Burlington College where he focused on the healthing potential of non-ordinary states of consciousness, exploring topics such as shamanism, reiki, plant medicine, and holotropic breathwork. He has also earned an MS in clinical mental health counseling with emphasis in somatic psychology and has since worked with at-risk teens in crisis and individuals experiencing an early episode of psychosis.

Kyle opens this discussion by providing a basic definition of breathwork and sharing his own journey with this modality. He discusses how breathwork can refer to a wide variety of practices, but what unites these disparate techniques is utilizing the breath to induce specific physiological states and experiences. The holotropic style of breathwork has roots in transpersonal psychology and the work of Stanislav Grof and it is this modality which is often compared to psychedelic experiences.

Kyle discusses how holotropic breathwork can be an incredibly powerful practice for trauma-healing and inducing visceral experiences—similar to the classical psychedelics. He recounts his own experiences with this practice, describing how he was able to relive the experience of being born in the state conditioned by the method of breathing. Due to the synergy with the psychedelic experience, Kyle mentions that there is a lot of potential for breathwork to help individuals integrate or prepare for psychedelic experiences, as well as being a powerful tool for clinicians involved in psychedelic-psychotherapy to better understand the non-ordinary states of consciousness their patients will be experiencing.

Because of the wide variety of breathwork techniques, Kyle discusses the possibilities of tailoring practices to the specific experiences of a client. Everyone has a unique “window of tolerance” depending on their background and constitution, and some people will benefit more from techniques which downregulate the nervous system and allow for peace and relaxation, while others may find more value in techniques which are highly stimulating and provide deeper, emotionally complex experiences that allow for self-exploration.

In This Episode

• What breathwork is an how it relates to psychedelics
• The origins of holotropic breathwork and Stanislav Grof’s transpersonal framework
• Breathwork vs meditation
• How to use breathwork to integrate and prepare for psychedelic experiences
• The effects of different types of breathing on the nervous system

Quotes

“[Breathwork] offered a really great tool for training, for understanding how to sit with people in non-ordinary states of consciousness.” [8:49]

“Some breathing techniques, like these more deeply cathartic techniques, they’re bringing up a lot of emotional memory and people are starting to work through a lot of somatic sensations, they are working through trauma.” [13:38]

“We really need to look at somebody’s whole picture, where they’re at, how they could potentially benefit, look at their nervous system, attune to that, and really think about what they could tolerate, what’s going on in somebody’s psyche.” [30:29]

“The breath is this flexible tool, it’s a vehicle—we can help to regulate our nervous system with it and explore it.” [39:38]

Links

* The Psychedelic Medicine Podcast has allowed the Psychedelic Medicine Association to post episodes as an educational resource, and in return the PMA is hosting the podcast show notes.