My guest in this episode of the podcast is Michael Stone, the inventor of a new breathwork modality called neurodynamic breathwork and a co-founder of the Train Your Brain, Master Your Life workshop. Michael is one of the leading visionaries in psychedelic healing, and I’m honored and excited to have him with us to share his perspective and wisdom.
Michael is a certified holotropic breathwork facilitator and founder of Holotropic Breathwork LA and Breathwork Online, where he is growing one of the largest psychedelic breathwork communities in the world.
Michael was born and currently resides in LA California, and spent the first decades of his life as a successful executive and businessman. In 2005, he discovered holotropic breathwork and became a certified holotropic breathwork facilitator. The breathwork sessions he is now leading online are some of the largest breathwork workshops ever done.
Over the last few years, Michael has facilitated more than 150,000 breathwork sessions for more than 20,000 people from over 120 countries. And he recently started training breathwork facilitators in neurodynamic breathwork, a training that Will is currently in.
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(Note: Get your first breathwork session free at www.breathworkonline.com)
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6:30 Michael tells his story and how he came to breathwork.
6:35 Michael: “If you’d have known me when I was in my 20s, you would have thought that I’m one of the least likely people to be involved in anything like breathwork”
8:03 Michael about how he had his life all planned: “If you ever have this kind of idea that you need to get married at a certain time and just marry the woman that happens to be in front of you – not a good idea, it generally does not work out”
11:02 Michael speaks about his trip to Peru and his first ayahuasca ceremony and meeting with a shaman: “So he says: “Oh, it’s very simple: I just go out into the rainforest. I grab these leaves and these vines, I bring them back, I put them all in a pot, I boil them up, and you drink it.” I’m a chemical engineer. In chemical engineering, you mix .52 grams of this and .62 grams of this. You don’t put stuff in a witch’s brew and drink it, especially when you’re a four-hour canoe ride away from any possible help if something goes wrong. (…) And I had one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It just blew my mind completely.”
14:37 That leads Michael to the story about how he discovered breathwork
15:57 Michael about Stan Grof’s holotropic breathwork: “He developed his modality from science. And he had many, many years of experiences with what he called expanded states of awareness with LSD psychotherapy, and had amazing results with people…”
16:48 A little bit about non ordinary states of consciousness/expanded states of awareness
17:32 Michael about how Holotropic Breathwork was born through Stan Grof’s work: “We started playing with what different sounds and what different types of breath you could use to create a structure for a one day workshop that would allow you to drop as deeply as possible into these expanded states of awareness.”
19:15 Michael speaks about the first major breakthrough that he had in holotropic breathwork
22:30 Michael about the importance of bringing unconscious material to conscious awareness “If you don’t know what it is, you can’t work with it. It’s just running you unconsciously under the covers.”
24:08 How breathwork has helped Michael: “Through breathwork, I was able to open the field of possibilities, whatever happens, is totally fine. And I can totally be happy, no matter what the pathway is. Just take it one day at a time and leave all possibilities open.”
27:05 Michael about capitalistic society: “If everybody just said I’m happy, the society couldn’t go on, because people wouldn’t want to buy new things. (…) So the society has a stake in having you be unhappy… you’re unhappy now, but you’ll be happy if you buy this or if you do this.”
30:00 Michael on founding Breathwork Online: “Anytime you start something new, you’re going to get this inner critic going “No, you can’t do this, you shouldn’t do this, you’re going to fail”. But I was committed because I’d already had this experience in breathwork, that this is what I had to do.”
32:31 Michael explains how he started Breathwork Online and how it is growing: “I started a couple of years ago, and already I have 50,000 people in the community, 120 countries now. And it’s just growing at an incredible pace because people have good experiences. So they tell their friends.”
33:21 If you want to try Breathwork Online: “We offer a free session to anyone who wants to try it out. And you just have to go to the website, which is breathworkonline.com”
35:25 Michael explains what breathwork really is and how it works
38:18 Will explains his experience with breathwork
39:12 Michael talks about three factors that work together to create the breathwork experience: the physiological factor of breathing, surrendering to the process, and music.
45:51 Michael explains a modality of radical self-empowerment. “It’s about you connecting with your own inner guiding intelligence.”
46:35 Michael tells the story of one woman’s experience with breathwork
48:11 Will about the soul: “I believe that we each have a soul that maybe lives in our heart. And the brain, the thinking intelligence works for the soul. But in our culture, the soul is suppressed and the brain, the logical mind is in charge.”
49:57 Michael explains what self-empowerment is about: “You start to train your psyche, that the answers lie within, that you don’t have to give your power away to other people to get the answers that you need in life.”
50:55 What does it mean to surrender to your inner guiding intelligence? “In this case, surrendering is winning, not losing. You’re empowering yourself to find the solutions that are already inside”
53:22 Michael explains the main difference between breathwork and any other modality: you’re not giving the power to someone else, and why this matters.
59:47 Michael speaks about how our emotions should not depend on the situation and this awareness positioning system concept was developed by Tav Sparks.
63:31 Will asked Michael to explain why he started training breathwork facilitators
66:55 The importance of the group and community in breathwork and how Michael manages to wake up the “group feeling” in breathwork online
69:35 What’s great about breathwork is that anybody can do it, all you need is an internet connection, and either a computer or a smartphone, and a place to have some privacy. Everybody gets their first session for free, and after that, it’s $27 per session. And there is a subscription program where you can join sessions for $4 or $5.
76:03 The joy of consuming versus the joy of contributing
75:00 Michael about contribution: “When you come from a place of contribution, you can always contribute every moment in your life. And even when you’re in the checkout stand, and you’re just talking to someone, if you can just give them a little compliment, and say “You’re doing an amazing job today”, every moment of your life you can contribute in some way with everybody.
76:56 Final words: “Give breathwork a try. It’ll resonate, or it won’t, but the only way you can tell is by giving it a try.”