Stanislav Grof and Non-Ordinary Consciousness

Stanislav Grof is a pioneering psychiatrist and a founder of transpersonal psychology. He is also noted for his use of innovative therapies such as non-ordinary states of consciousness to help heal, grow, and obtain insight into the inner mind. He has also contributed to the field of psychology and the personal development field through his many books and other writings.

Background of Stanislav Grof

Stanislav Grof was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia on July 1, 1931. He studied at Charles University in Prague where he received his M.D. He further trained as a Freudian psychoanalyst and received a Ph. D. from the Czechoslovakian Academy of Sciences. After completing his extensive training, he accepted a position at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine as an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry. Later he worked at Maryland Psychiatric Research Center as the Chief of Psychiatric Research.

A few years later Stanislav Grof moved across the country to work with the Esalen Institute, where he was allowed to develop his theories and ideas. In 1977, Grof accepted a faculty position in the Department of Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness with the California Institute of Integral Studies. He still holds that position as of 2012.

The Teachings of Stanislav Grof

Stanislav Grof teaches there are two types of consciousness. One is the ordinary consensus reality he calls 'hylotropic' and the other is non-ordinary consciousness called 'holotropic.' While mainstream psychiatry considers these non-ordinary states to be psychosis or mental disorders, Stanislav Grof sees them as natural mystical connections with the divine.

Early in his career, Stanislav Grof performed research with LSD as a way to stimulate states of non-ordinary consciousness. His studies in this area ended when LSD became illegal, but he teaches psychedelics could play an important role in consciousness evolution and healing of mental disorders.

Stanislav Grof has also developed other means of reaching non-ordinary consciousness besides using psychedelics such as holotropic breathwork.

The Books Of Stanislav Grof

Stanislav Grof has written over 150 papers that have been published in scientific journals. He has also written books for the professional community and for the general public. These are some of the personal development books by Stanislav Grof that would be of interest to spiritual seekers and those interested in mind expansion.

• "Holotropic Breathwork: A New Approach to Self-Exploration and Therapy" was written by Stanislav Grof and his wife Christina. It describes the experiences of 30 years of research and practice with a special type of therapeutic breathing that induces altered states of consciousness that allows for emotional and mental healings to take place.

• "Beyond the Brain: Birth, Death, and Transcendence in Psychotherapy" is a book by Stanislav Grof that explains his position on the state of modern psychiatry. He challenges the current Western view of how the brain works and takes issue with the definition of mental illness in modern times. Grof relates stories of his research into non-ordinary states of consciousness using psychedelics and other means, and relates how these states could be natural, particularly since they are accepted as normal in other cultures.

• "Spiritual Emergency: When Personal Transformation Becomes a Crisis" was written by Stanislav Grof and his wife Christina. In this book, Grof describes the difference between a spiritual emergency and genuine mental collapse. When identified and treated in a supportive measure, rather than being confused with a mental disorder and medicated or controlled, a spiritual emergency can result in a profound personal transformation.

• "The Stormy Search for the Self: A Guide to Personal Growth through Transformational Crisis" is another book co-authored by Christina and Stanislav Grof. This personal development book helps readers identify when they are experiencing a spiritual opening, or growth. The crisis or transformation that accompanies such a happening can be mistaken for mental disorder, particularly if mystical events occur. Rather than being alarmed, disoriented, and seeking institutionalization, the Grofs suggest understanding the true cause of the turmoil and treating it supportively so the transformation can complete itself and bring with it spiritual growth.

• "When the Impossible Happens: Adventures in Non-Ordinary Reality" is a book where Stanislav Grof describes the various occurrences in non-ordinary consciousness. Grof recounts experiences from his research such as encounters with aliens, demons, deities, feelings of connectedness with the universe, past life memories, and out of body experiences.

• "The Adventure of Self-Discovery: Dimensions of Consciousness and New Perspectives in Psychotherapy and Inner Exploration" describes the psychedelic alternative developed by Stanislav Grof to the exploration of the psyche. He also provides readers with his views on mysticism, shamanism, psychedelic states, and psychotic breakdowns.

• " LSD: Doorway to the Numinous: The Groundbreaking Psychedelic Research into Realms of the Human Unconscious" takes a look into the role of LSD and other psychedelics as a psychiatric treatment. Grof also explores the states of consciousness produced by LSD and compares the similarities between them and near death experiences, shamanism, and mystical states.

• "Psychology of the Future: Lessons from Modern Consciousness Research" is a presentation of the views of Stanislav Grof and how they relate to the future of psychiatric treatment. He stresses the importance of embracing a holotropic brain view and being more accepting of altered state experiences rather than labeling them as mental illness.

• "The Ultimate Journey: Consciousness and the Mystery of Death" takes a look at birth and death and how people face the experience of dying.

• "LSD Psychotherapy (The Healing Potential of Psychedelic Medicine)" reveals the truth about the LSD research conducted in the 60s and how it came to an end after public outcry and the illegalization of LSD. Grof suggests LSD and other psychedelics could play an important role in psychiatric treatment.

• "The Cosmic Game: Explorations of the Frontiers of Human Consciousness" provides readers with a metaphysical look into the mind and non-ordinary consciousness. In it, Stanislav Grof relates stories from his research with patients and subjects over the years. He offers personal development advice mixed with spiritual insight and philosophical ideas.

The Work Of Stanislav Grof

Stanislav Grof maintains a website where spiritual seekers can watch his videos, read articles, and listen to interviews he has given. Grof continues to work and be active in his field. He regularly lectures and holds workshops in holotropic breathwork. He founded the Association for Holotropic Breathwork International that holds events around the world and instructs facilitators to carry on the work.

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