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The development of the Radiance Breathwork technique began in 1974. Stanford Ph.D.
Psychologist Gay Hendricks was resting during a hike and comtemplating the questions,
"What is the one thing I need to know or experience to bring about change in myself
or other people? What is the one thing human beings are doing wrong that if we corrected
would bring us happiness instead of conflict?" The answer he received and felt deeply
was, "Open up to what is already inside--what actually is--feel it deeply, and learn to
The next day he successfully used these principals (what is now known as body-centered
therapy) with a client. During the session, the client began to breath rapidly and in
deep gulps. After a period of time which included some movement on the part of the
client, the breathing slowed down and the client exhibited a "radiant serenity" on
her face. Later, the client related more significant changes in her emotional wellbeing.
During the 1970s, Dr. Hendricks studied and experimented with a number of body-oriented
healing modalities including yoga, rolfing, and dance therapy. Working with therapists
such as John Pierrakos, who was trained by William Reich, Dr. Hendricks learned
important techniques related to body-oriented therapy. In 1975, Dr. Henricks had
several breathwork experiences with another breathwork pioneer, Leonard Orr, the
creator of Rebirthing.
Throughout the late 1970s and 1980s, Gay Hendricks and his wife Kathlyn developed the
breath-directed healing and transformational technique known as Radiance Breathwork.
During that time, he conducted numberous workshops and used the breathwork technique
and other body-centered therapy techniques with clients. In 1991, Gay and Kathlyn
Hendricks published a book entitled, "Radiance: Breathwork, Movement & Body-Centered
Psychotherapy" which details the techniques used in Radiance Breathwork. The book
is available from The Hendricks Institute.
Other recent books by Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks include "At the Speed of Light" which
details the Hendricks' transformational program and "Conscious Breathing" which
presents a very simple, short and healing daily breathing exercise program.
Radiance Breathwork is commonly performed in one-on-one sessions with an
experienced facilitator and in group workshops. After a description of the
process and what to expect, the breather lies down on a firm yet comfortable
surface. At this time, the goals and intentions of the session are reviewed.
Any fears or questions can also be addressed.
The breather relaxes the jaw and the mouth. Breathing is done through the mouth
initially until the throat is able to relax so that breath and energy can flow
freely through that area. The breathwork facilitator will then help the
breather find a comfortable style and rate of breathing which helps facilitate the
process of relaxing and feeling.
The facilitator leads the breather by helping them let go of conscious control and
take things as they come up. After a short time, emotional or personality patterns
from the unconscious will begin to come to the surface and appear as behavioral
patterns. Bodywork is also used on ocassion to help trigger emotional release. The
facilitator encourages the breather to experience the feelings fully and move
through them. This allows the material to be integrated. Throughout the session,
more and more material will come of the surface and will be integrated so that
energy blockages are released.
During the process there may be release of emotions (which are encouraged), a feeling
of sleepiness, a tightening of the hands and feet (tetany), tingling, bliss, and
other phenomena. At some point in time, the breather may experience feelings
surrounding birth or conception issues.
The session ends when the breather feels peace or bliss or research what feels to
be the right stopping place for the body and mind. The breather is encouraged to
continue if they are stopping because they feel fear or other unpleasant feelings.
After the session, the facilitator suggests an activity which will help get the
breather feeling stable in his/her own body as opposed to feeling "spacey."
In group breathwork sessions, music is used to help the breathers access material
from the unconscious mind.
It is important to note that sometimes the Hendricks-trained practitioners do
not begin in the first session with Radiance Breathwork. Instead, it can be more
beneficial in some cases to teach a variety of daily breathing and presencing
exercises which can be very helpful healing tools and excellent preparation for
the breathwork sessions.
Radiance Breathwork is contraindicated for the following conditions:
It is important to note that since the healing and transformational work
offered by Hendricks Institute-trained practitioners involves more than simply
the Radiance Breathwork, a number of the other tools may be useful, including
the "Conscious Breathwork Program," and the Body-Oriented Psychology techniques.
- Bipolar disorders
- Cardiovascular disease