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A Review of the 20th Global Inspiration Conference

by Catherine Dowling(more info)

listed in breathing, originally published in issue 210 - November 2013

The opening event of the Global Inspiration Conference (GIC) lets everyone know that this is not the usual sit quietly and listen to the latest research papers type of conference.  The GIC is an annual, week-long gathering sponsored by the International Breathwork Foundation.  The group breathwork session that kicks off the conference sets the tone for the week.  The conference showcases a vast range of breathing techniques that can be used ether as tools of talk based therapy or as the main therapeutic modality.  Breathwork is by its nature an experience so it stands to reason that the method of learning at the GIC is decidedly experiential. 

Global Inspiration Conference Bhimtal India

This year, the Global Inspiration Conference took place in Bhimtal, northern India.  As in previous years, the GIC was an Aladdin’s Cave of skills and experiences for therapists of all persuasions.  The conference offered all forms of breathwork from full-scale breathwork therapies such as Holotropic, Rebirthing and Transformational Breath, to techniques that can be used as adjuncts to most therapeutic systems.  Participants got to experience breathwork by itself and in combination with a range of other modalities such music, movement, art, voice, ritual, verbal processes and visualisation. 

Every morning participants gather in the general assembly where up to 20 of those participants offer to share their skills by leading workshops during the afternoon.  As the week progresses, the number of workshops on offer increases and organizers do a masterful job of finding times and rooms for all of them.  My dilemma every year is choosing which workshops to attend. Most workshops last around three hours, although some are shorter than that.  In addition to daily group breathwork sessions, this year’s conference included workshops on sound and movement, a new breathing technique from the United States called Thirteen Breaths, breathwork and archetypes, breathwork and sensuality, breathing and self-esteem, finding stillness in motion and the annual gathering of a men’s group.  As the week progressed, other participants offered 5 AM chanting sessions for the early risers and Swedish breathworker Lena Kristina Tuulus, led a regular 7 AM class that combined breathwork with yoga exercises designed to strengthen and heal the lower back.  That was one of my favourite offerings at this year’s GIC.

The range of techniques and experiences is so wide and fluid that therapists come away with a compendium of tools to use in their therapy practice.  Because the GIC is experiential, participants also have the opportunity to fully experience the techniques and concepts presented, and to reap the benefits of some in-depth therapeutic work themselves. 

The space before dinner is taken up with the only lecturing of the conference - keynote speeches by leading breathworkers from around the world.  This year, among others, Alakh Analda from Australia talked about breathwork rooted in the Hindu tradition and Julie Gerland, Chief Permanent UN Representative for the World Organization of Prenatal Education Associations, spoke about the role of breathwork in birth and parent-child bonding. The GIC is also a social and networking event.  Learning, networking, making friends all flow together.  As participants get to know each other, they exchange breathwork and bodywork sessions.  Work collaborations take shape and it’s not unusual to be invited to deliver workshops in other countries. 

As a social event, the conference is hard to beat.  It even has its own professional DJ who travels from the south of England every year to lead the nightly dancing.  By the end of the conference participants have gotten to know each other so well they’re more than willing to showcase their talents as entertainers in the final night variety show, the surprisingly professional, usually hilarious social highlight of the week.

The first Global Inspiration Conference took place in Sweden in 1994 and now attracts participants from 20+ countries around the world.  It takes place in a different country each year and as the week progresses, groups of participants make plans to explore the host country together after the conference closes.  In 2014 it will be held in the beautiful Delphi Valley in Co. Galway, Ireland. 

Delphi Valley, Co. Galway, Ireland

Delphi Valley, Co. Galway, Ireland    Photographer:  Michael Blake

The lecture schedule for the Irish GIC is still under development, but the organizers plan to showcase the latest research studies of breathwork for the treatment of addiction and the use of breathwork in hospice care.  Other speakers will address the role of transpersonal experiences in self-development and breathwork for psychological and spiritual growth.

Further Information

Conference organizers aim to keep costs as low as possible so the GIC is more affordable than many far shorter, non-residential conferences.  More information about the 2014 GIC, including costs, can be found at , on Facebook at , or by contacting the organizer, Michael Blake, at Information on the venue, the Delphi Mountain Resort, can be found at

You can read more about therapeutic breathwork in The Healing Breath:  A Journal of Breathwork, Psychology and Spirituality at

Rebirthing and Breathwork

Rebirthing and Breathing

Rebirthing and Breathwork is available from Amazon in Paperback and E-Book Formats:


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About Catherine Dowling

Catherine Dowling BA Dip Ed MA Dip Rebirthing (Breathwork Psychotherapy) is the author of Rebirthing and Breathwork:  A Powerful Technique for Personal Transformation (Piatkus, UK, 2000) and the forthcoming Radical Awareness:  Five Practices for a Fully Engaged Life (Llewellyn Worldwide, USA, 2014).  She has almost twenty years in clinical practice as a breathwork psychotherapist in Ireland and is a former president of the International Breathwork Foundation.  Her book, Rebirthing and Breathwork, is a standard text on breathwork training programs internationally.  She has served as a consultant to the Irish Health Services Executive for the evaluation of national suicide prevention and residential child care programs.  She was also a member of the Irish Dept. of Health working group on the regulation of complementary therapists.  Catherine currently lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico and may be contacted via

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