Updated: 18 February 2021

MASTER INDEX of articles written, posted online or recommended by Alex Paterson

HOLOTROPIC state was a term coined by the American psychologist, Stanislav Grof, in 1992 to describe altered states of consciousness. It is a composite word meaning "oriented or moving towards wholeness" and is made up of the Greek words 'holos' which means whole and 'trepein' which means moving towards. 1

Most spiritual experiences are a form of holotropic state.

To quote Stanislav Grof:

"Holotropic states of consciousness are characterised by a profound change in perception in some or all sensory areas usually associated with the intrusion of other dimensions. Typically the experience is very intense, even overwhelming and 'real' yet a person usually does not completely lose touch with everyday reality. A holotropic experience is often accompanied by extraordinary changes in day-to-day sensory perception with profound changes in colour, shapes, sounds, smells and tastes as well as profound perceptions that have no counterpart in this realm. With eyes closed a person is often flooded with visions drawn from personal history and the collective subconscious involving various aspects of the cosmos and mythological realms." 2

"The emotions associated with holotropic states cover a broad spectrum that extends far beyond the limits of our everyday experience. They range from feelings of ecstatic rapture, heavenly bliss and "peace that passeth all understanding", often associated with a sense of 'connectedness' or 'oneness' with the universe, through to episodes of abysmal terror, overpowering anger, utter despair, consuming guilt and other forms of emotional suffering. Depending on the content of the experience, a person can experience a sense of extraordinary health and well-being, optimal physiological functioning and orgastic sexual sensations of enormous intensity or alternatively extreme discomfit such as excruciating pain, pressure, nausea or suffocation." 3

"Usually in holotropic states the intellect is not impaired but rather operates in a way significantly different from its day-to-day functioning. While we might not be able to rely in these states on our judgement in ordinary practical matters, we can be literally flooded with remarkable new information on a variety of subjects. Thus we can reach profound psychological insights into our personal history, unconscious dynamics, emotional difficulties and interpersonal problems. We can also experience extraordinary revelations concerning various aspects of nature and the cosmos that transcend our educational and intellectual background. By far the most interesting insights gained through holotropic experiences involve philosophical, metaphysical and spiritual issues." 4

This article is based on 'The Cosmic Game' by Stanislav Grof.


1. 'The Cosmic Game' by Stanislav Grof p5

2. 'The Cosmic Game' by Stanislav Grof p6

3. 'The Cosmic Game' by Stanislav Grof p6

4. 'The Cosmic Game' by Stanislav Grof p6


Copyright of Alex Paterson 1999





MASTER INDEX of articles written, posted online or recommended by Alex Paterson



Alex PATERSON is an Australian airline pilot by profession. He writes articles and advises on issues pertaining to aviation, politics, conspiracy, sociology, the environment, ecology, sustainable farming and forestry, history, computers, natural health therapies and spirituality.

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The document, 'Holotropic States' is the copyright of the author, Alex Paterson. All rights reserved by the author. Notwithstanding this, the document may be reproduced and disseminated without the express permission of the author so long as reference to the author is made, no alterations are made to the document and no money is charged for it.

Copyright Alex Paterson 1999

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