The Holotropic Mind makes the case for transpersonal psychology in order for the greater future of all people. Grof (1990) gives many examples throughout the book on experiencing non-ordinary states of consciousness and its benefits. His research works to debunks common views of consciousness. Grof argues that all humans share experiences across all time and cultures.
Grof (1990) argues that Newtonian science has limited our views on reality. He seems to desire transformations of perspective on a collective scale. Rather than “space-time” continuum that is four dimensional, he proposes that consciousness is not limited to what is contained in our skulls. To prove this, he used the Holography process along with psychedelic techniques and mind-altering substances like LSD-25. This method convinced Grof that we can reproduce situations from infancy; and possibly historical and mythological cultures.
Grof (1990) discusses what he termed as “the perinatal realm of the psyche” and describes what happens in the Basic Perinatal Matrices (BPMs). Each of the four matrices is closely related to the progress of biological birth and delivery. According to Grof, the first matrix shows all of the conditions of the fetus in the womb; while being connected to the mother. He calls it the “oceanic ecstasy” of BPM I that has a state of serenity and tranquility.
When the mother begins contractions into the birth process, BPM II has shown how an adult might relive the birth process. While pregnancy is predictable for the fetus, at this stage it is now unpredictable. Grof (1990) argues the fetus now feels threatened in a “no exit” situation. That BPM II allows people to identify with the suffering of the world. Then in BPM III, the cervix is open and the fetus is allowed to move through the birth canal. Grof discusses that people in this stage have both aggressive and self-destructive tendencies. Grof relates it to the archetype of rebirth within our psyches. Finally, in BPM IV, the child is delivered and physiological systems are re-established independently from the mother.
In the second half of the book, Grof (1990) discusses the possibilities of accessing virtually unlimited sources of information. Grof maps out three main areas in the transpersonal realm: an expansion within the everyday concept of of time and space, an extension beyond that consciousness, and “psychoid” experiences. It is important to note the concept of “dual unity” and the the spiritual connection with another person. Grof describes an experience of complete identification with another person. Also, there is an experience of identification with all of humanity; which is an extraordinary case of group consciousness where there are no boundaries.
While in an experiential exploration, Grof (1990) states that we are able to see into the lives of our ancestors. Grof establishes that any experiences through history and archetypes may be passed through genetic code. Or possibly accessible through the collective unconscious. He told a story of a client experiencing an ancestor’s execution during the seventeenth-century; when she had no prior knowledge of the nobleman’s story.
Grof (1990) continues his argument of our reality outside the normal time-space continuum to include the dead. In one example, the author talks of a client who talked with his dead grandmother; and was told to look for cut roses. On that particular weekend, the client went to his Aunt’s house and found her pruning her roses. Also, when a person is in the process of deep shamanic work with an animal spirit guide; then it seems that meaningful synchronicities emerge between the physical world and our inner world. Finally, Grof says that using the cartography in the book including the phenomena from shamanism, the Eastern spiritual systems, and other mystical traditions become understandable.