Transformational Breath Work in Medical Illness: An Exploration and Evidence of Immuno-Enhancement
Collinge W, Yarnold P. Transformational breath work in medical illness: clinical application and evidence of immunoenhancement. Subtle Energies & Energy Medicine, 2001,12(2):61-78.
The term “transformational breath work” commonly refers to techniques which use the breath for inducing altered states of consciousness to promote healing on any level. This paper describes common elements of transformational breath work and rationale for its use in medical illness. It then describes the use of one form, Evocative Breath Therapy (EBT), within a group mind/body medicine program. The technique employs an hour-long, four-stage process of focused awareness on the breath accompanied by guided imagery and evocative music. It is designed to induce an altered state of consciousness that promotes expanded self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-compassion, a sense of inner peace, and release of emotional and physical tension. A pilot study was conducted to determine the impact of EBT on one indicator of immune function, salivary immunoglobulin A (S-IgA). A heterogeneous sample of forty-five adults (21 cancer patients, 22 healthy others, 2 with other illnesses) contributed saliva samples before and immediately after the experience. A 46.3% increase in S-IgA was found (p=.0123, paired-differences t-test). There were no significant differences between cancer patients and others. Effect strength was moderate, .278. Leave-one-out analysis found the effect strength to decrease only marginally, suggesting the results are likely generalizeable to independent random samples. Issues in the use of transformational breath work in clinical programs and implications for further research are discussed.