Rebirthing is a new age movement created in the 1970s by Leonard Orr, advocating the practice of a special type of yoga called Prana Yoga, which allegedly helps the individual to forget painful memories by mimicking of the birth process from the mother’s womb.
Rebirthing focuses heavily on the use of breathwork; it believes that the breath is a bridge between the conscious and the unconscious as while one breathes unconsciously, breathing can also be controlled consciously. Sessions of rebirthing involves continually breathing without break, which claims to have the effect of changing the carbon dioxide level in the brain, bringing out memories, emotions and body sensations for review or ‘deleting’.
Initial sessions of Rebirthing are practiced collectively in clubs, lasting around 1-2 hours each and led by Rebirthing ‘coaches’; after an individual has experienced 10-20 collective Rebirthing sessions, he/she would be ‘experienced’ enough to rebirth at home by themselves.
There is no clear leadership structure within the rebirthing movement: while the movement was created by Leonard Orr, many rebirthing clubs exist in the western world under separate leaderships, each led by a number of Rebirthing coaches.
Rebirthing has been banned in the US state of Colorado after a 10-year old girl, Candace, died in one of her rebirthing sessions in 2001. The technique used in that session was a variant; rebirthing practitioners trapped the girl with items weighing over 300kg and asked her to ‘squeeze out’ of the pile to experience the process of birth and be ‘reborn’. When the girl was released, she was found to have stopped breathing and she died on the next day. This incident resulted in all psychotherapies which use active restraint, including rebirthing, to be banned in Colorado.
No one has conducted sociological research on Rebirthing up to now, however the movement has been criticized by anti-cult experts claiming that the movement is irrational for being proud of their ‘bizarre’ practices unsupported by scientific evidence, and has faced criticism from various psychologists on their beliefs.
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