Conference Review: Global Inspiration Conference, Puhajarve, Estonia, July 3-10, 2004

by Catherine Dowling

The Global Inspiration Conference is the annual conference of the International Breathwork Foundation (IBF). The IBF is an international organisation founded in Sweden eleven years ago. It brings together breathworkers and breathwork psychotherapists from around the world providing professional and personal development as well as excellent networking opportunities.

This year the week -long conference took place in a beautiful rural setting in southern Estonia. The format of this conference is quite free flowing.  The mornings are generally taken up with IBF business where the commitment to democracy within the organisation is given priority in decision making. The evenings are filled with pre-arranged lectures bringing together leading breathwork psychotherapists from a wide range of orientations.  This year the lectures were of a particularly high quality and included one from Jim Morningstar of the USA on developing community, from Bo Wahlstrom of Sweden on Ethics and from Binnie Dansby of the UK on birth.

The afternoon workshop schedule is left open prior to the conference. The whole group assembles each morning and anyone who wishes can present a workshop to take place that afternoon. These are allocated rooms and people choose which one they would like to attend. This apparently chaotic system generates energy, excitement and freshness.  It’s a very democratic way of filling a conference schedule and gives everyone the opportunity to share their wisdom and clinical experience regardless of their academic prowess.

The range of workshops it generates is impressive and represents the cutting edge in Breathwork Psychotherapy. This year there were experiential workshops on Sensorial Breathwork from Russia, the effects of the first gaze into the mother’s eyes from an Australian therapist, Dynamic Relating from a German living in Australia, and the use of  breathwork to transcend our personal history from and American breathworker. Gunnel Minett from the UK shared research findings on the physiological effects of breathwork to be documented in her forthcoming book “Exhale:  An Overview of Breathwork”, and there was a writers’ workshop from myself and Australian therapist Ann Harrison. The most impressive for me was on the use of paired breathwork and music by Lena Christina Tuulse of Sweden who has developed an integrative approach to drug treatment using Rebirthing breathwork. Her centres are well known in Sweden and funded through the Swedish government.

All workshops are experiential and the combination with the lectures gives a nice holistic balance to the conference in general.  Participants get to experience as well as hear about the latest developments in the field and how they can be applied clinically.

Because it is residential and always held in a rural area, the opportunities for meeting and connecting with therapists from around the globe are maximised. Friendships and working collaborations are formed and therapists are invited to work in other countries.  It is a social as well as professional event, a holiday as well as continuous professional and personal development.

The IBF website is www.ibfnetwork.org

Catherine Dowling is a fully accredited member of the Rebirthing Psychotherapy Association, a pre-accredited member of IAHIP, a therapist and trainer in private practice and the author of Rebirthing and Breathwork:  A Powerful Technique for Personal Transformation (2000) U.K.:Piatkus)