We are never not broken

Akhilandeshvari by Paola Suarez
Akhilandeshvari by Paola Suarez

Transformation, in my experience, sometimes requires navigating through some nasty territory: “Joe, watch out for the alligators!” my friend Rich counseled me one day during my divorce. I’ve come to realize that the real value of meditation, breathwork, etc., is the way it builds resilience, the way it strengthens the ‘inner gyroscope.’ Resilience is only going to become more important as life speeds up and as we gain more and more power by way of technology. Resilience and transformative learning are what I strive to teach.

She who is never not broken. Akhilandeshvari is a Goddess whose power is in the heartbreak, the soulbreak, and all the breaks life deals us. Now that I know of her, I am grateful to have Akhilandeshvari’s energy to work with when I feel shattered and broken. She reminds me to see these times as opportunities to grow and remake myself. -Paola Suarez

Never Not Broken

Akhilandeshwari reminds us that in transitions, when we are metamorphosing and are no longer the caterpillar and not yet the butterfly, there is a wonderful opportunity to choose how we want to put ourselves back together. How will we recreate ourselves? How will we transform our old hurts, current pains, and future goals? How will we ever grow and change if we already had this all figured out? We are constantly breaking down to build back up an authentic self.


Hindi goddess Akhilandeshvari
Hindi goddess Akhilandeshvari
"Watch out for the alligators, Joe!" -Joseph Roberson 2012
“Watch out for the alligators, Joe!” -Joseph Roberson 2012
Akhilandeshvari Nataraj -Joseph Roberson 2014
Akhilandeshvari Nataraj -Joseph Roberson 2014
Akhilandeshvari & Wheel of Fortune -Joseph Roberson 2014

New resilience-building class!

Breath-centered Practices for Resilience

WHY: If you want to master stress rather than escape it, this class is for you. From world leaders to homemakers, from cyber-citizens to those living off the grid, resilience training can make the difference between mere survival and thriving, between being stressed out by the daily tempest and surfing the tempest like a master. If you want to create a stronger inner gyroscope–with less wobble, this class is definitely for you.

WHAT: A short yoga practice to prepare the body for breathwork and meditation. Breath and meditation techniques for building mental and emotional resilience. This is not a traditional pranayama class; we will combine ancient techniques with cutting-edge research from the military and law enforcement.

WHERE: Sky House Yoga in Silver Spring, Maryland

WHEN: Mondays 7:40-8:40pm

FIRST CLASS: March 20, 2017

WHO: Joseph R. Roberson (my contact email is: joeATjosephroberson.com)

NadaBrahma: love is an altered state


Love may well be the ultimate altered state.

The term altered state usually implies something extremely different from day to day life. More often than not, drugs are involved. While my experiences with altered states have involved illegal drugs, that was long ago. Most of my experiences with altered states happen during meditation, breathwork, art-making, and love and sex.

The kind of altered state I’m describing in this post, however, is the experience of love that happens during the Altered States workshop. I did not always see altered states this way. I did not always think of this workshop as a way of creating spiritual love. That sounds odd and pretentious, don’t you think? But I have been led by the practice itself, by Osho’s NadaBrahma Meditation especially, to this conclusion. My experience leading this workshop many, many times has led me here.

What happens is, after 30 minutes of humming mmmmmmmm (like when we do endless Om but without the O sound), the body becomes a tuning fork. The gentle humming massages the organs and releases tensions. It feels as though the body is an empty reed, a wind instrument. Every body in the room vibrates together. This simple droning, these shared sea-waves of sound, interpenetrate each choral body.

In addition to this toning, I have added some things to the original meditation. I play the gong and provide verbal guidance. The gong complements and amplifies the humming. In particular, the gong vibrates the spine from base to crown. Its Chaladni patterns change as they move up and down the keyboard of chakras. This journey through the chakras continues up and down the spiral staircase until we arrive and settle into the heart. By this point the humming, the vibrating, and the chakra meditation have delivered you home to yourself. I don’t know the details, but I understand that part of the blissed-out state here comes from increased carbon dioxide in the blood. I have read studies documenting such elevated levels of carbon dioxide, relative to the ratio of oxygen, in meditators. Whatever the physiological basis, the experience is heavenly.

At the end of this powerful meditation, the heart chakra opens, radiating gold and green in every direction. You have become the sun. You know yourself to be the source of light, warmth, and love. And so is every other person around you! The room is ablaze with one sea-field of gold and green love energy. The group radiates as one!

Love is the ultimate altered state!

What is transformation?

1. In the world of business, leadership development, organizational development, change management, et al, the term transformation is the process whereby an unprecedented future is brought to reality. This created future is not mere change–improvement or fix of what has already happened in the past; nor is it predetermined, as is the case in a butterfly’s natural, albeit radical, metamorphosis.

2. In the world of spiritual growth–yoga, breathwork, meditation, et al–the term transformation seems to consistently denote metamorphosis–the process whereby one’s natural potential is brought to reality, as in the ubiquitous example of a butterfly. Typically, the goal in this kind of personal transformation is to remove whatever is in the way of an unfettered ‘natural state.’ This so-called natural state is typically said to be a state of happiness, wellbeing, joy, and, ultimately,  a transpersonal experience of Oneness.

The difference between these two meanings of transformation is outer vs. inner: in business, what is pursued is a specific state of affairs of the organization; in spiritual growth, on the other hand, what is pursued is a specific state of affairs of/within the individual. This is an oversimplification, of course; yet it effectively highlights the contrast.

How can these two disparate worlds of transformation enrich one another?

Please give to BreathCon2015 scholarship fund!

As a rule, I never post requests for my personal gain. This is an exception. You will gain from this, too. That is my intention, at least. And you’ll be supporting a truly worthy cause. Oh, yeah, and there are some amazing perks for anyone contributing $20 or more!

I hereby request that you make a donation–even if it is for only $1–to our scholarship campaign for BreathCon2015 (Breath Immersion Conference: From Science to Samadhi). When given at the beginning of a campaign, even a $1 donation helps build momentum by demonstrating broad support for the cause. It encourages others to give when there are a lot of people giving, no matter how large the contribution.

I am requesting this as a personal favor because I am one of those who need this scholarship money. I do not have the funds to attend. I really want to attend.

If you are a current or former student of mine, you likely know that breath has always been my passion. It is one of my absolute favorite topics to study, to practice, and to teach. While I have stopped teaching for the most part, I do continue with the series of workshops at Sky House Yoga on breath. I am excited to attend this conference and bring back to you what I learn in upcoming workshops.

If you are not a student, perhaps you will want to read my blog posts and articles during (and after) the conference.

Attending the conference will help me finish writing “Transforming Breath.” In it I will compare and contrast two disparate ‘camps’ that study and/or deliver  transformation. One camp is the academic field of Transformative Learning Theory, as expounded by Jack Mezirow. The other camp is the field of therapeutic breathwork, as typified by Dr. Judith Kravitz’ Transformational Breath.

The members of each camp are not even aware of each other’s existence, or so it seems. For members who do speak of the other camp, it is typically to criticize the other: those in the academic camp criticize the lack of intellectual rigor among those participating in so-called spiritual pursuits, such as Transformational Breath or Stan Grof’s Holotropic Breath; those in the breathwork camp criticize the ineffectiveness of cognitive theory without a somatic praxis. Basically, TL theory is criticized for being heartless and the breathwork camp is criticized for lack of rigor.

It should be noted that the breathwork field does embrace medical research, and is thus grounded in sound anatomy and physiology. I am concerned, rather, with the other major aspect of experiential breathwork: transformation. My contention is that whether you call it spiritual growth or transformative learning is more a matter of semantics, of terminology, than of substance. The two camps are saying much the same thing, just in two different languages. What a difference it could make if these two camps incorporated each other’s strengths!

Anyway, that is the best I can do today to explain why I want to attend this conference. Thank you for reading. Thank you for considering my request. Now, get yourself to the IndieGoGo scholarship campaign and make a difference!

P.S., As part of my contribution to the conference, I created this video.