Releasing fears of birth and death

How to live without fear? And how to die well? These become the questions for many of us as we continue along our paths through life.

There is an innate fear of death amongst many of us and as we get older it tends to become stronger. Life is precious. The need to preserve ourselves becomes deeper.  The shield which forms can be named as the protective Ego.  It becomes thicker and more well disguised with age, and as we try to control our lives, and keep ourselves safe for fear of dying.

We can have many fears, such as not being safe in the world, of being hurt again, of losing the things we have become so attached to. The deeper the hurts and wounds (which are kept well-sealed and, subsequently, still unhealed) the bigger the egoic protection.

Many people continue to have an innate fear of dying without actually knowing it in their conscious minds. They may have had near death experiences, or witnessed other’s deaths and, with the horrors of war scenes and civilians dying before our eyes now portrayed on the news and internet, and in our cities and towns, there is no escaping the fact that this is inevitable. Also, there lies deeply within all of us possible memories of painful and traumatic deaths in past incarnations.

Yet to live with freedom, free from pain and suffering, is also an innate yearning. The way to do this is to seek out and face our fears, to look deep within, and heal our childhood, or past wounds. Once healing begins at this core level, we can begin to trust and open our hearts more and more, and with deeper trust then to breathe deeply the Breath of Life.

In my acupuncture clinic, many people come to me with anxiety and stress, depression, pain, panic attacks, childbirth issues, and infertility issues. They come with many fears, such as fear of becoming a parent, fear of giving birth, not to mention fear of dying itself.

People who come for Holotropic Breathwork experiential workshops generally come with a wish to clear feelings of being stuck in their lives, to clear blocked energies which can cause feelings of anxiousness, stress, depression, and can cause addictions, low energy, and an inability to move forward and reach their full potential, or to form or sustain relationships.

I see many pregnant women who are looking for guidance and assistance through their pregnancy. What often arises is their absolute fear or terror of giving birth. Some women discover, through deep inner work, such as past life regression therapy, or an acupuncture treatment, that they died in previous lifetimes in childbirth. In the past, death during childbirth, usually from hemorrhaging, was much more prevalent than nowadays. It was also more prevalent that a baby died during the birthing process.

During the process of giving birth, it can appear to the witness to be a similar process to the process of dying. During a Breathwork session, where the individual can get a sense of the birthing process themselves, it can also seem similar, and quite often difficult for them to differentiate one from the other.

For the baby, it is likewise a fearful event. Not only is it a journey which can be compared to a ‘hero’s journey’, but also, the baby, being completely symbiotically connected to their mother, will get to experience firsthand what is happening for the mother and what she is going through, on a physical and emotional level. As her terror and fear and panic rises it is, without doubt, that the baby also feels this. For example, with the process of birth for the first time mother, the baby can feel so alone whilst the mother is completely distracted and focused in on her need to surrender to this magnificent life giving action.

The stage of being pushed out through the opening to the ‘otherworld’, as when the baby’s head is delivered, is likened to the stage of total release when the last breath is taken by the dying person. In the last throes of birth, as the umbilical cord is being compressed, there are several moments before the first breath is taken by the baby. These are life and death moments. It is ultimate surrender. It has to be done, just as we know that in reality we have to die.

A midwife is someone who can also be named, ‘Keeper of Birth’. Someone who stays close, soothing and keeping watch over the woman, and also the baby, throughout the birthing process.

The person who stays close and watches over a person in their dying process, holding a deep space, which soothes and comforts the dying person, can be likened to a midwife, and may be named, ‘Keeper of Death.’ Both are guiding through a gateway or a portal.

It is everyone’s primal fear, at some stage in their lives, to die alone, or to die in pain. To fear what is waiting for them on the other side, and who will be there to greet them. An instinctive fear of the unknown. If there is time, during the death process, it can be likened to the preparatory time of pregnancy. Preparing,
processing, healing old wounds, saying all that needs to be said, before paving a pathway onwards and upwards, towards a new life.

In ancient times, Body Mind and Spirit were considered innately connected. Now, with modern medicine being so specific and segregating, it seems that we have become sectioned off into compartments, attending different specialists for specific ailments. Yet our innate wisdom tells us that the pain and disharmony which may arise in our body is our way of drawing attention to the deeper, more concealed, needs of our soul.

The use of acupuncture enhances our awareness, releases energetic blocks and also releases from the person’s inner reserve great strength and power during any process where there needs to be an abundance of energy. It is used with great effect during labour. The birthing process requires a huge amount of energy and perseverance, both with mother and baby.

Some people who have been trying to create a new pathway in life, find it to be such a difficult journey. This may be due to their lacking the fuel and courage, and the abundance of energy, needed to complete. This is how it may have been for their mothers while they labored to bring them into the world, and therefore they might be unconsciously playing out the same pattern in their lives.

Acupuncture, used before a Breathwork session starts, provides the individual with that fuel. It can manifest with a huge surge of anger energy. It is the most empowering experience for an individual who is used to giving up at a certain point, and feels this pattern of not completing life’s challenges, to finally push through. In doing so they are enabling a new coding to be put in place. A new paradigm - no more frustration and no more fear.

I feel it is with a deep sense of honour that I was trained by one of the most progressive psychiatrists of our time, Dr. Stanislav Grof, and recently worked
alongside him in Houston. He pioneered the system of breathwork, which he named Holotropic Breathwork over 50 years ago. Having worked for years alongside his wife Christina, and studying different ancient practices of yoga, and different styles of meditation using breath, he was able to devise how to create an amazingly safe holding space for those who are brave enough to learn how to live and die well, including how to clear any memory of their birth which was traumatic.

In Holotropic Breathwork, Dr. Grof offers a practice of release, using breath and sound, with the intention of discovering a smooth passageway through one chamber to the next - through one dimension to the next - and so to release this innate fear which lies within all of us. He has created a map which, once learned, can help to open up the pathways to an easier experience. With practice
we can achieve a gentle way to die, and a gentle way to let go the Egoic protection, to give birth to a new way of operating in the world, filled with love, trust, joy and expansiveness.

Buddhists, Taoists, Yogis, and many of the indigenous peoples across the globe, knew how important it is, at an early age, for people to make friends with their terror, their inner demons. How to release and let go of control, using breathing styles, fasting, trance dancing, medicinal medicines, and any tool which can create a channel between the conscious and subconscious mind. Learning how to give birth, and simultaneously die, to the Ego, becoming fully and completely in communication with the Soul. As these practices become more available and known, we can all learn to be at peace and live without fear and, in doing so, fully embrace Life.

About the author: 

Kate is a Midwife, Acupuncturist, Shamanic healer and Certified Holotropic Breathwork Facilitator. More information about Holotropic Breathwork workshops in Ireland with Kate can be found at her website,, or Goldenspears Healing’s Facebook page. More information on her Acupuncture practice can be found at Or call 0872325383 if you wish to talk to Kate.