I was scrolling through the Gram one day, and since I look up a lot of New Age things, the almighty algorithm put in front of my face something it thought I would enjoy. My eyes fell upon people rolling around, screaming, laughing hysterically, crying, convulsing, and rocking back and forth. I, no kidding, thought I was watching something from a Holy Spirit night at Bethel Church or something. It took me a hot second to realize that I was looking at a growing trend called Witality Breathwork.
As time went on, I saw this strange practice pop up all over America, including in my own hometown. Immediately, I wanted to investigate, so I looked into actually going to the conference to observe, so I emailed them asking if this was possible, even saying I’d buy a ticket. They emailed me back and said that they would prefer that I participate instead of observe. And I was like…
Nah. That’s a dealbreaker. I have asked if they will make an exception for me to observe for research reasons, but I doubt they’ll allow it at this point. The apologist/journalist in me is pining to see this in person, but here’s what I do know at this point.
Witality Breathwork revolves around a man named Witalij Martynow, the Witality Breathwork website states:
Witality™ is an ever evolving complex of breathing, meditative, movement techniques, and philosophies that Witalij Martynow discovered on his healing journey that worked for him and that brought back the vitality to his own life. Witalij combines latest scientific research, eastern philosophies, indigenous teachings and his own ancestral ways of healing and maintaining wellbeing… Witalij believes that the majority of sickness both mental, physical and spiritual comes from the stuck and unprocessed energy that didn’t find an outlet out of our system. Whether it is unprocessed emotion, chronic pain, or childhood trauma, Witalij sees it all as energy. As he discovered on his journey, breathing in specific rhythms and intensities combined with a crafted guidance, allows that energy to move and to be released. During his process we alter our state of consciousness while gaining a different perspective on our life and connecting to our body’s own intellect that jumpstarts the healing process.
Basically, you’re performing intense breathing exercises that alter your consciousness. The goal is to suspend the mind to reach the spirit, where healing can take place. This, they say, is the reason why some people can act out like they do. The website is very straightforward that this is an intense practice, and isn’t shy about showing some extreme aspects of what goes on during these sessions. They reason that in order to die to your ego, your false self, and awaken your true self takes time and work.
Besides the startling images I saw of people manically laughing, rolling, and screaming, among other things, I couldn’t help noticing my first reaction. I thought this was in a church. I’ve seen this behavior more in hyper charismatic settings than I have anywhere else. I know many of the Christians involved in something like that would argue that what goes on in their churches is the authentic version of what Witality participants are experiencing, and I simply have to cry foul at this point. You can’t throw down the “this is actually Christian!” card and think that solves the problem and shuts down the conversation. This stuff is sus.
What’s more, is that these people that have experienced Witality breath work have claimed to have spiritual encounters with spiritual beings. I also wouldn’t be surprised a bit if people were speaking in tongues in these sessions especially considering this type of breathwork came out of ancient India in the form of energy-moving exercises called Pranayamas, which are known for speaking in “tongues.” The common denominator between the two is the emotional workup to have an experience that manifests in the videos and images we see on their website. And then just slap the label “spiritual healing” on it, and voila… the proof is the experience. That’s the standard for if it’s true or not.
Similar to Some Church Services
Many Christians who have attended a Holy Spirit crusade or something similar claim they have had spiritual breakthroughs by having their “spiritual blocks” removed. People go to Witality Breathwork to have their “spiritual blocks” removed. It’s uncanny how the results are indistinguishable from each other. What I’m seeing at a Witality Breathwork conference is no different than what I see at a hyper-charismatic Holy Spirit Healing conference. What concerns me is not only the damage this does theologically to people within the church, but that it always comes back to the Gospel that truly spiritually heals us.
The Witality site is clear that though this is a healing tool to work out energetic blockages, it’s not a quick fix: “Even though the work of release itself is a powerful healing tool, it is important to treat it as a catalyst for change, not a quick fix. Maintaining the vitality requires a lot of discipline on a daily basis, as the next stages of the work become daily practices of increasing our capacity and sensitivity to energy and building up our energetic structures.”
But wanna know the real kicker? It works.
People attending these conferences have had strong testimonies of this Witality Breathwork resulting in extraordinary results. And that’s the point! People do not keep investing in occultic practices if they do not produce results. So why would they be open to hearing anything about the Gospel of Jesus? Perhaps their rationale is that if they can achieve “spiritual healing” through breathwork, they may not feel the need for the Gospel. But breathwork, or anything like it, isn’t true healing. Like all New Age and Occultic practices, this will inevitably result in short-lived relief, and they will need something else to help ease them from what’s truly the issue: their need for a Savior. And it’s not them.
Recommended Resources Related to this Topic
How Can Jesus Be the Only Way? (mp4 Download) by Frank Turek
Person of Interest: Why Jesus Still Matters in a World that Rejects the Bible by J. Warner Wallace (Paperback), (Investigator’s Guide).
Another Gospel? by Alisa Childers (book)
Counter Culture Christian: Is the Bible True? by Frank Turek (Mp3), (Mp4), and (DVD)
Defending Absolutes in a Relativistic World (Mp3) by Frank Turek
Melissa Dougherty is a Christian Apologist best known for her YouTube channel as an ex-new ager. She has two associate’s degrees, one in Early Childhood Multicultural Education, and the other in Liberal Arts. She also has a bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies at Southern Evangelical Seminary.