We incorporate exercises that remove surface tension from the body, many of which were organised into a form of Reichian therapy called Bioenergetics by Alexander Lowen. A summary of the benefits combined with how we understand the nature of the mind-body has been summarised for our clients below. To find a Bioenergetic Analysis Therapist, or to understand bioenergetics from a BA setting, please visit the IIBA’s own website.
Emotional stress and psychological tensions are the same thing and they are experienced through sensation as painful symptoms. They build up over years and this stacked up compounded volume of sensation either gets processed or stagnates. The healthy way to move this energy is termed letting go. Letting go of resisting feeling the stacked up feelings demonstrates to the self that all feelings have a limit. They are not limitless, but are the net result of all our thinking which we have the capacity to become mindful of only when we let go. Therefore experiencing out the backed up sensations that scare us by surrendering the resistance to feeling them allows them to run their course. When we let go of resisting or ‘holding on’ and feel the sensations without making them mean anything we can perceive what emotions are, a concentration of thoughts, felt as mental pressure, logged in the body to experience as sensation and described as emotion. This process of e-motion or energy in motion is something we get to witness without judging.
Rather than making too much sense of any overwhelming emotional feelings using our brains, our programme focus’ on mobilising and moving out any held onto un-processed sensation by not attaching to resisting it. This body oriented process of release is much faster than any mental effort to free the body-mind from its hang-ups, because the tensions themselves are stored inside the body. They are an historic compilation or the sum total of all our thoughts, ever. Because our sensual experience is influenced by the mind’s accumulation of thoughts and because the ego reads emotion through the intellect, then balancing trauma release work with a small amount of lay psychology proves itself to be entirely transformational.
Exercise with Bioenergetics is a transformational approach to exercise that accelerates a decompression of the body’s muscle fibre, and in turn the nervous system, and then the psychology itself.
As a response to being over stimulated the body began to freeze or lock in subtle non visible ways from a young age. This defensive coping response gained traction, and as freezing or locking-in became habit, muscles became conditioned and loaded with a stuck, trapped or held in charge of non-circulating plasma. This process of locking in is often referred to as a ‘trauma response’ and the emotional or psychological content that gets stored as a consequence began to gradually weigh you down. This weight must be shifted and it is the job of any therapist to help a person move this content through letting go techniques which un-glue or mobilise and re-distribute this frozen energy. Our approach to Massage, Nutrition, Detox and Exercise all help to achieve this release and ‘Excitation’ of the disease causing repressed feelings.
In an attempt to cope in a complex world, the above understanding gave rise to a new form of therapy where the body and not the mind became the focus. Body psychotherapy was founded under the term Characterology or Character Analysis by Wilhelm Reich, student of Freud who brought the body to psychoanalysis when observing how a person would become armoured with a muscular holding pattern that would soon influence the body’s form or shape, and that this was the result of repressed feelings caused by either an invasion or withdrawal wound.
Similar to a soldier going into battle with its armour, a person goes into the world with its tensions. This tension or armour acts as a muscular shell around a person and takes on a certain pattern that wires someone into what we call personality. Although these muscular pattern formations influence our character they also derail us from being present by locking us into a state of being which has learnt how to avoid discomfort, pleasure seek, and then cope simply by holding onto belief symptoms that prevent feeling buried feelings. Locked into our pattern the internalised parent or super ego judges and sees the world in black and white, not in shades of grey.
Personality, Ego Consciousness, Memory
Personality or character therefore is not what a person is but this is in fact a temporary holding pattern a person is assuming as they respond to a world by avoiding the pain that is generated when interactions flare up a release of the repressed energy – which is a mass of dormant fluid locked away in the unconscious. Life in turn becomes a strategy to avoid coming into contact with this pulsing electric charge because it is all too challenging to navigate when it begins to dissipate. It is simply too emotionally triggering.
Life becomes a mental assault course to avoid ones own echo and this avoidance strategy is our own naive way to dodge the rising super ego and seek ease which the mind contrasts with its opposite, something it conveniently labels pain. Paradoxically, in side-stepping what is so confrontational a person moves further off course and onto their Plan B trajectory, reinforcing the very personality disorder they yearn to break free from. We all do this to avoid confrontation with the pain we associate with any dissipating charge.
Mobilising this locked up energy helps us to understand the unconscious and dissipate its content, in turn softening the super ego and increasing self control over the primitive mind.
When the armour begins to crack, the repressed energy starts to leak and exit the system and we interpret this sensual experience as ‘feelings’ having branded them with thoughts and thus mark them accordingly. Distress, anger and vulnerability ensue simply because this energy is coded with what we recall as memory. In reality, this surfacing ‘memory’ is a back catalogue of thoughts and the result of an intention we are now able to witness as the psyche cleanses or lets go of what it was clinging to and storing in the body, a storehouse of thinking patterns and the active results of their forms.
Without investing time in practises that mobilise locked up emotions a challenge to live peacefully is compounded as we learn to repress and bury which is to climb higher on weak foundations under the guise of making progress. This only exacerbates any problem, albeit gradually and silently. Such a typical avoidance strategy is the nature of the ego which fears death – a mental construction it built when reading the natural process dualistically. This avoidance strategy began largely as a response to being ‘wounded’ and so we learnt from an early age to repress in order to survive and dissociate from our true present nature – something that triggers uncomfortable sensations in ourselves and others. Gradually, a collective understanding to the living experience became to not feel, but to pump the ego and so we are quick to manifest a cold performance out on the world stage, we become fakes, actors, and this has become societies norm, something it pays for and rewards, all due to the unconscious we are side-stepping as we simultaneously persevere in our attempts to re-contextualise what we interrupt as an original trauma. Through stopping, breathing and confronting the unconscious, we get to know it and we begin the process of what people call healing.
We teach exercises to aid the release of the held charge, freeing people from their own mental slavery – then bring people back to who and what they always were, which is authentic, present and functional.
There are five main body types or ways that the nervous system is wired. These are the five ego types which will influence how a person will interact, how they will read reality and what their ‘personality’ is set as. These are the five different character types of Characterology which were further developed by Reich’s student Alexander Lowen, the founder of Bioenergetics.
Truthfully there are benefits to wearing this armour and holding it in the body as one would not want to go into battle without a uniform (the gifts of the pattern) but sometimes this armour can hold a person back, for it is not necessary (or as necessary as one perceives) and it can weigh us down. It can keep us “held back” or “hung up”, locked tightly in our ego and controlled ‘by’ it, not in control ‘of’ it. Hang ups therefore are psycho-physiological because the body is a psycho-energetic biological organism.
A cathartic release of the emotional hang-ups allows the body space to breathe having let go of what it was carrying by not resisting to feeling it dissipate, in turn functioning at a stronger yet lighter level then re-forming to a less rigid, more fluid state, one that is responsive but not reactive, and mindfully engaged in a detached way (non-attachment).
The goal of our programme is to teach people how to remove this rigid tension that is stuck in the fascia. This allows for an electro magnetic current to move through more of the system – when this current or charge reaches into more of the nervous system, one gains more insight as more of the body motherboard is now ‘live’ or ‘online’. Only then will old weight – imprints in the form of tensions dissolve or melt. This is called letting go.
Like rocks falling off a mountain, a person is able to move again because they are free of certain held beliefs and they experience more understanding, which is a state of being (Plan A) but Plan A and Plan B are both perfect states. Neither is more right than the other and one depends on the other. We are as much the product of our past as we are the potential of what we are set to become. There is no right or wrong, simply thoughts, actions and experiences to witness and learn from.
Bio and the Immune
We believe that a more open, mobile and functional state of being stimulates a release of the immune system from within the bone marrow now that certain channels are open, and nutrients are moving to the extremities and into the bones. This increase in motility cultivates a more complete, fluid and strong condition we observe in our clients. For this reason, it often matters not how dedicated a person is to their nutritional regime … if a persons knees are constantly locked, and the shoulders are raised high, there will be a lack of communication to the viscera. Hence, the organs will be somewhat cut off and unable to process or metabolise nutrients. Removing muscular tensions held in the organs is therefore a big key to healing.
Decompressed and free of the emotional feelings once glued to the body, a person begins to live free now what was not serving them, what was not part of them, what was once toxic stagnant energy is now in motion and no longer locked up in the form of resentments, fixations (including addictions and perversions) or neurotic mental rumination – the foundation of almost all disease. It is in this state of being present that we are able to watch our negative behaviours more mindfully, watch foreign imprints breakdown. When we can witness the behaviour in ourselves that we do not like we can diminish that behaviour but when we are caught in our personality, we have no way of seeing as we are blinded by our own ego state. Therefore witnessing the self and increasing self awareness is easier when we are free of the energy blocks. This process of moving energy from out of the unconscious via the body and feeling it pass can take decades as we slowly unlock and expand the body-mind. During this long journey deep transformation healing takes place which co-incides with an increased awareness and understanding of the self. This is how real change happens, by feeling, not though forced mental insights. And this is what Wilhelm Reich came to understand.
While Jung brought symbolism to the unconscious, Reich brought to it the body and was the forerunner to many of the body based therapies that exist today. Alexander Lowen continued where Reich began and today body based therapy work is seeing a resurgence where the teachings of Reich and Lowen are being integrated into whole system transformational programmes that focus less on the psychotherapeutic aspect of healing and more time working with the body.
For more information on Reich, please watch this documentary film.
Diet and Bioenergetics
The re-mineralisation of the body will support the psychotherapeutic process of release and the discharging of the painful emotions whilst depending too much on psychotherapy to heal and develop has lead to many dead ends – for it is far too cerebral and will normally keep a person locked in the mental neurosis that is their personality disorder. Books like Against Therapy by Masson and The Myth of Mental Illness by Thomas Szasz cover this topic well. However, depending solely on body therapy or trauma therapy work to heal worn and ruptured tissue is equally naive.
Approaching healing work with some form of lay analysis alongside breath work, exercise with bioenergetics and the right diet/detox programme transforms a person safely and can be thought of as a safe ‘deep clean’ for the body which is largely toxic and deficient of key minerals.
When so many of our negative thoughts and flare ups are in fact responses to toxic metals stored in the gut, psychotherapy (talking therapy) is fairly if not entirely useless. Healing and development therefore must take place based on the understanding that mind and body are in fact one and not separate and what the body-mind needs more of, more than anything, is more detoxification through saunas, enemas and breathwork, recuperation as deep sleep, the right massage, self reflection, more time spent in nature, and less information in the form of analysis.
Discharge, Change, Flow
To motor life a field of electro-magnetism runs through the body and this interacts with what we call the mind by way of feedback. This charge-motor or mind-body runs 24/7. It is this charge that is stored or contained in key somatic zones and it is this locked up charge that prevents the motors of the body (its organs and tissues) from moving and generating life. It is our belief that this charge is consciousness itself and a person is ‘holding on’ in these zones due to the learnt habit of holding and its opposite: letting go of resisting to the holding. This frozen charge prevents blood flow and disease sets in much like disease forms across a stagnant watering hole and such holding ‘onto’ expresses itself in our behaviour; possession, manipulation, neediness, envy. Such behaviour will lead to tragic even harmful activities because it is violating any desired natural movement by forcing a prevention of it: loneliness, violence, self hate, suicide ensue. These warped inversions of the life experience are the result of us avoiding/betraying our own nature in an attempt to cope, it is a Betrayal of the Self and this betrayal is the self attaching to the ego’s projection of itself and what happens when we choose not to choose to let it go. Attachment and holding on become ‘normal’ because letting go and going ‘with’ life feels so alien.
“If I let go, I am not safe” a person can come to understand, and this is often very true, hence the nature of the holding.
But gradually, as children evolve and become adult, we have a lot less time to hold onto what is not serving us, especially now we yearn to live a more heartfelt, connected and open life. At this point some form of release therapy can help bridge a person into a safe new paradigm or mindful stage of development that they have previously struggled to enter.
When the body begins to un-lock from its current drama it will have a tendency to revert back to old habits and ways that it has learnt, ones it understands as safe and certain, free of triggers and flare up, so the process of unlocking or decompressing is continuous and a person will only ever get so far. Much of this is to do with how far a person has moved into their holding pattern in terms of years but all people of all ages will gain benefit from body therapies like bioenergetics.
Disease as Positive
Disease is the body’s sign that we are out of sync and so we consider it a great opportunity to commit to change. Disease can therefore provide a deeper meaning to the life experience which is uncertain, mysterious, continuous and although suffering (growth) does not need to be tragic (pain). ‘Pain is God stuck in the body’, and this pain (held charge) once released actually generates power. What is really happening is a release of mental pressure: pressures that a person learnt to hold for the exact amount of time they needed to in order to propel, grow, evolve, transcend an ego pattern and enter new realms of experience which is the same experience but from a higher vantage of perception.
Results, Release, Function, Process
A person will always yearn to unlock on a deep level but the ego (character or personality) will always fear the new paradigm as it clings to what it knows. But as the natural process is uncertain the self is in conflict. ‘Should I stay or should I go?’ ‘What will happen if I walk through that door?’ ‘Is it safe?’ ‘Is it premature to step now?’
The goal is to increase function as our life challenges are naturally constant. Life is intense and the challenges which cause the holding on do not stop but an awareness of the process helps us to attach less to the process, go with life, dance with life and let go of it. The end result is a less conflicted state of being where joy and appreciation are more constant, where anguish, anxiety, guilt, depression and procrastination become temporary past illusory experiences; where the process of compressing or holding and decompressing or letting go take place simultaneously – because the life journey as a process generates the meaning to our human experience. As Lowen once said, “The meaning of life, is life.”
Falling (failing) in turn becomes beneficial as a person is no longer attached to the ideas surrounding the concept of failure and so the amount of armour or tensions one recruits are more appropriate and balanced. Fumbling, not failing becomes the way as we go with the fall and certain indicators will confirm this takes place as the body becomes cleaner, more fluid, stronger, more flexible, grounded and free of disease patterns and negative habits it was once wedded to. Here the ability to assert as an adult becomes more natural, we are ‘lighter and wiser’ not ‘heavy and stupid’ because ‘mistakes are just as valuable as wins’ so we can take charge more easily, choose well, and make real progress through life because we now have self control, self awareness, we Know Thyself that little bit more.
When progress generates momentum, progress becomes process and a person is in tune with their true nature, comfortable in their own skin, and in flow which is a state of being that is present, safe and heart centred, not lost, scared and brain searching.
The end? There is no end to a circle. But a more joyous experience through life is available. Breathing deeply the body is more mobile and a person sustains more presence because they are grounded energetically, and naturally solution oriented with every breath. It is only in this present state that is not mentally guilty or neurotic that one is able to truly rest in ones own self, set clear intentions and take responsibility for the life episode one is experiencing – one that is once again vital and bright.
Free of an old wiring system, there are now new ways of approaching old situations and relationships can finally transform.
Our sessions involve 45 minutes of body work each day and the exercises we use can be considered similar to some gym, dance or martial art warm up routines, but they are a lot deeper and focus specifically on discharging the muscles of locked up feelings. In this sense they are similar to a deep tissue massage but in the form of a more confrontational, challenging and active process. Confrontation is often the only way the ego dissolves and the spirit learns because the ego will not let go until it has to.
The exercises we teach range in experience from intense to soothing and alongside them, The Five Tibetan Rites will support the release and the letting go and the safe arrival into a new chapter in the life journey up the mountain, to the top, to see the view from a higher vantage point, one of more perspective and clarity, and in turn greater acceptance, understanding, function and peace.