Bioenergetics

Introduction

Bioenergetics is an 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 freezes or locks in subtle often non visible ways. This defensive but somewhat detrimental response tends to gain traction, and as locking-in becomes habit, muscles become conditioned and loaded with a stuck, trapped or held in charge. It is the job of any therapist to help a person release this holding or charge and for their client to safely let off steam. MassageDiet, the Four Detox Protocols and our Personal Training sessions all help to achieve this release or ‘Excitation’ of repressed feelings.

In an attempt to cope in a complex world, the above understanding gave rise to a new form of psychotherapy where the feeling body and not the thinking 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 the body became armoured or compressed with a muscular holding pattern that took form and shape around the bones, and that this was the result of repressed feelings and cultural conditioning. The idea was that the body shape then soon reflected a persons mind and assumed a certain physical order. This was a very helpful way of analysing and understanding how personalities formed because it was a ‘body oriented’ form of analysis that presented itself physically.

Similar to a soldier going into battle with its body armour, a person goes into the world with its tensions. This tension or armour acts as a muscular shell around the person and takes on a certain pattern that reflects a persons character. The idea is that these pattern formations form our character but they also derail a person from being present by locking a person down into a personality which has largely learnt how to avoid discomfort and not confront it.

Personality, character or mask is not what a person is as 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 things trigger a release of the held charge – one that is trapped in the muscles. Life in turn becomes a strategy to avoid this charge which is interpreted as triggering, something uncomfortable or even pain. Paradoxically, in doing so, a person moves further into their Negative Pattern which we refer to as ‘Plan B’. We all do this to avoid confrontation with the pain we associate with the charge that is frozen inside the body. This is a charge that began to develop as a response to being over stimulated (or more accurately—traumatised) as we learnt from an early age to repress and in turn, avoid, dissociate and procrastinate. The MMP System adopts many of the classic Bioenergetics exercises to release this held charge or freezing and in turn gently releases a person from the character that they are not (their Plan B) and to help bring a person back to who and what they always were (Plan A). The Five Tibetan Rites are also designed to support this journey.

There are five main body shapes that will determine how a person is wired (how the nervous system is wired) and in turn how a person will interact in the world, how they will read reality and what their personality becomes. These are the five different character types of Characterology which were further developed by Reich’s student Alexander Lowen, the founder of Bioenergetics.

Indeed, there are benefits to wearing this armour and holding it in the muscles as one would not want to go into battle without a uniform 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”. Hang ups therefore are one of the major conditions that a practitioner will work on addressing and removing with a client. They are psycho-physiological because the body is a psycho-energetic biological organism.

I once travelled for 365 days with a backpack. It was a heavy bag to begin but gradually it became lighter as I became lighter on my feet. The journey forced me to drop what was not needed. I did not need a lot of what I was carrying and if I wanted to move on, I was required to let it go, to drop it. Eventually I had the right amount of content in my bag that I was able to function at a greater potential. I was able to move and flow, at my own pace, my own rhythm. Much like a mountain, I was able to take on a new shape because I was decompressed and compressed in balance, a state that was far less rigid, and far more fluid, responsive but not reactive. I was functional, more present and engaged in a detached way. This was a ‘lightness of being’.

The goal of the our system is to remove the rigid holding contained within the fascia as this allows the electro magnetic charge (which interacts between the mind and the body) to move through more of the nervous system. When this charge reaches further into the nervous system, a person gains more insight as more of the body motherboard has become activated. This process moves a person out of the current Holding Pattern (Plan B) as old weight (thoughts in the form of rigid holding) dissolve or melt.

Like rocks falling off a mountain, eventually a person is able to move again because they are free of certain held beliefs (thought patterns in the form of muscular holding). Here, a person begins to experience more freedom, which is a state of being (Plan A). Moreso, this more mobile and functional state stimulates a release of the immune system from within the bone marrow now that certain channels are open, as well as the movement of nutrients to the extremities known as an increase in Motility, the key to healing. A more complete, fluid and strong condition is the net result. 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 is a lack of communication to the viscera. Hence, the organs will be somewhat cut off and unable to process or metabolise nutrients. For this reason, our programme encourages a whole system approach that does not rely on just one modality when the long term goal is to increase the body’s total volume of chi energy by decompressing the mental neurosis locked into the fascia or awakening dead zones that are cut off from feeling.

Unlike the other therapies which require external support, Bioenergetics involves only the self. Massage relies on an other, diet requires something from the outside coming to it. These are all external but Bioenergetics uses only the self to self generate vibration or heat which melts shell or the mask that a person is living inside of. For this reason Bioenergetics is both unique and central to the programme while the other practises; massage, breathing and our diet are there to support a person out of their current Plan B holding pattern. This is what is known as “unlocking” out of the Plan B and back to Plan A, home of the real self, the body’s original design, its original blueprint.

Unlocking

Decompressed, a person may sense the world as raw, and can feel vulnerable for a short while so the MMP System integrates a safe landing or a safe integration out of old held patterns and into a fresh new paradigm where the self is no longer attached to its old habits or even character. The person will not shift in personality perse but they will find themselves letting go of what is not serving them, what is not part of them, and what they tend to let go of are resentments, fixations (including addictions and perversions) and ruminations – the foundation of almost all disease. Such things that people let go of take the form of people, places or things and as this happens life changes are self evident and natural to the new self, true self or real self.

Wilhelm Reich and the Mountain Mind Programme

Eccentric but brilliant, the work of Wilhelm Reich is surfacing again. Reich brought ‘the body’ to psychology and was the forerunner to many body based therapies today. Alexander Lowen continued where Reich began and today body psychology is seeing an amazing resurgence where the teachings of people like Lowen and are being integrated into whole system development programmes that focus less on the psychotherapeutic aspect of healing and more time working with the body directly.

Understanding the psychological dynamics that are playing out between a person and the world are thus only one aspect to the MMP System which encourages any client to commit to our Diet if the goal is to gain function and move out of any compressed, stuck or diseased states (holding patterns).

Diet and Bioenergetics

The diet is key largely due to how very toxic the bodies are today, and how deficient they are in key minerals. The re-mineralisation of the body will support the psychotherapeutic process of release. Depending too much on psychotherapy to heal and develop has lead to many dead ends in a persons development. For it is far too cerebral and will often keep a person locked into their mental neurosis. Books like Against Therapy by Masson and The Myth of Mental Illness by Thomas Szasz cover this topic very well.

When so many of our negative thoughts 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 recuperation and time spent in nature, and less information in the form of analysis.

The Charge

In Bioenergetics it is understood that there is a ‘charge’ that runs through the body mind and this interacts by way of feedback 24/7. It is this charge that is stored or contained within certain zones of the body (chakras) and that a person is ‘holding on’ in these zones due often to the fear of letting go.

“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.

The Change

Gradually, as children evolve and become adult, they have a lot less space to hold onto what is not serving them, especially now they yearn to live a more heartfelt, connected and open life. This is a conundrum as they will now need to learn to guard in more appropriate and conscious ways. At this point some form of release therapy can help bridge a person into the safe new paradigm or stage of development that they have previously struggled to enter.

Bioenergetics involves 45 minutes of work each day and the exercises we use can be considered similar to some gym, dance or martial art warm up routines, but it is a lot deeper and focus’ specifically on re-shaping the muscular drama that surrounds the skeleton. In this sense it is similar to deep tissue massage but in the form of exercise. Heavy breathing, shouting, weeping and sighing are all encouraged. Simultaneous to the Bioenergetics, The Five Tibetan Rites will support the release of the tensions.

The Flow

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 considers safe and certain, 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 disease pattern in terms of years but all people of all ages will gain benefit from Bioenergetics. The point being that there is no final destination. Hiking up a mountain becomes more about the journey and not the destination and the journey is continuous and the body continues to re-shape, much like a mountain as it takes on different responsibilities, where change is the only inevitability and compression-decompression becomes one motion.

Disease is the body’s sign that something internal is out of sync and we therefore encourage any client to see all things as process. In turn a deeper meaning can be found in 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’, it was once said 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 repress for the exact amount of time it needed to in order to grow, evolve, develop into new realms of experience.

Our logical minds see things only as dualities—as cause and effect. This is the mechanistic attitude. Our spiritual minds, if I may use the term, see only underlying unity. This gives rise to a mystical attitude. To comprehend the paradox of unity and duality is the province of functional thinking. That requires a new consciousness neither mystical nor mechanistic. And life is a paradox. It is a fire that burns in water… The amazing thing is that we are not consumed by the fire or drowned and lost in the water. There is a mystery here I believe will never be resolved or, at least, I hope it won’t.’ Lowen, X. Consciousness: Unity and Duality, Bioenergetics, 1975

The Results, Release, Function and 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 (by demanding certainty or safety on its terms). 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 of the MMP System is to increase function as our life challenges are naturally constant. The end result is a less conflicted state where joy and appreciation are regular, not anguish, anxiety, guilt, depression, procrastination; where the process of compressing or holding and decompressing or letting go take place simultaneously. In the real world it becomes okay to go the wrong way up the mountain (to fail or to fall) because the life journey as a process generates the meaning to our human experience. As Lowen once wrote, “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 tension they recruit are more appropriate, balanced and necessary. Fumbling, not failing becomes the way as we ‘fall up the mountain’ 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 wedded to. Here the ability to assert as an adult becomes more natural, a boy is a man, a girl is a woman and he/she can take charge, choose well, and make real progress through life. When progress generates momentum, progress becomes process and the body-mind connection has merged. Here Mountain Mind is something one experiences, which is a state of being that is present, safe and heart centred, not lost, scared and brain searching.

Our programme integrates 45 minutes of Bioenergetics each day to help remove tensions directly but it is a whole system healing and development programme that integrates other coaching methods to insure a more likely and more joyous 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, and function. Here a person sustains more presence because they are grounded energetically, and naturally solution oriented with every breath. Like a mountain, the body-mind is united and it is now one fully functional present non thinking but ‘Being’ whole system that is vital and alive.