A friend lent me a book today, called Bioenergetics (by Alexander Lowen MD). A bit of an older book (from 1975) but still full of relevant information and his work is still being used today. I haven’t read the book yet but as is my nature I was inspired to do research and learn more about this technique which by the way is a “therapy that uses the language of the body to heal the problems of the mind”. Now as a Holistic Nutritionist that understands and works with the mind body connection I immediately found this intriguing and also remember hearing about it many years ago.
So here is what I found in my research:
From Merriam Webster online medical dictionary: “: a system of therapy that combines breathing and body exercises, psychological therapy, and the free expression of impulses and emotions and that is held to increase well-being by releasing blocked physical and psychic energy.”
Sounds pretty cool eh?
So some more info on how it works. A Bioenergetic therapist assists clients to see how early childhood experiences have affected their adult perceptions of themselves and their way of relating with others. Clients are guided to an understanding of how traumatic early life experiences have affected their ability to be fully alive in the world.
I’m sure most of you are familiar at least with the idea that early life traumas are understood to impact us as an adult, on both the level of the personality (psyche) and on the level of the body (soma). The Bioenergetic therapist thus treats the client as a psycho-somatic unity.
The psychological defenses such as rationalization and denial that a client uses to manage emotional pain are also anchored in the body where they appear as unique muscular patterns which inhibit self-awareness. The Bioenergetic therapist studies each aspect of these defenses and designs physical exercises that are uniquely suited to challenge them. The therapist carefully explores with each client what it feels like to begin to release tight muscles through expanded movement, deeper breathing and emotional expression. I can definitely relate to this as I have discovered more and more over the last couple of years where I carry stress in my body, and how I react physically when talking of or even just thinking of childhood issues that are or may be negatively impacting me now. I have been told a few times by professionals that I am seeing for my health care that I am much more body aware than the average client.
As the therapy progresses, the client normally uncovers beliefs, and experiences emotions which have been repressed since childhood. With the help of the Bioenergetic therapist, the client begins to understand that habitual defenses manifested in the body as chronic muscular tensions and in the mind as self-limiting beliefs were once a recipe for survival in an early non-supportive environment. In current life as an adult, however, these same physical and mental defenses inhibit a capacity for joy, happiness, love, sadness, sensuality and healthy anger. The therapist starts with each client’s current problems and with an assessment of his or her vitality in the context of present relationships. Gradually, through body work, analysis, and the experience of a safe, healthy, supportive connection with the therapist, the client discovers a greater capacity for joy, integrity and an ability to relate to self and others in more satisfying ways.
*source: http://www.bioenergetics-canada.com/bioenergetic_analysis.htm *
The most common areas for that muscle tightness and pattern of emotion include the neck, hips, joints, pelvis, shoulders, lower back and ankles.
The exercises are done so that the energy can begin to move more freely, allowing the body to regain its natural aliveness and vitality, and harmonize the relationship between the body, mind and spirit. They deepen respiration and breathing, build inner strength, mobility and flexibility, increase aliveness and energy in the body, reduce and release stress, encourage voice, self expression and fun.
Using sections of psychotherapy like deep breathing, different forms of emotional eruptions such as screaming and crying and kind body movements, along with yoga movements, stretching, and grounding is the way in which this mixture enhances the persistent holding and reduction of muscular tension in the body. The other types of Bioenergetic therapy exercises depend on the homeopathy, nutrition, Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture.
I’m sure you can see why this is so exciting from my perspective as a Holistic Nutritionist that wholeheartedly believes in the mind body connection and both the positive and negative impacts of that connection.
There is far more to this therapy than I have relayed here but I hope that I have given you enough info to encourage you to learn more and maybe even find a therapist trained in this technique to improve your mind body health.
I also saw tons of videos available on Youtube, as well as multiple pdf’s etc. I would advise that you do this therapy under the care and direction of a certified Bioenergetic therapist or other professional therapist that is familiar with the techniques. This kind of work can be very powerful and also scary and bring about emotions and physical reactions you may not be prepared to handle on your own. It is so definitely worth that experience though.