Bioenergetic Healing of the Body Mind
(diagrams appear only in book)
Note: pagination is a work in progress. You will notice false hyphenations. Apologies.
In this context of bioenergetic therapy the patient, student or client generally reclines, in similar fashion as in the psychoanalytic position. However, unlike the psychoanalytic position, the doctor or therapist sits next to the patient so that each is in clear view of the other. In the traditional setting the patient may be wearing only underwear or swimsuit. The doctor knows the patient cannot resolve his life’s sufferings by only talking about them. Many forms of therapy attempt to do this with little success. Although talking through one’s sufferings is useful to a point, it only goes so far, and this is where the bioenergetic approach takes over. The patient is asked to be still, to feel himself, and to let his internal experience take over and influence him. At some point the doctor will ask him to breathe intentionally and more deeply than usual. What is important is that the doctor and patient, therapist and client trust one another. Especially important is that the patient trust the doctor, as it is the patient who must change! Many of the procedures of therapy are outlined in the remainder of this paper.
The words “neuromuscular armor” are herein used to describe dangerous, even life threatening organismic processes first detected and described about 1930 by Wilhelm Reich, M.D. Reich was Sigmund Freud’s pupil and was a principal at Freud’s Viennese Polyclinic. Armor can be a useful term to describe a now well circumscribed condition which prevents the correct functioning of organismic processes. Armor is defined as an unconscious life-negative neuromuscular (psychophysical) repression of life energy and awareness. In EFP (Energy Field Psychology) this process may be called pathological energy field distortion. In modern society the armoring process begins in the womb or very early childhood, and thereafter progressively prevents the growing person from contacting the life energy in himself and others. Adults and teenagers personally experience armor as a barrier of deadness, confusion, anxiety, self-doubt, and emotional oppressiveness between oneself and everyone else. Natural intelligence cannot function in the presence of armor. Every emotion, thought, and impulse which passes through armor turns life-negative and destructive. This can occur when these impulses pass through what we have described as our second area of energy in EFP symbols. The goal of EFP as bioenergetic therapy is to mobilize and release this armor, and thus free a person’s life energy and awareness.
Energy Field Psychology and Therapy
We are, like onions, layered organisms. Our emotions and feel-ings are layered in the same fashion as our physical structure and energy field. Also, we are both local (visible, measurable) and paradoxically nonlocal, invisible mysteries. Behind every superficial frustration or hostility we find a deeper layer of an-ger. Behind every mild feeling of liking someone we find a deeper layer of wanting to really love them. The deeper layers of feeling may not be obvious, but they are there. Our psyche is layered as is our social relatedness. Our psyche is also layered in time as well as space, in that we are quantum correlated as well as genetically correlated with our ancient ancestors. We are also connected with those who might exist in our future. When we meet someone we feel “we have always known,” this speaks of future as well as past quantum time correlation. Our morpho-energetic field carries our DNA through time (and space), so to speak. This describes a physical basis for Carl Jung’s collective unconscious. Our E-field forms a series of radiating wave concentricities. As physical correlates, our children, parents and mates form our innermost layer (concentricity) of social relations; our close friends, grandparents, aunts, and uncles perhaps the next layer, outward to our most superficial acquaintances. And thus we share our greater morphoenergetic correlation with those in our innermost circle of relatedness.
Physically and bioenergetically our skin and its energy field form our outermost layer, a very sensitive layer through which we touch the world. Our E-field extends much further. This touch is our closest, most basic form of communication. A loss of the simple nourishment derived from touch can lead to all manner of illness and unhappiness. Touch, through morphic E-field resonance, puts our complex holographic synaptic matrix network in place as children. This may also be called our primary attention point or personality type. Touch helps keep these delicate matrices in place (our homeostasis and sanity) throughout our lives. Beneath the skin we find layer upon layer of connective tissue literally holding our body together. As we go deeper we find the nerve trunks, plexi, large blood vessels, chief lymphatics and bones. At our physical core we reach the large organs, endocrine glands, brain core and bone marrow. These layers may also be referred to as specific E-fields. Such expressions as “I could feel it to my bones,” “he hasn’t the stomach for it,” “she grieved with a broken heart,” and “his eyes were burning with desire,” reflect in language our awareness of the intricate connection between feelings, energies, and our phy-sical organs.
Habit and Past Experience
EFP uses powerful techniques to help a person reach down beneath his or her superficial, mask-like layers, to his deeper, more natural, more energetic layers of being. The person in therapy can thereby remember, relive and complete past experiences. Past experiences, suppressed as incomplete psychoener-getic cycles in our deeper physical and psychic layers (in displaced SEMs), have the power to control our actions and our thoughts, much as past programming controls what a com-puter can do. But we are not computers, and much of our process appears to be non-algorithmic, both local (in space-time), and nonlocal (in higher, invisible but real dimensions). This is why so much of what we experience as humans seems unpredictable, even weird. To borrow from chaos theory our multiple habits and such weirdness result from being caught in the grip of many “strange attractors.” Attractors or strange attractors are complex, powerful wave flow patterns in both inorganic and organic systems, to which processes (or beings) in the system are powerfully and continuously attracted. In EFP these at-tractors represent sub-personalities, attention points, or dominant SEMs (synaptic matrices). So the causes of what is happening in the moment are not only local and subject to rational psychological inter-pretation but are generated in higher dimensional non-localities not ordinarily perceivable by us. Time distortion, experienced frequently as time taking forever in bad situations and speeding by all too quickly in good ones, is a related phenomenon.
We are human beings, not algorithmic computers. But until we are free of living by the dominance of past suppressed, uncompleted experiences (where the object of our desire was not fulfilled), especially negative ones, we cannot live here and now, happily and healthfully. Past experiences can be viewed as broken, interrupted mini-life cycles, which we may spend the rest of our lives unconsciously trying to complete! We do not really go into the “past” in reliving our past experiences. These events maintain a present quantum resonance state in us, which is a virtual memorization in the form of standing wave interference resonances, including the events of all our “past.” Thus without suspecting it we live trapped in the past, controlled by thoughts, rules and regulations which no longer apply. On an overpopulated planet of billions of creatures this is very dangerous!
As one assimilates the thought and action structure of EFP a person’s ability to tolerate and even enjoy energy, emotion, and new awareness increases. This increased capacity (energy flow) is an essential aim of therapy and gives us the bioener-getic tools to activate the core of a person’s metabolic process, and thereby free the energy potential which results in health. It should be emphasized that we do not usually achieve our ideal. The work required to approach the ideal, however, has such far-reaching positive effects that the person in question is often able to transcend what he thought possible for himself.
A Brief Example of Orgone Therapy
I remember working with a man many years ago in whom this layering showed itself clearly. On the surface Larry was a very polite, kindly person. He was quite proud of how good he was. He practiced yoga and spiritual things. He felt unable to love or be loved, had bad breath, hemorrhoids, erective impotence and strong anxiety around women. I asked Larry if there was more to him than he wanted me to believe. I told him that much of his “politeness” seemed artificial, and that I guessed it was based on fear of me and other authority figures. His next deeper layer then showed up. He began to look critical and distrusting across his forehead. When I asked Larry about the look on his face he told me that he wasn’t sure he trusted me and “besides if you cared you wouldn’t pick me apart.” I explained to him that it was in our contract that I be free to make appropriate observations of him and his behavior, and that without this we would make no progress. He again agreed, and the frown went away.
In subsequent sessions it became clear that Larry resented my directness and natural, as well as professional, au-thority. Larry confessed that he felt no real authority or power, but would like very much to do so. He had the fear that if he were powerful he would in some way become violent or evil. His self-image required that he be nice (and thereby impotent) in all situations. One day while Larry was reclining and breathing deeply, I asked him to kick the mattress. He did not respond. I asked him again. Nothing. I finally walked over and looked him in the eyes. I asked him, “Did you hear me?” He said, “What?” He hadn’t heard a word I had said. Believe it or not this passive-aggressive response was the strongest self-assertive behavior he had yet spontaneously shown me. I began to work with my hands on his face. His facial muscles were stiff, and as I worked his eyes grew dark and intense.
Suddenly he burst out yelling, hitting, and cursing. I could see that we were moving through significantly deeper layers of his armoring (defended structures). When he finished he said he didn’t know what had gotten into him, but that he had never been so angry in his life. He said he was “pulsing like a steam engine.” He yelled that he could kill his father; that the bastard had never protected him from his mother. He then yelled, his jaw jutting uncharacteristically forward, that the bitch (his mother) hadn’t helped him against his father. He said he used to pinch himself in the legs and pretend that he was punishing her. Suffice it to say that for the first time in therapy (one of the first times in his life) Larry experienced and expressed some very real, fiery anger, anger which is power. His energy field felt very expanded.
In the ensuing months Larry was able to hold a job and have his first successful sexual relationship. We see how a layer of niceness masked a deeper layer of distrust, which in turn masked his anger, which in turn masked his power and sexual desire. At the core of every human is just like the universe, full of endless wonders, and in the organic sphere this translates as a capacity to love, even in the worst of us.
Energy Centers and Functional Segments
Now that we’ve looked at the concept of layering, the concen-tricities of the human internal physical energy field, we will look at the concept of body segments or energy centers. Dr. Reich de-fined seven functional armor segments. In EFP, for simplicity’s sake, so as not to confuse the patient or student too much, we often use the concept of three (mental, emotional, and physical), rather that seven, functional centers. But we are fully aware of the seven. And both systems describe equivalent events. These segments are essentially functional and far less structural, run transversely through the body and when dysfunctional, prevent the free flow of life energy (internal E-field communication) the entire length of the body. These segments then serve as energy dams, like driving the car with the brake always on. Total organismic pulsation (the four cycle pulse) of bioenergy, blood flow, synaptic communication, respiration, etc. is disrupted.
Figure 42 A Segmental Bioenergetic Model
In therapy, armoring and life-negativity in each segment is dissolved, if possible, always from the top down, from head towards feet, never in the reverse order. Reich and those such as myself who have built on or paralleled his work found that go-ing in reverse order can cause psychosis and physical disease. Of note is that the tai chi masters take and the teachers of Gurdjieff took a similar view. We will not go into the reasons for this here, other than to say that sending our intention and energy down grounds us so we can first become more natural, more at home in our body, as a prerequisite for spiritual life and con-scious evolution. It is also true that the outermost layers of armoring must be released prior to the innermost layers. (We see this in our E-field model of areas and dimensions of con-sciousness.) Otherwise tremendous energies are activated which can destroy a person not yet ready to cope with them. The unprepared organism simply cannot tolerate such power of experience. We can see that a skilled therapist or teacher is nec-essary.
In the eastern hemisphere, yogis, Taoists, Sufis, and even physicians speak of “wheels of force,” or chakras and mer-idians, or “currents of force.” Please do not judge these ancient ideas too harshly, nor accept them on faith. That would be neither scientific nor intelligent. These concepts represent an-cient and often very wise concepts of a universal energy field and how to use this field for human health and illumination. Modern physics is showing that this field is real, perhaps the reality, although invisible to us. These ancient systems, taken primarily as metaphors, express great insight, and can be in-valuable therapeutically and in the study of man. The term metaphor represents a probably real, statistically valid function, much as a physicist might speak of the theory of gravity, or quantum field theory. The fact that the word “theory” (or meta-phor) is used simply means that we know the function is real, but we do not know precisely how it works. And this is, as well, absolutely true of quantum physics, which is the basis for all modern technology.
Releasing and Healing Energy Centers
EFP can help people get the feeling of the stuff they are made of. This feeling “wants” to become the emotional food on which we thrive. As therapy progresses and energy moves more freely in the body and mind, one’s whole emotional tone shifts from one of life-negativity to one of life-positivity. Let’s look segment by segment and energy center by energy center, observing how this takes place. In this context I will describe seven, rather than only three centers. This allows us to describe events with more precision. Seven centers represent a functional subdivision of the three centers.
FIRST ENERGY CENTER
The first energy center is the eye or ocular center. In the life of a human, blocking of full energy flow in the eye center occurs very early, in the infant. This blocking may result from seeing subhuman activities in adults (the infant’s energy system can tell the difference), silver nitrate, bright lights, the armored eyes of the people attending the birth, or in other ways. The eyes are the first perceptual organ to be activated after birth, although hearing has been active in utero for some time. We are a vis-ually dominant culture, which is evident in such word language as “I’ll see you,” “I’ll see what I can do,” etc. Just as the fetus absorbed information at a rate of perhaps fifty million bits per second (the adult brain has been tested at about forty bits per second!), the infant, using now also its eyes, continues to gather information almost as quickly. However, the eyes are not only receiving, but also transmitting information. In fact, referencing the work of Popp and Ruth (see Chapter notes, 1:13) who dis-covered that all living tissue emits photons (light waves), we have confirmation that what comes out of the eyes is physical, not only metaphysical. As all of us know, gazing into a baby’s eyes is very impactful.
How Do We Perceive at All?
In this work my point of view is that our perception and viewing of the physical world occurs through morphoenergetic reso-nance and in a holographic-like manner. Objects do exist “out there.” But not exactly as we see them, hear them, or smell them. These objects resonate at certain frequencies to which our brain and perceptual system are receptive. Otherwise we do not experience these events as objects at all. These isomorphic fre-quencies pass from the E-field of the external object into our own E-field, body, and brain, where our internal vortical wave frequencies superimpose (combine and constructively interfere) with the incoming sets of frequencies. It is similar to laser beam splitting in creating a hologram. Many of these superimposed events create the SEM, or synaptic energetic matrix. We then automatically shine, as it were, the “laser of our consciousness” on these internal holographic vortical wave interference pat-terns, and presto!, out jumps a facsimile of the outside object which we literally project internally and onto the external world which we see, hear, and smell. In a less complex manner this process is how a holographic event is created. In the laboratory a second laser beam makes the photographic emulsion “pop out” a three dimensionally holographic image which we recog-nize as a facsimilie of, say, an orange. In human perception the process is analagous, but the “second laser” is human conscious-ness! We credit Karl Pribram with the work of uncovering much of this process scientifically.
How Brain/Organismic Perception/Projection Works
How do you know that is a cow? You know through the above process, modified in social consensus, AND through the fact that the cow’s energy field wave frequencies interfere construc-tively with yours, and vice versa. Without E-field superimpositions there is absolutely no way you could know that a cow is there. Of course at some point due to quantum gravitational fluctu-ations, conscious choice and memory, and defined by Schroe-dinger’s equation a wave function collapse or experimental choice occurs in which the cow “gets” the colors of its hide, its name, etc.
Seeing is mostly autonomically controlled, that is, the part of our nervous system which controls our automatic pro-cesses is engaged as the ground of vision. The autonomic sys-tem is divided into two parts, the sympathetic and parasym-pathetic systems. Generally speaking, the sympathetic system tenses, activates, dehydrates, alerts, contracts, raises our blood pressure, increases our heart rate, and so forth. This adrenaline (epinephrine and norepinephrine, etc.) associated system, when stimulated chronically is responsible for a dry, alert, frightened look in the eyes. The cerebral cortex tends to be hyperactive, and the eyes focus poorly, stare obsessively, and strain during contact with other eyes. One’s visual E-field may be plain shut down, with such severity at times that an observer might think the person blind. Human beings with severe ocular armor tend to be “stuck in their head,” and do little physical activity.
The parasympathetic (cholinergic axis) system generally relaxes, expands, sedates, hydrates, assists in emotional soften-ing, and allows such physical functions as peristalsis, sexual excitation, and various hormonal secretions. When it is chron-ically stimulated, the parasympathetic system expresses itself in sleepy, excessively tear-filled eyes; vision will in some way be impaired, the thinking brain is underactive and the person tends to be both lethargic and spaced out. Obviously neither extreme of chronic stimulation is desirable. Therapy is directed at bring-ing about balance, harmony, and fully integrated functioning between the polarities of the autonomic nervous system.
Emotionally hard people tend to have hard, piercing eyes. Emotionally weak people tend to have weak, longing eyes. People emotionally split off from themselves (often called schiz-oid) will tend to have distant, spaced out eyes. A compressed, bound-up person tends to have eyes of a similar nature. The eyes are “windows of the soul” and express directly and clearly the inner energetic state. In therapy, release of the eyes and other organs of the first center must be well underway before we can make real progress. The first, most powerful technique in ocular therapy is direct, relaxed eye contact with the person seeking your help.
During therapy one may use William Bates, M.D. type eye relaxation exercises to help visual acuity; inner visualiz-ation to develop the psychic, more internal senses; and enact-ing of various emotions through the eyes to improve emotional agility and the person’s ability to understand his emotional re-sponses. Rolling, tracking and stretching are techniques to ex-ercise the extrinsic eye muscles and bring out repressed emo-tions bound in the eyes. Having the person gaze into a mirror while breathing is effective at reaching deeply hidden thoughts, emotions, and energies, as is the use of carefully employed re-flector spot lamps and penlights for tracking eye movements. Please be advised that these methods expand the energy field very dramatically and must therefore be used with caution in a skilled and protected environment. Mild to extreme anxiety can be produced. We do not want to expand and enliven the E-field functions of the head area too much before we have activated some capacities such as feeling and movement in lower areas. This would be dangerous. This statement may seem to con-tradict my earlier statement that we work from the top down, however, in practical experience it does not.
The ocular center, which is primarily functional, com-prises the eyes, visual cortex, areas of the cerebral cortex and lower brain, endocrine organs of the head (although these or-gans are also active in the other centers), scalp muscles, fore-head, upper cheeks, hair and occipital ridge. With severe ar-moring (energy field compression) the eyes have a “dead” look and the upper face may look pasted on. The eyes will avoid contact or be very rigid in their contact. Obstruction of energy flow in this area may lead to symptoms such as hair loss (un-usual), migraines, cataracts, pituitary dysfunction, emotional confusion, and obsessive distrust.
The normal and creative functions of the first center are open, feeling eye contact with people and nature, clear vision and vivid color sense, the ability to think rationally and crea-tively, the accurate expression of one’s emotions and inner self through the upper face and eyes, warmth, trust, the ability to see correct meaning in the body movements of others, and overall healthy organ functioning in the area. With accelerated and perhaps hypersapient evolution which occurs through suc-cessful therapy, a whole new realm of human powers becomes available through the first center.
We are terribly starved for meaningful, nourishing eye contact. A young man who came to see me was very absent in his eyes. In fact, I had to hold his face in place to get him to look in my eyes. When he saw in my eyes that I really cared about him, he burst forth with convulsive tears. Raised in an orphanage, having little or no family or friends, it meant the world to this man to look in the eyes of someone who cared. A starving man had been fed.
More on Our Visual/Neocortical Field
As a culture, we are afraid to see what is right in front of our eyes. The eyes are locked up very early, through massive cul-tural energetic field alignment (social physiologic agreement) and programming to see things exactly and often falsely, as we are told we must, no matter what might be the consequences to our health and aliveness. Our entire planet may be near nuclear death because of our blind, suicidal unwillingness to see, sixty years ago, the consequences of the first atomic devices. The armoring, the visual/neocortical field compression that gives birth to such deadly blindness, has now been programmed into nearly every living human on earth from the time of birth. Being armored, a form of deep psychological sleep, we simply cannot act differently than we do. It is impossible. The gift of EFP is that it identifies our armor, our life deadness, so that we can learn to live with a minimum of such deadness, and a maximum of life-enhancing aliveness. Only this makes real change, and even hy-persapient evolution, possible.
The EFP therapist is also a teacher. He or she helps the person use his or her nervous system more consciously and effectively. A technique I use to achieve this goes as follows: I ask the person a series of questions in rapid succession. Before or after a question is answered I ask another question, often the same one. While he is trying to come up with answers, I may ask the person to do some complex movement, such as rubbing his belly and patting his head at the same time. I am often astounded how successful some people can be at coordinating all of the above.
The above exercise overloads the part of the brain and nervous system which usually controls our thoughts and ac-tions. Forced to behave in this unusual fashion, to use parts of the nervous system rarely used, the person may become frus-trated, afraid, or even angry. When these emotions are worked through, we find emerging a fresh, new capacity for original thought and action. The person will report that he or she can think extremely clearly, and possesses the sense of being able to do what he or she thought impossible before. This process may not be completed in a single session, but its completion is certain, given time. The two hemispheres of the cerebral cortex and the emotionally active centers such as the limbic system and hypothalamus are beginning to work holistically and syn-chronously, instead of in the usual random fashion present with armoring. An entirely new kind of thinking may begin, namely our integral paradoxical thinking and feeling process.
A woman I know forced herself after many years to con-front her father who had molested her. When she confronted him, he denied it with his words, but his eyes told a different story. His eyes said to her, “Yes, I did what you say, I am more painfully sorry than I can say, but I cannot admit it with my words, it is too dangerous, too much to ask of me.” The woman felt angry at first and tried to press a confession from her father. No luck, but at least his eyes hadn’t lied.
Although reading body language is metaphorical, as I explained earlier such metaphors are not unreal, but contain much that is true. In reading the body expressions of the ener-getic segments (externalization of centers), we can notice, for example, that chronically fixed expressions of the eyes, cheeks and forehead speak an easy-to-read language. The person who keeps his eyebrows and forehead raised probably tells us that he or she is “above it all,” cultured or sophisticated. The person who brings his eyebrows down and in tells us that things are serious. He may look angry to us. One who keeps his forehead tight and expressionless may be saying “nothing going on here, I’m not feeling a thing.” A person with gentle, sparkling eyes is saying, “Hello, how are you, I enjoy being here.” We tend to feel instant warmth and trust with such people. Such eyes are “winning.” Dark, withdrawn, so-called beady eyes say “Stay away, I’m keeping to myself, to my secret plans; no one al-lowed in here.” We are not attracted to such eyes and the people behind them.
In attempting to gain identity and power as youth, we imitated the body expressions of our parents and significant others. Have you seen a person who appears to be in a sus-pended state of shock? His eyes will be wide open, the forehead raised with a look of surprise and awe. It is likely that this person’s parent or parents either had this look or had a pre-disposition for this look. Some terribly shocking experience, as yet unresolved in this person’s life, has fixed a shocked ex-pression on his face. This condition will be permanent unless it can somehow be changed through therapy.
The person in question very likely does not know he looks shocked! Moreover, he rarely knows what shocked him. This knowledge is deeply embedded in his facial armor and is not conscious. Somehow, in an attempt to be conscious of and relieve his shock, the person continues to show a shocked facial expression. By working to move his facial muscles and con-fronting his psychological and emotional experiences of shock (and perhaps terror, surprise and panic), he can gradually re-lease his facial mask and bring back his natural expression. Facial work is essential in therapy. Healing in the rest of the body cannot succeed without establishing the capacity for full contact, vibrant aliveness and the ability to communicate open-ly and easily through expressions of the face and eyes.
SECOND ENERGY CENTER
The oral center is composed of the mouth, ears, teeth, tongue, throat, lower facial muscles and all organs contained therein. The esophagus, larynx, thyroid and parathyroid glands are associated with the oral center, as well as with other lower centers. If severe armoring prevails, one feels strangled and can speak only with great difficulty. Armoring here may show up as a tight, pristine expression which betrays an inner, punitive moralism and self-righteousness. Premature facial lines, worry lines, facial pallor, red nose, dry parched and/or unfeeling lips, rotten teeth, poor musical pitch, poor hearing, and a general diminution of taste, smell and oral pleasure are the results of armoring here and the corresponding blockage of life energy flow.
The person in therapy must yield to his natural oral im-pulses, however scary this might be. In daily life, he must learn to do things such as listen to beautiful music as well as to those words he hears and says that scare or upset him, he must taste and smell things that usually put him off, he must learn to speak up for himself, to listen attentively to others, and open himself to the pleasures of kissing, singing, eating and other na-tural motions.
In therapy the person is asked to make facial expres-sions and sounds, often with lower body movements that free energy and self-expression in the area. If the person can let go and really cry, or express suppressed grief or rage, therapy will go much faster. The therapist helps the person analyze and explore past and present situations which are associated with armoring of this center. Remember that although we see ar-moring (muscular rigidity, poor structure, etc.) most easily in the body, the psyche, the mind, consciousness itself, is equally armored. This is more difficult to see. Therapy requires exten-sive analysis, exploration and understanding of the person’s psyche, character, and behavior.
During this phase of therapy, the therapist begins to emphasize natural breathing more. With the face and sensory organs a bit freer the person may be able to handle the buildup of bioenergy caused by intensified breathing. While working with intensified breathing, the therapist may ask the person to imitate special sounds. This is both a therapeutic and diagnos-tic tool, as the person’s ability or inability to imitate the sounds tells the therapist of the quantity and quality of oral and throat function. A very armored person cannot imitate these sounds. This is due to poor control over the muscles of vocalization as well as an actual inability to hear accurately.
Armoring of the voice is often connected to parents who strictly prohibited their children from speaking up for them-selves, parents who enforced the dictum, “children are to be seen and not heard.” As oral armoring releases, one may talk at length of one’s history, failures, and triumphs. As one’s deeper feelings and thoughts get released, we will hear the sobs of both grief and joy, the shattered hopes, the dreams, the sparkling majestic visions; every bit of the human soul that seems as if it has been in hell for a thousand years. We must be careful not to let one talk away one’s feelings, as too much talk decreases the energy available for feeling and cognitively recontextualizing awareness into healthier parameters.
Eating problems and conditions such as obesity, anor-exia nervosa and bulimia are often the result of oral (and ab-dominal) armoring and the resulting anxiety. We move (ex-pend energy through) the mouth, in compulsive talking and eating, in order to suppress emotions and sensations we feel coming up from the heart and belly. We are all familiar with doing this, especially during times of great stress. The ability to feel bodily (not conceptual) pleasure in the mouth, throat and belly is the radical and likely cure for eating problems. A lean body can be achieved through the combination of therapy and conscious, life-positive, pleasure-oriented daily living. Paradoxically people with eating disorders actually take little or no organic pleasure from eating. That is partly why they go on and on!
THIRD ENERGY CENTER
The neck and shoulders next receive our attention. Armoring in the neck and shoulders may result from the repression and sup-pression of longing, reaching out, crying out, angry hitting, eternal feelings, grace and devotion. Many of the above ex-pressions originate from the chest. Armored necks and shoul-ders prevent these expressions and emotions from “rising up” and being communicated to others. Breathing and its accom-panying sounds may be suppressed by tightening the throat. Have you noticed how disturbed people act around the sounds of audible breathing? Try breathing loud now and get in touch with what is meant. Sit (do not stand, you might fall from hyperventilation) in front of your mirror and watch yourself. Breathe faster, deeper, make some primitive sounds. See what I mean? In our psyches and memories, loud breathing is assoc-iated with illness, sexual passion, heavy exercise, angry par-ents, heavy cigarette smokers and late-night perverts on the telephone.
The neck is a physically and energetically small passage that bears the burden of channeling the enormous energies and feelings of the chest and belly up through the head, towards self-expression and awareness. The neck must also allow the energy of thoughts and neurological impulses downward into body ac-tion. Many large nerves and blood vessels go through the neck. At the top of the neck within the cranium lies the area of the medulla oblongata, pons, and mid-brain, areas of the primitive brain that regulate many survival functions such as breathing. Lower in the neck are the thyroid and parathyroid glands which regulate our basal metabolism and body calcium levels. The larynx (voice box) and esophagus are also found in the neck. Due to this great number of vital organs compacted into such a small area, the neck is extremely vulnerable to injury and armoring, and can serve as an “energy dam” to block emotions from the lower body. It is not infrequent that the therapist is nearly unable to move at all the neck of a person who comes to see him. This person is subconsciously terrified of the emotions, feelings, and unresolved past experiences stored in his lower body. By keeping his or her neck super rigid, tight, or com-pressed, he attempts to protect himself from these emotions and feelings rising into consciousness.
Armoring of the neck is also frequently caused by phy-sical trauma to the neck or shoulders, perhaps from a fall which breaks the neck. I have examined several people in therapy (who I then sent for X-rays) who did not know that they had actually broken their neck at one time! Such a break usually happens in younger people (generally boys). Due perhaps to neck armor and parental disinterest (both of which decrease awareness), the person is not aware of the degree of damage, only that the fall has caused great pain in the neck. The person lives with the injury until the neck heals or compensates. Thus the person never seeks treatment.
Examining the Body Language
Let’s observe the body language, the energetic anatomy of the shoulders. Our hands, which bioenergetically extend from the heart/chest center, are the basic organs (aside from the skin and genitals) with which we may physically touch our universe. Metaphorically the shoulders tell us how our hearts come out to the world through our hands. Bill has elevated, “picked up” shoulders, raised up high. He looks ungrounded, as if he doubts himself, as if he’s suspended in midair by his shoulders. Sandy has squeezed-in shoulders which round forward in a way that makes her rather large breasts look almost small. Her chest appears caved in. Burt has broad shoulders, he looks proud of himself, and likes to gaze in the mirror. When I touch Burt on the arms or shake his hand, I feel like he is pushing me away. His shoulders don’t yield. Beverly looks like she stuffed big wads of cotton into her shoulders. I get the impression there is an invisible gnome riding on her back. The above are all un-natural structurings in shoulders, but of course there are people with natural, healthy shoulders.
During a workshop which I conducted, I asked all of the above persons to hit a mattress. Bill hit as though he were try-ing to convince himself that he was being angry or forceful. He did not convince me or the rest of the group. He pulled back his power just at the moment of impact. He would then stare at the mattress with doubt and confusion. Sandy shouted and then screamed with strong feeling when she hit, but she hit like a rag doll and the mattress didn’t “respect” her or feel her in return. Burt could hit hard, and did so like a machine, with no emotion. I didn’t feel fire coming from him. Beverly could hit hard, and with emotional fire, but couldn’t last. She was exhausted very quickly. When I asked her to continue she went on and on, even though exhausted. She could have said no to me. Please take a moment to make any correlations you can between my shoul-der descriptions and how the people hit.
Neck and shoulder massage of various kinds is effective in mobilizing energy and feeling in these areas. People often ex-perience immediate relief from massage. Sensations of pleasure, warmth and “electricity” radiating in different body areas are common during neck massage. These sensations result through the sudden release of nervous energy which was formerly bound in tight, spastic muscles. Necks have various appearances. An athlete may have a “bull,” compressed neck. His neck will be strong but emotionally inhibitory. A dancer may have a long, proud neck, strong but usually rigid. A person with a schizoid (split) personality will show an off-center neck which seems mis-aligned with the lower body. Here, emotions will be distorted as they pass through the neck. A masochistic (self-effacing, pas-sive-aggressive) personality will often show a short neck. His or her emotions and self-expression get compressed and pushed back down into the shoulders and lower body as they try to arise. A fully healthy neck enjoys massage and spontaneous, free movement. Emotions pass freely and undistorted into com-munication with others. The neck tissue is pliable, tonic and powerful. The position of the head in relation to the body is graceful, and we feel subjectively that the person’s head is “on straight.”
To release the shoulders I may ask the person to reach with his or her arms while breathing deeply. As stronger feelings arise, often accompanied with memories, the person may experience the emotional difficulty he has with reaching out for what he really wants and needs in life. This will often make him feel either helpless and hopeless, or angry. At this point he may either hit or cry. Either expression is valid and should be en-couraged (usually not verbally but with supportive presence).
Many people at this stage of therapy tell me something like: their father was emotionally cold to them and their mother never nursed or held them enough. These realizations, true or not, usually make the client either violently angry and hyster-ically sad. I cannot express how deeply important it is for the health and development of the person that these often fright-ening and terrible expressions be allowed to come out so that he might complete his feeling cycles. The energy system simply cannot clean itself of old dirt without such emotional comple-tion! These incomplete experiential cycles resolve themselves spontaneously as dissolution of the heart/chest armoring al-lows love, gratefulness and forgiveness to come through. I must strongly emphasize that unless the powerful emotions of anger and grief are cleared away through being felt, expressed, and contained, there simply cannot be any genuine, lasting express-ion of love, gratefulness and forgiveness. And of course with a lack of emotional aliveness, emotional intelligence cannot de-velop, and hypersapient evolution, which requires three centered intelligence, is out of the question.
A technique of cranial massage which a therapist may use after the person is sufficiently charged with energy can bring about a very deep relaxation in the whole body. This relaxation is helpful in certain patients in resolving the tendency toward emotional negativity, as it helps relieve pressure on the brain by improving ventricular CSF circulation. Intracranial pressure is well known to be associated with numerous mental ailments, especially those of a violent nature, as well as with brain dam-age and strokes.
FOURTH ENERGY CENTER
The fourth energy center includes the heart, lungs, shoulders and arms. At this point in therapy, as a result of releasing en-ergy in the upper centers we are well into mobilizing the chest. One has a much improved breathing capacity. One can now tolerate and enjoy greater quantities of life energy. The hands are warmer and one’s capacity for touch has improved. One’s emotional intelligence is waking up, and those who know us notice that we seem kinder, more heartful.
Bursitis, muscular rheumatism, arthritis, thyroid dys-function, and even paralysis of the arms can result from ar-moring in the neck and shoulders. Chest armoring gives rise to heart and lung disturbances. Hardening of the arteries that feed the heart can result from a lack of parasympathetic stimulation to the area, and, quite frankly from a lack of loving and being loved! Due to the pervasive distress, anxiety and lack of ade-quate touching in our culture, we commonly see contracted peripheral blood vessels in people, varicose veins, cold hands, and fear of gentle touch. This peripheral contraction makes the heart work harder, causing excessive strain on the heart, higher blood pressure, etc.
Jogging, swimming, biking, tai chi and other exercise help greatly to expand peripheral blood vessels and reduce the pressure on the heart. Exercise helps to overcome the chron-ically poor respiration that most people suffer especially at the cellular level. When respiration is seriously disturbed, we cannot eliminate carbon dioxide and other waste products, and our brain will actually suffer slow energy and oxygen starvation. In fact, CT scans of Alzheimer's patients show that the brain actually shrinks dramatically. In my opinion respiration provides essential nutrition just as does physical food. Oxygen lack in the brain will slowly diminish intelligence, and continued long enough, may ensure senility. Poor respiration and the resulting disturbance of oxygen meta-bolism lays the groundwork for cancer, as described by Dr. Warburg, Dr. Reich, and now many others. Smoking, strangely enough, helps one breathe better temporarily, simply because the smoker inhales more fully while he or she smokes. I have seen more than several persons in my care who were smokers quit spontaneously as the result of the improved breathing ca-pacity engendered through therapy.
The pulsatory rhythm of our heart merges with the pulsatory rhythm of nature. When we say someone’s “heart is in it,” we are saying that in what they are doing they are at one with themselves and nature. When our heart is in our thoughts and actions, things turn out well. We are winners in life. When our deepest instincts are aroused, as when our life is threatened, we are sexually excited or we fall in love, we can hear our heart throbbing audibly, powerfully, inside our chest. When a song has a “good beat,” we want to make our whole body pulse with the music. Our entire pulsing energy system is a quantum whole, a field of aliveness. And, of course, from the quantum field theory perspective, our system is nonlocally correlated with all those people we have ever loved or hated. Poetically, “heart” has been translated as “center” (heart of the matter), “love” (she has a big heart) and “nourishing” (a hearty meal).
As armoring in the heart-chest area is dissolved, spon-taneous songs, happiness, and artistic creativity emerge from a person. I saw this frequently in my practice. A person is work-ing on a project. He is stuck or in some way inhibited. During a session we have a breakthrough of positive emotion from the chest. This emotional breakthrough is accompanied by a strik-ing increase in his breathing capacity (during the session). Prior to ending the session, the person may automatically come up with new and innovative ideas to complete his project both effectively and artistically. His voice will be more melodious than before. At our next session the person will nearly always have succeeded beyond his own expectations in completing his project. This leap in the experience and expression of one’s creative abilities is a function of the awakening of the healthy and intelligent heart.
With the heart becoming freer from its oppressive ar-moring, one will reach out for what one needs and wants. One will also become more giving. If one is a Buddhist, one may even have feelings of nirvana, or an experience of the eight jhanas, or great realms of knowledge. If one is a Christian, one may have feelings of heaven or union with Christ. This brings to mind the powerful religious and spiritual significance given the heart. However, we make a serious mistake if we equate the awakening or dearmoring of the heart with true enlightenment, nirvana or heaven. These states of being are real only when the whole body-mind has managed to awaken free of armoring.
A “hard-hearted” person is one whose loving feelings have grown cold, whose heart, pericardium and vascular sys-tems have literally hardened. This actual hardening of the chest organ tissues will produce symptoms such as anxiety, worry, tachycardia and high blood pressure. Thoughts of goodness present in the healthy heart do not arise. Instead, one has the inner experience of loneliness and being left out of life. A “soft-hearted” person may not have the firmness of heart to back himself up. This condition often forms the core of a certain kind of fake or at least severely limited “spirituality” we see today. Patti, a client of mine, was a “soft-hearted” person who would go to bed with any man the moment he showed her tenderness. After he dumped her (which was usually the case), she became bitter and angry with herself, and of course cursed the man. I helped her to forgive herself and put her anger where it be-longed. Sheila, another client, was a “hard-hearted” person. For her everything a guy did was wrong. She wouldn’t give an inch. She trusted little and harbored endless fantasies of revenge. When she was able to get very angry in front of me in therapy, and I didn’t desert her, but supported her need and right to be angry, she gained the courage to face men with more trust and less vengeance.
If a mother’s chest is tight when she nurses, her infant’s chest will get tight. If a mother’s nipple is cold or retracted en-ergetically, the infant’s mouth may become cold or energet-ically retracted. These tendencies are made more so when the father is not around to love the infant and support the mother. The infant must imitate the mother to survive. Unfortunately, “infants” are still imitating their mothers and fathers when they are 20, 40, and 80. If I were going to give a panacea for a healthy heart, I would suggest that we be in sustained loving relationships with both men and women (and nature) as com-pletely as possible. I also suggest therapy and inner energetic practices with stillness and silence as the foundation that will make such relationships possible.