Bioenergetic Tension

Bioenergetic Tension
By William Bloom

That tension in the body prevents a healthy flow and flexibility was clearly described by Wilhelm Reich, a medical doctor and psychoanalyst, in the 1930's. He developed a therapeutic approach known as bioenergetics, which recognizes that psychological and physical traumas anchor down into musculature and tissue, causing permanent freezing or 'bioenergetic armour'.

Reich also understood that the vitality or energy flowing through a human body is the same vital energy that flows through nature and the universe in general - the prana of Indian medicine and the chi of Chinese. He even began to measure its electric charge. Most Western scientists and doctors of his time rejected his insights, but now they are becoming an accepted part of holistic healthcare.

Reich also put forward the idea that one way of assessing an adult's health was by virtue of whether she or he was capable of enjoying sex. This seemed an absurd and embarrassing idea to many people, but in the light of endorphins it makes a great deal of sense. The pleasure of love making comes from the flood of endorphins. This flood is only possible if the whole body is sufficiently fluid and open to allow it.

The importance of our body armour and how it affects our ability to experience pleasure and connection cannot be underestimated. Most of us have learnt to live with our armour and take it for granted. The tragedy here is that we have become accustomed to an ongoing subliminal level of tension, little realizing how profoundly it can hurt our physical and psychological health.

Our bioenergetic armour has developed over the years and carries the full history of our past distress. Memories are not just psychological imaginings. but sit as patches of tension in our bodies. Infants emerge from the womb soft, floppy, vulnerable, energetically open, receiving and feeling everything.

Everychild, simply by virtue of the fact that she or he is alive, is connected with and flows with the benevolence and creativity of life. Children throb with a natural connection. But the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune start hitting early on. Careless parents. Bullying elders. Competitive siblings. Tough schools. Harsh media. Dangerous streets. Social injustice. All the 'noise' of modern life. Hunger and pain. Each of these events, every childhood injury, physical and psychological, creates tension in the physical body.

The result is that by the time most of us are teenagers we have lost that bubbling continuous ability to feel life's natural beauty. Of course, we feel it every now and again when we do things we enjoy and our armour temporarily melts. But the loss of that ongoing pleasure and connection damages us. The Tao Te Ching, a Taoist text on health and development, puts it very simply:

When people are born they are supple
And when they die they are stiff.
When the trees are born they are tender
And when they die they are brittle.
Stiffness is then a cohort of death,
Flexibility a cohort of life.

Sadly, many people are so stiffened emotionally that they are even sceptical about the possibility of benevolent energies. The Endorphin Effect, however, provides immediate and long term strategies for bypassing, working with and healing bioenergetic armour.

This is an extract from The Endorphin Effect written by William Bloom and can be found in the Soothingminds online shop.


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