This morning I leapt out of bed and started stomping up and down with my hands in the air shouting HUH HUH HUH HUH…
Yes my housemates think I’m crazy, but they haven’t heard of bioenergetics.
Not many people have. When looking to uncover and overcome problems of the mind, we’ve naturally always turned to the mind for the solution—just look at psychotherapy.
The reality is though, the body influences the mind just as much as the mind influences the body.
Today’s scientists are realizing the ‘mind-body correlation’ is a much closer relationship than previously thought. Heart rate, blood pressure, muscular tension, body position, facial expressions; the physical state and actions of the body are being shown to have a direct impact on how we think, feel, and even behave.
So if psychotherapy treats problems in the mind through exploration of the mind, and physiotherapy treats problems in the muscles through manipulation of the body, psychosomatic therapies such as Alexander Lowens’ ‘bioenergetics’ treats the mind through exploration and manipulation of the body. In bioenergetics, neurotic holding patterns, such as anxieties, fears, and repressed feelings are explored and released through active expression in the body.
These expressions consist of certain breathing, moving, and body-centering techniques which loosen hidden muscular tension, disrupt repetitive movement patterns, and relieve accumulated stress in the body.
The emotional and physical benefits are endless. According to Alexander Lowen—founder of bioenergetics therapy—some of those benefits include reducing stress, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and chronic muscular tension, and enhancing sexuality, emotional expression, and feelings of happiness.
So whatever it is you are looking to achieve, let’s take a look at some of the ways in which you can incorporate bioenergetic therapy into your life in as little as 5 minutes a day (thanks to Elliot Hulse, you can find a video to accompany all the exercises mentioned here).
Get More in Tune With Your Feelings
We live in a thinking culture that believes all problems can be solved through thinking your way through them. This is troublesome, especially as we know willpower and self-discipline are limited resources which deplete significantly over the course of a day—depending on the impact of factors such as conflict, decisions, and distractions.
When our minds grow weary, we ‘think’ we’ve used up all our energy. We rarely stop to consider the affect our body is having on our ability to maintain control of our minds.
Tough decisions, stressful clients, exchanges with colleagues or family members; situations like these are relatively fleeting in the mind but manifest long term in the body. Thus by the end of the day it feels like our bodies have been dragged with our mind through the turmoil. We feel physically drained even though we’ve been sitting down all day in a comfortable office.
Keep in tune with how you hold tension of the day and block energy in your body with the Shake & Vibrate. Try it out in the morning or at intervals throughout the day (if you can find a bit of privacy):
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and arms down by your side.
- Begin to vibrate and shake different parts of the body, exploring different and unusual movement patterns—the wilder the better.
- Make sure to breathe deeply to help circulate oxygen and loosen up those tense muscles.
Ground Yourself in The Present
Muscular tension and stress in the body is a gradual build up of energy from past events and experiences. Just like getting rid of mental baggage, once you begin to free your body of the weight it carries from the past, you can begin to embrace more acute feelings that arise in the present.
You could try and do this through conversation, but it would only have limited success. For words are just thoughts, and thoughts do not invoke the same affects as physical movements on the body. They may help you learn to recognize tension of the shoulders or stomach, but through movements like The Warrior Pound (or Ground Pound), you can do just that, and much, much more:
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and arms up in the air.
- With both feet flat on the ground, start doing small jumps and chant the word ‘HUH’
- Each time you hit the ground, push the sound from deep in your pelvic floor. Your whole body should vibrate. Continue for several minutes or until the neighbors come knocking.
Get out of your head and more connected to your body by grounding yourself firmly in the present moment. Soon you’ll be a stranger to the common feeling of being afraid to come alive and fully embrace your true self.
Become Bursting With Energy
Ever seen a movie where there’s a psychiatrist sitting back in a big arm chair while a patient aggressively sobs about their issues, just moments later to be adorning a radiating smile? Well, turns out this happens with the body too.
In today’s rapidly paced world, stored tension and trapped energy in the body has little opportunity to be released. We sleep, drive our cars, type at our desks, sit in cafes, and repeat. This repetitive behaviour and the repetitive movements that make up the behaviour—walking, sitting, typing, eating—foster imbalances in the way we use and free energy in the body.
That not only means we develop poor posture, but we begin to forget how our bodies can move and feel outside this limited range, quickly leading to lethargy, fatigue, and an overall reduction in energy levels.
Break up repetitive movement patterns and flood the body with oxygen with The Bow:
- Bend your knees slightly and lean back, pushing your fists into the notches just above your bum in the lower back.
- Relax the muscles in your back and chest, look ahead, open your mouth wide, and take deep breaths through the nose, expanding the diaphragm fully and releasing the breath forcefully.
- Don’t worry if you start vibrating, thats your body trying to break up muscular tension. Continue for several minutes.
Bioenergetics isn’t just about solving problems, it’s about learning to live a life of greater quality. The practice may seem a little crazy at first, but in reality our bodies are built for incredible things, not just watching cat videos and flicking through Facebook—now that is crazy. Now’s the time to give bioenergetics a go and get more in tune with not what you think you want, but what your body wants!
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Joseph is a freelance writer and student of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. He believes a new approach to mindfulness is needed if it’s to have an impact on life in the fast-paced and hyper-stimulating digital age.