“The defeat of the flesh entails the disorder of the soul, and the crisis state of the soul entails diseases of the body.” Epicurus Few people know that the popular expression: “a healthy mind in a healthy body” originally had a semantic accent opposite to the modern one: “a healthy mind is in a healthy body”. However, both the first and second meanings express the essence of the interconnection recognized by all psychologists and many physicians: the soul determines what happens to the body. Everything that happens in the soul leaves an imprint in the body.
Working with the soul, we can heal many seemingly purely medical problems of the body. Conversely, work with the body can affect the psychological state of a person.
Detailed influence in the “soul-body” bundle is dealt with by body-oriented psychotherapy (BOT).
Psychologists working in the field of TOP believe that the body is a picture or a film that tells in detail about the life of its owner. At any moment of life, the state of a person’s body is an embodied history of emotional and physical traumas experienced and being experienced by him, accumulated life experience, views and ideas, ailments and diseases.
But the “body”, “corporality” does not just reflect what happens to a person. The body largely determines what happens.
The body is the original given in the life of a newly born child. The first experience of man is the experience of the body. Later, it is the bodily-sensual experience that becomes the basis of mental development and self-knowledge.
A newborn person is ready and able to openly experience and feel 100 percent. But gradually the costs of upbringing, the difficulties of growing up and communicating with society lead to the suppression of feelings and sensations of the body, more often those that society regards as negative, destructive or inappropriate: for example, yesterday the child received gentle touches and hugs from the mother, and today they explained to him that this is unnecessary “veal tenderness.” Next time, the desire to hug mom needs to be suppressed – after all, this is not accepted …
Other examples are no less famous – who was not pulled up in childhood: how can you be angry with me, I’m your mother? How can you act like that, you’re a girl? Don’t cry, you’re a boy! The ban on the open and violent expression of discontent, resentment, anger and even joy gives rise to an internal conflict between objectively arising emotions and the ban on them by society.
The body fixes the suppressed emotions and the experiences received – it acquires a “muscle shell”, knots and zones of chronic stress and clamps. These zones block vital energy, emotions, forces, abilities; limit the mobility and resources of the vitality of the body; reduce the quality of life, lead to disease and aging.
Suppressing dangerous or negative feelings and experiences of the body, we come to internal conflicts: I think – one thing, I feel – another, I do – the third.
Traumas and disappointments, cumulative, entail a discord between feelings, mind and body; loss of contact with parts of the soul and body.
The way out of such impasses, according to body-oriented psychotherapists, is possible: through work with oneself, one’s conflicts, problems, etc. And the world of corporeality helps to restore one’s integrity and rediscover oneself.
TOP is not just “working with clamps” and solving specific problems. Body-oriented psychotherapy is a way to be yourself in any situation, throwing off the masks, protective layers that we acquire from childhood.
What does TOP treat?
Since the vast majority of people have some kind of psychological problem, going to a body-oriented therapist will be beneficial for all of us. Even if you do not want to solve specific problems, TOP will help you establish a fuller and deeper contact with your body, and therefore between your emotions, mind and body.
Specific “indications” for TOP include: emotional trauma associated with the complexities of relationships in the family and at work; mental trauma of childhood, deformation of the process of personality development; neurotic disorders, the consequences of experienced stresses and life dramas; spiritual crises and searches; inability to cope with difficult experiences, such as grief, loss.
The meaning of treatment with TOP can be expressed in several aspects:
one. Exploring the body, energy blocking zones and clamps, a person becomes aware of his problems, remembers traumatic situations and his feelings at that moment.
Most importantly, in the therapist’s office, the patient gets the opportunity to throw out what was previously kept in himself for a long time. Conscious and reacted, old feelings and emotions go away, and for the first time in, perhaps, many years, a person returns to the natural, natural state of his body. Energy begins to circulate freely. The body begins to function normally, and the soul receives healing and strength to grow.
The body also stores information about old traumatic situations that manifest themselves as neuroses, illnesses, phobias, etc. present.
The therapist helps the person to return to the key moment and relive it, only with the help of the therapist and with the desired outcome.
Re-experiencing the moment of trauma in the TOP course, a person literally becomes a child, and on the other hand, he has access to a mature perception of the adult world. This unique duality provides healing: the support of the therapist makes it possible to survive the terrible moment, and one’s own intelligence helps to analyze what really happened.
For example, a person complaining of pain in the throat area, during the course of therapy, finds out that the pain is the result of a “stuck” cry – in childhood, adults behaved too aggressively towards the patient and did not allow screaming, i.e. – Express your anger. When the origin of the block became clear, with the help of the therapist, the patient “shouted” all his emotions and pains went away.
Body-oriented therapists are great at dealing with unexperienced states: unexpressed aggression, unspoken words, unshed tears, untimely screams of horror. After all, such unexperienced emotions do not become a thing of the past, but remain in our psyche as “hooks” and manifest as bodily problems!
It is worth understanding where the “legs” problem comes from, returning to that state and crying out – shouting – hitting, and the problems disappear, and breathing becomes easier. And not only breathe!
As D. Boadella points out in his book Emotional Expression and the Body, the suppression of crying, fear and anger can cause tension in the scalp and the muscles of the base of the skull, which creates the physiological basis for severe headaches.
In the throat area, as shown above, loud sobs, screams and cries are clamped. Knowing this, will we continue to forbid our children from making noise and, moreover, from crying?
By the way, during the release of repressed emotions since childhood, the color of the skin changes, patients feel a “clearness” in the head, their movements become coordinated and graceful.
Anger is associated with tension in the muscles of the shoulders and a large part of the back. Rage makes the back and shoulders stiff, the arms insensitive, with circulatory failure. In order to restore the mobility of this zone, one must be able to respond to this anger in a safe situation through powerful movements of the arms, shoulders and fists.
The trunk is the seat of the lungs, whose function is to breathe. Breathing is the basis of life and the expression of emotions in any form, and psychotherapists work a lot with the patient’s breathing.
Many of us are so accustomed to keeping our breath (and, therefore, emotions) under control that the full filling of the lungs with oxygen at first intoxicates and turns our heads almost excruciatingly!
The pelvis passes into the legs – the main support of the body. Tension in the legs leads to disruption of contact with the ground. You need to express this simply by starting to kick – both aggressively and with pleasure. The founders of TOP Lowen and Keleman emphasized the importance of restoring the free flow of sensation in the legs in order to create a feeling of “grounding”.
TOP helps people experience deep-seated sadness, anger, anxiety and longing and express these feelings to the fullest. It is only after the body has released its blocked impulses that it regains the joy of life and is able to function rhythmically and with pleasure.
The very name of the therapy defines the methods of its work. Most therapists make physical contact with the patient’s body: touch, massage, etc.
There are also various exercises in the TOP arsenal: respiratory, contributing to the normalization of the energy state of a person and respiratory “habits” – patterns; motor, contributing to the elimination of pathological motor stereotypes, the development of muscle feeling and fine motor coordination; meditative and others.
To reduce chronic tension in each muscle group, there are special methods of exposure. In W. Reich’s orthodox body therapy, muscle massage is used to encourage emotional release.
The patient is touched by pinching and pressing to help break the “muscle armor” move down the body, reaching the last circle, located at the level of the pelvis. Massage-like actions are used in other bodily approaches to soothe and support the client.
The body is our fundamental principle, it is the most important, basic component of the human “I”. Unfortunately, modern man, if he pays attention to his body, then, most likely, with the aim of adjusting himself to the standard of attractiveness or treating health problems. Meanwhile, as we just found out, by treating our body, this temple of the soul, more attentively and lovingly, we become more whole, spontaneous, healthy and, ultimately, happy.