We’ve talked a lot so far about the techniques of Bodywork.
Now, we need to have a look at what the different areas of the body “tell us” about the person we’re looking at. Then, we’ll look at a couple of exercises that you can use to get closer to a “freed” body.
There are several paths or approaches we can take here:
- Bodywork — as Reich noted, unexpressed emotions lead to muscular tightness, which in turn leads to blockages in “life energy” (Reich called this energy “orgone” energy.)
- Chinese Medicine — chi, or energy, flows through meridians, or pathways. There are “meridian points” throughout the body; if the point is clear, the energy flows freely. If the meridian is stagnant or blocked, the chi does not flow freely; places “downstream” from the blockage become deficient.
- Chakra Theory — the body is divided into 7 zones, from the tip of the tailbone to the top of the head. Excess or deficient energy in any chakra causes the attendant zone to not function optimally.
- Maslow — Hierarchy of Needs — Maslow’s list shows developmental stages that parallel the other lists.
We know that the chi is blocked at a particular point if moderate pressure causes pain. There is definitely a block if there is pain with no pressure.
So, if I am in pain, even if I know, for example (this actually happens to me) that my back twinges when I move a couch, why did my back twinge there? Other people would have moved the couch with no problem. Why am I “weak” in that area?
Here are a couple of examples:
Middle image is of a neutral to tight small of the back.
Right, a “civilian, non-dancer” with a pronounced curve.
I worked with a ballerina who was incredibly flexible and supple. She could do tricks with her body I only dream of. Yet, her personal life was out of control — she was not content with herself and with her relationship.
The place this showed was in the small of her back, which is (according to our theory) the interface between self-esteem and relationships.
The posture she took (a highly curved small of the back) is also a result of 20 years of ballet.
Dancing is all about flexibility and strength. One would think, then, if all were well, that moderate pressure to the top of the pelvis and to the muscles of the small of the back would bring a sigh of contentment, not “Ouch! Jeez, that hurts!”
The fact that she was plagued with bladder infections and a bloated tummy was also indicative of self-esteem and relationship issues (see below, the Belly Zone.) Thus, we see that where we hurt can often be indicative of what’s up in the broader scope of our lives.
In my own case, if I go off into my head too often, my feet and legs will ache. If I am uncomfortable in a relationship, the small of my back acts up. If I am unwilling to drop something, if I need to “chew” on it, I’ll feel that in my throat, neck and shoulders, and occasionally in my jaw (I talk easily and let out noise a lot, so my jaw muscles don’t hold much.)
As I said in the Introduction, as soon as we go into self-doubt, self-criticism or start having relationship difficulties… as soon as we block ourselves from living our vocation… there will be an immediate reaction in the muscles of the body. If we do not deal with the issue, we will begin to manifest other symptoms: colds, infections, digestive issues.
From there, we move to actually damaging internal organs.
I can usually look at someone and see the blocks. With the ballerina, I looked and saw what I described, above. I asked her to walk to a door and back up to it (see the door exercise) and straighten her back so that the small of her back almost touched.
She was incapable of moving the small of her back to neutral. When I commented on what I saw, she got quite indignant, and grabbed her left foot and tucked it behind her left ear, then went “en point.” “What are you talking about? See? I’m fine!”
Until I started doing Bodywork, and pressed her pelvic points, the small of her back and her abdomen. She was, in a flash, in tears, crying about how “fat” she was, and how “bad” her relationship with her boyfriend — their deepening intimacy — scared her.
All of these are pelvis / small of the back issues.
Three months later, with a lot of work on those regions of her body PLUS relationship counselling and self-esteem work, her body pain was virtually gone. She could touch the wall with the small of her back when she chose to. Her process had begun to turn.
Monitor your body. If there is pain or internal distress, something is up, even if you can bend like a pretzel. If the same areas keep “breaking down,” listen to the voice of your body. It is, after all, the only one you have!
We’ll discuss what each zone can tell us, using the above perspectives
The first zone includes the legs, the lower butt, the sciatic dimples and the root chakra itself, located at the tip of the tailbone.
Myss: Stability, grounding, physical health, prosperity, trust. » Self-preservation
Maslow: Biological, physiological, and Safety needs. » Basic Life Needs
Allen: See my article: Chakra 1
The second zone includes, the lower belly, genitals, and upper butt, up to the top of the pelvis (draw a line around the body at the navel level.) The 2nd chakra is located 2 inches below the navel, and 2 inches in.)
Myss: Fluidity, pleasure, healthy sexuality, feeling. » Self-gratification
Maslow: family, affection and sexuality. Relationships, work group, etc. » Belonging — Love Needs
Reich: Blockages in the pelvis involve the whole region. “In most cases, the armor of the pelvis comprises almost all the muscles of the pelvis. The whole pelvis is retracted. The abdominal muscle above the symphysis is painful. The same holds true for the adductors of the thigh, those on the surface as well as those which lie deeper… The pelvis is “dead” and expressionless.”
Allen: See my article: Chakra 2
The third zone includes the belly from the navel up, up to the ribs… and the small of the back up to the ribs. The 3rd chakra is located at the solar plexus, just below the zyphoid.
Myss: Vitality, spontaneity, strength of will, purpose, self-esteem. » Self-definition
Maslow: Achievement, status responsibility, reputation. » Reputation needs
Reich: The diaphragmatic zone is seen as the last defense for the upward movement of energy. The tightened muscles force the energy back down.
Allen: See my article: Chakra 3
The fourth zone includes the area from the bottom ribs to the bottom of the collar bone (clavicle.) On the back, bottom ribs through the top of the shoulder blade. The 4th chakra is at the heart, in the centre of the chest.
Myss: Balance, compassion, acceptance, whole relationships. » Self-acceptance
Maslow: self-knowledge, meaning, self-awareness. » Purpose needs
Reich: “All the intercostal muscles, the large chest muscles (pectoral), the shoulder muscles (deltoid), and the muscle group on and between the shoulder blades are involved in the armoring of the chest. The attitude of being “self-contained” or “self-controlled,” of “sticking to oneself,” “being reserved,” are the major manifestations of the chest armor. Shoulders which are pulled back express precisely what they mean — “holding back.”
Allen: See my article: Chakra 4
The fifth zone consists of the throat, jaw, and shoulder muscles, as well as the occipital indents, and the “voice point” in the indent just above the clavicle.
Myss: Clear communication, creativity, resonance. » Self-expression
Maslow: beauty, balance, form. Expression of true self. »>Aesthetic needs
Reich: “The armor of the third segment comprises essentially the deep musculature of the neck, the platysma, and the sternocleidomastoid muscles. Let one but imitate the movement expressive of the attitude of anger or crying and one will have no difficulty in comprehending the emotional function of the neck armor… From the movements of the Adam’s apple, it is possible to tell when a patient’s anger affect or impulse to cry is unconsciously and literally “swallowed.”
Allen: See my article: Chakra 5
The sixth zone consists of the nose, eyes, and brow, as well as the back of the head.
Myss: Psychic perception, accurate interpretation, imagination, clear seeing. » Self-reflection
Maslow: personal growth, self fulfilment. » Self-actualization
Reich: “In the sphere of the ocular armor segment, we find a contraction and immobilization of all or almost all the muscles of the eyeballs, the eyelids, the forehead, the lachrymal gland, etc. Rigid forehead and eyelids, expressionless eyes or bulging eyeballs, mask-like expression, and immobility on both sides of the nose are the essential characteristics of this armor ring.”
Allen: See my article: Chakra 6
The seventh zone consists of the top of the head.
Myss: Wisdom, knowledge, consciousness. »>Self-knowledge
Maslow: Helping others to self-actualize »>Transcendence
Allen: See my article: Chakra 7