Bioenergetics is a type of somatic psychotherapy created from the ideas that underlie Reichian Therapy, by Alexander Lowen. Lowen was an former patient and pupil of Wilhelm Reich. Chronic muscular tensions are believed to be the result of suppressed feelings. Retracted shoulders reflect suppressed anger, raised shoulders reflect fear, square shoulders suggest the shouldering of responsibility and bowed shoulders portrays shouldering a burden.
Working directly on the body can release of these feelings can be release. Bioenergetic exercises focus on three main areas: grounding, breathing and character structure:
1) With grounding one is encouraged to adopt a specific stance, being aware of one's contact with the ground, such that one becomes more aware of one's personal identity and feels emotionally secure.
2) Any irregularities in breathing, caused by the inhibiting effect of muscular tension, are eradicated by special exercises such as having to breathe in a stressful position.
3) In character structure there are five types of muscular pattern, each associated with particular emotions: the fear of falling apart, the fear of isolation or abandonment, the fear of failure, inadequacy in asserting rights or needs, and the fear of emotional heartbreak. Each pattern is treated by confronting the particular problems and developing self-awareness psychologically and kinesthetically.
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