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Lowen's bioenergetic analysis

Bioenergetics was developed by Alexander Lowen, a student of Reich, who mainly uses breathing techniques, physical exercises, positions and body contacts to achieve a healthy integration between body and mind, so that the individual finds the enough energy to allow him to discover pleasure, rather than being forced into defensive procedures without escape. Attention is therefore focused on the psychological problem and on the physical expression that manifests itself in appearance and attitudes.

When we say of an individual that he is "firm", "stable", we are not only describing his inner attitude, but we are also affirming something about his body. In this regard Lowen, who as a bioenergetics scholar deals in particular with attitude, mimicry and gestures, observes: «The problem of the patient's emotional safety cannot be separated from the problem of physical safety; for example, from his adhering with his feet to the ground ».

The relaxation of muscular contractions Lowen's work on the body is based on Reich's conception of the correspondence between the structure of character and the bodily attitude of an individual. The purpose of bioenergetic therapy is always to relax the muscle contractions, to "dissolve", thus allowing the emotions that caused these blocks to emerge in the consciousness and to restore the person to a state of natural energy charge: the energy balance derives from the balance between charge and discharge.

The charge is given by breathing through oxygenation and by food with metabolism, discharge from movement and sexuality. Lowen's therapeutic approach includes some specific body techniques, which take into account the "blocks" of breathing, movement, contact and self-expression. Like Reich, Lowen recognizes the value of "bodily contact" as a primary form of relationship with the other. The therapist's touch must be warm, friendly, trustworthy and free from any personal interest. Bioenergetic therapists - Lowen recalls - are prepared to use their hands to feel spasticity or muscle blockages. If touching is to inspire confidence, the therapist must learn to make contact by touching, soft and reassuring, and at the same time to apply the necessary pressure to release and reduce the contraction of the muscles.

BREATHING

As for breathing, Lowen continues on Reich's way to restore deep, calm breathing, in which the inhalation proceeds from the pelvic area and moves upward to the mouth. The limit placed on the expression of emotional activity translates, in fact, into an alteration of the natural breathing patterns. The respiratory movement proposed by bioenergetics is useful for dissolving chronic tensions and allows the free manifestation of emotions, for example through crying, screams, sounds relaxation of the whole body.

THE GROUNDING TECHNIQUE

But Lowen's most important contribution is to be found in the grounding technique, that is the contact established by the feet with the ground. From a practical point of view, this means moving the center of gravity to the level of the abdomen and learning to feel and release the energetic charge of the legs and feet, until you perceive a real exchange between the feet and the ground. Providing an individual with grounding, ie basic, putting him down to earth means "re-centering" him on oneself. The person, thus rooted, feels that he has a solid footing on the earth, and the courage to stand on his feet or move on it as he wishes. On the level of development of the ego, having grounding, being in contact with reality, coincides with a greater integration of the individual as a responsible adult.

Knowing how to stand on one's own legs increases the security that man has in himself, since in this way he becomes truly capable of being in contact with the reality of his body and with his position in life and in society.

The mobilization of blocked energy

Bioenergetic therapy therefore promotes an integration between body and mind in order to mobilize the "blocked" energy of the individual, creating a new path against the old use of "defensive-neurotic models")

Most people, Lowen says, go into therapy because they feel their growth process has stopped and hope they can restore it. Bioenergetic analysis proposes a way to rediscover what Lowen himself defines as happiness, that is, the awareness of growth.