Bioenergetics, Alexander Lowen

I reviewed another book by Alexander Lowen called The Language of The Body. You can check that out here.

So I’ll start by briefly comparing the two books.

The Language of The Body is more of a book for psychologists. It goes into detail explaining the different character structures that serve as a basis for the practice of bioenergetics. It’s interesting, but it’s a dense read.

Bioenergetics is a much more general book on the subject of bioenergetics. It starts by explaining the origins of the practice, how it grew out of Lowen’s work with a psychologist named Wilhelm Reich.

Then he goes on the give a general overview of the practice, providing lots of sketches to illustrate exercises and principles.

The book is divided according to different principles within bioenergetics such as the energetic concept, pleasure as a primary motive, reality as a secondary motive, falling anxiety, and the balance between self-expression and survival.

Of course he mentions character structures, but points out that it’s just a template and that each patient has to be treated as an individual. A few of the character structures are different from the ones in The Language of The Body. I think that’s because Bioenergetics was written twenty years later, so it’s more recent.

In Bioenergetics, the character structures are not the main focus, the practice as a whole is.

He explains quite a few exercises in the book. A few of the ones I like a lot are the bow (can also be done with hands extended overhead):

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Lying on a bed with your legs above you, as straight as you can:

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Bending over, fingertips in contact with the floor, straighten legs until there is a stretch on the hamstrings:

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All of these exercises require that you BREATHE DEEPLY. Opening your mouth wide and relaxing all of the muscles around the air passages is necessary.

What will happen is that your body will probably start vibrating, which is a good thing. It means that your chronic muscle tensions (that you probably didn’t know you had) are dissolving. This will give you more FEELING into your body.

That’s the benefit of bioenergetics: you become ALIVE. You experience life more fully, you experience emotions, you gain energy.

Forget coffee, just BREATHE.

The bow exercise is used for charging the body, then proceed with the other two.

I still really believe in the power of bioenergetics. A lot of personal development goes on in the mind, but the mind is very limited in how much it can change a person. To change a person, change his body.

 

The Verdict:
Definitely a more useful read than The Language of the Body. Easy to understand, top-notch presentation of bioenergetics.

Favorite quote:

“Freedom is the absence of inner restraint to the flow of feeling, grace is the expression of this flow in movement, while beauty is the manifestation of the inner harmony such a flow engenders. They denote a healthy body and also, therefore, a healthy mind.”

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Meditation: the #1 Habit for Personal Growth

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: meditation is the one greatest practice you can have in order to grow yourself.

For those of you already doing it, great. The rest, get started.

There are TONS of reasons to meditate, some spiritual, some health-related, and some just benefits that anyone would want.

  1. Less stress
  2. Increased levels of happiness: it’s a direct consequence from the first benefit.
  3. Scientifically proven to increase productivity and creativity
  4. Scientifically proven to improve brain function and health
  5. Better sleep
  6. More access to feelings and intuitions
  7. Distinction between thinking and awareness: this is HUGE. Too many people live life in their heads, and try to change themselves through THOUGHT. This doesn’t work. You have to become more MINDFUL in your everyday life. Meditation will assist you in this.
  8. Getting rid of addictions as a result of being more mindful
  9. Less dependent on thought, are more able to be critical of your thoughts
  10. Slowing down thought process, will be less likely to be inundated with negative thoughts and emotions.
  11. Able to be happy by doing absolutely nothing
  12. Allowing what is
  13. Better able to do deep work (contemplation, Self-Inquiry…)
  14. Enlightenment

If that didn’t convince you, I don’t know what will.

What is meditation anyway? There are literally hundreds of ways to meditate. What’s the real essence of meditation.

It can be defined in lots of ways, but basically it’s:
–   relaxation of the mind

  • letting go
  • surrendering
  • letting go of control
  • (slowly) dissolving the ego
  • seeing there is no meditator
  • distinguishing between awareness and thinking
  • what is
  • allowing what is

All these things basically point to one thing: surrendering control, which is the whole point of spirituality.

What’s the best meditation technique? You can try out multiple ones over the course of a few weeks and see what you like, but I strongly recommend the Do Nothing technique.

It’s simple: you do nothing. Just let go of control and relax.

Here’s a guided meditation from actualized.org that works SUPER well. It is a good one to get started with because it is very peaceful. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LscnZCzdak&t=1204s

Personally, I started meditating over a year ago (not with that guided meditation). I know everyone says that meditation is all about blissing out and being peaceful.

Do not be deceived.

The first year or so will be hard. You’ll be confused, you’ll wanna quit, you won’t be seeing any results from it.

That’s OK. Just stick with it.

It was really only recently (in the last few months) that meditation has become a real joy for me, where I can sit and expect to get at least of few moments of peace and relaxation.

So there you have it. Start today. Even if it’s only 20 minutes a day. Everyone has 20 minutes in their day. Then bump it up.

I’d like to finish with a great quote from Marcus Aurelius that drives home the importance of meditation:

“Failure to observe what is in the mind of another has seldom made a man unhappy; but those who do not observe the movements of their own minds must of necessity be unhappy.”

– Meditations, Marcus Aurelius

Even outside of a religious context like Buddhism where meditation is central, ancient sages still recognized the importance it held.

5 Best Personal Development Habits

This post is destined for beginners who might just be getting into personal development. These are the 5 most important habits you can install in your life, and will form the foundation of your growth.

They’re not difficult habits to install, but do them, and the results will compound over time.

Here’s the list:

  1. Meditation

Oh, man.

Meditation has gotten a ton of press in the last few years with spirituality becoming a bigger pert of society and people realizing the benefits of it.

You don’t have to be a spiritual person to get the benefits of it. There’s plenty of scientific evidence to back up how important a tool it can be. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress and cravings, and increase happiness and productivity.

I’ll do another post with all the benefits and implications of meditation, but I don’t want to overwhelm you. This is just an introduction.

As you probably know, there are hundreds of ways to mediate, thousands of guided meditations, and seemingly conflicting techniques.

Don’t worry. There’s nothing to worry about.

The best definition of meditation I’ve found is simply: what is.

I can highly recommend actualized.org‘s guided meditation, consisting of letting go. It’s the one I use every day.

As for how often to meditate? You can go the hardcore 8 hours a day, but just start with 20 minutes. 20 minutes sitting down meditating, if that’s all you can do, is great to start out with. After a while, increase it.

Warning! Meditation is NOT all sunshine and rainbows. You’re dealing with the inner workings of your mind. It gets messy. You’ll get stressed out, then worry about not meditating right, you might fall asleep a few times… Not super relaxing when you first start out.

But essential.

2.   Journal

The next habit to add is a journal.

This isn’t a fixed habit like meditation or exercise are. I just like having a place to right down things that come to mind, or venting, or trying to solve problems on my own.

There are tons of ways to journal, none of them wrong, just go with what works for you. Make it personal, creative.

I also recommend having a gratitude section in your journal.

A journal is great for solving your own problems, as it allows you to get a third-person perspective on your life.

It’s probably the easiest habit to install. Think of it as installing a second brain.

3. Health

This is more of a lifestyle switch than a habit.

Much like meditation, people are starting to wake up and see the many benefits of living a healthy lifestyle.

Most people realize the surface level benefits: more energy, longer life span, clearer mind, happier…

What most people don’t realize is that moving your body also impacts your growth on a psychological level.

How do you access your intuition? Access your body. Intuition comes or through the body, not the head. Treat your body like an instrument that you fine-tune.

This healthy lifestyle is made up of 3 aspects: exercise (working out, sports, movement), nutrition (eating a balanced diet), and rest (getting enough sleep, keeping stress levels low). All three are important for a healthy lifestyle.

Again, this is a more personalized topic than meditation. Do what works for you in each aspect: exercise, nutrition, and rest. Go with what feels right and make you feel physical good.

4. Reading

In the spirit of cultivating deeper understanding, which is one of the ultimate goals of all this (click here for that post), we need to read. A lot.

For beginners, try reading 1 self-help book per month. Once you get some areas of your life handled, expand your range of material, mostly into the spiritual realm. Develop a big-picture understanding of what’s going on here.

For examples of good, basic PD books to read, well, you’re on the right site 😉

Reading and learning is a good way to develop yourself, but there are traps associated with it. Beware becoming the armchair philosopher. I know I fell into this trap, and still do. Knowing is only half the battle, doing is the part that counts.

5. Being / Reflecting

The last habit that I want you to install is one of being / reflecting. Our lives are mostly run by doing doing doing, more more more. Take time out of your day to slow down.

As you develop yourself further, you’ll see that the truest thing you can do is simply be. Just sit and do nothing. If you’re not used to it, it can be harder than it sounds.

At some point, being and doing nothing can become the most fulfilling activity of your life.

Another aspect of this is reflecting. Reflect on life, on how little we know, on how lucky we are, on your death, on how you want to feel on your deathbed…

Contemplate the big questions, and the little nagging stuff falls away. It simply doesn’t bother you.

So hopefully this short post gave you some ideas about how to build a foundation for personal development.