Author Topic: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton  (Read 895 times)


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Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
« Reply #30 on: April 15, 2015, 07:49:09 am »
So we encourage our clients to breathe, not according to an ideal pattern, but simply tobreathe more deeply, more freely, with less control than they are used to - to 'let breathingbreathe'. People's customary style of breathing varies enormously: what for one individualwould be a deep breath may for another be normal, or even shallow. Similarly, differentpeople tend to breathe with different parts of their body - you may see one person's belly riseand sink with the breath while their chest stays almost motionless; the next person mayexpand and contract their chest without moving their belly at all.
 Exercise 21
 Try this with a few friends: let each person in turn lie on their back and breathe, without trying to influence their breath at all. Look for the differences in depth; in comparativestrength of in and out breath; in which parts of the body move with the breathing. You may be
amazed by how variously we perform this most basic of activities! Remember that this is anexploration, not a competition ...
 We start from where each person is, encouraging them to move a little way towards a fullbreath that spontaneously stirs the whole body. Whatever form of work we are doing, part of our attention will on the clients breathing, but for bodywork as such we generally ask them tolie on their back on a mattress while we sit or kneel beside them

Then we watch, in touch with our own breath and our own naturalness, which is the only wayto encourage it to manifest in another person. After a while we perhaps start to feed back whatwe see; to point out where the breath moves and where it doesn't, how one person, forinstance, breathes
more strongly and
more weakly, or vice versa; how someone movestheir lungs only from half empty to completely empty and back again, never really lettingthem fill up; how another person never really lets their lungs empty, how someone's outbreathcatches in their throat rather than sighing out freely. Whatever we see we feed back, helpingthe client to become aware of what they do, and if possible to relax a little way into a fuller,freer breath.In a while, we may perhaps put our hands on the person's chest and belly, encouraging theoutbreath to deepen by leaning gently into them, then taking our weight back as the breathreturns. We might rock their body from side to side, or massage the chest and shoulders, all aspart of inviting a relaxed, easy but strong breathing to develop while at the same time offeringthe implicit reassurance and challenge of physical touch.For many people, a few minutes' conscious focus on their breath is in itself enough to createpowerful new sensations and emotions, as the stronger breath puts a stronger charge into theirbody. If we are loose and relaxed to start with, the experience can be pleasant, empowering
ven ecstatic. If there is a fair amount of tension, though, more difficult and perhaps alarmingfeelings appear as new energy hits the muscle blocks.The emotions that have been 'held' in the muscle armour use the breath energy to push forexpression, while at the same time the blocks themselves are taking up some of the newenergy in order to push back. The whole contradiction which armouring embodies, betweenexpression and repression, is intensified, which can be very uncomfortable both physicallyand emotionally.Thus the client will need careful support through this part of the process. Above all, they needto know that someone is there with them, and that what is happening is basically okay. Wewill also encourage them to let movement happen wherever there is a sense of stuck energy;to express that charge, maybe by stretching, wriggling around on the mattress, hitting out atthe mattress with hands or feet, screwing up or opening wide the eyes, bouncing with thepelvis. Often it's a matter of noticing and amplifying the slight movements that are alreadyhappening. At the same time, we remind them to
keep breathing
and to
make a sound
.The voice is very powerful, perhaps essential, for the release of held tension. It focuses ourawareness like a spotlight on the area of the body where we are working. It encourages us tobreathe and to 'push'; and, of course, it also directly expresses the held emotion.Often the person isn't immediately in touch with the feeling that is being held in. If wepersuade them to make a sound, it will start as a flat, toneless 'Aaaaaaa', then begin to take onemotional colouring. Without making any conscious effort it may become a yell of anger, ascream of fear, a cry of pain or grief - even a roar of laughter or a shout of affirmation. Oncethis point of connection with and commitment to a feeling has been reached, the whole senseof stuck tension in the body suddenly turns over. The energy has peaked in this act of expression and remembering - the bodymind has become whole again. As the storm passesthere will generally be a sense of release, relaxation and spaciousness.How easily such a point can be reached depends on the extent and the nature of the bodyarmouring. Very often, breathing
bodily expression of feeling will create a situationof extreme held tension. The person will start to feel a stiffness and uncomfortable tingling incertain areas, often the hands and around the mouth, and will find it hard to
breathingdeeply - a state which, if left to take its course, would gradually become both excruciating andterrifying. This state is known medically as 'hyperventilation', and is seen as something to beavoided, which in a sense it obviously is. Yet hyperventilation is the dragon which guards arich treasure. Physiologically, what is happening is that the person is 'blowing off' carbondioxide with the outbreath, altering the acid/alkali balance in the bloodstream and thussending muscles into spasm. This is why an easy and mechanical way to bring someone back to normal is to make them breathe in and out of a paper bag, reabsorbing their own carbondioxide.Some medical people draw the conclusion that it is therefore dangerous to breathe deeply! Yetthousands of people have discovered that it is possible to confront and
this processof over-breathing, so that it will not happen again no matter how deeply and strongly webreathe. Overbreathing is a gateway into a world of greater power and sensitivity, and the waythrough is to dissolve the blocks against expression which set up the tingling and cramps. Thisis the
level of the process, however we understand it physiologically.

Hands need to grip, to let power move through them, to hit out or to hold on; if they don't theywill become cramped, twisted, powerless claws. The voice needs to shout, the mouth to pumpthe sound out, to say in one way or another 'I'm here, I exist, I feel!'. Over-breathing is about
losing control
: either we lose control to paralysis and pain. or we surrender to the free flow of energy and life.So when over-breathing begins to manifest, we reassure the person that this is a naturalhealing process, and encourage them to let life flow through the stuck areas. If the stiffnessbecomes painful, they must yell and groan about that pain! We encourage them to grip on to ablanket with their hands, committing every ounce of their strength, letting power flow downtheir arms, using their voice to help them grip. As the natural process takes over, sound andmovement become natural, spontaneous, releasing. Usually, great waves of pleasure andenergy now flow through the previously stuck areas; for a little while, the person floats freeon the ocean of being. Such experiences can lead to lasting changes in the bodymind.At these and other times, some Reichian therapists will use their hands to press on tightmuscles in the client. These may be the breathing muscles themselves - the diaphragm, bellyand chest - or they may be armoured areas elsewhere in the body which are holding back expression. Pressing, poking, tickling, stretching tight muscles can help them 'overload', sothat the charge of feeling spills back into expression. This sort of stimulation usually hurts -and this itself provides a route to expression as the individual reacts to pain with anger, fear orcrying. The emotion which comes up will be the one held in the muscle tension.Pain is a powerful tool in therapeutic bodywork, but it also carries complex implications -about power, for example - and is bound to affect the relationship between client andtherapist. Only a few Reichian therapists feel easy about using heavy pressure as a way of starting release, though for many clients, as they become more experienced with the work,there are times when they will directly perceive their own holding-on and welcome thetherapist's help in releasing it, even if it does involve pain. The whole area is a complex one,and current realisations about the theme of abuse in life and in therapy make it even morecomplex - we will look at this issue again in the next chapter. We should perhaps say that thetwo authors have very different attitudes to strong physical work: Nick at the moment uses it,while Em doesn't.However, there are many other forms of direct physical interaction which come up inbodywork. As the client follows the sensations and emotions which arise, they often need topush with hands, legs, head, shoulders, pelvis; to hit out at someone (the therapist will hold acushion in front of herself); to pull against a person's strength; to hold and to be held. In thisform of work, the therapist is present with her whole being, body as well as mind, offeringherself as a resource,, creating an intimacy which, outside sex, is almost unique in adult life.