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OF A DIFFERENT KIND OF SELF IMPROVEMENT METHOD:
Are you really satisfied? We all have things to do, and we do things we like as well as things we want to get done. If you’re a Zen student, or a seriously practicing Jew or Christian, or a company CEO, or a Network Marketer trying to build up a big down line, or even someone raising a family, when do you feel satisfied? In fact, when you do these various things, even if you make progress, are you really satisfied? And would you like to know how to be more satisfied; or at least, more capable?
Usually, when we do things in the world around us, we get satisfaction from our results for a while, but something inside is lacking. And when we work on ourselves, usually, we work at adding more. Adding more information, more physical strength, more meditation, more techniques classes, and so forth. This works for a while, too. But we can do something else as well, something most people just haven’t been aware of yet.
In this book I’m going to explain how to pause from that kind of just doing more activity, and to take what you already have, and make it work better, without adding anything else for a while. Then, when you add new stuff, you’ll have a better “being” to absorb it, integrate it with what you already have, and then use it more effectively. And the shift in “how” your “being” works, does add greater satisfaction. At the very least, it makes zazen more powerful.
There is a model for accomplishment called the Cycle of Therapy. It applies directly to everything we do, including personal development. It’s an oval with four stations on it, in a flow that goes clockwise around the oval.
The first station is to stop; rest; even release your past efforts. Create space. Then gain insight in that space, and then get nourished. The final station is efficiency. And as I pointed out just above, most of what we do is about creating more and more efficiency, by adding. That’s what all these professional development seminars are about. They leave the “rest” part to the spas.
The top athletes I’ve worked on, those who had coaches and many years of training, had schedules that helped them in this cycle. I helped them a whole lot more by introducing a new functioning to their bodies, and a new recognition about their bodies, to their minds.
That’s one thing that’s very easy and straightforward to do. It also worked on cross-legged meditators and people who’d been stressed. Even the first hour or two does some of this
So we can make “how” your “being” works with everything, better. Not by changing how “you” do it, like with a different technique. But rather, how your body-mind system is working better, and that being the driving force. Then your thoughts come out of that. It’s kind of the opposite approach from what most people are used to doing. But it works, and it’s a true, missing link.
I can do other things, too, beside just the Bodywork. So in this book, I’m going to tell you about a few techniques that increase your energy in all four of these stations at the same time. I can give you a fuller rest, an easier time of stopping the efficiency to take that rest, and a condition inside yourself that includes an amount of rest right in the middle of your activity. I can make you able to have greater insight, about both yourself and things around you. I can transform you so you “can” take in more nourishment, and are “willing” to take in more nourishment. And your whole being can operate more efficiently when you go into action, too.
I can’t guarantee all these methods will make you more satisfied all the time, especially not in the Big Spiritual sense. But I do assure you they will make you more capable, including more capable with the practices that can help you become more satisfied. THAT, I can do, regularly, and pretty straightforwardly. It takes a number of hours to do all of A, then something to do B, C, and D. But it’s all cumulative and it’s methodically repeatable even while tailoring the application to you
An electronics firm manager with no spiritual practice said, Great Methods to Make You More Accomplished was a title he and people in his field would find attractive and was something they’d like to do.
Again, it’s easy to think about improving our Spiritual practice by doing more Spiritual practice, just as doing more golf practice can make us better golfers. But remember that cycle of therapy. Maybe there’s a way to increase our efficiency and capabilities in both Spiritual practice and golf by doing something else besides doing “more with the current state of your body-mind tool.” And there is. The Bodywork & Bodymind therapy methods help a lot in self-development, in ways that Spiritual practice, psychotherapy, and even professional corporate development aim for. Only they help you in certain ways a lot faster, doing more, easier, and more thoroughly. And your transformation then enables the other things “that you do,” to work better. You’ll be a better golfer right away. And you’ll be a stronger meditator right away.
I liken it to having a more effective toothbrush. Just another, better technology, to work on the body, and bodymind mechanism.
This book is therefore about Performance Improvement. But it’s a different approach as you can see. The bottom line is that besides teaching us specific new abilities, and giving us knowledge, these methods actually improve our innate abilities in mind and body. So as a better functioning human being, we can do what we do, better.
One thing that the concentration and focus practice does, and the Bodywork and Bodymind methods do, is remove what’s extra, what gets in the way and restricts our own full abilities. We all pick up extra tightness, extra emotional baggage, and extra habit patterns to try to compensate for all the other extras we had already. These methods get rid of the extras.
It’s “cleaner” and more streamlined. You don’t have to fight something inside of you that you don’t want there, even if you don’t know it’s there. Everyone gets these extras.
The World Record Holder in the Long Jump told me he didn’t have to work at controlling his movements as much anymore. All his energy and power went more directly into the muscles and movement to do the jumping. The different parts of his body had been put into a better relationship with one another, now that the stuff that was stopping that relationship was removed. We call this better integration. So his “tool” to do the jumping, his body structure, would automatically work as a more unified system, in the direction his intentions wanted them to go. And this was just from the Bodywork alone.
I can also do some of this with my special stretching “method” videos. When some people hear the word stretching, they think, “I do Yoga.” These methods have helped people get more out of their yoga. Even yoga teachers said so.
With this kind of approach, where you remove what’s extra, you can restore a lot of your basic state of functioning, to the quality it was before your distortions and restrictions got “into” you. You can also increase the abilities of “your” doing-ness parts. As with the athlete, but in our psychosomatic parts as well, we can create a better working relationship between our many different sections, and we can increase the physiological and energetic functioning in each of those sections, too
I call this whole change, “Increasing your State of Being.” So as I said, you don’t have to try to do things just with “what you are.” You can make who you “are” better so everything you “do” is better, including spiritual energy work
The Bodywork and Body-mind techniques I use are very well worked out practices that have been used successfully for decades. They were originally developed by PhD types, and some of the key people I studied with were the founders. Others were expert PhD types themselves. The meditation practices have been used for centuries. And I studied with great teachers.
Please note. I use the term spiritual development in this book to refer to qualities most religions talk about regarding a person’s self-development. If you’re concerned about being saved, that’s a different book. I’m going to tell you how you can do your own tradition’s work at being saved, more effectively; increasing your miles to the gallon.
Please note that another, very powerful method for facilitating personal and spiritual development has to do with diet, herbs and fasting. And I want to strongly emphasize that what we eat has an enormous influence on how we feel and how well we can perform.
But I have purposely not mentioned almost anything about food or herbs in this book because it is such a big subject in itself. I felt combining it with these practices would be too much to keep a clear focus in this particular presentation. There are many books on the subject of well being from diet and herbs, including my own “Mr. Green’s Vitality Program,” which is also a handy, inexpensive guidebook to other key books and the programs of pioneers and contempory practitioners with excellent track records.
Now back to the approaches described in this book.
True personal development of any strong quality, and for any use, requires dissolving our fixation on this little restricted self that has limited views. Having fewer restrictions can, of course, help us manifest our true potential. Many of our limitations in thought and behavior are due to what are called the “attachments” that our minds are “stuck to.” We even get particular sets of thoughts. And having only those thought patterns, we miss everything else that’s going on. We are confined to a subset of what we could be sensing, doing and feeling.
What even corporate trainers and creativity workshops say we should do is make ourselves less restricted. That way, we can still use many of our existing ideas when they are most appropriate, but we’ll also have a host of other options to use when “they” are more appropriate. As I’ve been explaining, this book will tell you about some very effective, time proven ways that have helped large numbers of people increase their options. And in Zen vernacular, that means we’re freer.
Creativity, or special thinking ways to bring in better things, or corporate skills, are fine in their own areas of life. But how do we make ourselves “automatically” freer in “all” areas of life, even if we don’t know the particulars of any specific set of skills? How can we make ourselves so-called psychologically freer, with traits like being more mature, more centered, more open, more understanding, more compassionate, and even more focused and aware at the same time? How can we be both a more competent follower and “equal” as well as a more competent leader, and be able to switch back and forth at a moment’s notice? How can we be a lot less distracted in our concentration and really become more of what we are doing? How can being all these ways feel very comfortable, very self-satisfying, and be very good for us and other people at the same time?
Well, that requires what’s called personal development, and, I like to say, a “true” spiritual development as well, regardless of what your “religion” is, and even if you’re looking through this book just to find out how to make more money in your career. If you make this quality better, you will probably do better.
In the long run, a serious practice with a good spiritual teacher is, I believe, the very best way to get to this spiritual development, and practice with a good sincere group of practitioners. And that creates very good corporate management, athletic and personal expression skills at the same time.
Now, I know that a real dropping away of body and mind is “the way to go,” but so many of us have to make a living and spend many hours and years practicing meditation to be able to do that dropping away. And we do it in human bodies, with human “minds.” So we use expedient means to help us.
Along the way of our self development practice, we are required to “let go” of various behaviors we are stuck to, and develop better ones based on being more open, and more “connected.” This book can give you insight into some time proven “expedient means” that help you do this.
Let me touch on some of these means
Breath concentration meditation might be the easiest and simplest thing anyone can do. It’s an exercise that develops calmness, attentiveness and even intuitiveness. This provides a lot of benefits, even for people whose minds, at first, are always busy and their bodies just can’t sit still.
In itself, breath concentration meditation has no particular religious affiliation, and has repeatedly been shown to help people think clearer, be more creative, have better relationships, actually get healthier, and accomplish more athletically. It’s a practice to develop strong powers of concentration and awareness, and to improve a number of important physiological functions. It has also consistently been shown to enable people to understand their own religion better, and be able to practice that religion more wonderfully, regardless of the specific forms of its practice.
I’ve explained more details of the meditation’s benefits in Section 1, including how it helps with the Bodywork and Bodymind Therapies. As an appendix in the full book, I’ve included my own How-To do it. The Meditation How-to is on this website as well. See Home Page Right Side menu.
When we think objectively about what we’re doing in personal, psychological and professional development activities, we can see that the “core” qualities we’re aiming to develop in ourselves are the same kinds of things that spiritual development talks about. If you’re a Christian, for instance, you can change the name of Bodhisattva Precepts to Teachings of Jesus, or change the name of Dharma Relations to Manifestation of the Holy Spirit. If you’re Jewish, maybe you’ll study the Ten Commandments and see how to use them in your daily life. If you’re in corporate leadership training, you can call them Qualities of Character, with Integrity, and How to Get the Best out of Your People. Regardless of what words we label them with, not killing or stealing, not criticizing and demeaning others arrogantly, and having wonderful, win-win relationships are, in my opinion, good things for success as a wife and mother, husband and father, football or basketball coach, corporate CEO, or leading politician and statesman.
The key point is how “fully” you “embody” these qualities, and how fully your previous negative or inadequate qualities have dissolved away. That’s where the work comes in. How “genuine” have you become, not “with” these better qualities, but “as” the better qualities. They are our birthright. But we need to work on ourselves in some very intelligent ways to bring them out. The practices in this book can definitely help you become a lot more genuine.
Adding on to what I said a few paragraphs ago, the way to do this, in all these areas, is to remove (or release) the things we’re attached to, that are limiting us, and by doing so, we can better develop the innate qualities of “who we are.” Paraphrasing my recent Christian Pastor, if we follow the teachings of God and Jesus, and allow the Holy Spirit and its love to fill us up. Of course, that includes seeing what your “soul path” is, and being able to passionately, or lovingly, embrace it. But in this book I mean developing this “identity” with Universal Life, or God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, at least as much as we can. My pastor says that when you practice at the church a lot, people's lives change for the better. That's getting in touch with God's path for us. From a very deep depth inside you, that’s more of what I mean by “who you are.” The rest, including your soul path, and whether you are male or female, or what your career or religion is, is “what you do.”
Again, we want to make who you “are” better, so everything you “do” is better.
Some people might criticize me, saying, “Everything is perfect just as it is, how can I possibly get better?” The first part is the Intrinsic part. Accomplished religious Masters can say that with conviction, because that’s their experience. But they still teach, study, practice an awful lot, and encourage us students to practice a lot, too. That’s the Experiential part. So we could alternately title this book, “I’m OK just as I am, how do I get better?”
When we do both the removals and the “beingness expansion,” we’re approaching our present condition from both ends, and in relative sense, making it better. The result will, of course, be that we’re both freer from the restrictions, and we’re more capable in the “bigger” realm, which is more of what our life is “supposed to be like.”
I tell people, what we do is make the good parts of you bigger as we make the bad parts smaller.
This works for musicians and long jumpers as well as managers and monks, pastors, etc. In fact, just about everybody who gets freer and more capable in this way also feels some amount of deep joy and gratitude. That’s what the experience of spiritual freedom (even in little amounts) does for us. Even more accurately, I would say it’s simply how this truer condition of our own being expresses itself.
By developing ourselves in this way, we can become better people at the same time we become better “performers.”
In professional development, you might want to become so proficient at what you do, that your thinking analysis and doing skills come out automatically, and apply to all situations and people very appropriately. But you also should be open to doing that in your personal life, too. Just saying, “Well, this is how I am,” is OK self-acceptance. And it might be a step forward psychologically if you’ve been battling your parents’ criticism all your life. But if you practice the journey of going deeper within yourself, you’ll see that this, too, is just another thing “You do.” We can be OK about any character traits we have. But we lose something when we stay stuck on them.
So that’s something about the “Universal Life” practices
The other “half” of the practices I introduce in this book are in the realm of Structural Integration Bodywork for purely physical benefits, and of the Bodywork in combination with what are called Body-Mind therapies, for what we could call “wholistic physical benefit” and “psychological character development.” I believe they also further Spiritual development. For me and my clients over the years, some of whom were Zen students, these methods have made our meditation practice stronger, made its results more powerful in our daily lives, and have even increased qualities like openness, patience, understanding, compassion, and giving. It even made our efforts stronger.
Even just the Bodywork alone can create a significant improvement in people’s psychological, as well as physical make-up. In my own practice, it has helped athletes, musicians and actors, greatly, in ways they’d been looking for, but just didn’t know about. You see, few people understand the full nature of the soft connective tissue element of our muscles, called fascia (fah sha). We aren’t told about it. Even medical doctors, chiropractors and acupuncturists don’t know about all of its important qualities. They know it’s there and has some major “holding us together” and “filling space” properties. They even know it is a major “avenue of cell nutrition and waste removal.” Yet this tissue’s accumulated, body-wide “shortening” is responsible for a large portion of the stiffness, pains, and reduced functioning that so many millions of people have. And that’s the part that these doctors aren’t trained in. So they don’t tell us. And then a lot of people have problems because it’s a rare practitioner who fixes it.
Those problems affect meditators, too, and a lot of yoga students. Joint flexibility, for instance, is a direct result of the length of muscles not only close to, but many feet from that joint. Concepts of stretching just at the joint can harm those tissues. That approach can also limit people from getting the many wholistic benefits that lengthening the connective tissue element of “a lot” of muscles will give us. It is also often a futile attempt to just try to stretch locally. The hard, short “muscle” elements of the “big system” just won’t let that local joint flexibility happen. Joint flexibility is dependent on muscle length between the joints. And there are very effective, and not-so-effective ways to stretch and re-lengthen these muscles.
Trust me, I’ve been doing it for 22 years. Or, don’t trust me, and read about it in a lot of books by people more expert than I.
I have found that it requires special knowledge and a special technique, not only to relengthen this fascia, but to reorganize the body’s muscle and bone groups so they all function together better. It’s not hard to learn about the approach nor even get the concepts down. I explain them in my books and on my website. I even teach people how to do a little of the hands-on for themselves. But it’s different from what we usually know about. So Structural Integration can be used to educate people about their bodies and how to keep them limber and performing well, at the same time that it creates the major re-lengthening and re-organizing during a treatment.
Therefore, assuming what I say about all these practices is true, it’ll be helpful for a lot of people to learn about this stuff and find people to work with so they can apply it. Or, as I encourage people, do a lot on your own with a special stretching technique that simulates the hands-on. That at least works toward the Structural Integration Bodywork goals. And that’s a lot in itself.
Now I’ll tell you something about me, so you can see why I “push” the method.
In the fall/winter 1991 issue of the newspaper, Ten Directions, (which was the semi-annual newspaper of the Zen Center of Los Angeles), there were articles on how three professional psychotherapists, each from a different field, and who were also Zen practitioners, "combined" Zen and Psychological Therapy. Reading their own understanding, I was inspired to explain my own work, which I’ll outline later in this Section.
First, you should know that I’m trained as an engineer, and I tend to search out efficient methods to do things. In my first day in engineering school, we were told that engineers use knowledge and experience to help people. Most of us think of engineering as working with things outside our own bodies, like building a bridge or working on a computer. I used to do that. Now I work on things inside people’s bodies. I have a BS in Electrical Engineering, but I’ve become a “People Engineer.”
I tell people that, while they’re now very accomplished on the outside, with careers, homes, relationships and money, they could be suffering, or just not performing as well as they’d like, on the inside. I call myself, “Mr. Inside.” That’s the part that I make better; often and quickly.
I use a set of well worked out technologies that understand, quite well, how the human “machine” works, and how to correct the problems that are causing it to malfunction, or at least, not work up to its potential. Some people go to medical doctors to cure the flu or a broken leg. Or they go to Trainers to get stronger. People come to practitioners like me for other things.
So, I’ve written this book as an engineer, on how Bodywork, Body-Mind Therapy and a strong personal development meditation practice can help everyone in their lives.
On the subject of efficiency, of course Structural Integration Bodywork makes people’s physical capabilities incredibly much better. Just have an hour or two with your local practitioner and it’ll be a no-brainer. As I say in other areas of this book, what you do in this world, including sitting meditation, requires a body. And the Bodywork makes bodies work better. Hence, the title of my book about the many benefits of the Structural Integration System is, “How to Make Your Body Work Better and Do More for You.”
do-it-yourself meditation, try counting your breath (properly) from one to
ten, and stay with it for an hour, and the benefits of that practice will
be a no-brainer, too.
Regarding the term “psychology,” for instance, I have seen even serious, and accomplished, Buddhist practitioners who have psychological issues that they try to “work on,” and do work on for a long time, but the improvements are often minor, or slow to improve. The problem is that people are mixing apples and oranges. They ”think” that the psychology is in their own minds, so that if they work on it with “their” minds, they can fix “it.”
For some psychological behaviors, starting with our “mind” is the right way to go. And in many cases, these turn out to be issues caused by our limited view of life. In fact, just doing the meditation can clear some of these up because this practice puts us in touch with the state of being that sees a bigger view of life and actually empowers us to behave “better.”
With other kinds of issues, however, applying this technical understanding of “working on myself” is inaccurate. The truth is that a large number of our psychological and interpersonal hang-ups are not located in the parts of us that we think of as “our minds!” They are in the body and its energy fields. They are physical forms that we absorbed in the past, during specific events, and they operate separately from our own intellect, even an intellect infused with spiritual development.
While a greatly (or even partly) Enlightened state of being will indeed make our interpersonal, and self-personal behaviors a lot better, these body parts I’m talking about have a “mind” of their own. Trying to fix them with the mind is like trying to remove splinters, fix broken legs or even cut our toenails with mental and awareness capabilities. There are more efficient ways to do these kinds of things.
In fact, in the realm of emotions, even a change in diet and an application of traditional Chinese medicine and herbs can help. If your liver’s toxic for instance, you might get angry easily. If you fill it with wheatgrass juice and dandelion greens for a while, it might get better and you would feel more loving, automatically. It’s not rocket science. It’s not complicated and it’s not religious. You just go to different food stores than you’ve been going to, and you get some new kinds of treatments while you lie down comfortably, instead of going to the club, or a movie, for a while.
Trying to get enlightened and running a company are big enough tasks. That’s what we’re supposed to stay focused on. But these other parts of ourselves, which I’ve called “extras,” are nuisances. Bodymind methods help get rid of nuisances with less time and bother on your part.
It’s also a waste of time and energy trying to “only” use techniques that make you aware of what these things are, how they developed, and how to deal with them better. That “is” a good start, because you identify the “thing” and you finally try to learn another way for “you” to behave. But to try to “fix” it with just that is, as I said, not effective. Most of the time, the “things” win out anyway, because they were created in times of great stress and tension, and are embodied within us with a lot of energy. So when push comes to shove, they actually recreate the original problems around us and they put “us” into a no win role.
They are simply pre-written scripts with a life of their own, and because of their energies and what they are “saying,” they overpower us. Or at least they give us pains and distractions. We can “dissolve” out these old energy packets that got stuck inside us, by using the Bodymind tools.
It rarely works to try to meditate them away, although once their energies are much smaller, concentration meditation does disconnect us from their current transference in our lives, and puts us in the “better” state of being that the meditation does. In fact, decreasing the quantity of their energies makes that “state of meditative being” happen sooner and be stronger.
So, by combining the decrease in the “foreign material” with the increase of your better state of being, you can more easily do awareness processes on how to increase sales, and on what the true nature of our life really is. And you can also do awareness processes on how to make the universe work better for you and on how being angry and speaking negatively makes bad things happen to you. The mind is just “bigger” and clearer. I always find people can do the personal development self-improvement practices much better after doing the negative-pattern releasing practices first. And this was also emphasized by my PhD Psychotherapist teachers of these methods.
One more point. This life-long pattern behavior of a restrictive nature is just the side effects that you accumulated in the process of your karmic self-development. You had to have focused restrictions so you’d learn new things. Events caused these restrictions. I’ll discuss that in later chapters. When it’s time to move forward with “all” of your now, better developed qualities, you’ll probably have the urge to find someone to help you get rid of the side effects. You’ll realize you don’t need it anymore.
So, in the text, I have introduced methods of Bodywork and Body-Mind therapy that are efficient tools to reduce, and even eliminate, many kinds of these bothersome behaviors and conditions, the things I am calling restrictions. And actually, the techniques work the fastest, and easiest, for people who already have a strong concentration meditation practice, and especially have been working with an Enlightened teacher and a community of fellow practitioners. That’s why I say they’re so complementary. They also work well for many people who have had good, effective, psychotherapy and done other bodymind practices
But with the Bodywork application as well as the Body-Mind techniques, and being a sincerely interested person, most people can become good at it relatively quickly
Also, with regard to efficiency, the combinational Body-Mind and Meditation approach is very effective for increasing the results of “secular” personal growth practice. They can make it do more because there’s more of “you” available to work with it. It’s helpful for dissolving out old fears, so the blocks to moving forward in the direction “you” want to go in are less. And it can make your biological energy flow bigger. It helps in professional work. People have said it removes old stress and makes them more stress immune, and it makes them more focused and less distracted from the problem solving or planning goals. By working directly with the physical and energetic aspect, we can significantly increase people’s “automatic” function. I even have testimonials about it on my website.
Not only do these processes help meditators sit in better positions, longer and with less pain, they increase the quantity of chi that can be developed and help it stay in the body longer.
Body-mind therapies definitely help in psychotherapy, too. I use well-recognized techniques, developed by experts. Let me add to what I just explained. For specific traumas and loss, they are exceptionally fast and thorough, easy to do, and relatively non-traumatic. When we experience a significant loss, or have other, physical and/or emotional trauma, some of that energy stays in the body. This includes hurt, fear, anger, sorrow, pain and even guilt. These feelings will remain there, hindering our full function, for weeks, months and even years later. After the event itself, these energies keep giving us the impression that the event is still going on. Or at least, that’s the filter through which we “automatically” interpret our current events.
This is “really” what’s called transference. The stuck energies in the body are transferring. “We” are not. “We” just ends up playing one role in the energy’s script. It’s a bad old movie. But you can dissolve its energy away; dissolve it out of you so it no longer exists. Obviously, the past events no longer exist. But the absorbed energy in the body that occurred during those events still exists. These techniques clear out those energies, including, and especially, the energies you didn’t even know were in there, and you didn’t even know you absorbed. You won’t even remember most of the episodes. But for everyone I’ve ever worked with, they exist, they cause bothersome experiences, and they can be found and removed. It’s a process that takes a little time, but it isn’t very hard to do. And progress happens with each clearing.
The system of techniques has removed absorbed energies from events just a couple days or weeks before, to 10, 20 and 30 years earlier. It has even enabled people to complete the grieving process even if it was “stopped” during the event, many years earlier. In fact, for whatever kind of traumatic event, people actually get to see the event more clearly, understand the people in it to a deeper level, and yet end up with much less emotional trauma associated with it. It is a way to increase our appreciation of the event, yet have its negative, distracting effect on us noticeably reduced.
For long-term psychological growth, this system also creates very significant, permanent improvements. People can recover from abuse and other serious problems much faster, and easier, than with just regular verbal psychotherapy. I have done this myself for a number of people. Even an “angry” behavior has been significantly corrected, and the people felt much better and happier, even “more normal,” kinder, and more compassionate. This can happen whether people are meditators or not, but it works faster when people do have a meditation and/or spiritual practice because, as I said, then we approach the issue from both ends. The stronger the good parts are inside, the sooner they come out as the person’s primary behavior.
Perhaps above all, Structural Integration Bodywork and Netherton-Reichian release processing make people more open. Accumulated tightness and trauma manifest as resistance, and it seems all people have many layers of it. So besides restricting ourselves inside, from moving around and coming out, the tensions and negative “belief systems” keep good things from coming in. The “wall” blocks flow from both directions, just as a wall made of bricks or concrete does.
These treatments remove the specific physical contractions and hardness, and the specific episodes of psychological trauma and resistance that also cause constriction. As each episode is removed, and each set of muscle tightness is lengthened, people automatically become more receptive, less battling and express themselves more kindly and clearly from a deeper, more sincere place in themselves. In almost twenty thousand hours practice with hundreds of people, this has always happened, 100% of the time.
In regard to religious studies, there’s only so far we can go with the intellect, and even with various forms of spiritual energy work and “heart” practices. I know sincere people who practice science of mind, metaphysics, Judeo-Christian studies, or even A Course in Miracles. Many have some amount of intellectual understanding, and they have indeed made some nice progress for themselves. But I see they are also not “embodying” some qualities they read or talk about, because they are not doing effective enough body and concentration practices.
people “fill in the gaps,” at least in the ways I know about, I’ve written
If nothing else, you might think it’s more oxygen getting to our brain. But it’s actually a different mechanism. When we focus on the present moment of activity in our bodies, especially in the lower abdomen, we are affecting the brain, the spinal nervous systems, and our organ condition, as well as our body’s energy field. So we can indeed change our state of being and increase our awareness at the same time.
Yet, even though it does have psychological benefits, Zen (and Tibetan, Vipassana, Theravadan, etc) practice itself is not psychological therapy. Its aim is rather different. But as experienced practitioners know, doing the concentration meditation practice puts everything else into a more proper context. So that’s good psychologically, too.
First, something about meditation for being in the present moment. Be Here Now is the name of a rather famous and popular spiritual book published in the 1970’s. My Zen Master, Maezumi Roshi would say you’re always in the present moment. He’d tell us, “Just become aware of it.”
The problem is, we really don’t immerse ourselves very deeply into the huge three dimensionality of the present moment. And we don’t stay there with a presence of awareness, that is, a continuous, deep awareness, in every single, minutely different, present moment, so there’s nothing “but” the present moment. As Roshi said, Intrinsically, we are always in the present moment regardless of how aware or deep we are. (Where else can you be, obviously.) But Experientially, we’re not “really’ doing it so that we can write a postcard to people from some desolate island with 100% assuredness about that Intrinsic condition
And if you’re not “really” doing it you really don’t have much power, or insight, to affect your life and the life of others.
In Japanese Zen circles, they use a term, Buji (Boo Gee) Zen, or No-Matter Zen to label something that has been rather “bandied around” in Western circles as well. “Oh, I’m already enlightened. Everything is One. I’m OK.” And then the person doesn’t practice as we are encouraged by the “real” enlightened Masters, “Like putting our a fire upon our heads.”
So one goal
of all my “expedient means,” or “Gimmicks” as Maezumi Roshi used to say,
is to get us “strongly,” and “working well,” in the present moment.
So second, a few points about Structural Integration Bodywork and Bodymind therapy.
Bodywork is probably acceptable to the great majority of Buddhist meditation practitioners. We want to sit in the most effective and comfortable positions, so we can get the most out of the practice, and most of us would like to enjoy it, or at least, not feel tortured by it. Structural Integration Bodywork, in this regard, is just an extension, albeit a big one, of the benefits we get from yoga, massage and shiatsu-acupressure. If you like any of these things, and/or you get benefits from chiropractic, you’ll most likely “love” the big, complementary benefits you get from this treatment, and even from doing the special stretching approach that came out of the Bodywork application. It all feels good and makes us looser, longer, healthier and more relaxed.
Bodymind (or body-mind) therapy, however, is often misunderstood.
Basically, Bodymind Therapies can be used as an extension of the Bodywork. That’s what I do. As I’ll say elsewhere in this book, I use it all to remove tightness, blocks and absorbed negative behaviors. Besides the physical tightness from the soft connective tissue form that the Bodywork releases, we also have tightness from purely energetic form. These also keep muscles and organs tight. And tightness is the common denominator for restriction and negativity.
When people remove the blockages in their bodyminds with these methods, their own natural state automatically functions better, psychologically and emotionally, as well as physically. We are “designed” to function “positively.” It’s just the pollutions and distortions that show up otherwise.
Tightness in a transient sense can be removed with mental intention, guided relaxation exercises, breath meditation, energy channeling, massage, a hot bath and even carrot and spinach juice. Long term fixed tightness is due to a practice of physical behavior, even working out, or from specific physical events that happened to us in the past. And they’re also caused by psychological events that happened in the past, that had a simultaneous physically contracting component, like being hit by an angry person when we’re tightened up in fear. As you will read, Bodymind Therapy significantly adds to just the Bodywork in removing these long-term tightnesses. And tightnesses of all kinds hinder “all” of our activities, whether they’re athletic or artistic performance, physical health, network marketing, corporate management, or Buddhist (or other) practice.
Some meditation practitioners criticize “regressive” or early-life-origin psychological therapy for being too intellectual. This is just a misunderstanding of what people like me are doing. But I agree about the fallacy of trying to do too much with just the mental part. The great Zen Master Eihei Dogen Zenji tells us that some mental reflection in the mind is necessary, particularly in the beginning, with reference to understanding the deep spiritual practice he talks about. And verbal talking, if done to increase awareness of past psychological patterns, is a helpful step.
Verbal talking, going round and round with complaints, blame or upset, however, isn’t really productive. It’s just thought patterns repeating themselves. But if we have an “awareness mind,” this experience can give us a clue. Thoughts that keep going round and round, and emotions that don’t go away, are really expressions, or manifestations, of stuck energy in the body from experiences in the past that were much more serious than the current similar one. Even when people do lots of meditation practice, they still keep popping up. And as I said in the last section, they’re a bother, a nuisance.
Bodymind Therapy is a technology that enables us to consciously find those energies and actually remove them so that the round and round, or ongoing repeats, no longer happen. And while some of these techniques use a very special kind of verbalization, “everything” we are doing in My Techniques, is with the body.
My work, even in what we call the psychological realm, is primarily with the flesh, and of course, its energy fields.
A blocked heart chakra, or energy center, for instance, even if it is just filled with hurt and then tension to cover up that hurt, will deprive the person from understanding others and having compassion for them. He or she will tend more to be critical, and just not understand what others are asking of him. She will be coming more from the third chakra, of fear and worry, inside, and on the outside, will be expressing tension and control. When the grief and hurt are dissolved or dissipated away, and the pushed down anger in the legs is also removed, the person automatically starts relating more with the heart part of herself. Even if she still tenses up when fearful, after the circumstances have again settled down, she will more likely acknowledge the other person’s feelings and apologize even for a minor behavior she now recognizes. It is like now having the second of her two legs working after a lifetime of limping.
Bodymind techniques are a help, just like eating and going to the bathroom are a help. They’re not going to get you enlightened and they’re not going to tell you how to run your company or market your products better. But they will all make you a better functioning individual and remove a lot of the distractions you might be having. They’ll give space for the Buddha Nature or Holy Ghost positive energy to fill up. And they’ll even help Hawthorne Berry and other heart strengthening herbs do more. Many people are aware of some of these bothersome things inside them, but they haven’t found a way to get rid of them. These techniques have been very successful for many of these folks.
In addition, doing the body-mind practices can increase concentration power and attentiveness, for both the client and the practitioner. We can do more than chat during the Bodywork. The recipient can concentrate his or her energies into the experience, adding a purposeful control inside the muscles, having them release up into the hands-on pressure. The practitioner can stay focused on the position of his or her body and on the physical movement he is creating inside the recipient’s flesh and energy flows. And both people can pay attention to their whole bodies.
A similar mind into body attentiveness and movement can be practiced during the special “structural, connective tissue stretching” and any “integrated movement” practices. They take concentration power to perform well, and thus increase our minds’ concentration abilities as we do them. That practice helps our sitting meditation and it makes it easier to concentrate into the stretching and movement better, for the next time we do them.
With the Reichian techniques, we are doing a concentrated breathing and movement. With the Netherton verbal expression techniques we are putting our attention into the body and its stored energies. With both practices, we have to stay aware, and here. So we can use them to strengthen our “presence” at the same time we are improving our physical abilities and psychology.
Again, Bodywork and Bodymind Therapy, at least in the way I do it, are physical technologies. My clients say they get the most benefits, by far, from the changes that happen while doing the body oriented processes. So I don’t work very much with the intellect, except to help people understand how they can benefit from doing the body practices, and how what they just did has produced the results they’re aware of. Because of the training I’ve had with my Zen Master, I do a show and tell. I want people to have the experience for themselves and then we can talk about it, with both of us experiencing what went on. We increase the level of Being and Knowing together. In this way, I can help people know about what they have done, and empower them to be able to duplicate it again for themselves. They can also be able to tell others about how it can help them.
I’m also not a psychologist, so I don’t talk psychologically. I know a lot about psychological behavior, or just behavior, and how patterns come from different kinds of experiences when we’re young, or from when we had trauma. I draw a lot on my own experiences as well as what I’ve studied and observed in my sessions with others. But I know almost nothing about psychological descriptions for diagnoses. The only descriptions I know about are the Reichian and Bioenergetic character types, some energetic body symbology, a body structure analysis of behavior, and Jack Painter’s Core and Shell analyses. I also know a lot about Traditional Chinese Medicine psychological descriptions, and how the Chakra Energy system functions for psychological behavior and in problems. And these serve me greatly in understanding, and knowing how to help, other people. In fact, they’re a lot. But they’re not what is used in standard psychotherapy and the DSM guidebook.
In fact, my emphasis isn’t about solving or treating psychological problems. As I just said, I definitely understand behavior coming out of trauma and significant conditioning. But I don’t label it as a psychological issue. As an Electrical Engineer who designed and debugged computer equipment, I just say, “Well, this causes such and such in you, or distorted your structure, and we can do a lot to remove the embedded energies and improve your structural shape and abilities.
It’s about simply restoring people to more effective lives by strengthening what they are and removing the foreign things they are not. Thus, I talk about personal development. And as a Zen Monk, I counsel people on improving their behavior with meditation and spiritual practices, once I see that the Bodymind treatments have enabled them to do so. I go to Christian Church because I like true spiritual teaching when it’s given. You can do more in Christian practice if you see that you can do it with “more of you,” instead of just your thoughts and mental ideas.
So what kinds of behaviors are “natural” for us, behaviors we can develop further with these methods and with Spiritual Practices? In all three traditions of “Enlightenment oriented” Buddhism that have come to the U.S. (Zen/Chan, Tibetan, Theravadan/Vipassana), as well as “yogic” practices that come to us from Hindu traditions, the masters tell us what kinds of traits we should cultivate, such as loving kindness, compassion, understanding, giving, patience, etc and what kinds we should avoid, such as hatred, greed, etc. (This is also true, of course, of the real religious teachings of Judaism, Christianity and Islam as well.) And while these qualities do come out of the change that a very deep meditation practice creates in us, we are encouraged to practice and enlarge these behaviors as best we can. There are even special meditation practices, chants, and energy methods that people use to manifest these kinds of qualities.
Current day business development trainings for entrepreneurs often use what used to be called metaphysical or spiritual laws for success. (And they still are as well.) Many trainers echo each other on one point after another. Visualize and clarify your vision, take action, use the unconscious mind to manifest, affirm in the present as if you already had it or were it, only speak positive words, and so forth. In the 1950’s a woman named Florence Scoville Shinn put forth long practiced spiritual laws in her very popular books. These are methods to create and they tell us what to do consciously, with our thinking and reasoning minds.
What happens, though, when the embedded energies from past traumatic events, and their tightnesses, are broadcasting out of us at the same time we are consciously trying to think other things? We have the Golden Rule. How does that apply for behaviors we aren’t consciously intending to broadcast?
Energy begets a similar kind of energy. Go around being blameful and angry all day, and guess what you’re creating all around yourself? Guess what an electronic instrument will register. Look at what happens with whole countries, and even whole regions. Go around being loving and caring, even if part of you was upset to begin with, and guess what your own efforts do to the energies of your upset, and to the energies of people who come around you? What do you think will come back to you? Or what do you think is manifesting in you at the moment?
As I mentioned, the more we do concentration breath meditation, the clearer our minds get, so we can see how these kinds of causes and effects happen in our daily lives. Quite naturally then, people make efforts to do the nicer things as well as they can because we all prefer pleasure to pain. But some things are harder to do than others in this regard. We can even recognize that it’s because of the patterns we had as children.
I have found that the Bodywork and Bodymind Therapy practices help a lot in these areas of our lives. After all, if you’re still filled with the fear, pain and resentment from a past hurt, that’ll be distorting, or even superceding, the positive energies you’re intentionally trying to express. In your heart you may want to do good. But the way it comes out might be doing some harm. I’ve come to call the body “our amplifier and antennae” for our beliefs, thoughts and intentions. These “expedient means” make clearer, and more powerful, amplifiers and antennae,
Your long-term tensions embody the past emotional charge. That acts like a filter on top of what your inner intention is trying to express. And what most people don’t fully understand is that, the hurtful and angry energies of the person who harmed you also got embodied, even without your conscious notice of it happening. Now, you also have the negative energies of the other people, too. And usually, when people get fearful, and then defensive, their reaction points the embedded hurtful or controlling and irritated behaviors at other people. And, as you, yourself may have observed, these reactions come out immediately
Bodymind Therapies decrease the amount of these automatic behaviors because they remove the energies embodied in the past experiences, even in experiences you don’t remember. Now, what you have is “you,” now, with everything you developed positively as you were “growing up.” And you also have a “you” that is, quite literally on a physical level, a being that more automatically expresses those more positive qualities. With no muscular and energetic walls around them, nor energetic pollution within them, inner developed qualities radiate outward, first through your own organs and structure, then outward through your auric energy field and over to others, even others far away. Further, your conscious mind is now more in touch with these better bodymind qualities, so even your thinking and attitude is better. The removal of inner tightnesses makes that happen, too. In fact, your awareness is clearer about life. So even your beliefs are better.
Some people criticize adopting the premise that our current behaviors are due to earlier conditioning, because, they say, it encourages people to not be responsible for their own, current behaviors. I’ve seen people do this, and I criticize it, too. But this criticism about the therapy also comes out of a lack of understanding, about the way the body and mind work, and what we can do to help them function better. Definitely, we should take responsibility in the way the masters tell us. We should even try to speak in front of groups in the way we learned in workshops. Or try to play with the clear emotion of the music, without our own “stuff” getting in the way. But we are not dealing with something “we” are doing. We are dealing with foreign objects we picked up.
A lot of the time, we aren’t aware enough, nor physically or musically experienced enough, to move the way we want to move. And in my humble opinion, a certain amount of self-awareness points out how unable we are to control our own behavior. True, experiencing the enlightened state creates a great freedom. And with regard to practice, I may not be seeing something. But “my engineering mind” recognizes that, as I have been saying, the embedded energies and muscular tightness often wins even when “we” know better. I liken this practice to removing a stone in your shoe. When you finally recognize you are limping and have a pain every time you step, because you now see there’s a stone in there, something that’s not you, then you bend down and pull out the stone. From this “movement technique,” of course, “you” will walk better and be without the pain. My Bodymind Therapy approach is “exactly” like bending down and removing the stone.
With some practitioners in my own Zen tradition, a Jungian archetype mental awareness practice has been popular for some time. It helps people become aware of different parts of themselves, and I think that’s a good practice. Besides improving self-awareness and attentiveness, getting a handle on our parts makes it less likely we’ll act in unconscious hurtful ways with them. Different parts can be objectified as “suits” we wear, rather than who we are. Things we do with who we are. And in the process of objectifying even the observer, we can use this archetype identifying technique to strengthen ourselves into a deeper observer level.
But there is a problem if you stick to only this method. It doesn’t actually clear up the distracting behavior, even when you have identified the nuances of that behavior. That’s because your belief system about what you’re dealing with isn’t fully correct. You think these “archetypes,” or “the behaviors” are really part of you, and they come from some “universal beingness” or they come from your own fears. But it’s a lot about the mind. There isn’t mention of the actual physical energy packets in the body and its auric field. These are the places those voices are coming from. We know this fact because in the Bodywork and Bodymind therapy fields, when the foreign material and structural tightnesses are gone, the old behavior is gone, too. And the person did not have to do psychological efforts to stop the behaviors.
We have to recognize that these fears and, in fact, the entire behavioral scenario, is an embedded energy packet from specific past experiences you had. And the only way to remove those energy packets is to treat them as the distinct foreign objects they are and use a method to remove them from either the flesh or from the energy fields.
Finally, for this section, if you’d like to know more about what we call the “bodymind,” in a concrete, physical sense, I recommend “starting” with the informative little book, Bodymind, by psychotherapist Ken Dychtwald PhD. It was first published in 1970 but was recently republished in the late 1990’s.
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Copyright 2005 Louis A. Gross All Rights Reserved