The Natural Movement of Human Energy by Jack W. Painter, PhD
This text was originally written by Jack W. Painter, PhD, (est. 2001/2 – time of the “Gulf War”). Edited by Dirk Marivoet ©2017. All rights reserved.
Note: Since the form of Bodymind Integration & Body Psychotherapy we practice at the Int’l Institute for Bodymind Integration is for a significant part influenced by Jack Painter, PhD, we thought it may be useful and of interest to the public and practitioners to publish some of his unpublished writings on this website. This specific article is an early description – still in a typical “Reichian” language – of what later became the definitive version of the “Natural Energetic Cycle“ – a key concept in the Body Psychotherapeutic method of Energetic Integration®.
Jack first developed his famous method called Postural Integration®, which is currently practiced worldwide by a community of bodymind integrators and body psychotherapists.
Note the changes that are made between this description of the Energetic Cycle (2001) as compared to how it was laid out around 2008. In this early version of the Work, reference is made to a “vagal system” and a “sympathetic system.” Jack is well aware of the effect of trauma on the nervous system. Today we, bodymind integrators and body psychotherapists importantly are all updated by the theory of the “Polyvagal System”, that Stephen Porges, PhD brought forward as well as of the influential work of Peter Levine, PhD, an inspirational colleague and friend of Jack. As Energetic Integrators, today, we have changed our jargon in such a way as to synchronize with the current insights from body oriented trauma work. The work we do today (as in fact in the first days of Energetic Integration®), guides people in their recovery from their trauma, and then in a next step, importantly, after having recovered from their trauma (which is for a significant part always “developmental” – meaning acquired during necessary developmental phases in childhood) – to their deeper and fuller potential of maturity, joy, pleasure, ecstasy, and orgasmic states of being – our fuller human potential.
– Dirk Marivoet, MSc PT, PMT, ECP, CCEP
Jack Painter, PhD :
Streaming, a Vital Flow;
the Natural Movement of Human Energy
„Energy,” whatever it may be said to be, is a pervasive part of our ordinary, religious, and scientific lives. All of us are aware of the ebb and flow of vital energies in our lives. We feel some days an upsurge of physical power, on other days a debilitating tiredness. Emotionally and mentally we may notice frequent swings from clarity and optimism to confusion and frustration. On a luminous day we may feel and sense solar force shining on us and our environment, stimulating a chain of changes; while on an overcast day we may experience a slowed dormancy in ourselves and in nature’s processes. This is at the level of ordinary experience .
Sometimes our experience of energy is extra-ordinary. In special moments of identity or communion with nature or with the supernatural, we may feel an intense empowering current running through our bodies and minds. We have the impression of being in direct contact with what is here in the present but also have a sense of the power of events and persons in the past or future. We may even sense ourselves united with a universal force. We also use “energy” in different scientific contexts. In modern physics we have developed powerful tools for converting matter into energy, for unleashing energetic forces almost unimaginable. Even in biology some researchers have looked at „life energy” as a kind of electrodynamic force field, and in psychotherapy, mental health is viewed, by some, as the freedom to energetically express the full range of one’s feelings and thoughts.
A Pervasive and Mysterious Phenomenon
We see that “energy” is pervasive in our experience, yet in spite of all the ways it presents itself, it remains in some ways a mysterious, fundamental force that is a key to all our other activities. We sometimes are swept along by it in new directions; sometimes we seem to know how to control and use it, at least for the moment. It is a kind of life spring from which we renew ourselves, a force that we can sometimes shape to meet our needs and longings.
In using our method, “Energetic Integration” — which includes such techniques as breathing, movement, expression and deep tissue work to support the flow of “energy” in the individual’s body and mind — we are, then, touching a vital aspect of human life which spills over into all other human activities. But considering the pervasiveness and complexity of this mysterious force, we face, in preparation for later discussing how we can directly work with individuals, the task of finding some reliable ways of describing some of its most important features.
First, let us be clear that we use “energy” in the context of working with people who wish to understand, heal and improve their lives. We are not looking for a view which will unify all of our rich and varied experience, or tie together the latest discoveries, exciting as they may be, in different areas of the sciences. We are dealing primarily with what happens when practitioners of a healing, transformative method interact with individuals seeking change. Before looking at how energy can flow as a healing force in such interactions, let’s look and a few of its general characteristics.
Accumulation and Dispersal. Clearly one aspect of energy is its fluctuation. The energy we experience in ourselves and observe in others varies in intensity and direction. We observe changes in body contraction, flow of fluids, skin color, body temperature, mental activity, emotional feeling and expression. Some individuals may exhibit a high level of constant energetic activity over a relative long period of time, but eventually, without rest or sleep they will become exhausted, depleted in their energy reserves. Even people who are sluggish and seemingly without any resources will show bursts of energy, however brief, when circumstances require.
These variations are not merely random fluctuations; energy accumulates and disperses. In this sense it is like water held back by a dam. For example, some “psychopaths” are seen as building energy and holding on to it until they explode with rage. The rate of accumulation or dispersal — acceleration or deceleration is, of course, highly variable. Many lovers require long hours of tender care before they are “ready.” Many people can be quick in their actions and decisions, even premature. In many ways these properties of energy resemble those of bio-electricity. And it is not farfetched to say our energy consists of a “charge” or ”discharge,” somewhat like a battery.
Pulsation. We can also say that the process of accumulation and dispersal follows a pattern. In the charge and discharge, there is a very basic rhythm, a kind of primal movement of expansion and contraction, a pulsation. Reich observed that the pseudopodal protrusions of the amoeba are similar to the reaching our and shrinking in movements of humans. He also observed in human movements a collecting of fluids (tumescence), followed by an emptying of fluids (detumescence} — movements similar to the fluid flow during a amoeba’s pulsing.
A Process. The pulsations of an organism form an energy pattern which does not simply accumulate and disperse. It is a pattern which builds and diminishes in stages; it peaks and sustains itself; disperses in stages; then begins the process again. These different stages may be slow, gradual, rapid or abrupt in their unfolding. Moreover, the energy may be incomplete at any of these stages. A beginning may always remain a beginning — some people never peak. Some peaks are all too brief, like flashes in the pan. A high may be held onto too long, so there is no easy descent, only a crash. And endings may be elaborate never-ending stories. In contrast, a developing, gradual movement from phase to phase, we shall presently see, is one of the most important characteristic of free flowing energy.
Natural Limits and blocks. In all this movement there are clearly limits to charge and discharge, points beyond which, under given conditions, energy will not rise or fall further. A boxer prepares for a bout, but realizes that there is a peak condition beyond which he is overtrained. A young, playing child easily becomes more and more excited and active, dispersing more and more energy, but at a certain point suddenly falls asleep in order to replenish its power.
There are natural limits for energy, but there are also developed limits or blocks, a kind of protection, or armor, against past incompleteness or pain. My stubborn self-control may prevent me from crying out the deep hurt which has accumulated inside me. I may stay depressed and withdrawn, because I don’t want to feel all the emotions that come with alertness and contact.
An excessive charge or discharge occurs not only as a general phenomenon of the overall energy available but also as specific armor in parts of bodymind. The seductive woman may develop large inviting hips but remain small and underdeveloped in the breasts. A very needy person may have a drained appearance around the mouth and neck, even when the arms are full and demanding.
Interactive and Uninhibited. When there are blocks of energy, whether they be local, or general blocks, individuals are isolated from contact with part of themselves, other people and their environment. It is the nature of energy blocks that they repeat old patterns rather than allowing receptivity to or merging with new currents of energy. A characteristic of free flowing energy is that it is flexible; receptive and interactive. Healthy change depends on our capacity to share our energy.
So energy which is locally blocked in the body, or blocked in movement through its cycle, is retarded, stagnant and repetitive. Bodymind activities — physical, emotional. and cognitive — are then excessive or deficient, lacking in efficiency, and pulsations are incomplete and inharmonious. When energy flows easily we find gentle bodymind waves of warmth and pleasure which spread without inhibition to every part of the person. Pulsations are present during every phase of an energy cycle, but when energy becomes a freely unfolding stream of fine vibrations it can peak and be sustained on a high plateau.
Cycles Within Cycles
The movement of our energy is not simply a matter of charging and discharging, a simple process of building toward the uppermost limit of our capacities and then collapsing to the lowest point. Wilhelm Reich saw several more steps in this process: tension, charge, discharge and relaxation. We begin with a kind of anticipation, we build our energy and then let go, finally resting until the next cycle begins.
He saw this as a kind of economy of energy. When we can completely discharge the energy we accumulate, then there is no left-over energy, and we can completely relax. However, if the release is not complete, we have left-over „stasis,” which is responsible for restless, neurotic anxiety. Reich’s insights are important, but in fact, each of his steps needs to be broken down into additional steps, which will also eventually help us see how he missed an important feature of the cycle.
We really follow a very complicated path. The process of charging also depends on discharging. We begin charging. We charge, then discharge a bit. We encounter resistant and retreat. We gradually increase the level of both charge and discharge, opening the way for a much higher charge and a more complete release.
In fact, the cycle of charging and discharging is a number of cycles within cycles. Each time we reach a certain level of release, the whole process begins again at a higher level of charge, until the overall cycle reaches an upper limit, a kind of finishing plateau where the charge and discharge are equally balanced, where, for now, at least, there is a completeness. Finally, we have to gradually descend to a quieter point, from which we will of course, begin again with a new cycle which will also have cycles within it.
When we look at the cycles or stages within an overall cycle, instead of Reich’s four steps, we can elaborate a richer, more complex process.
Reich sees the energy cycle beginning with tension, followed by charge, discharge and relaxation. Yet it seems there is also a precondition of tension, a state of emptiness which makes any fresh movement and its completion possible. If I cannot find the condition in myself where I am neither acting or reacting, I cannot develop completely new energy. I may, of course, carry contractions with me because of what happened previously, and respond to new stimuli with further contractions, but these reactions or actions originate, mostly, in previous patterns, from what is left-over, from past energetic cycles. Here we need instead to speak of a kind of stillness and openness, an initial repose, before any movement.
This state does not involve acting or preparing to act. It is more a shared condition, a state or space, which carries no tension, and makes me available to someone prior to touching them physically or emotionally. We need in some way to be in the same space before we can begin assimilating or reacting to each others energetic fields. We so often view our world in the language of causes and effects, actions and reactions that we may overlook this phenomenon of simply “being together,” of occupying the same space. This is a fundamental phenomenon that makes the spontaneous quality of our initial contractions and subsequent actions, reactions, interactions, even possible. And when this initial opening to others is not, at least in part, available, we are simply playing out some previously imitated energetic exchange.
When I speak of inactivity being the shared condition of our energetic undertakings, I do not mean that we are identifying with any particular content, for example another persons feelings or thoughts, but only that there is some recognition of, some respect for the individual in a mutually shared space.
We are open, but without anticipated agreement or disagreement. When I begin working with a client, I may be capable and willing to begin with breath work, with the energetic cycle, but the client, it may turn out, does not yet wish to begin, to embark on such a new adventure. And if I am centered within my self, though I am available, I am not anticipating. Repose is a precondition of tension and charging, without carrying with it any impetus toward movement.
There is, of course, some bio-electric activity. Even in a state of homeostasis, there are small internal movements, as in an amoeba when at rest. But this is not the beginning of directed impulse, and when we are functioning optimally, is not a product of past or anticipated patterns of movement. Repose is a kind of equilibrium with our environment, a condition where we give liberty to ourselves, and to those who occupy the same space with us, to be at rest.
Often, of course, we do not begin our interactions with this balance. We may have to play out energies left-over from previous cycles of interactions with others before we can actually share such a space, and begin a truly fresh cycle together, before we can find the respect for each other which makes subsequent energetic sharing possible.
Rubbing Up Against the World
Reich’s extensive research into the autonomic nervous system, the chemistry of anxiety, the electro-physiology of fluids and the hydro-mechanics of plasma movements, helped him develop a unified theory of vegetative life which is still useful today. He discovered that the behavior of the organism follows a pattern of vegetative movements in which the expansion and contraction process in lower forms is similar to that in man. The vagal system guides our reaching out to the world, while the sympathetic controls our libidinal retreat back into ourselves.
Tension, is the first step in this process and takes us beyond what I have called repose, beyond homeostasis, to the accumulating pressures of body fluids, to the beginnings of muscular contraction, to impetus and anticipated action. The prerequisite for the beginning of a charge is the movement of fluids toward the periphery with increased surface tension. In preparing for our actions we literally fill ourselves out, begin to expand ourselves into our environment, just as the amoeba sends the thinner fluids of its interior toward a thickening periphery.
If we try to jump over this preparatory filling up and tensing, we fall back on the stagnant, nervous energy already held in our bodies. We, then, run our organism on accumulated anxiety held by chronic muscular contractions. Or if we are traumatized by shocks, we stop expansion and turn simple tension into strong, inward contractions of the sympathetic nervous system. And if we chronically retreat, we charge but with defensive, blocked energy, which cannot naturally build to a higher level, and therefore, cannot lead to a full discharge and further expansion. This is similar to the amoeba that throws out some of its pseudopodia, making contact with attractive objects, but drawing in these plasmatic extensions when encountering the undesirable.
Notice that in the natural stage of tension there is not, in the healthy organism, a restriction of energy in fragmented parts of the body, but rather overall pressure, an invitation to general tumescence, with an evenly distributed containment of the fluids at the extremities and periphery of the body. We are preparing our whole selves for increased activity, for a total engagement in our exploration of the world.
Going Up and Down
Charge and Discharge
Reich showed that a bioelectrical charge accompanies our expansion into the environment (stage of tension) and noted that there is a constant process of charging and discharging (expanding and contracting) in the simple pulsations of the amoeba, as well as in complex human movements. We can further elaborate and add to Reich’s view by looking at this process in more detail, distinguishing a number of phases with charging and discharging processes overlapping each other. We discover that charge can’t reach a high level without discharge along the way, and in order to be complete, discharge needs the force of a very high charge. We have, in effect, small cycles of charging and discharging with larger cycles, until the process reaches an upper limit.
In the process so far we have 1) repose, 2) tension and now the subphases of 3) charge:
- Initial charge,
- Initial charge with initial discharge,
- Higher charge with counterpulsations
- Releasing discharge with full charge,
- Sustained peak charge with balanced discharge,
The final phases of the overall energetic process — 4) gradual full discharge with light recharge and 5) relaxation or integration (and its sub-phases) , will be treated separately in the next sections.
A. Initial Charge. As we expand, we breath more deeply, assimilating energy from our environment, and if we are not traumatized into defensive retreat, our new initiatives bring us more and more energy. We need to begin any of our movements or feelings slowly, giving ourselves time to integrate what is available to us. We may need, from time to time, to pause, even letting our charge momentarily diminish. If we overwhelm ourselves with an excess of energy, the charging rhythm may be broken by a premature, heavy discharge, or a retreat into a chronically under-charged state.
Consider the recent Gulf war between Iraq and the United Nations forces. We can see Saddam Hussein, as an example of someone carrying a high energetic charge, who acts abruptly and explosively, someone who will never learn from what is happening, but will continue to carry a high charge repeating again, again the same rash patterns of premature discharge. On the other hand the leader of the U.N. forces, George Bush, seems to have a low energy level, which as the emergency requires, he quickly builds and incompletely discharges. He has difficulty sustaining his activity, in finishing task. In neither case is their a gradual, initial charge which can bring one to a point of true power and focus.
Initial charge usually begins where it is easiest and then is gradually built in other parts of the body. A very needy person who is collapsed in the chest may have to begin charging in the belly, which is relatively free, and only later be able to bring breath and energy up into the chest.
B. Initial charge with Initial Discharge. Besides beginning very slowly with frequent pauses, one way to sustain the process of charging is to regulate its excesses with small discharges. Frequent, mild discharging is not a way of clearing away energy that we have stubbornly trapped in chronic contractions of our musculature, but it helps create enough of an equilibrium for the charging process to build to a point where we are capable of eventually dealing with this static energy. A brisk walk in the woods may not release some of my deepest emotional frustrations, but it refreshes and invigorates me and may allow me to become more highly charged as I enter into other activities.
Because of energy we have anxiously accumulated we may, near the beginning of our energy cycle, sometimes discharge vigorously — screaming, flailing. Many people take these to be genuinely helpful ways of venting our problems, while in some styles of psychotherapy they are discouraged as overanxious episodes of “acting out” in which we are not really in touch with our deeper feelings. However, without taking these discharges as profoundly cathartic, we can consider them to be a way of entering into the process. If we are willing to continue building our energy, these can be seen as initial discharges preparing for both higher charges and more complete discharges.
Initial discharge, like initial charge, will usually begin where we can most easily let go and only gradually move toward the more difficult areas. If I hold a high charge around my throat, initial discharging may come more easily in the jaws and chest before I begin letting out the cough I’m been repressing.
C. Higher Charge with Counterpulsations. The initial charging and discharging process is, indeed, a flowing amoeba-like movement with expansion, pauses, partial discharges, contractions, and new expansions. But if this process, with all its flowing variety, continues toward an optimal level, eventually the organism begins to contact movements within itself which are counter to this natural flow.
Our blocked energy, the held-energy from past traumas, now tries to exit from the pelvis, belly, head or extremities. But our fear may be so strong that even while our energy is beginning to flow with greater discharges, another part of us is withdrawing, holding on to old protected energy. This protective pulsation, a counterpulsation, literally ripples against the natural waves of our body, preventing a smooth and complete release . You can often see how the main force of these counterpulsations crimps the body at the pelvis, diaphragm or neck in jerky, efforting thrusts. In moments when we try too hard to reach orgasm, these counterpulsations become more and more intense without giving relief. Also if we reach orgasm too quickly without emotional contact with our partner, our movements are rough and only momentarily satisfying.
But counterpulsations are at least an active form of our protective armor. Earlier in our lives as our needs were unsatisfied, as we cut ourselves off from unbearable pain, we made our selves hard and unresponsive and largely unconscious of our bodies. But now as initial charging floods our bodies with new energy, our old traumas begin to be awakened and our previously frozen armor is moving and reacting.
Counter-pulsations, like some of our quick initial discharging, may also take very intense forms, such as kicking or screaming, but in themselves, like initial discharges, they don’t lead to a satisfactory release. Until our charging and discharging process has developed to the point that we can truly modify, assimilate, and understand our counterpulsations, they remain moments of temporary catharsis and leave untouched our deeper fears and frustrations. Or if the counterpulsation is frightening and overwhelming, we may cut our energetic flow entirely and withdraw into an even deeper block, freezing even more protective energy inside us. These blocks can be deeply entrenched.
If we enter into very intense and extended counterpulsating, we may exhaust ourselves without having touched the more hidden and protected reservoirs of our energy. But if we stop short of fully activating them, pausing in the discharging process from time to time, our counterpulsations, just as our initial discharging, help us to build the energetic charge, higher and higher. As I bit by bit acquaint myself with the contractions that come with my fear, I begin to be less afraid of these contractions and begin to let them run their course, opening the way for new expansion, new charging.
D. Releasing Discharge with Full Charge. Our counterpulsations are movements of expansion and contraction which are blocked at certain points. When our energy is high enough to allow us to complete the contraction or expansion (the counterpulsation), the range of our feeling and our movements opens with a newborn force. We not only experience fully the blocked and unconscious parts of ourselves — old memories, feelings and movements may flood our being — we also revel in new found resources and possibilities.
This release is special because it is change in a very fundamental part of ourselves, a shift in basic patterns which have governed all our behavior. But how is it possible for us to let go these old attitudes? The building of our charge and discharge is indispensable, but that, in itself, isn’t enough. Reich felt that the key to transformation of character lay in working with clients’ resistance to the therapist. We can interpret this to mean that contact with the therapist helps bring counterpulsations to their fullest intensity and opens clients’ consciousness to old patterns and new possibilities. And after such an energetic opening, in this interpretation, we can, then, give our feelings and love to our loved ones.
What is missing unfortunately in this view, in almost all therapeutic approaches, is the one sidedness of this contact. The therapists give space, even support clients’ resistance, but how is it possible to activate our counterpulsations and fully experience and release our blocks, unless our contact with the therapist is one in which we feel we are in a two way sharing relation. Our original block involved just such a two way relation — even when painful.
Yes, it can happen that the therapist stays out of the way, guiding me, while I learn that some of my feelings, which I have rejected on the therapist, belong to the past. I feel better and clearer, but now I struggle to anchor these feelings in the present and to know this stranger under laboratory-like conditions. I have changed according to a kind of formula, but have I changed at the most fundamental level, in my ability to receive the feelings of the person present, the therapist?
A much more effective way to work with our counterpulsations to a point of release is with therapists who are also giving their feelings, who are present not only to help but to be helped. Counterpulsations are the expression of our past protections and experience. But the energy of therapists’, the countertransferences which are always present, also needs to be clarified through the therapists sharing with us, the clients, otherwise the whole enterprise between us is distorted.
Therapists’ caution, disapproval, eagerness, coolness, neediness, cockiness are all there, and the facade of detachment or objectivity changes nothing. The very condition of being able to achieve clarity is for the therapists to graffle with the undeveloped, ambiguous nature of the nature of this new relationship. We shall later see that in this transparent intimacy, we, together with the therapist, can still work toward separating past and present and toward becoming conscious of transference and countertransference.
We will need to explore the following two sorts of interaction which promote release: 1) those with our own past — we share a part of ourselves, previously unconscious, with our present self, and 2) those with our present environment — we give and receive from those present, including the therapist. Both kinds of interactions are interdependent, for I cannot uncover and release my past unless I am sharing in the present, and the present interaction is complete only if I am sharing with my past. Reich spoke of the genital character, who free of his past armor, would be self-regulating, that is be able to discharge any accumulated energy and feelings, but we can see that since our releases of armor always depend on sharing, it is better to speak of an “interactive self-regulation.”
We see that counterpulsations, which are intense but partial forms of discharge, can now turn into a single but significant release, into a releasing discharge, which, in turn, opens the way for the new energy of a full charge.
E. Sustained Peak Charge with Balanced Discharge. Our newfound energy is not a momentary surge, for we have cleared away the old contractions which drained much of our vital energy, and we are able to sustain our high energetic level. However, if we were to discharge heavily, we would be using up the newly available energy. What happens now is similar to the “second wind”. Our breath is open and we charge easily and completely, and don’t allow the charge to go higher by lightly discharging.
We know just how much we can speed or slow our activity and maintain maximum efficiency of movement. We know that if we overexert ourselves, we will quickly reach exhaustion. We know just how much we can speed or slow our activity and maintain a maximum efficiency of movement, and so long as we maintain this special breathing — open inhaling with light exhaling — our power remains available and enduring.
This peak is actually more of a plateau, a plateau where we explore and play with the rich possibilities of our lives. It is a place where we communicate with ourselves and others, where we can share what has previously been buried in our unconscious armor.
A Soft Landing
Gradual Full Discharge with Light Recharge
However, enduring our high plateau of energy, at some point we need to come down to rest. But now the discharge we need is not one of letting go of chronic, trapped energy, the left~overs of our previous experience; it is rather the simpler clearing of what is now available and flowing. We are not attempting to transform counterpulsations or blocks through a release, because our energy is already even and complete.
Our discharges are felt in every part of bodymind. My feeling and energy are flowing out through the entire length of my body. Gentle waves of exiting warmth and streaming, ripple through every part of me — feet, legs, pelvis, torso, arms and head. All of me is coming down from my powerful, high flight. My anger is not an intense burning out of the old in preparation for the new, as in a releasing discharge, but rather is an affirmation that I can let go, that it is o.k. for me to empty myself in every part, to fully discharge.
But this full discharge is not abrupt. We come down in stages. We evenly distribute our discharge through the body, but pause, and we even recharge, before continuing our balanced discharge. To discharge too vigorously would be a kind of overefforting, an armored attempt to be empty ourselves. To allow the discharging to continue without this efforting, we need to lightly charge again so that the discharging process can flow effortlessly again. When we reel a kite in, we bring it down in stages, allowing it, from time to time, enough slack, so that it does not nose-dive or rip its body.
Past and Future Contained in Time Present
Relaxation and Integration
Relaxation is not yet repose which is the precondition for a- new cycle, for it is a state in which we are actively integrating the changes that have occurred in the previous phases of the cycle. We are no longer building toward new energy, yet need to frame and structure the new pathways along which our future energies can flow.
A. Review. We can re-feel the patterns of our energy without reliving their intensity. As I relax I can feel in my body the anger I previously energetically expressed toward my mother, but I do not choose now to act. What I feel is much more than repressed feeling, controlled by half-conscious thought. It is a re-enactment in the nervous system of the experience but without the same process of tumescence and detumescence, or the same surging intensity of bio-electric charges and discharges.
In my relaxation I become more conscious by confirming the existence of old and new neural pathways. After a deep release of my protected sadness, I feel an openness and vulnerability in my whole body. Lying still, I am no longer crying but the memory of my experience is still tingling through my tissues and nervous system. The consciousness of how my sadness has moved through me is still vivid, still there as a consciousness in my body.
If relaxation were repose, we would be quickly too empty; we would be without the structures of the past on which to build our new energy. To review and affirm the nature of our past structure is not the same as holding on to old energy, for in our conscious re-feeling we are not driven by an impetus to re-experience what we feel and understand by reviewing it.
B. Choice. As we re-feel the patterns of energy, we discover not only that we have well-developed certain patterns and have the possibility of choosing to go in one of these directions or another, we can also see new possibilities that we haven’t tried before. If I get very frustrated with my wife’s jealousy and discover that I can pour out my anger toward her, later as I relax, I can look back, still sensing the current of my outburst, and say I have learned something about the strength of my anger. And I can see my anger as a strong, viable option in my energy. But I can also see that I might, sometimes be able just to look at her anger without reacting.
C. Communicating Images. One way of relaxing with the new consciousness of what we are doing and what we can do with our energy is to allow our images or sensations to spread smoothly to every part of our body, to every corner of our consciousness. I can permit the warmth I now feel in my chest after having cried to radiated into every part of myself, into my pelvis and legs, into my head and arms. And as it spreads it is more than a sensation. It is an integrating way for the rest of me to accept the feeling pouring from my chest. Sometimes this integration comes through such sensations, other times through images or emotions which we are able to accept as belonging to every part of us.
A Flexible Model
We have looked at the energetic cycle as a number of phases beginning with repose, tension, charge (including initial charge, initial charge with discharge, high charge with counter-pulsations, release with full charge, sustained peak charge with balanced discharge, and gradual full discharge with light recharge) and relaxation-integration.
This chart is a kind of paradigm which explains the direction of our energetic flow, but what unfolds for each individual will vary greatly. We can say that these points in the cycle represent parts of our experience, and the more we are able to open our energy, the closer we approach certain parts of the model. As we look at how energy of certain types of individuals has accumulated or been weakened in certain parts of the body, we will see different graphs – – different kinds of beginnings, different peaks, different endings to the cycle*.
For example, repose is a state we never completely experience. But we know it’s direction and we understand it’s importance. We realize that when carry over frustration from a previous cycle of experience, our new cycle is not wholely a new beginning and will influence the way we experience phases in our new cycle.
The person carrying a high charge may have difficulty starting slowly; the needy and weak person may have trouble getting started at all; the excitable person may not want to relax. These patterns of energy can be gradually changed. We learn to go more slowly, to nurture and sustain ourselves, to let go, and, and in the process, our patterns go through a complex evolution. And it may not help to compare the degree to which different individuals have moved toward this idealized cycle. What might look on the graph like a meager discharge or low peak, when compared to another person, may be a strong flow or high energy for another. Of course, what comes before and after a discharge or peak will help to determine for the individual what is strong or high.
* An updated chart, as I have recorded it from Jack’s teachings in this period can be found here: https://bodymindintegration.com/the-natural-energetic-cycle/ . Jack in his classes also elaborated extensively on the different variations of the cycle in different people.