By Sharon Promislow
With this spring newsletter, BeWell Informed, we are sharing how Bioenergetic practices support change and transformation. Basically, all our balancing and healing practices are based on a ritualized framework. First, we identify the issues that are affecting our balance, be they physical, mental, emotional and/or spiritual. Second, we identify how those issues are reading out in our overall brain/body system. Third, we allow the body to choose which bioenergetic techniques will release those imbalances. Fourth, we go back to confirm that indeed we have achieved the release of the energy blockages with those techniques. Bioenergetic Wellness is based upon this Balancing Ritual.
At the end of my book, Putting Out the Fire of Fear, I added an addendum, so fascinated am I with the foundational role of Ritual in our lives. I share that excerpt with you here.
The Nature of Ritual
All the major religions and energy disciplines are built upon a framework of ritual, which is very satisfying to the brain. Through multisensory stimuli—action, sight, sound, smell, location—rituals trigger a desired, remembered state. Used both to energize or to calm, these stimuli include smells that trigger comforting childhood memories, familiar songs that access a deep comforting sense of community and belonging, body postures that actually help the body conduct its energy circuits more smoothly. For example, the common prayer posture with the fingertips of both hands together, is actually extremely balancing on an energetic level.
Rituals/habits can also serve as touchstones to tell us that something significant is happening. They help us instill meaning into our world. We create rituals for beginnings and endings. We come together in our humanity to create rites of passage—ceremonies celebrating birth, weddings and other joyous occasions, and again to memorialize death. These traditions provide a framework that is very cathartic to the human condition. Some of these rituals are designed to arouse, rather than calm—just think of the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, or the Mardi Gras in New Orleans. We have festivals of joy before periods of self-examination: We have holidays of light, to push back the darkness. There is a rhythm to ritual.
Small rituals provide comfort as well as large ones. If every action required conscious thought and a new decision, we would be overwhelmed just getting out the door in the morning. We create rituals (routines) around rising and bedtime. There is a comfort in automatic habit, and family traditions.
For those of you who may not have many rituals built into your life, you may find that the BioEnergetic techniques you have learned can help fill that gap. They will provide you with a nurturing ‘time out’ to stop an automatic stress response. Used regularly, they create a bridge to more positive functioning and reinforcement of your new brain circuitry. They provide an easy way for you to create the balanced energy state which is interpreted by your brain as ‘safety’. They facilitate the unimpeded flow of information through the brain stem, the Reticular Activating System, the midbrain and the Amygdala, to your higher reasoning cortex for new planning and ideas.
What positive traditions or habits do you currently have in your life that help you feel safe and in control? They can be habits of self-care and nurturing—a few minutes for calm and quiet enjoyment in a busy day. Or they can be family traditions that bring you together and give you a sense of belonging with loved ones.
INSIGHT: My current positive traditions and habits
To these, add a new ritual:
4. As soon as I notice an inappropriate stress response,
I will use a Bioenergetic activity to return to a balanced state._________________________________________
Other habits/traditions I can add
If you have no family, it’s particularly important to seek out community via a religious institution, support group or special interest group. Create habits of service to your community. This gives you the satisfaction of knowing that you have made a difference, and that you have a secure place where you are valued. Whenever you volunteer, you gain as much—or more—than you give.
The Other Extremes On The Continuum
Habits and rituals are sometimes used repetitively to allay anxiety and self-doubt. When they are used to suppress anxious feelings, they become superstition and compulsive obsessive disorders. We must always keep in mind that ritual is meant to serve us, not to control us. When ritual controls us, we can fall into obsessive compulsive disorders, where anxiety keeps the individual in a repetitive spin of constant ritualization to give a sense of control.
INSIGHT: My habits that mask anxiety
Are there any habits or rituals you have built into your life that you feel are masking deeper fears and anxieties?
(e.g. smoking, drinking, double-checking locks or stoves)
If you have created elaborate ritualized behavior patterns to allay your anxiety reaction, (and overly superstitious behaviors fall into this category), we suggest you seek appropriate counseling support in addition to using this book. Reeducating your brain/body response to these key issues with the models in this book should also prove helpful in handling that anxiety.
Sharon Promislow, CanBeWell Leadership Team, Public Relations Committee, International speaker, trainer and author “Making the Brain Body Connection”. Creator Enhanced Learning and Integration IKC approved courses and outreach presentations for the general public. Touch for Health and Brain Gym Instructor.
Reprinted from Putting Out the Fire of Fear
Copyright © 2002 by Sharon Promislow
An online course is available at www.sharonpromislow.com