Forfatter: Olav Storm Jensen
Olav Storm Jensen er mag. art. i psykologi og adjungeret professor på RUC. Han arbejder som privatpraktiserende psykoterapeut og freelanceunderviser og er grundlægger og faglig leder af Sensetik uddannelsen.
Relating the paper to the Conference-Theme: A cultural perspective on my approach. Some time in december I recieved a letter from the International Institute with an invitation to be a panelist in one of the morning cross-cultural panels at this conference. Although I resigned from participation and pointed to another Dane for the job, because I wanted to concentrate on the two presentations, I had already proposed for the conference – although I said no, the letter and the questions proposed as a structure for a panel-contributiop triggered off in me some considerations about in what ways I felt Danish. And the question: how did you get interested in bioenerg ( tics?” made me consider in what ways I could look at my way of contacting and living with bioenergetics as a Danish way.
I asked myself: When do I feel Danish? and the answer I found was that I only feel Danish, when I am with foreigners. Otherwise I feel as Olav, as a man, as a psychologist, as a father etc. etc. – but not especially Danish.
What is it to be Danish then? – Yes one aspect I have noticed wher beeing with Americans is a difference in the dimension of introvertedness/extravertedness.
Perhaps there is a trait in the Danish or in Scandinavian culture, that breeds more schizoidity compared to more breeding of orality in the American culture. Besides the negative aspects of schizoid separateness, introversion and closedness maybe positive aspects can be seen as a disposition for a philosofical-mindedness.
Which Danes do you know? Who do you think of, when thinking of Danes – in America for example?
I guess that first of all maYQe, you think of the vikings, but who else? Maybe a series of persons like Hans Christian Andersen, Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen), S¢ren Kierkegaard, and maybe Niels Bohr. Maybe the vikings do not fit into a pattern of introverted, philosofically minded people, but how about the others mentioned?
Maybe the vikings and the philosofically prominent Danes, I mentioned, can be said to share a characteristic in being explorers, conquerors – the vikings in the realm of places, people and material goods, and the philosofical authors and scientists, I mentioned, in the realm of understanding nature, the inner and outer, the human and non-human. Maybe the philosofically minded person can be seen as aggressive-expansive in the realm of thought.
In a way, my way of meeting bioenergeticscan be said to be Danish in the sense that my body – in my case in terms of lower-back pair – revolted to my philosofical-mindedness in the sense that I spenl most of my time at my desk, studying and thinking about very philosofical issues connected to my research-project during a scolar ship peiod. My lower-back pain brought me into contact with therapy integrating bodily and psychological understanding.
In my living with bioenergetics and my theoretical and pr~ctical studies in body-psychology in my time as a professor at the University of Copenhagen and since then (I left the University 3 years ago to become a full time private practicing therapist) I think 1 have brought with me my philosofical-mindedness. Basic theoretical issues, philosofical attraction towards thinking in gross lines about existence, has always appealed to me. Especially when well linked with practical reality.
Well, what can be said to be specially Danish about my way of stu dying psychology, including body-psychology?
Very often schools in a branch of science or humanities are named after the name of their town. I know of two such uses of the name “the Copenhagen-School” one – world wide use – within the area of physics, referring to the school around Niels Bohr, and the other – more local, Scandinavian use – within the area of psychology, referring to the school around Edgar Rubin and his successor Edgar Tranekj~r Rasmussen. My own scientific work at the University has been rooted in this tradition, a phenomenological approach to issues predominantly within the psychology of perceptio; and cognition. My approach to bioenergetics, my way of thinking about bioenergetic issues has important roots in the way of thinking I have been trained in within this tradition.
I hope it will be demonstrated in the following, what it means to apply this approach to bioenergetics.
I don~t know if I am going to tell, you very much new. I think that most of what I am going to say has been written or said in the same or different ways before, but maybe not been put together in exactly this way. That is: a way that works for me in my work with – and way of t~inking about – myself and others. I like to share thoughts that ‘ I feel as inspiring, and maybe some of them will have inspirational value for some of you too. Maybe some of you to some degree ‘ share my taste in thinking and maybe some of you willfin~ my presentation too philosofical.
As a whole, you can consider my paper as a draft of some theoretical ideas or lines of thought, that I intend to elaborate further in a future book. I will not give priority to the traditional academic reference-game of documentation of what has been said before, by whom and where, but I can say taat I feel inspired from a lot of different sources – from the writings and/or doings of Wilhelm Reich, Alexander Lowen, Fritz Perls, Ronald Laing, David Boadella, Gerda Boyesen, LillemQr Johnsen, e.G. Jung, stanislav Grof, Itzhak Bentov, Ulla Koc~ and myself.
Before we are going to take a closer look at what it means to apply a phenomenological approach to some bioenerg~~Ig~sI will mention the issues, I am going to cover – and try to fit into a synthesis – in my presentation. I will talk about the eros and aggression-energetics of the front and back of the body. I will connect this to some considerations of the basic energetic models of Wilhelm Reich. I will bring in narcissism as a perspective. I will look closer at the concept of pulsation and the concept of energy as such.
I will talk of criteria and conceptions of integration in the personality, of energetic aspects of contact, and I will be looking at existential and energetic meanings of so-called peak-experiences as the birth and the orgasm.
Eros and aggression – yes and no.
Let us start out by looking at the bioenergetic perspective of the ‘ body – of seeing the front and the back of the body as carriers of the eros and aggression side of the basic energetic pulsation.
What I mean by applying a phenomenological perspective to this is to look for the subjective expressive aspect of the eros and the aggression. In other words: What does the eros-energetic expression and the aggressive-energetic expression mean, as seen from the subjective perspective, that is: as seen as the expression of the sUbject. The answer to the question: what am I doing? (this is a question’only meaningfully asked to yourself) – that is the subjective perspective. It is to be differentiated from the objective perspective: answering questions like: what’s going on in me? (this question might be asked f.ex. to your doctor).
If you go for the basic expressive statement, so to say, of the subject – when objectively described, the ~ros energy dominates the behaviour of the organism – The basic subjective expression is the expression of a YES. Correspondingly the behaviour, objectively described as aggressive, from the subjective perspective is the subject’s basic expression of a NO~ This is what I would call a phenomenological approach. That is: go~ng for the subjective perspective on reality.
In the intr.oduction I mentioned two different “Copenhagen Schools” – the phenomenological psychology of cognition and Niels Bohrs philosofy of science and nature. As I see it the core point of both these schools of thinking is that you cannot transcend your sUbjective perspective on reality in its very basic sense. This does not mean that the concepts of subjectivity and objectivity lose their meaning. On the contrary these concepts can be given a well-defined meaning.
The objectivity of an observation can be seen as the relative invariance of the observation towards variations of the observational perspective – and correspondingly the subjectivity as the relative variance with variations of the perspective. What I consider the core point of the “Copenhagen Scoois” means that in a basic sense even your most objective objectivity still is embedded in your subjective perspective – still is reality as looked on by you, from where you are, and who you are, and what you have got to look with.
In starting our lives in our mother’s wombs our first basic subjective perspective on life must be a symbiotic one. Life in the womb is literally a symbiosis between mother and foetus. The life of the mother and the life of the foetus are in a very literally sense connected. So the first introduction of the ~onditionsof human life, the first human fact, so to say, is: Life is connectedness.
If you want to look for a archetypical, mythical representation of this biological-existential condition of life, you could go to the Christian-Jewish myth of creation. You could say that here we are talking about the time before the Fall of Man, When man’s symbiotic connectedness with nature in the Garden of Eden was yet unproblematic.
The next basic condition of life to-be introduced, is the issue of separation and differentiation. It is the introduction of twoness into the oneness. If you consider the position of the foetus in the womb, you could say that the symbiotic aspect of life is connected to the front of the body, where the umbilical cord connects with the mothers organism. In. the foetus position the front of the body can be seer as the center of the body as well. The back of the body in this position forms the outer surface of the body. As the foetus grows , this surface comes into a closer and closer contact with the wall: of the womb. This surface represents a boundary between me and not-me, so the back can be seen as representing the potential for developing differentiation and separateness.
Maybe one of the reasons, why birth can be seen as such a crucial existential experience in an individual’s history, is that the separatenes, .. the difference between child and mother – and at the same time their basic dependence on interaction – in the birth process gets an extremely – to a life and death degree – accentuated reality. In the maybe almost strugglelike interplay of reactions and counterreactions between mother and child during birtl – into the floating conditions of symbiosis, obstacles, blocks to the flow, confrontative conditions, I – not-I, with me – against me, yes – no, subject – object -conditions are introduced. To the potential of symbiotic connectedness the potential of interactive contact is introduced. Twoness, separation, differentiation comes into life – maybe not for the first time in a strict sense, but with an extremely dramatic emphasis.
You could say that in the myth of creation, this is the Fall, the eatin~ of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, that introduces dichotomy into life. After eating the fruit, Adam and Eve look on each other as separate beings and fear is introduced at the same time.
Reich’s basic energetic models.
Now let us take a look .at these issues in the light of Reich’s basic energetic models. The first basic model pictures the oneness going into twoness as the energetic flow meets an obstacle – a block to the flow. The model can symbolize the dichotomy and dialectics of many aspects of live existence, in Reich’s conception basically between soma and psyche.
-soma feeling connectedness analog contact with reality being involuntarity
-psyche thought contact digital representation of reality doing voluntarity
If we connect this figure to what we just talked about – seeing birth as the introduction of twoness into oneness, we could say that life processes in meeting an obstacle to symbiosis split into processes functioning according to the pleasure principle, – core feelings oriented towards life fullfillment – and processes organized according to .. the reality principle, ego functions or coping functions, basically oriented towards handling the block – the obstacles to the fullfillment. In extreme conditions this means a principle of life preservation – of survival.
It is important to notice that voluntarity is only connected to the one side. It is in this area of our existence that choice exists – free will. In this area of existence we have options.
On a certain. level of consideration of these two aspects of our existence, one (left side of the figure) can be considered as anatomically connected to the vegetative or autonomic nervous system, the endocrine system etc. – and the other as connected to the sensory-motoric nervous system and the brain cortex. We can refer to the two aspects as the emotional-vegetative aspect and the cognitive-voluntary aspect of our existence.
Following Reich’s understanding of the autonomic nervous system and the energetics of its two branches – the sympathetic and the parasympathetic, we can see the cognitive-voluntary (ego-) aspects as based in the sympathetic branch. We can talk about the parasympathetic expansion, pleasure or love or YES, and about the sympathetic contraction.and anxiety (these are Reich’s concepts) as the ‘meeting obstacles’-side – reactions to meeting blocks to the freely flowing lifeprocesses – to threats to the life of the organism – a basic manifestation of a NO.
In the meeting ‘ , of a threat, it can be see.n that the no of this branch of existence contains the choice. The function of the sympaticus system prepares the organism for “fight or flight” – aggession towards the obstacle or retreat from it action according to the aggression or the fear, feelings that can be seen as in their origin closely linked together.
In bringing in the existential condition of the choice – we bring in the :subject, the chooser, the choosing agent, the responsibili- !y for the way you choose to live your life, that is actualized at every single choice you are presented with. – And every second of your life awake is loaded with choices, for example about how you direct your awareness – inwards or outwards, towards facts, feelings or senses or towards thoughts and ideas etc. etc. – towards or away from, fight or flight, aggression or retreat.
For the sake of symmetry of concepts, we could talk of aggression versus degression as the basic choice of coping.
We could say that fear is the feeling of a block to the life processes (at a certain energy level) and aggression versus degression is the subjective choice activated this way. This principle can be applied to all areas of our psychological functioning, also the area of consciousness. In this area the concepts of aggression and degression can be translated into questions of recognizing or not recognizing – knowing of or not knowing of – attendinq to the facts (= what is given) or not attending, for example by attending to thoughts about the future or the past in stead of.
One option of the Homo Sapiens – the man with the symbolic mind – is to make a flight from the real wo-rld into the symbolic world of thoughts and ideas chosen to represent the reality (inner and outer). This flight is made possible by a fight of the sensations and feelings connecting to reality, by agg~ession turn~d towards your self, breaking the connection between the map and the landshape.
What is the connection between aggression and cognition? How can perception and aknowledgement be seen as aggressive acts?
You could say, that you need a lock to read the code of a key – or a key (or keys) to read the code of a lock. You have to interact with – make an impact on – an object to obtain information about it. This was Niels Bohr’s conclusion too.
In the more differentiated parts of our brains, where much processing has taken place since the original stimulus triggered the sensory organ, the principle of fight or flight – the choice – seems to be working. Besides aknowledgement and recognition repression and projection are human possibilities.
Of course this means a break in the contact with the real world – a split between the symbolic mind – conscbus aspect of existence· and the bodily, energetic – somatic aspect of existence. A mind body split. the basic schizoid split – that, as Lowen has pointed it out too, can be seen as a precondition for the development of any neurotic structure.
The paradox of the human symbolic mind/that really has brought humanity very far, is that is also enables us to turn life processes towards our own life processes – to repress feelings and sensations and create a neurotic illusory reality. Certain parts of our energetics can be chosen to be turned against the unfolding of other parts of our energetics.
The repressive act leaves us with certain negative effects: an energetic condition of depression and a cognitive condition of confusion. It can be easily seen that both depression and confusion can breed more anxiety and thereby the probability of more repression. We have a vicious circle. Repression calls for more repression. Neuroticism can be considered a state of addiction – maybe the worst and most widespread in the world.
The possibility of repression enables us to show false feelings – and to falsify the perception of the responses we get to our false character-mask. Self deception is a possibility – and that can be said basically to be the neurotic choice. The choice basically taken by the child in front of a existentially threatenin~’ reality, developing into neuroticism according to the laws of addiction.
An example: The child’s spontaneous behaviour is felt as a threat by the mother, basically because of her own neuroticism, her distrust in h~r own spontaneous life. So the child is not met by a spontaneous reaction from the mother. This can be seen as a basic narcissistic frustration.
The child needs to compare the feelings from within with the feeling and perception of the mothers reaction to it – the mirroring from without – to develop its self-image. When the experience from within and without are incompatible f.ex. the inner feeling of pleasure and the outer reaction “naughty!” there is an obstacle to the healthy growth of the self-image. There is a confusion – and the basic neurotic, narcissistic learning of: “It is not good to show what you are – to be yourself – show something else! may take place.
But this far we are just talking about learning how to be a pretender towards others. If it is existentially threatening to know that you are a pretender too, you must repress this fact – make a self-deception – become a pretender towards yourself too. And love is an existential condition for growth, then there will be a self-deception regarding the dissatisfaction there might be about aknowledging the mother’s expression of praise for showing the good boy, as an expression of love.
In this way we have talked about real contact and pseudo-contact (or character-contact) – or with words referring to the narcissistic perspective: of proper or relevant mirroring versus distorted mirroring.
Existential energetics of the birth.
Let’s go back to the birth situation, as viewed as a nleeting wi th the existential condition of meeting obstacles – of conflicting otherness. We might say that in birth ‘the problem I as an issue is introduced into life.
From the basic condition of oneness, of unproblematic symbiosis (Grof’s BPM 1), the contractions of the uterus in labour introduces a distu·rbance in this condi tion. This means a fear reaction: “I am feeling · squeezed” leading to the aggressive reaction of “I must press back, make room for myself (Grof’s BPM 2).
When the opening of the birth channel finally becomes sufficient, the childs aggressive expansion can lead to success, to the overcoming of the obstacle, to getting through the narrowness of the birth channel supported by the uterus contractions (BPM 3). Coming out, fullfilling the expansion, finally leading into the breathing in of air (BPM 4), could be said to express the subjective essence of III take my place – in the world”.
The question then is whether this existential situation turns out as a narcissistic or existential affirmative situation or not. In other words whether there is a real or a pseudo-/characterological contact between mother and child during the birth process. Is the interaction between mother and child balanced and harmonized in such a way, that it turns out for the child as a confirmation of its coping ability under these new existential conditions?
Is the problem solving, the fight to get out and get your space, supported and restrained, in a balance that measures the child’s power and ressources? Is the message about lif~ that the birth experience must be, a basic confirmation of the aggressive potentials for coping with the basic obstacles to the flow of life processes – or is the result a basic feeling of exhaustion, facing obstacles that are too much? Does it lead to further appetite for life – or does it lead to retreat – that in turn can lead further to repression of the longing for confirmation and support and the development of compensatory behaviour?
If once again we look at the front and the” back of the body and look for the existential meaning – to be confirmed or overruled in the interaction with the important others – mother first of all – and look for the foundations of their meanings in the birth process,we could say that the expression of the back towards pressure is “I l1)ake room for myself” confirmed into “I can keep my space” or denied into “I can’t”.
I think this aggressive expansive defense of boundaries is the basic existential expression of the back, when pushed out on an outbreath – the no to letting yourself be crushed. – When the back is curved on an inbreath, we have the protective reaction of the startle response, a contractive protection of the vulnerable front.
Expansion of the front is the coming out and breathing in movement of the birth. I think the existential expression of it can be formulated as “I take my (new) space” – growing into “I stand up to, meet, open to etc.” as life goes on. In short this movement represents the assertive aspect of aggressive expansion. (Expanding the front on an outbreath, I feel, expresses a push-of1 – a defense of boundaries, like the back).
These expressions of the back and front are the aggressive ones, actualized in conflict situations (like the birth). Potentials for receptive expressions under non-conflict conditions (symbiotic before the birth, cooperative after) could be formulated as f.ex.: “I take your support” (back) and “I take in – love, nutrition” :· (front).
If the birth reflex, the unfolding from the totally contracted to the totally expanded position of the body is seen as a special case of the basic wave reflex of the body, showing itself in other ways as the breath reflex or the orgasm reflex, we might say that the existential lesson of birth – of what life is all about, can” be seen as being reproduced in every cycle of breathing colouring every bit of “further existential learning – learning about life. –
And the lesson of birth is the lesson about the potentials and conditions for your NO and your YES.
The concept of energy.
Let us : for a moment turn for a look at the concept of energy. What I am going to say about that, might be somewhat controversiaJ in a bioenergetic society.
I doubt very much that we really need a special concept of bioenergy, in the sense that it means a special form of energy, different from the forms of energy known to physics and needing a special name such as bioenergy or orgon energy. Personally I prefer a definition of bioenergy as: energy organized in a biological, a live system.
Let us have a look at what energy means in physics. In physics we can talk about, for example, kinetic energy, the energy of movement, of thermic energy, heat, of electrical energy, of chemical energy, and in all cases, if we go to the proper level of physics, the normal macrophysics, the molecular, atomic or nuclear level of physics . – energy in the end shows up to be some sort of movement.
If you are heating an object, raising its thermic energy level, what you are doing is speeding up the molecular movements in the matter of the object, and so on on the other levels of physics.
I think the energy concept explicit or implicit used in bioenergetics very often isn’t really an energy concept, but rather some sort of an sUbstance concept. Something like invisible fluid flowing through invisible pipelines in the body. Flowing of fluid is certainly a part of life processes, but basically energy does not flow, energy is transmitted.
Electric energy does not flow through the cords, and nothing – no thing moves from the motor of your car to the tires on the road, when energy is transmitted and the car runs – gets kinetic energy. Nothing flows from the stove into the pot you are heating on it. Energy spreads through and acts upon substance, but is is not substance itself. A much better met~phor for the energy and its transmission than fluid running through pipelines, I think, is the waves on a surface of a lake, and their spreading out as circles, when you throw a stone into it.
Water is not moving in all directions from the stone, but waves, kinetic energy is spreading in the water, is transmitted through the medium of water or spreading in the field of water.
Let’s have a look at what the energy processes in the two basic systems. of life processes we have talked of, are like, when looked at on the kinetic energy level, where a spectrum of the movements are accessible to the naked eye – that is: the level of visible bodily movements.
David Boadella has pointed out how’ vegetative movements can be discerned from voluntary movements (the movements of the “doer”). The vegetative movements are always cyclic, pulsating, wavelike movements, while voluntary movements can have all kinds of staccato and fraselike forms. On the kinetic energy level emotional and other vegetative processes appear as waves, pulsations, vibrations.
Repression, the basic anti-life actions, on the kinetic level can be seen as actions breaking the waves of the vegetative life processes. Contraction of muscles, so that they are contracted and not accessible for the signals otherwise creating wave movements, coming from the autonomic nervous system, is a way to repress the unfolding of vegetative life, including emotional processes. In this way the body – or parts of it – are immoblized – at least with respect to wave-movements. The wave-immobilizatior can very well be covered by voluntary movements, eventually by movements imitating the waves of emotional expression.
When some muscles are contracted (hypertonic), so that waves are prevented, other muscles can become flaccid or hypotonic, because of the lack of stimulation from the wave~movements. One of the effects ·of the ; immoblization is a lowering of the total sensation of the body.
So repression on the kinetic energy level can be seen as a holding against wave-movement or pulsation. The disturbance of pulsation can have a specific aspect of holding against the pulsating movements of specific emotional expression such as crying or laughing – and as a general component in any emotional reaction the breath wave can be disturbed.
The normal function of breathing in an emotional reaction can be seen as an amplifier function. When breathing is deepened in emotion the kinetic energy level is raised in terms of more movement, and on a more basic metabolic energy level the energy level is raised in terms of a speeding .: up of – combustion with the hightened supply of oxygen. We could say that the deepening and speeding up of breathing adds energy to the emotion, thereby raising the probability for ~ mhe ·emotion tol break through the thresholds of coming to expression and to consciousness – eventually leading into action.
The repression of feelings by means of holding the breath is a parallel to turning down the amplifier of a radio set. In this way we can also see, that the repression of feelings does not mean that the feelings are made non-existent. They are just deprived of the energy amplification needed to come to consciousness, they still exist as states in the body. The concept of unconscious feelings, that otherwise can seem contradictory, makes sense this way. If you turn down the amplifier of your stereoset, without turning off the tuner, the information of the radio signals is still present in the set, it just isn’t supplied with the extra energy from the amplifier, needed to pass the thresholc of moving the membranes of the loudspeakers to produce audible sound.
Both Freud and Jung considered the question of consciousness or unconsciousness about a psychological element a question of the psychic energy possesed by this element. Maybe we in this way can see the concept of psychic energy like the concept of bioenergy, really a question of ordinary physical energy – as regulated by the breathing.
Energy and oscillation.
In going for an understanding of bioenergetics with an energy concept that really is’an energy concept and not a (crypto-) concept of substance, I have found a book by Itzak Bentov: IIStalking the Wild Pendulum ll very interesting.
Bentov points out that the energy processes of the body can be considered as oscillations. A lot of different biological, physical oscillators are working at the same time on what we could cal] microbioenergetic levels of f.ex. chemical and electric energy (where the movements are the molecular and particle oscillations), and on macrobioenergetic levels, where the movements are f.ex. pumping and’mechanical pressure waves in the fluids of the body. Oscillations on this level would be f.ex. breathing, heart beat, peristalsis, etc. Some of the oscillations on the micro-level can be seen as accessed through tecniques.like EEG, EMG, EeG, etc,
In a system consisting of a number of different oscillators all sorts of interactions between the oscillators can be thought of. All kinds of harmonic and disharmonic relations can exist and res, sonnance phenomena,· rhytm entrainment can develop if the proper conditions are given. As an example Bentov points out how the heart pulse under certain breathing conditions can get into a ressonnance with the pressure waves it sets out in the column of blood contained in the aorta so that a pressure oscillation with a certain frequency around 7 cps. gets amplified. Mechanical pressure waves like this can reach the brain through the cerebro-spinal fluid surrounding the brain and filling the ventricles, so the brain/fluid surface can be seen as a meeting point, an interface between the mecanical waves and the electro-chemical waves of the central nervous system.
Bentov considers meditative and altered states of cosciousness including elevated states of consciousness as obtained by creating the conditions in the organism for ressonnance phenomena of this kind.
If you connect a series of oscillators, let it be a series of pendulums for example, and, to make the example simpler, pendulums of the same length – three grandfather-clocks for example. If you connect them, and that could be hanging them on the same wall, and start them swinging each in a different angle of their swing – that is: out of phase – and you leave them alone for a sufficient time, they will end up swinging in phase ( the most simple form of a harmonic relation, a 1:1 relation). This is called rhytm entrainment. In other cases we can get entrainment of harmonics, that is frequencies related by simple mathematical fractions.
When thinking along these lines, looking at the wave aspect or oscillatory aspect of life processes, I think that a conclusion lying very close is that unity, unitedness, or connectedness within the life of the organism, in other words the integration and that means the freedom from repression, the degree of beeing who you are – will express itself on the kinetic level of bioenergetic processes as the degree of harmony between the vibrations, pulsations or waves of the body.
Normally the concept of sound means pressure waves in the field of air of ;frequencies falling within the spectrum accessible to our hearing. In a special sense, we might as well speak of sounds on other energy levels in other fields than the air. Bentov mentions 6 other types of fields, that we are surrounded and permeated by:
- The socalled isoelectric field of the planet.
- The electrostatic fields created by our bodies.
- The magnetic field of the earth.
- The electromagnetic field, where visible light is part of the spectrum.
- The gravitational fields of the earth, the moon, and neighboring planets and sun.
- The man-made electromagnetic fields of the broadcastings of radio and television networks.
A good metaphor for a field is a bowl of jelly. It is rather stif1 towards stirring it with a spoon, but it transmits vibrations, waves rather easily.
The oscillations of our life processes can be seen as making “sounds” in all – these fields. In some of the fields the “sounds” are direct accessible to our senses of hearing, seeing, and touching – and contact with another human being can in this way of seeing it be considered as based upon a “tuning in” to the sounds of the other.
“Tuning in to” is somehow to swing with the waves of the other, for example breath with the other. This is an energy transmissionNothing passes from the one to the other, but the movements of the one moves the other. Bentov’s thinking along these lines goes on into talking about “the cosmic hologram”, the information contained in the interference patterns of the sounds in the dif~erent fields. For his total reasoning in his book,I can’t follow him all the way, because of some assumptions I see as based upon map/landshape confusion. But I think his models are very inspiring, and might open up some possibilities for understanding what one could call the physics of psychic phenomena, as for example aura-vision, telepathic phenomena, healing phenomena etc.
The integrated organism/personality. The nature of the orgasm.
But let us look at the organism again. If integration on the kinetic energy level can be seen as harmony between movements, one could talk of the basic body-mind integration or the integration between the emotional-vegetative and the cognitive-voluntary aspects of existence as harmony of movements.
If the vegetative waves are seen as the “basic life music”, integration will show itself in the harmony within this music, and in the harmony between the “song” or “speech” of the actions of the voluntary part with the basic music of the vegetative life. If the action of the voluntary part is the action of non-action, the giving in to the vegetative part, going with an emotional as for example a sexual expression of the vegetative, the level of integration can be considered showing itself in the degree of totality in the harmony and ressonance of the wave’ movements of the organism (a simple aspect of this: Is the breathing free ‘ and in rhytm!llwi th the· oibhe~ movements?); A si tuation of this kind is the sexual orgasm.
So the orgasm can be looked at as the ~ature, integrated individual’s saying total~y yes to giving in to his free waves, the harmonic connectedness of the life processes – the tuning in to or tuning in with one self. – And with a partner – at the same time being connected with another harmonic wave-cluster, another human being – forming one common harmonic energy system.
Reich’s original orgasm theory was a result of his search for the energy source of the neurosis. For psychoanalysis : basic life energy was considered to be sexual energy, so the natural or healthy discharge of the energy should be the orgasm. So orgastic potency and neuroticism are reciprocal phenomena, ~nd the level of orgastic potency could be seen as a measure of the psychological healthiness of the person.
These observations make exactly as much sense, when understood within the model, I am presenting here about the level of integration – psychological healthiness – showing itself in the sexual orgasm as the level of wave harmony, that is: bodily energetic integration. The observations about orgastic potency and neuroticism make as much sense in this model as in Reich’s energy-source model, saying: what does not go to the orgasm, goes to the neurosis.
In Reich’s model something goes – maybe it isn’t really an energetic model, but more of a sUbstance model. Maybe Reich, at this starting point of bioenergetic thinking, was too much bound to a psychoanalytic homeostatic model of man. (Later on Reich thought in terms of the wave aspect too, this is just further consequence of this perspective).
I think the way of thinking of energy as conceived of as waves is more truly an energetic model. And waves can be seen and felt and tuned in to. I think the concept makes a lot of sense, when applied to a lot of phenomena that are part of our daily experiences as bioenergetic therapists: intuitive understanding and body-reading, and also registrations an perceptions of the other in the area of so-called psychic phenomena makes sense within this model, this way of energetic thinking.
Tuning in to the waves of the other in a general sense can be seer as the basic connection with the other (Reich’s “vegetative identification”), the analog, emotional (movable) connectedness, the YES, that is a precondition for the cognitive, digital perception and understanding of the other – the obtainment of information about the other by means of relevant forms of resisting the waves. By the relevant resistance – the proper NOs, differentiation from the other – symbiotic connectedness is turned into conscious contact.
Let us return to the subject of looking for the existential meaning of energetic expressions. What -can be said to be the existential meaning .of the orgasm? When Reich asked himself about the FUNCTION of the orgasm, he asked from the objective perspective of the energy-problem of neurosis. In contrast to this we can ask from the subjective perspective – ask about the fundamental subjective expression in front of basic conditions of life – that is expressed with the orgasm. – What is the archetype of orgasm? – or in this sense, what is the NATURE of the orgasm?
In birth we saw the issue of one becoming two – the introduction of 0iifferentiation and individuality;th~9ugh the basic expressioD of a NO. Maybe we can say that in the orgasm, the basic issue of being a live human being to be confirmed is the issue of two becoming one, the possibility of integration, of YES or love or connectedness or symbiosis in the integrative sense of the word (as discerned from the sense: the undifferentiated). And to the degree that you are integrated within yourself, to the degree you form a surface of wave harmony – to that degree you can integrate with the other – harmonize with the wave harmony presented by the other.
If you like to root archetypical thinking in biological thinking, as I do, we can say that the biological meaning of the orgasm in fact is two becoming one. The orgasm is the arrangemen t of nature for the possible meeting of sperm and egg, uniting to form a new individual.
We could say that the healthy birthvis your mother’s and your own confirmation of your individuality and contactability – of differentiation. And the healthy orgasm is your own and your part ner’s confirmation of your connectability with your self and with the other – of integration. Mother and other can be seen as representatives of mankind, life, the world – when looking for the existential meaning of the situation, the archetypical connotations.
I see no way of defining what limits there might be to our possibilities for integration – what iimits there might be to which parts of our reality we are able to contact, to tune in to – how far we can reach into being consciously c?nnected to the wavemusic of our inner microcosmos and our outer macrocosmos. We can only know of what we can experience – nothing about what further possibili ties for experience there might be for us. I think that understanding spiritual dimensions of experience along these lines, seeing them as representing a deepening of our contact with reality or as the integration of further aspects of our reality – not as contacting “other realities” – makes a lot of sense.
The fuller we are able to integrate aspects of our existence – being consciously with them as in meditation or orgasm – the wider a perspective on the fact of being human, alive, and existing is opened up. In other words: the more of our natural wisdom becomes accessible.
When being together really means being together – being yourself, or integrated, together – we are talking of love.
Love is basic acceptance – the basic attitude of the YES. Widening the area of aspects of our existence that can be met with this attitude for me is the same as opening up for spiritual dimensions of existence.