How does integrative body psychotherapy help with accessing emotions? Emotions are an inherent part of human life. They influence our thoughts, behaviours, and overall well-being. Emotions are energy in motion, which might sound obvious, but they are felt physically in our bodies. When we experience intense emotions, we often feel them as physical sensations, such as tension, tightness, or discomfort.
When we hold onto emotional energy, it can lead to chronic stress and anxiety, which can harm our mental health; part of this is when we don’t acknowledge or express our emotions, it goes up into our heads, creating narratives. For example, if we are sad and can’t self-soothe and don’t express our sadness, our thoughts remain sad, and this experience can linger. If we are angry and can’t cognitively calm ourselves down or don’t express our anger, our thoughts become angry, which can lead to a negative view of people, the world, and ourselves. We may also experience physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, digestive issues, and fatigue. These symptoms can further exacerbate our mental health by making it difficult to focus, sleep, or engage in daily activities.
We can use several techniques to release emotional energy from our bodies. But first, we need to recognise what it is that we are feeling. A question to ask yourself is, what am I feeling? And where in my body do I feel that feeling?
In bioenergetic work, the trick is to get out of our heads and into our bodies. Obviously, feelings are felt in the body, not the mind. So there are four feelings in the body: happiness, sadness, anger and fear. Of course, there are tons of nuances to these feelings. Much like there are three primary colours and we get such an array of colours that comes from those. If we feel emotional intensity, we will do one or a combination of four movements that nature has given us. We’ll laugh, cry, shout or shake. Feeling joy in the body, and we let our body express itself, the body will laugh. Feeling sadness, intense enough, our body will cry or sob. If our bodies feel angry, we want to shout, raise our voices. If it’s very intense, hit, kick or stump. Feeling fear our body shakes and trembles.
Body psychotherapy helps us to allow ourselves to feel, express or discharge emotional energy. This then relaxes the body, allowing a sense of calm. Like the experience of having a good cry and afterwards feeling better. Even though the situation that is making us sad may not have changed. I remember Richard Rohr saying once “Tears cleanse the eyes so we can see more clearly”. It’s the same with any of the other three movements. Discharge allows us to come back to ourselves.
Breathing and Exercise
Another technique is deep breathing. Taking deep breaths activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps us relax and reduce stress. Another technique is progressive muscle relaxation, which involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups. This technique can help release tension, relieve physical discomfort, and get us in touch with our physicality.
Meditation is another effective technique for releasing emotional energy. When we meditate, we focus our attention on the present moment, which can help us develop a greater awareness of our body sensations and help us identify and release emotional energy.
Physical exercise is another effective to get us into our bodies. When we exercise, we produce endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. Exercise can also help us release tension and reduce stress. Yoga, in particular, can be effective for releasing emotional energy, as it involves physical movements designed to release tension and emotional blockages and promote relaxation.
In addition to these techniques, therapy can help integrate what’s happening in our bodies. Therapy can help us identify and understand what emotions are telling us, which can help us release emotional energy trapped in our bodies. Specifically, integrative body psychotherapy can also provide a safe space to express our feelings, which can be cathartic and healing.
So, holding emotions in the body can significantly impact our mental and physical health. It can lead to chronic stress, anxiety, and physical discomfort. However, there are several techniques that we can use to release emotional energy, including body awareness and exploring the four movements, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, physical exercise, and therapy. By releasing emotional energy from our bodies, we can promote greater mental and physical well-being by integrating body, emotions and mind.
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