I’m currently reading a book called, “Bioenergetics,” by Alexander Lowen. This is the third book I’ve read by Lowen, and I continue to find new nuggets of great information in all of his books. Previously I’ve read “The Fear of Life,” and “Narcissim: Denial of the True Self.” Alexander Lowen was a physician and psychotherapist who studied under Wilhelm Reich in the 1940’s and 50’s. Lowen’s main interest was the connection between the mind and body and he wrote extensively about how the psychological disturbances that many people suffer from can be resolved by moving the body in particular ways in order to restore energy, proper function, and correct posture.
I really wish that I would have discovered both Reich and Lowen’s work when I began bodybuilding almost 12 years ago. My fascination with the connection to the mind and body has always been an unconventional and difficult pursuit. When I started working out and really devoting myself to training, spending countless hours by myself experimenting in the gym like it were a science lab, I sensed that there was a powerful psychological benefit to moving your body, every single day.
Lowen states, “The more alive your body is, the more you are in the world. When your body loses some of its aliveness, as when you are exhausted, for example, you tend to withdraw. Illness has the same effect, producing a state of withdrawal.”
All of Lowen’s books have taught me to look at the way the mind connects to the body in a very different way. I’ve always observed this connection while training myself and working with clients, and it’s fascinating to read about this connection from a renowned psychotherapist’s point of view.
Another interesting topic that Alexander Lowen discusses in the book is personality psychology. He explains how different personality characteristics show themselves in the body. Basically, how we look on the outside is a manifestation of what’s going on inside our heads. When we suppress emotions for so many years, our bodies become rigid and stiff- we armor ourselves in order to protect ourselves. Our posture changes in order to “shield” us.
‘Bioenergetics’ goes deeper into helping the reader understand the mind-body connection than any other book that I’ve found on the subject. Lowen got to the root of many of his patient’s emotional problems by addressing their sexual frustrations and perceived inadequacies. He investigated their problems with intimacy and even the inability to orgasm during sex. He explains that an orgasm is just another way to release tension and decrease stress. I would have to agree!
Overall, this is a great read and a unique perspective on the mind-body connection. I highly recommend it.