Structure, Movement, and Energy

In any healing tradition that includes bodywork, the point has to be made quickly that there is no exact dividing line between structure, movement, and energy. All three are necesary to life. Unfortunately, despite the obvious fact that all actual persons in our lives are readily observed to have all three, discussing these areas can quickly sound ungrounded, fanciful, circular, even made up. The best way to understand structure, movement and energy is by experiencing all three. The second best way to understand them is looking at the everyday phenomena of life which show their trace. Alexander Lowen led the way in developing a way to give people both paths to understanding simultaneously. He called this bio-energetics. I am choosing to call the study of structure, movement, and energy just 'energetics' to avoid confusion with the entirety of Lowenian principles.

The Concept of Energy in Psychotherapy

There is a difference between the way a physicist uses the term 'energy', and how a lay person uses the term. To a physicist, energy is the capacity to do work. To a physicist, energy doesn't move. Matter moves however, and energy is responsible for that movement.

To a lay person, energy is the desire to do things, or the feeling that one could do things with ease. It is also the sensation of something moving in the body. The Reich and Lowen tradition uses the lay definitions when it speaks of energy. Alexander Lowen writes:

Life may be viewed as an excitatory phenomenon. We are not ordinary pieces of clay but a substance that has been infused with spirit or charged with energy. When we become more excited, our energy level rises. When we become depressed it falls. If we become highly excited, we light up or luminate and glow. These excitatory phenomena like sexual excitement are energetic processes. And the lumination or glow that they produce can be seen. (Depression and the Body Chapter 10, Paragraph 32)

Whenever something desireable is also invisible, there will be many charlatans, both witting and unwitting. Any reference to energy has to be suspect, because many charlatans do claim to be able to perceive and manipulate unseen energy. In this tradition, however, no one is manipulating energy. Rather, individuals are shown how to free restrictions in their bodies that are likely to result in pleasureable sensations and ease of action. It is the perceiving individual who must judge for themselves if what they are experiencing is 'real' and helpful.