What follows is an essay I was required to write whilst undertaking a years study in this form of counselling. As a student and recipient of the theories and methodologies used I emerged from the year feeling like I had done 10 years worth of internal healing work. I found it to be full of extremely empowering methods of healing and self awareness. I am presently undertaking further counselling studies and plan on incorporating the methods taught to me as outlined here in my counselling practice with clients in due course. I hope you enjoy the read and if you have any queries please don’t hesitate to contact me. Cheers, Cheryl.
BODY BASED COUNSELLING
This method of counselling has emerged from the Anthroposophical viewpoint held by Rudolf Steiner, which sees the human being to exist as a four-fold multi-dimensional being.
The Physical Body is seen to be a map of our accumulated emotions and feelings and it is believed that there is a very definite connection between our thoughts, emotions, Spirit/Soul and physical body. (Sophia College Course Notes, 2005.)
The human body is also seen from this viewpoint to contain what is known as energy centres or chakras. Chakras are seen by some such as Steiner, Brennan (1987), White (1993), Baginski and Sharamon (1985), as centres of moving energy, which lay vertically, along the middle of the human body with a core of energy (life/breath) running through them, feeding them. This core of energy comes in through the crown chakra and goes out through the base chakra and then circulates around the body. White (1993) is of the opinion that the seven chakras, their location and basic corresponding colours are as follows:-
· Base – located in the groin area – red.
· Sacral – located in the pelvic area – orange.
· Solar Plexus – where our “gut” feelings are located – yellow.
· Heart – located in the centre of our chest – green.
· Throat – centre of the throat – blue.
· Forehead – above the nose and eyebrows in the centre of the forehead – violet.
· Crown – located at the top of our heads – white. (White,1993.)
The Energy Body is seen to be our etheric body and appears as a finer layer surrounding the physical, which also enters the physical and assists in repairing the physical body and in maintaining physical and mental health. It is also known in some cultures as the pranic, chi, or breath body. The etheric body thrives if given lots of water, good food, rhythmical activity, natural environments, lots of fresh air and sufficient sleep. (Sophia College Course Notes, 2005)
The Astral body is the main body, which stores the memories of our experiences, and it is considered to be the lower layer of mind consciousness. It is perceived that if the etheric body is weak, or weakened then the astral body pushes through it, into the physical and impacts or impinges on the physical body. The stronger the etheric body, the less likely the astral body is to impinge on the physical body and consequently the healthier the physical body is. (Sophia College Course Notes, 2005.)
The Fourth Body is seen to be the Higher Self or “I am” which is perceived to be our inner knowing, divine self or the core of who we truly are that contains the strength, courage, wisdom and tenacity to rise above our human limitations. (Sophia College Course Notes, 2005.)
However, the human body is thought to be even more complex by some such as Brennan (1987). Brennan (1987) perceives the human being to consist of seven main layers, stating:-
“The longer I worked the more layers I could perceive. The higher the layer, the more expanded my consciousness needed to be to see it.” (Brennan, 1987, p. 42)
The main seven “layers” Ms. Brennan has become aware of (Brennan, 1987, p. 148) are as follows:-
Etheric Template body
Ketheric Template body
It is thought by Brennan (1987) that each layer has its own purpose and that each layer is associated with a particular chakra. Ruth White (1993) also claims that her work has made her aware of more energy centres within the body than is normally described.
Even though Brennan (1987) uses the term layers when describing the energetic bodies surrounding the physical body she does not perceive this to be a totally accurate description as she sees these “layers” as being:-
“a more expansive version of our self that carries within it the other, more limited forms.” (Brennan, 1987, p.43.)
According to Brennan (1987) she believes that each “layer” interpenetrates completely the one below it, including the physical and states:-
“the emotional body extends beyond the etheric and physical body.” (Brennan, 1987, p.43)
Brennan (1987) also perceives that each layer has its own purpose and that each layer is associated with a particular chakra. It is also believed in body based counselling and by Brennan (1987), White (1993), Bogainski and Sharamon (1985) all of whom work in the area of energetic healing or what has become known as Spiritual Healing or Reiki/Seichim, that each chakra resonates with a particular colour and sound.
However many “layers” or “chakras” do exist according to various individuals, one thing is clear and that is that the physical body and mind are seen by many not to be just all there is which constitutes a human being.
Causes of Ill Health
Body based counselling has in common with energetic healers such as those mentioned the same belief that ill health, disease and re-active behaviour stem from lack of breath (life force energy) in certain areas of the body due to negative imprints or wounds located in the various layers or bodies which extend beyond the physical body usually caused by suppression of emotions, fear, trauma, grief or beliefs we subconsciously hold onto about ourselves and that the body is a map by which we can ascertain where those imprints are actually impacting. (Sophia College Course Notes, 2005)
In Reiki/Seichim and also in body based counselling this impacting or imprinting is known as a wound, leakage or blockage of energy occurring within the body and when consciousness and the breath is brought into any area where there is pain subconscious memories surface and with them also emotions. In that process comes awareness and understanding of the true cause creating the symptoms of pain, illness, and irrational or re-active behaviour. Once consciousness of cause does occur a release of the negative imprint creating the situation results and once again life/breath can flow freely in that area painlessly. Once that has been achieved there also comes a sense of acceptance, well-being, peace, balance, purpose and fulfilment. (Brennan, 1987), Sophia College Course Notes, 2005), White (1993) and Gainski and Sharamon (1985).
Brennan, (1987) sees that:-
“illness is a result of imbalance” and that “imbalance is a result of forgetting who you are.” (Brennan, 1987, p. 131).
She also is of the opinion that:-
“all suffering is caused by the illusion of separateness, which generates fear and self-hatred, which eventually causes illness” (Brennan, 1987, preface)
Others such as Baginski and Sharamon (1985, Pgs. 122 & 123) see that our bodies are outward signs of inward consciousness and that:-
“each symptom is a specific message, which has to be recognized, accepted and integrated before we can get well again.” (1985 Pg. 124).
Lubeck (1995) is also of the view that before repressed parts of a person can be integrated so that healing occurs on a holistic level they need to be brought into conscious awareness.
Again one thing is clear in body based counselling and in energetic healing, rather than just applying a quick fix “band-aid” solution to a particular symptom, cause is looked for, brought into conscious awareness and released by the return of breath/life force energy, into that part of the body bringing about permanent and positive change because it is understood that symptoms will just continue to manifest in other areas of the body or in other ways of behaving if this is not the case. (Sophia College Course Notes, 2005.), (Brennan, 1987), (White,1993) and Baginski and Sharamon (1985).
Method of Healing
Body based counselling uses a variety of artistic therapies including clay to find, become aware of and release the subconscious energetic imprints hampering our lives and well-being. Movement is another component used, which allows the stepping into, gesturing of and unblocking of memories that are locked into the body at a cellular level by making the gesture of the pain and releasing that gesture from the body with sound. (Sophia College Course Notes and Lectures, 2005.)
By use of clay, water colour painting, drawing and general use of colour (Eilgenburg 2004) it becomes apparent what the shape of a pain looks like, where the breath is trapped and what colours or other resources need to be brought in to restore balance. By a very simple method known as Enter, Exit, Behold one can step into the bodily memory, obtain the information that is required, step out of it and release it. One can also use the Enter, Exit, Behold method to acquire the knowledge of what resources they need for themselves. (Sophia College Course Notes and Lectures, 2005).
This method of Enter, Exit, Behold alleviates the need to fully sink into and feel all the emotional pain or mental anguish which originally caused the imbalance or pain, which can often have a detrimental effect in that it leaves you feeling debilitated and “stuck” in the past pain of whatever trauma, grief, sense of loss or attack you once experienced, for days after or even weeks on end. (Personal experience of using this method.)
Often it is impossible for an emotion or pain to be described verbally or spoken of and working with clay brings that which cannot be spoken into manifestation in order for it to be seen and healed. Using it makes the intangible tangible and it is a very direct method of wordless communication to become more aware of, express, release and transform blockages and feelings. (Sophia College Course Notes, Lectures and personal experience, 2005.)
When thinking of this relationship I am reminded of two phrases “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink” and “Catch a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach him how to fish and you feed him for life”. For I see that the same principles apply when it comes to counselling full stop whether it be body based or otherwise and also energetic healing, which I perceive as being the same.
I feel it is imperative, in order for lasting change to occur, that the client have an expressed desire or wish for change to occur. That they state they do want to enter the process, that they make a conscious choice to do so and that they also take responsibility for themselves.
It is perceived that the client has all the knowledge and resources they need within them and that it is the Counsellor’s role to provide another with the safety and support needed to explore themselves more fully, guiding them to their own realizations by giving instructions, asking questions, making suggestions and giving directions, whilst teaching them how to use the tools and resources available with which to heal and strengthen themselves. (Sophia College Course Notes, Lectures 2005 and personal experience.)
Change is most apparent when we observe how a client is looking when they first present in comparison to how they leave. With body based counselling a client may come in barely breathing and be in a state of anxiety and distress. They may also present as being weighted, pushed down and lacking vitality.
A painting, drawing or clay piece completed during a session will appear very different in the before and after context of the Counsellor’s assistance. In drawings and paintings more colour will usually be present after intervention and also the second painting or drawing will have the appearance of being expanded rather than its original contraction. Change will also be apparent in the various pieces of clay work undertaken, again resulting in a more expansive, less contracted state.
The client will also be breathing much more deeply than they previously were and will present as being less anxious or overwhelmed and be feeling more self-empowered and positive. They also may appear to be a lot calmer and more at peace with themselves and they will present as being more upright, less uptight, light and expansive.
(Sophia College Course Notes, Lectures 2005 and personal experiences.)
© Cheryl O’Connor 2014 – Image sourced from internet – creator unknown.
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