BODY LANGUAGE BY ALEXANDER LOWEN

Here's an excerpt from a class I taught called "FEELING HUMAN." In particular, this excerpt is from Alexander Lowen, the brilliant psychiatrist, practitioner and founder of BIOENERGETICS, who coined the phrase "BODY LANGUAGE," and refined the use of body work exercises in psychotherapy to release deeply held emotions. It's amazing!

Here's Lowen:

The language of the body is called nonverbal communication, through which a great amount of information is conveyed. A person’s tone or look in the eyes often has greater impact than their words. Words can be used to tell a lie, but the body cannot lie. The language of the body cannot be used to deceive if the observer knows how to read it. If each aspect of bodily expression is revealing of who we are, then our whole body must tell our story even more fully. (If one assumes the bodily attitude of another person, one can sense the meaning or have the feeling of that body expression.) Reading the language of the body requires that one be in touch with their own body and sensitive to its expression.
The expression ”second nature” is often used to describe psychological and physical attitudes that, though “unnatural”, have become so much a part of the person that they seem natural to him or her. The term implies that there is a “first nature”, one free of these structured attitudes. We can say that first nature is the absence, on the body level, of chronic muscular tensions that restrict feeling and movement and, on the psychological level, of rationalizations, denials and projections. It is important to recognize the difference between second and first nature, for too many people accept their bodily tensions and distortions as natural, not realizing they belong to the order of second nature, which feels natural only because of long habituation. It is my deep conviction that a healthy life and a healthy culture can only be built on our first nature.

Three channels of communication for the heart: The primary channel of communication for the heart is the throat and mouth. (The difference between a kiss being a gesture of love or an actual expression of love is in whether the channel of communication between the heart and mouth is open or closed.) The heart’s second channel of communication is through the arms and hands as they reach out and touch. (The flow of feeling or energy to the hands can be blocked by shoulder tensions or spasticities in the muscles of the hands when one is afraid to reach out or strike out, or repressing impulses to grasp, seize, claw or strangle.) A third channel of communication from the heart to the world through the genitals. (Whether sex is a gesture or an act of love, again depends on whether or not the heart is in it.)
The heart is enclosed in a bony cage, the thoracic cage, but this cage can be rigid or soft, immobile or responsive. Chronic muscular tensions blocking the free flow of excitation and feeling are frequently found in the diaphragm, in the muscles surrounding the pelvis, and in the upper legs. Releasing them by using both a physical and psychological approach makes people feel “connected”. Head, heart and genitals, or thinking, feeling and sex, are no longer separate parts or functions.

The language of the body, or body language, has two parts. One deals with verbal expressions that refer for their meaning to body functions; the second deals with body signs and expressions that convey information about a person.

Examples of verbal expressions of body language:
“Standing on your own two feet” (being independent);
“Stiff-necked” (stubborn);
“Tight-fisted” (stingy);
“Tight-mouthed” (secretive);
“Shouldering responsibilities” (bearing burdens);
“Holding your head up high” (being proud);
“Standing firm” (won’t change a position);
“Going to the heart of the matter” (reaching the essence, the core);
“With all my heart” (total commitment);
“Open your heart” (receive love);
“Wearing your heart on your sleeve” (showing your feelings);
“Breaking my heart” (losing the flow of love);
“To lose face” (a blow to one’s image);
“Hide your face” (to show shame);
“Facing up to things” (dealing directly);
“Hot under the collar” (anger surging up to the head)
“Seeing red” (anger in the eyes)
“High brow” (intellectual superiority);
“Low brow” (intellectual inferiority);
“Brow beaten” (intimidated);
“Seeing” (understanding)
“Far-sighted” (able to antici[ate possiblities);
“Short-sighted” (not able to anticipate possibilities);
“Bright-eyed” (exuberant);
“Big mouth” (talks excessively);
“By the skin of my teeth” (barely succeeding);
“Chin up” (optimistic);
“Having no voice, no say” (being unimportant);
“Handle yourself” (direct yourself);
“Arm yourself” (prepare yourself);
“Having a hand in things” (participating);
“Being in touch” (knowing, being in reality);
“I am touched” (feeling);
“To have standing (importance), or “no standing” (unimportance);
“To take a stand” (to have a definite opinion); “Slumping” (losing ground); “A slouch” (a lazy person); “A pushover” (a submissive person).

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