How SHEN works
Using the biofield qi (chi) from their hands, A SHEN therapist first relaxes the gripping contractions deep inside your body which are trapping the emotions, then repositions their hands to lift the emotion to the surface where it can freely dissipate. This process is repeated as necessary and sets the stage for a sound, positive physio-emotional shift. How do emotions get trapped in our body? What are the consequences of retained tension? Read on.
Our bodies react to emotional pain the same way they do to physical pain by contracting (gripping) in an automatic reflex. In other words, our bodies tighten in an involuntary reflex when we experience physical injury or emotional pain such as grief, fear, helplessness, revulsion, horror, shaming, demeaning, etc.
Our bodies also react to anticipated or imagined pain. A stomach knotting in fear, a heart clenching in grief, a sinking feeling in our gut, or a jaw tightening enough to injure the TMJ are examples.
If you watch an infant, an animal or a young child, you will clearly see them contract physically when they are startled or scared. The same reflex happens and is perceivable at every age and in living tissue of every species, down to a one celled amoeba which contracts when it is poked with a probe.
ACPR is your body's way of protecting itself and minimizing tissue damage, such as from a hot stove or a broken bone's sharp ends. This gripping reflex is swift and usually releases as soon as the perceived threat passes. How fast one relaxes and how much one lets go depends on several variables, but if a painful experience is particularly shocking, intense or happens repeatedly, the physio-emotional grip releases more slowly, not completely, and sometimes not at all, and remains in the body as tension. Other painful experiences produce further gripping, which layer on top of the original unreleased tension, until one is living with layers of chronic tension, much of which is held quite deeply in our bodies.
“When connective tissue is injured, overworked or traumatized, it shortens. And when connective tissue shortens...nerves cannot talk optimally to the muscles, and muscles cannot talk to the greater nerve network that includes the brain. Messages going to and coming from the brain are short-circuited, and this message breakdown happens along the entire length of connective tissue, not just where the tissue hurts.” --Richard Rossiter
Science has shown that emotional responses to physical experiences can lead to the onset of physical disorders, and that bodily held tension adversely affects the muscles, nerves, tissues, organs and glands at the physical site which reacted to the emotional trauma.
Until recently, just how this retained tension affected our health was not clear. We now know that deep bodily held contractions impede normal blood flow. Deep tension interferes with normal metabolic processes, preventing cells from fully receiving nutrients and fully releasing waste products, thus hampering cellular functioning and causing disease.
For example, long term fear or anger has been linked to stomach and digestive problems as well as insomnia and eating disorders. Feelings of shame and low-self worth have been frequently found to be a common component in prostate, feminine and menstrual difficulties as well as sexual dysfunction. Grief will constrict the area around the chest and is often a significant factor in respiratory conditions as well as in migraines and headaches (constriction at the vagus nerve and/or the baroreceptors interferes with blood flow return from the head). Retained grief is also a significant factor in numerous heart problems.
In fact, studies have shown that a high percentage of patients in cardiac units have suffered major grief six months to a year before having a heart attack.
The immune system is also affected by grief as contractions around the heart suppress the activity of the thymus gland, which activates the T-cells.
Very often, it is this internal tension that is responsible for many conditions labeled neurotic or 'psychosomatic'-- conditions when medical examinations find "nothing physically wrong." Internally held contracted tissue trapped by ACPR in our bodies affect not just our physical health and our appearance, but strongly influence or even dominate our emotional state: how we feel and how we react to present time situations.
Most of us still carry internalized pain from earlier experiences in our lives. We have had physical injuries such as accidents, trauma, or surgery, had traumatic births and/or childhoods, lost loved ones, suffered shame, isolation and belittling or have had abusive caregivers or relationships.
A lot of us have worked hard to find and to understand the past events that shaped our current responses to life, only to discover that learning the origin of our feelings did not entirely free us: we still find ourselves with outdated emotional reactions that keep surfacing (often inconveniently) in response to certain people or circumstances.
We all are familiar with people who do the following, or perhaps find ourselves "shrinking in fear," "feeling our heart sink," "numbing out," "in the grip of terror," saying yes when I want to say no, "exploding in a fit of rage," "overwhelmed by grief" or "reacting just like my parent(s) did."
Somatic (body) tensions hold the memories of past events, our beliefs and our reactions to those events. They can show us the decisions our younger, less experienced selves made about ourselves and about life during earlier experiences, and they can be a key to discovering unconscious, habitual, restrictive or destructive ways of being and reacting to life's events, leading to new life choices. However, until they are dissolved, these old feelings, thoughts and reactive patterns birthed in the past and retained in our bodies will dominate how we relate, how we feel, and how we live our lives today.
Much of what appears to be dysfunctional behavior is actually our inner self exacerbating painful emotions in an attempt to throw off these intense internal contractions and heal. It is these buried, trapped emotions birthed in our past but still held in our bodies which drive us to think or say or do these things we wish we hadn't.
SHEN Therapy offers an elegant solution to Fritz Perls' statement that emotions have a life cycle with a beginning and a natural ending which is often not completed and remains inside us until it is, affecting how we feel and everything we do.
The precise and powerful hands-on techniques of SHEN Therapy have been developed, refined and continually tested for over 30 years with clinical studies and in professional practice application to dissolve those internal contractions.
Our minds may or may not consciously remember the painful experiences in our past, but our bodies do.
Buried tension retained in our bodies from physical injury and from our reactions to circumstances in our lives is far-reaching and shows up over time. Internal tensions constrict our organs and impede the circulation of our internal fluids, compromising the functioning of our muscles and our joints, and restricting our ease and range of motion.
Tension also stresses us, stiffening our bodies, and distorting our appearance. We can see this in so many people, in their contracted postures, in their inhibited and unbalanced movement. All one needs to do is to look at our senior citizens, the majority of whom are not only misshapen but have impaired mobility, to see what the results of retaining physio-emotional tension internally for decades does.
With SHEN, you will feel an enormous difference when these internal contractions dissipate, a difference that is visible. Circulation is restored, and skin and muscles rejuvenate. For example, you will see an amazing transformation when tension in the facial muscles release and one's natural, true expression emerges. Your appearance can change so dramatically that one of my clients no longer uses Botox to make her look young. She describes SHEN as “holistic, organic Botox - except that my muscles can move!”
Deep, internally held physio-emotional contractions are a major factor in decreased health and ability as age advances, but I have seen that such deterioration with age is NOT inevitable, and in many cases it is not irreversible. The seniors I have worked with say that they feel (and they also look) decades younger after a short series of SHEN therapy. So far, ALL of them have regained or increased mobility and flexibility in their physical movement and/or thinking.
Those who practice Vipassana and other forms of meditation, Jungian dreamwork, yoga, breathwork, cognitive therapy, sensory awareness, subtle energy work, reiki, and Ekhart Tolle's Power of Now, especially, will appreciate the easy elegance and effectiveness of SHEN therapy.
As focused chi in a SHEN session reaches in powerfully to relax and release buried internal tension, it loosens the grip of what Eckhart Tolle calls "the pain body", freeing one from the effects of the past, and bringing insight and awareness. One session at at time, SHEN clients come to move, be and live in the now of present time.
Next: During A SHEN Session