Posted by: qifieldtherapy | August 18, 2010

A New Approach to Well Being


Qigong, Restorative Awareness & SEby Federico Garcia-Anguiano

I will focus on describing my experiences of an approach that integrates health, well-being and the fulfillment of realization. For many years, I have worked with Attention as approached through the re-union of the faculties of mind, feeling and instinct or body. This is a theme that has repeated itself over time, starting almost 25 years ago.

At that time I was a student at Northfield Mount Hermon School in western Massachusetts. D.L Moody founded this fantastically unique school with a mission to educate the minds, hearts and bodies of children (his motto was “To educate the head, the heart and the hand”). He believed that this is the foundation for being truly human. While working very hard at manual labors and my intellectual pursuits there, I was also encouraged to investigate the realm of my feeling (as distinct from emotions) and spirituality.

A few years later I became familiar with the work of G.I. Gurdjieff, whose primary teaching focuses on Being and understanding as the true measure of our humanity. Gurdjieff emphasized the importance of finding our Conscience by recalling our ability to remember or realize who we are –and evenly dismissed ordinary morality. He stated that our civilization emphasizes ‘doing’ to the detriment of ‘being’ but that in fact these two qualities must be in balance.

I started studying Oriental qigong practices about 4 years ago. In studying Zhineng Qigong, I have discovered another approach to the same search for unity of body, mind and feeling. In Zhineng Qigong we study the relationship between the 3 dantians (energy centers) in how Qi flows through them. We use many different techniques and methods that work with Qi either by dissolving or concentrating it within or around the dantians. Most people that practice Zhineng Qigong on a regular basis experience what they call harmony and equanimity – a simple sense of becoming rooted in presence free of thought or drama.

Here is Dr. Pang’s description of the purpose he intends for the practice of Qigong:

Human beings are forms said to consist of three main components:

Xing (physical form), Qi and Shen (mind). Of the three, Shen (mind) is the most important and acts as the control center. Likewise, opening up (releasing blockages) of Shen is the most important. The most fundamental aspect of opening Shen is to uplift and maintain the development of a permanent contact with human conscience. A lack of conscientious existence habitually results in rapid changes of emotion; extreme fluctuations of emotion affect the circulation of qi in the body; this results in a disruption of a person’s health. Indeed maintaining permanent contact with one’s conscience and having a caring heart is humankind’s most urgent need. Zhineng Qigong encourages all practitioners to consciously remain calm and naturally open all of the time. At the same time, it encourages one to maintain harmony with Mother Nature and Society.

As I find myself deeper within the unfolding I find that there is even more to look at! While every one of the disciplines or persons mentioned above would emphasize Attention as a quality of rootedness in the physical sensation, I am now finding that there is much more to this as well.

The methods of Somatic Experiencing (SE™) reveal an inner world that is unknown even to seasoned practitioners of meditation or the myriad forms that the work of realization may take. This world is akin to most descriptions of what is usually called the “unconscious”. I use the SE method especially to help mindfulness practitioners at a level that is very difficult to access by oneself. These aspects usually have to do with pre and perinatal stress or stress accumulated in their developmental process.

In SEwe work with nervous system responses that are managed by the autonomic nervous system. We do not have direct volitional control over most of the functions of this system, yet it is possible to access the energetic and informational material that it works with. In this way we can release the past without having to resort to lengthy therapy, psychoanalysis or catharsis. Below is a brief introduction to my current understanding of this practical method.

SE™ is a therapeutic modality that deals directly with the biological structures upon which the nervous system is based.  The bulk of the nervous system permeates the brain and eyes, ears, mouth and nose, the spinal cord and the manifold innervations throughout the entire body.

The brain itself is said to be divided into three parts:

1 The neo-cortex or modern brain (only higher primates have this) that controls reasoning

2 The mid-brain or limbic system which mediates feeling and affect (all true mammals have this)

3 The brain stem or reptilian brain that controls the autonomic nervous system and is keeping you alive right now (as the name implies reptiles and other older life-forms only have this brain). It is important to note that what we call basic emotions are hard-wired impulses that are meant to serve the survival instinct. Feelings are something else and arise in the Limbic system.

SE™
works primarily with three phases of processing within the brain stem. The procedural execution of these steps keeps us alive and thriving in three different ways:

1. Orientation to the here-and now within the external environment as a felt sense within the organism, and engaging in social interaction (i.e. cooperation, reproduction, feeding, etc.).

2. Alerting the nervous system of impending danger, re-directing energy within the organism to prime for action, and warning others in the group with us.

3. Executing the self-protective response as needed (in concert with the higher brains) as genetically encoded in the ANS (Autonomic Nervous System). This is divided into three hard-wired responses:

a) Flight (I’m getting out of here!)

b) Fight (I couldn’t get away and now I’m going to hurt you!)

c) Freeze (you’ve got me! I am helpless…so I’ll faint or feign death until you leave)

Research has shown that this system works beautifully in all animals including humans. However, it is clear that animals are not traumatized by these experiences while humans routinely are.

The reason for this lies deeply embedded within the development of agricultural and later industrial civilization. Beyond a critical number of individuals in a group or tribe, the bottom-up processing implied above begins to become disorganized. Humans have developed rules and regulations to inhibit their natural organic responses to stimuli (as initiated within the neo-cortex), thereby disorganizing the procedural execution of instructions within the ANS. People now chronically suffer from accumulated stress and non-specific syndromes relating to situational or developmental trauma that were unheard of even in the recent past.

Humans’ neo-cortex have unwittingly moved away from the genetically programmed bottom-up processing of the ANS where every action arising within the basic structures of the ANS and felt sense of the body propagates ‘upward ‘ to the neo-cortex and to phase-appropriate response. In the ‘modern’ top-down modality of processing (literally an inversion of the functional reality of the organism) we find ourselves ‘rationalizing’ or trying to co-opt our natural responses, resulting in the inhibition of our self-protective and self-nurturing mechanisms via coercive measures processed within the neo-cortex. The net result is behavior inappropriate to the phasic nature of the ANS and inappropriate to the demands of the environment. This results in accumulated or chronic stress as the organism begins to bind its energy of activation as syndromes that manifest in the body/mind complex. One of the most common syndromes is called pride.

SE™ works by restoring the bottom-up processing of the ANS and eliciting the arousal of what is called observer within the systems of the organism. The aim of the process is to discover, identify and then re-negotiate the energy of arousal within the ANS so that it can be safely discharged without resulting in overwhelming emotion (freeze).

The process of restoring the ANS and organism to phase-appropriate coherence results in the return to organic natural self in harmony with the environment and others.


Federico Garcia-Anguiano is a registered volunteer at SDCRI in Encinitas, a certified Qigong instructor and a practitioner of SE™. Please contact him at 760-550-9895 for a complimentary consultation, or email him at qi@qifieldtherapy.com

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