THE PUNCH AS AN EMOTIONAL EXPRESSION
According to Lowen,42 exhalation accompanies an emotional expression. One reason is that an expression is often accompanied by vocalizations. The entire energy of the body is expended in this action. During inhalation, the organism is rebuilding its reserves to prepare for the next wave of expressions. The punch also needs the support of proper posture, that is, stable feet. The more a person stands solidly on his feet, the more he can use this base to build an attack that adds the weight of the back to the force of the arms. From this point of view, every emotional expression made while inhaling reveals a restraint, a lack of confidence on the part of the person relative to the expression. If we add to that a weak anchoring of the feet, the punch often leads to an aggressive expression that can have harmful consequences for the person throwing the punch. That is often the case with impulsive children when they have a temper tantrum. They hit and scream a lot, but they can get hurt.
A typical way to understand how an individual expressed his aggression in bioenergetic analysis is to explore what is going on when, under the guise of an exercise, he hits a cushion numerous times while yelling as loud as possible. The exercise works particularly well if the individual can imagine that the cushion is someone against whom he feels anger. Typically, the examination conducted during this exercise will be done according to two levels of analysis:
1. At the level of body movement and expression. Lowen analyzes with the patient how the body elements (coordination of the feet, pelvis, back, face, arms, voice, eyes, and respiration) are coordinated during the exercise. This permits him to help the patient understand how he manages his emotions and how he could express himself more effectively.
2. At the psychological level based on a psychodynamic model. The patient explores with Lowen what he has felt while doing this exercise, what images were activated, what memories eventually came to the surface, and so on. This phase of the analysis takes into account not only what went on during the exercise but also the way the patient subsequently integrates it (dreams, emotional reactions in everyday life, etc.).
The coordination of the body elements utilized by an emotional reaction is not the same for all the emotions. In grief, for example, the foundation of the feet is often lost because a sad individual would like to be able to lay his head on another’s shoulder and be held. This conceptualization is close enough to that of the Chinese.
The chi-kong of the animals is composed of exercises in which participants imitate different animals in particular ways to reveal certain negative emotions. In the version that I learned with the master Dee Chow,43 one of the exercises integrates in a march movements of crooked fingers that evoke bear claws and possessiveness. In the monkey exercise, associated with indecision, the student walks looking to the right while the hands move to the left, then looking to the left while the hands move to the right. By doing this exercise, one learns precise gestures and emotional associations. Within this containing framework, someone can explore what is happening within while meditating on what these movements activate in his organism