-William Reich, 1936
Each segment contains specific acu-points that are important to release each "segment". The theory is that when tension becomes chronic, there is usually not just a tight knot in one spot, but rather a "ring of tension" around the area. If the tension of one point cannot be relaxed, other surrounding and related points in that segment may be affected as compensating tensions develop. This could be referred to as the "segmental effect", as tension tends to spread to points and muscles in the same segment. The muscles in a segment work together to produce physical movement and to express feelings and emotions. Relaxing any one point in a segment will directly affect other functionally-related points, and relaxing tension in the front helps simultaneously relax tension in the back ("the front-back effect" as coined by founder of Jin Shin Do® Acupressure, Iona Marsaa Teeguarden). Reich advised working from the top down, which occurs during a Jin Shin Do® session, releasing first the facial musculature of the head and neck and ending with pelvic release.
"Armoring" tends to present itself as a lack of sensation, a rigidity, stiffness or tension, and a block against the breakthrough of emotions and organ sensations, particularly the emotions of "anxiety, rage and sexual excitation”, according to Reich. Body defenses show up on an emotional, psychic, and muscular level. Interesting to note, Reich’s concept of 7 armoring segments also relates to the 7 chakra system of eastern philosophy, which may have similar emotional connotations. Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist, developed a Hierarchy of Needs, which focuses on the stages of growth in humans. Maslow used the terms "physiological", "safety", "love and belonging", "self-esteem", and "self-actualization" or "self-transcendence" to describe the psychological needs and patterns that human motivations generally move through.
- Ocular or Eye- all the muscles of the eyes and eyeballs, the forehead, the cheeks, the scalp, temples and the occipital lobe (the centre of vision in the brain). Emotional Expression: expressionless eyes, rigid forehead and eyelids; a "mask-like" expression, acting as a blindfold, ignoring what we don't want to "see" or face; suspicion, amusement, contempt, and guarding.
- Oral- mouth, tongue, chin, nose, jaw, ears, and occipital (back part of the head) musculature. Emotional Expression: holding back tears and sobbing; jaw tension acting as a gag, keeping us from saying things others may not like; talking, laughing, smiling, crying, yelling, screaming, grimacing, and biting.
- Cervical- deep neck muscles, the tongue and its operational muscles. Emotional Expression: mediator of conflicts between thoughts and feelings, between the head and the heart, the "I-It Split"; may act as a noose-- blocking feelings from the heart or guts, trapping us in our own defenses and restricting our freedom to feel and express ourselves; self-pity, helplessness, longing, rage, self-expression and creativity.
- Thoracic- intercostal muscles, the large chest muscles (pectorals), the shoulder muscles (deltoids), the muscles around the shoulders and scapulas, the arms, the heart and the lungs. Emotional Expression: holding back feelings with shoulders pointing to an inner conflict between wanting to speak out and fear of losing one's temper; carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders, constricted chest limiting heartfelt feelings and openness; acting as a harness, hitching us to a cartload of responsibilities and burdens; grief, sadness, anxiety, anger, and fear.
- Diaphragm- diaphragm, stomach, solar plexus. Emotional Expression: the "no-no" attitude ("no" to full orgasmic pleasure in sex, to self-assertion in relationships and to honest expression of anger according to Reich), contracting in response to anxiety or fear or loss of control, especially regarding deep sexual feelings; acts like a tight corset, cutting off threatening feelings from arising from the lower energy centers; holding down assertive emotions over time leads to chronic diaphragm armoring and creates a predisposition to anger.
- Abdominal- large abdominal muscles (rectus abdominus), the transversus abdominis, which runs from the lower ribs to the upper margins of the pelvis, and in the back, the lower section of the muscles which run along the spine (latissimus dorsi and sacrospinalis). Emotional Expression: acts as a tight belt, constricting our waist and decreasing the intensity of gut passions while cutting off the connection between heart and pelvis, notably suppressing sexual impulses and feelings; produces low back tension, relating to fatigue or acting as defense against fear or fear of attack.
- Pelvic- almost all the muscles of the pelvis: the genitals, urinary tract, the buttocks (gluteus maximus), the adductors and abductors (in the thighs), hamstrings, and lower legs. Emotional Expression: "pelvic anxiety", referred by Reich as "inhibited pleasure transformed into rage;" decreased feelings of sexual excitation resulting in sciatica, constipation, urinary, sexual problems and feelings of anxiety; survival, sex, and grounding, as associated with the "root" or pelvic chakra; our ability to "stand our ground" or move forward.
Teeguarden, Iona Marsaa. The Joy of Feeling. Tokyo and New York: Japan Publications, INC., 1987. Print.
Teeguarden, Iona Marsaa. A Complete Guide to Acupressure. Idyllwild: Jin Shin Do® Foundation for Bodymind Acupressure®, 2003. Print.
“7 Segments or Belts of Tension in BioDynamic Breathwork & Trauma Release.” Website Title. Website Publisher, 20 April 2016. https://www.biodynamicbreath.com/inspiration/demo-post-88/
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