The concepts of character structures offered by bioenergetics are potentially as beneficial as they are damaging. And this is even more important to consider in the context of Integral Presence where we operate with an expanded and deepened state of consciousness. This multidimensional context further amplifies the impact of our support and intervention. It all depends on the nature and the quality of the intention behind our observation and our intervention. This underlines once again the importance of our alignment in the Integral Presence. The slogan I personally learned from Barbara Brennan is still useful to me to maintain a true, honoring perspective in the use of bioenergetics tools: “Character structures are not who we are. They are exactly who we are not! “. With this pun, she reminds us to keep our gaze (and our identification) on the Authentic self which is good, beautiful, natural, sincere and grounded in reality. Character structures are all the mechanisms, defenses, masks and strategies that make us appear other than who we truly are.
If a knowledge of character structures helps us to develop more understanding of ourselves or of the other by maintaining the right attitudes of mindfulness (openness, empathy, compassion, non-judgment, curiosity, equanimity) then this knowledge is useful for us to accompany ourselves or the other from a state of suffering towards reconnection with our true being, which is beyond suffering. If on the other hand, we use this knowledge to give a label to ourselves or to the other, we only reinforce images and beliefs, which is the opposite of the goal of the path of transformation.
Whenever we criticize, judge ourselves for what is right or wrong, analyze or diagnose someone else or ourselves, we create an image of an enemy. Each person who has developed a good neutral observer can perceive to which extent the beliefs and judgments we foster about someone (or oneself), conditions all the perceptions which we have of this same person (or ourselves). A belief always seeks proof in order to affirm the belief. This self-reinforcing mechanism of our belief systems keeps our mind circling around in our mental illusions and falsely makes it appear at reality. It takes a solid alignment with the Neutral Observer cut through and transcend this self-defeating mechanism.
Ike Lasaster (in his Guide to Non-Violent Communication for use by managers and their collaborators) explains that enemy images create two major problems: they dehumanize the person and on the other hand they create exactly what we are looking for to avoid. To label someone statically is to limit the full potential of their humanity and to condition it by limiting it, the way we behave with them. Marshall Rosenberg sums it up by saying, “You get what you see”. When a judgment becomes a belief, our minds begin to filter the information available to support that belief. This belief determines the spectrum of our perceptions and turns into a reinforcing mechanism. We only perceive what we believe.
Having images of an enemy is then a sign that we are no longer in full consciousness but in the head, believing what we are telling ourselves. When we realize this, a big step is already taken. We are less “stuck” with these beliefs. And this space then allows our neutral observer to listen to what precious need is hidden behind this belief. If then we take care of the real needs, we open the way for the real person to flourish.
It is for these reasons that BEFORE applying the knowledge of bioenergetics I urge us, Integral Presence practitioners, to focus IN THE FIRST PLACE on the specific Higher Self which is hidden behind each character structure to forge an authentic bond with the real person in the other AND in ourselves. Then we learn and take care of the real needs of the typology right away and we avoid the confusion, the frustration and the hurt created by persuing the false needs. By staying aligned with the Higher Selves, in self and other, we persist towards the satisfaction of real needs, which always leads to peace, harmony, joy, and satisfaction. Thus the Higher Self is embodied and expressed through the soul and the personality.
Jan Janssen, 8/6/15