Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy – Ancient Pathways to Modern Health

What is Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy? Click here for a brief description.

Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy: Ancient Pathways to Modern Health

Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy: Ancient Pathways to Modern Health

You’ve heard psychotherapists called “shrinks.” Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy takes the “shrink-rap” off to unveil an expansive view of psychotherapy and mind-body healthcare that includes ancient sacred wisdom traditions and energetic approaches to healing. This “era of energy,” begun by Einstein, is marked by an outer energy crisis and a search for sustainable solutions. At the same time, an equally insidious “inner energy crisis” is taking place where stressed-out, battle-fatigued soldiers of the information age reach for pills or extra cups of coffee on a quest to restore depleted internal reserves. In this book you’ll discover natural ways to harness the energy of life for bodymind healing, and how to sustain energy, replenish vitality, and cultivate inner peace.

Drawing from 30 years of training in Tai Chi and Qigong with some of the most respected masters of these traditions, Dr. Mayer shows how to integrate the essence of these practices into psychotherapy and into our healthcare without ever doing a Tai Chi/Qigong movement, and without mentioning a word about Qigong. From this co-founder of an integrated medical clinic and award-winning author in the field of mind-body healthcare, you’ll see how this integrative approach contributes to alleviate the current healthcare crisis. Ancient and modern, East and West, psychotherapy and mind-body medicine are amalgamated to make a stronger integrative medicine.

Theory, research, and case illustrations are blended as you are introduced to integrative treatment protocols and you learn bodymind healing methods (that join East and West) for anxiety, chronic pain, hypertension, insomnia, trauma, and other common issues plaguing the modern world.

You’ll learn how to use a variety of ancient pathways to help heal the mind and body such as:

  • Chinese medicine approaches including Qigong and acupressure self-touch
  •  Innovative symbolic process methods stemming from age-old mythic storytelling, guided imagery, and breathing techniques
  • Methods drawn from ancient traditions of meditation and postural initiation

This book is oriented to mental health workers, health professionals, and members of the lay public who are interested in self-healing methods for physical and mental health.

Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy:

Ancient Pathways to Modern Health

You’ve heard psychotherapists called “shrinks.” Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy takes the “shrink-rap” off to unveil an expansive view of psychotherapy and mind-body health-care that includes ancient sacred wisdom traditions and energetic approaches to healing. This “era of energy,” begun by Einstein, is marked by an outer energy crisis and a search for sustainable solutions. At the same time, an equally insidious “inner energy crisis” is taking place where stressed-out, battle-fatigued soldiers of the information age reach for pills or extra cups of coffee on a quest to restore depleted internal reserves. In this book you’ll discover natural ways to harness the energy of life for bodymind healing, and how to sustain energy, replenish vitality, and cultivate inner peace.


Drawing from 30 years of training in Tai Chi and Qigong with some of the most respected masters of these traditions, Dr. Mayer shows how to integrate the essence of these practices into psychotherapy and into our healthcare without ever doing a Tai Chi/Qigong movement, and without mentioning a word about Qigong. From this co-founder of an integrated medical clinic and award-winning author in the field of mind-body healthcare, you�ll see how this integrative approach contributes to alleviate the current healthcare crisis. Ancient and modern, East and West, psychotherapy and mind-body medicine are amalgamated to make a stronger integrative medicine. Theory, research, and case illustrations are blended as you learn bodymind healing methods for anxiety, chronic pain, hypertension, insomnia, trauma, and other common issues plaguing the modern world. You’ll learn how to use a variety of ancient pathways to help heal the mind and body such as: • Chinese medicine approaches including Qigong and acupressure self-touch • Innovative symbolic process methods stemming from age-old mythic storytelling, guided imagery, and breathing techniques • Methods drawn from ancient traditions of meditation and postural initiation. This book is oriented to mental health workers, health professionals, and members of the lay public who are interested in self-healing methods for physical and mental health. Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy is Volume II of The Tao of Bodymind Healing Series. Volume 1 was Secrets to Living Younger Longer: The Self-healing Path of Qigong, Standing Meditation and Tai Chi..

Drawing upon over 30 years of his psychotherapy practice and personal training, Dr. Mayer has provided a seminal contribution to the field of mind-body interventions for a wide range of common disorders. His book is profound in its scope, evidence based, bridges Eastern and Western traditions, and provides practical insights and skills that can be of enormous value to both individuals and organizations seeking to attain optimal health.

Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier, Clinical Professor of Medicine, UCSF and University of Arizona School of Medicine Author of The Best Alternative Medicine: What Works? What Does Not?

A realization is dawning for millions of Americans: If we are to be our healthiest, we must rely on our own inner resources. BODYMIND HEALING PSYCHOTHERAPY will help anyone discover and manifest his or her healing potential. This book is a dazzling accomplishment…a thrilling blueprint for the integration of body, mind, and spirit.

Larry Dossey, MD Author of Reinventing Medicine

This scholarly and eminently readable book integrates eastern and western forms of self-healing techniques and examines the capacity of various approaches that put human beings at the center of their own self-care. I applaud Dr Michael Mayer for his monumental work, which hopefully foreshadows the shape of body-mind approaches for years to come.

Bessel van der Kolk, MD Medical Director, The Trauma Center, Boston University School of Medicine Past Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard University Currently Professor of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine Past President, International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies Co-principal Investigator for the DSM IV Field Trial for PTSD

BODYMIND HEALING PSYCHOTHERAPY is a unique addition to the literature on psychological therapy and healing. The procedures described in Michael Mayer’s splendid book are truly integrative. Not only to they embrace mind and body, East and West, and “physical” and “mental” sicknesses, they coordinate external therapy with internal healing. The result is a process that goes deeply into the human psyche, one that seeks for lasting change rather than a superficial removal of symptoms. The latter approach may be a “quick fix,” but a temporary one, something that will not satisfy Dr. Mayer or the readers who work their way through his book.

Stanley Krippner, PhD Professor of Psychology, Saybrook Graduate School

The most characteristic and self-renewing quality of any organism is its energy, and any true healing of the human organism requires both patient and practitioner to attend to the implications of that fact. Michael Mayer’s conviction that energy is what joins body to mind informs his determination as a psychotherapist to redeem that junction, and he offers tools that really work to enhance and enliven it. There is wise caring in this search for contemporary ways to achieve the sublime goal of both Eastern and Western traditions of therapeutic practice: a healthy mind in a healthy body.

John Beebe, M.D. Jungian analyst, author of Integrity in Depth. Past President of the C. G. Jung Institute of San Francisco.

The most comprehensive study of the therapy scene and more that exists. Dr Mayer has done a brilliant job integrating all aspects of all schools of thought as well as techniques of mind/body healing.”

Jane Goldberg, Ph.D. Psychoanalyst, Author of The Dark Side of Love

The past decade has seen a creative explosion in the integration of ancient healing practices with modern psychotherapy. Michael Mayer provides an ambitious and welcome map for psychotherapists and other healers wishing to embark upon the life-changing journey of adapting these traditions into their own practices.

David Feinstein, Ph.D. Author of The Mythic Path and Energy Psychology Interactive

Around 1970, we in the West began our encounter with Eastern thought and traditions. The profound significance of this expansion of our worldview is now becoming evident thanks in part to people like Dr. Mayer, a psychologist who has deeply and critically explored the Eastern path to mastery and healing. Now, drawing on his 30 years of Tai Chi and Qigong practice, his explorations of ancient healing in China and Greece, his familiarity with Jung and Gendlin, and his grasp of new integrative therapies like energy psychology, Dr. Mayer provides us with a contemporary and practical integration of these paths. Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy should be read and studied by everyone who is interested in activating our untapped human potential for healing.

Larry Stoler, MSSA, Ph.D. President, The Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology

Michael Mayer’s practical synthesis and deep knowledge of Qigong and Tai Chi movement forms has greatly impressed me during my years administering the Esalen Institute Movement Arts Program. Michael traces the roots of these practices back to their origins and presents a very usable as well as spiritual approach to these ancient and very valuable systems. He stands out among the many teachers I’ve met and practiced with and has provided me with insights available from no other teacher.

Rick Cannon, Esalen Institute, Coordinator, Movement Arts Program And last, but certainly not least, my Sifu Fong Ha, Internationally-Renowned Master of Tai Chi Chuan and Yi Chuan Qigong says,

In the nineteen seventies Dr. Michael Mayer began his study of Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong with me in Berkeley, California. With continuous diligence, devotion and skill he grows and ages with me as faithful student and friend. It delights my eyes and warms my heart to witness the masterful way Dr. Mayer integrates the ancient wisdom of East with the psychotherapy of the West.

Fong Ha, One who practices Tai Chi and Qigong

 Book Reviews:

1. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, Vol 44, No. 1, 2012, Review of Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy and Energy Psychology, Reviewer David Lukoff, Ph.D. ” …BMHP provides embodied insight that talk therapy alone cannot…He situates the presentation within a paradigmatic shift that is transforming healthcare, but which he considers to still be in a pre-paradigmatic phase. I expect that when the history of this shift is written, Mayer will figure prominently.” And, “I field tested parts of BMHP in my year-long psychotherapy class at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology…His books serve as resources that I reference when teaching and supervising students on how to integrate mind-body practices into their clinical work.”

2. PsychCritiques, (January, 2008). A Cartesian-Taoist Scientific Revolution: Old Replacing New Medicine A review of Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy: Ancient pathways to Modern Health by Michael Gilewski. The journal PsycCritiques., produced by PsychInfo, a division of the American Psychological Association,  is “the most comprehensive and authoritative publisher of bibliographic reference sources that cover scholarly and peer-reviewed publications in psychology and related disciplines. ” “Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy: Ancient Pathways to Modern Health offers valuable and practical demonstrations of the principles behind psychological contributions to healing and medicine… A refreshing alternative to necessary treatment manuals, psychological handbooks, and journal articles. Rather than only expanding one’s knowledge or skill, one embarks on a journey with this book to expand one’s larger sense of self, one’s experience, one’s appreciation for the world and people, and one’s knowledge and skill as well… There are numerous persons with illnesses who can benefit from such approaches. The key for a scientific revolution to be successful is that the new must explain the old. In this instance, it is the “old” methods of healing that come to explain the ‘modern medicine.’ ”

3. Keeping in Touch, Journal of the United States Association for Body Psychotherapy, Fall 2007. Review of Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy: Ancient Pathways to Modern Health. “Drawing on his 30 years of experience with Tai Chi/Qigong and with psychotherapy, the author provides an in-depth integration of both theory and techniques, illustrated with numerous case vignettes. An intriguing example of such integration is a section entitled ‘Enhance Your Stance: Melanie Klein’s ‘Depressive Position’ and Qigong.’ “

Appendix I: Contributions to the Field of Bodymind Healing Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy: Ancient Pathways to Modern Health by Michael Mayer, Ph.D. Contributions to Psychotherapy and Behavioral Healthcare:

  1. Offers a ten step holographic, psychoenergetic method (BMHP) which combines traditional psychotherapies (e.g. cognitive/behavioral, psychodynamic/neo-analytic, humanistic/existential, transpersonal, Jungian/archetypal, hypnotherapeutic) with various ancient sacred wisdom traditions (e.g. symbolic process traditions, traditions of postural initiation, cross-cultural self-healing traditions) to contribute towards developing  an “integral” psychotherapy ( Wilbur, 2000, Walsh 2006). {Chapters 2, 4, and 5}
  2. Drawing from ancient esoteric roots, BMHP brings to Western psychotherapy healing methods and perspectives from the Western (e.g. Eliade, 1954, 1958, 1959, 1964, 1965; Neumann, 1954; Needham, 1956; Meier, 1967; Rudhyar, 1970; Campbell, 1978; Jung, Collected Works; Edinger, 1985; Matthews, 1986;  Hall, 1988;  Goodman, 1990; Kingsley, 1999) and Eastern (e.g. Wilhelm, 1931; Luk, 1972, 1977; Schafer, 1977; Tomio, 1994; Mayer, 2004) mystery and initiatory traditions. {Chapters 2, 4, 5}
  3. Adds methods from Qigong and other Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy techniques to the growing field of integrative medicine that is attempting to help resolve the current healthcare crisis. {Chapters 1, 2, 5-14}
  4. Shows how Qigong in general, and when combined with BMHP in particular, can aid in healing psychological issues in a wide number of areas. The tradition con­tains useful relaxation methods, activates state-specific states of consciousness that are both relaxing and energizing, provides specific healing and balancing energetic techniques, helps to reciprocally inhibit unwanted behaviors, provides methods to help dissolve mental and somatic fixations, facilitates ego cohesion by helping our central equilibrium when meeting the emotional tides of life, helps develop a compassionate relationship to life’s issues, enhances development of cohesiveness of self, enhances stability for those with reactive attachment styles, helps with develop­ing affect modulation skills and affect tolerance, adds energy cultivation practices beneficial to those who are depressed, induces an altered state which is helpful in issues with addiction, aids in transformation of self identifications, adds beneficial methods for those who suffer from syndromes involving sympathetic nervous system overload, and provides tools to allow trauma victims to regain a safety zone in their bodies. {Chapter 21}
  5. Reveals specific approaches and methods from the tradition of Qigong to aid treat­ment of behavioral healthcare patients suffering with specific conditions such as: anxiety, chronic pain, hypertension, insomnia, carpal tunnel syndrome, addictions, joint problems, depression, energy deficiency, etc. {Chapters 5-14}
  6. Enhances “subpersonality work” and hypnotherapeutic methods of trance induction by activating state-specific states of consciousness with an expanded view of cross-cultural traditions of shape-shifting. The symbolic process and somatic dimensions of shape-shifting traditions are combined and utilized to help the patient in psycho­therapy cultivate new life stances. {Chapters 2, 4, 5, and 15}
  7. Contributes to the hypnotherapeutic tradition by coining the term, “transpersonal state-specific state of consciousness” to refer to the orientation of ancient sacred wisdom traditions to provide transpersonal anchors to help connect the person to specific healing altered states. I use the term “transpersonal,” as did Dane Rudhyar, one of the first people to use this term in 1930, to refer to the movement of divine energies “beyond” the ego, but also to refer to a descent of spiritual energy “through” the person (Rudhyar, 1975, p. 38). Each Qigong/Tai Chi posture is like a letter in a Rosetta Stone of an ancient language of the bodymind — a link to a long-lost, right brain alphabet. Each letter (posture) represents a transpersonal state-specific state of consciousness that can bring a person into an altered state beyond his or her everyday life stance; as well it can bring specific needed healing states through the person. {Chapter 4, 5}
  8. Adds to the hypnotherapeutic technique of ideomotor signaling the method of “whole body, naturally arising, ideomotor signaling” to help patients harness the primordial pathways of the movement of the life force as it emerges at moments of “felt shift” in psychotherapy. Patients in psychotherapy, particularly at key moments of change, express movements that represent deep, often-unconscious transformative aspects of their psyches. The movements a martial artist uses to confront physical danger are often the same, or similar to, movements which spontaneously arise in a person  as he or she deals with emotional dangers. This book, and the practices that lie at its foundation, can help healers learn to become more aware of the body’s expression of the primordial Self as it moves toward empowerment and transformation. The ancient art of Qigong, of which Tai Chi is the best know system, contains some of the best and most primordial of these empowering movements. The clinician who is aware of these movements and their multifaceted meanings can help to grease the wheels and facilitate movement in the direction to where the patient’s psyche is moving, on the path of its natural healing journey. {Chapter 16}
  9. Delineates a full range of symbolic process methods for psychotherapy by adding the power of somatic processes in general, and Qigong techniques in particular, to ground and further bring out the power of imaginal methodologies. {Chapter 4 and 5}
  10. Combines Gendlin’s Focusing (1978) with Taoist breathing methods and the use of a mythic storytelling method (the Mythic Journey Process) to create important body­mind healing tools for psychotherapists. {Chapter 20}
  11. Introduces the term “transcending/transmuting dialectic” to differentiate aspects of psychospiritual traditions that can help people rise above versus work through their life issues. BMHP focuses on how specifically Qigong, when integrated with Western psychotherapy, can have both attributes. {Chapter 5}
  12. Introduces the River of Life practice which combines a Taoist breathing method and visualization techniques to help patients activate a transcendent state-specific altered state and transmute their psychological issues. {Chapter 5}
  13. Adds to the Jungian notion of the psychoid nature of archetypes by further integrating the body with Jungian symbolic process methods, as in the Mythic Journey Process. {Chapter 4 and 20}
  14. Introduces a method of “transpersonal hypnosis” — a directive, storytelling method that adds to the field of hypnosis an emphasis on connecting patients with the ele­ments of the wider whole of which they are a part. {Chapter 19}
  15. Provides practices and perspectives from ancient sacred wisdom traditions, including Qigong, to enrich the field of psychotherapists’ vision and aid in expanding therapists’ repertoire of clinical interventions. {Chapter 23}
  16. Provides Qigong practices to aid in the process of “healing the healer” to help mental health professionals “recharge their batteries.” {Chapter 24}
  17. Extracts the essence of Qigong/Tai Chi so that a therapist can use key elements of these traditions without practicing Qigong movements or ever mentioning a word about Qigong. {Chapter 5 and 18}

Contributions to Energy Psychology

  1. Proposes using phenomenologically based anchoring methods. BMHP adds a phe­nomenological orientation to energy psychology methods, i.e. choosing the patients own movements at the moment of a “felt shift” to anchor new state-specific states of consciousness as a first-choice method. The most common meridian tapping methods are seen as just one of many energy psychology techniques that are part of researchers’ differentiated attempts to determine which methods are best for which people at which times in this pre-paradigmatic stage of energy psychology’s develop­ment. {Chapter 3, 4}
  2. Advocates for explaining the meaning of acu-points used in treatment. In current energy psychology treatment, often the patient is instructed to tap on various points, but the meaning of those points is not usually discussed in detail. Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy proposes that “meaning” is a key healing agent, and is a significant component of activating “the mind-body trance state.” I believe that including the patient’s understanding helps create a mindful, connected awareness, which has many positive consequences. {Chapter 3 and 16}
  3. Adds depth psychology methods to energy psychology with a focus on symbolic process methods, including the Mythic Journey Process. {Chapter 4 and 20}
  4. Broadens the field of energy psychology by including Qigong. {Chapter 3 and 4}
  5. Expands the foundation of energy psychology by introducing relevant historical foundation material and age-old methods. {Chapter 4}
  6. Adds to the self-touch methods of energy psychology the circle, stop, breathe, and feel method. {Chapter 3}

Contributions to the Traditions of Qigong and Tai Chi

  1. Broadens the definition of Qigong by including the use of imagery methods, i.e. Qigong is a many-thousand-year-old method of cultivating the energy of life through the use of posture, movement, breath, touch, sound, awareness, and imagery meth­ods. Also, it broadens the definition of Qigong to include non-movement, energetic, psychological states that cultivate the universal life force, i.e. the most profound Qigong is following your true life’s path. {Chapter 4 and 5}
  2. In Volume I it was shown that each Tai Chi posture has four different purposes: heal­ing, spiritual unfoldment, self-defense, and to change the practitioners life stance. In Volume II, we see that each Tai Chi/Qigong posture is part of a healing alphabet that can form and induce different state-specific states of consciousness that can be useful to Qigong practitioners and to the psychotherapeutic or behavioral health setting. {Chapter 5 and 16}
  3. Reveals how Qigong/Tai Chi are “soulful traditions.” Qigong and Tai Chi have been seen as spiritual traditions. This book is the first to show how Qigong is also a “soulful tradition” following in the path of depth psychologists such as Hillman and Moore. For example, while one is practicing Tai Chi and Qigong, instead of placing most emphasis on the transcendent, spiritual aspects induced by these practices, one can also focus on the memories, emotions, and images that arise in the practice — mak­ing it into a “soulful practice.” {Chapter 5}
  4. Shows how the meaning-making orientation of psychotherapy can add to Qigong by bringing psychological awareness to the postures and movements. This psychological awareness can help Tai Chi and Qigong practitioners to better use their practice to change their life stance. {Chapter 5 and 15}

* For more information or to order Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy: Ancient Pathways to Modern Health, please go to www.bodymindhealing.com/store where you can order the book, or you can order the individual chapters of the book emailed to you.  On the website  you will also find the latest information on Dr. Mayer’s workshops, training programs and certification programs in Bodymind Healing Qigong and Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy. For questions email: drmichael@bodymindhealing.com.

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