Dr. Mayer’s Contributions to Mind-Body Medicine
& Integrative Medicine

Building upon the work of those mind-body medicine, such as Herbert Benson (1975), Ernest Rossi (1986,1988), and Jon Kabat-Zinn (1990, 2003), who have shown the healing power of the relaxation response to promote healing, Dr. Mayer (1996, 1997a, 1999, 2000, 2001a &b,, 2003, 2004a, 2004b, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009a and 2009b) has added Qigong to the methods used by mind-body therapists to promote healing. Qigong is a many thousand year old method of cultivating the energy of life through posture, movement, breath, touch, sound, imagery, intention, and awareness. Most people associate Qigong with movement, but Qigong can also be done in static postures. in Standing Meditation.

From his training in Tai Chi and Qigong for 30 years with some of the most respected Tai Chi and Qigong Masters such as Master Fong Ha (Ha,1996), Dr. Mayer (1996, 1997a, 2004b, 2007) pioneered the integration of Qigong and psychotherapy, and was the first person to train doctoral psychology students in this integration. The first phase of Dr. Mayer’s work was integrating Qigong movements into psychotherapy as a behavioral healthcare tool for such issues as hypertension, chronic pain, cancer, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and trauma.. The next phase of his work is the integral phase (Walsh, 2006; Wilber 2000) where Qigong is integrated into psychotherapy without ever using a Qigong movement and without ever mentioning a word about Qigong. Since the greatest Qigong, according to Dr Mayer’s viewpoint involves the practice of cultivating the energy of life to enhance living life as a practice in clearing psychological encumbrances that block the rivers of our chi, on this pathway one can extract out the essence of what creates Qigong as a Self-cultivation and Self-transformation practice (Mayer, 2007, 2009a). For example, with no reference to Qigong, in a psychotherapy session a practitioner can introduce breathing methods (such as Qigong’s microcosmic orbit breathing), teach acu-point self touch, and increase somatic awareness of the movements/postures that a person expresses at the moment of “felt shift: (Gendlin, 1978) which then serve as post-hypnotic anchors (these movements and postures are oftentimes the same as practiced by Tai Chi/Qigong practitioners).

The internal process of psychological change, as Gendlin (1978) rightly pointed out, has energy activation (Qigong) as an inextricable part of it, as a patient’s energetic “felt shift” emerges along with a patient’s discovering new meaning. Also symbolic process methods, such as his Mythic Journey Process (Mayer, 1994) and River of Life Process (Mayer 2007, 2009a), create an internal energy (Jung, Vol. VIII, p. 211-215) that helps a person find a meaningful life path, and helps patients to find a new life stance (Goodman, 1990, Mayer, 2004b). Thus one can cultivate “the spirit and soul” (Hillman, 1975) of Qigong (Mayer, 2004b, 2007).

As related to Energy Psychology, this expands the field of energy psychology to include both internal and external methods of energetic change. For example, some of the methods of generating internal energetic change of psychological complexes come from using the image/somatic dialectic (Mayer, 2007, 2009a, 2009b), symbolic process inner work, “focusing” (Gendlin, 1978), and internal Qigong (nei gung). Externally oriented energetic techniques involve such techniques as tapping, eye movements (Shapiro, 1995), acu-point self touch, and externally oriented Qigong movements.

Dr Mayer derived the River of Life practice from microcosmic orbit breathing, a Taoist breathing method first brought to the West by Richard Wilhelm (1931). Dr Mayer’s River of Life method (Mayer, 1982, 1996, 2007, 2009a) adds a visualization of water to microcosmic orbit breathing. As a person is breathing in he or she imagines energy or a river traveling up the governing vessel and on the exhalation one imagines a river traveling down the conception vessel to the belly (tan tien). This method induces a trance state that in Taoist terms opens the practitioner to experience the sea of elixir (Wilhelm, 1963). This transcendent state is used to help facilitate the practitioner release stress, mind-body energy blockages, and blocked life issues within the context of psychotherapy and behavioral healthcare. In addition, Dr. Mayer (1982) added a transmuting dimension to the River of Life by having a person focus (Gendlin, 1978) on a blockage that emerges in the river of their felt experience of flowing down the river. Then in the Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy method the person uses various methods (such as cognitive restructuring, psychodynamic methods, self soothing) to transmute the life issues and energy blockages involved.

With regards to the important psychodynamic method of self soothing (Kohut, 1971), Dr Mayer (1997, 2007) added a somatic component. While saying self-soothing phrases a patient holds or touches a point in the center of the heart chakra, (Conception Vessel 17) to open the somatic dimension of compassion, love and self acceptance.

The World Institute for Self-Healing gave Dr. Mayer an award for outstanding research and contribution to the advancement of mind-body medicine.

Dr Mayer’s Contributions to Behavioral Medicine and Integrative Healthcare:

• Fellow of the American Association of Integrative Medicine (their highest honor). Diplomate from the College of Behavioral Health from the American Association of Integrative Medicine.

• Co-founded, and has been a practitioner at, The Health Medicine Center, a multi-disciplinary medical clinic practicing integrative health-care. Presented numerous times at the Health Medicine Forum (the educational arm of the Health Medicine Center with a membership of over 300 health professionals) in panel discussions and solo on a variety of medical topics including: insomnia, chronic pain, hypertension, trauma, etc. Co-led two chronic pain groups with a medical doctor. His books (Mayer, 2004b, 2007, 2009a) include case illustrations from this clinic of his methods applied to a variety of behavioral health issues including as hypertension(Mayer, 1999, 2003,2009), chronic pain (1996), insomnia, anxiety, depression,  trauma, cancer (Mayer, 2001a) and various other chronic diseases (Mayer, 2001b). He has presented his approach to integrative health care at many hospitals, universities.

• Integration of Tai Chi/Qigong and Psychotherapy: Adding to the work of those who are bringing Eastern approaches, such as mindfulness meditation to behavioral healthcare (Kabat-Zinn, 1990, 2003).  Dr. Mayer pioneered the integration of Qigong and psychotherapy, being the first person in the country to train doctoral level psychotherapy students at an accredited university in this integration (California Institute of Integral Studies, 1996). He has taken Tai Chi/Qigong practices such as Tai Chi Ruler(Tai Chi Chih), and added healing visualizations to make them mind-body healing practices for self-healing that can be used with re-empowering trauma victims, etc. Likewise, he has added to the popular walking mediation tradition of Thich Nhat Hahn the healing benefits of the Yi Chuan walking meditation tradition, and has used those methods to help patients with various movement disorders (Mayer, 2004d). Dr Mayer has similarly integrated the Yi Chuan Standing Meditation tradition with the Western bodymind healing tradition (Mayer, 2004c).

• Helped to make an alliance between the American Assocation of Integrative Medicine and Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine, adding to their collaborative efforts (2010). For Natural Standard, Dr. Mayer presented a peer-reviewed webinar on an Integrative Approach to Hypertension, which is available on this website.

• Certified as a Master Tai Chi Chuan Instructor by the American Tai Chi and Qigong Association.


• Mayer, M. H. (1982). The mythic journey process. The Focusing Folio, 2(2).

• Mayer, M.(1996). Qigong and behavioral medicine: An integrated approach to chronic pain. Qi: The Journal of Eastern Health and Fitness, 6(4), 20-31.

•Mayer, M.(1997a). Psychotherapy and Qigong: Partners in healing anxiety. Berkeley, CA: The Psychotherapy & Healing Center.

• Mayer, M. (1997b). Combining behavioral healthcare and Qigong with one chronic hypertensive adult. Mt. Diablo Hospital-Health Medicine Forum. Unpublished study.(Video available from Health Medicine Forum, Walnut Creek, CA, www.alternativehealth.com).

• Mayer, M. (1999). Qigong and hypertension: A critique of research. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 5(4), 371-382. (Peer-reviewed).

• Mayer, M. (2000). Bodymind healing Qigong(DVD). Orinda, CA: Bodymind Healing Center.

• Mayer, M. (2001a). Find your hidden reservoir of healing energy: A guided meditation for cancer (Audio cassette). Orinda, CA: Bodymind Healing Publications.

• Mayer, M. (2001b). Find your hidden reservoir of healing energy: A guided meditation for chronic disease (Audio cassette). Orinda, CA: Bodymind Healing Publications.

• Mayer, M. (2003). Qigong clinical studies. In W. B. Jonas (Ed.), Healing, intention, and energy medicine (pp. 121-137). England: Churchill Livingston. (Peer-reviewed).

• Mayer, M.(2004a). Qigong: Ancient path to modern health (DVD of keynote address to National Qigong Association). Orinda, CA: Bodymind Healing Publications.

• Mayer, M. (2004b). Secrets to living younger longer: The self-healing path of Qigong, standing meditation and Tai Chi. Orinda, CA: Bodymind Healing Publications.

• Mayer, M. (2004c). What do you stand for? The Journal of Qigong in America, Vol. 1, Summer.

• Mayer, M. (2004d). Walking meditation: Yi Chuan Qigong. The Empty Vessel: A Journal of Comtemporary Taoism, Summer.

• Mayer, M. (2005). Qigong: An age-old foundation of energy psychology. The Energy Field, Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology, Vol. 6, (4), Winter.

• Mayer, M. (2007). Bodymind healing psychotherapy: Ancient pathways to modern health.Orinda, CA: Bodymind Healing Publications.

• Mayer, M. (2009a). Energy psychology: Self-healing practices for bodymind health, North Atlantic/Random House, 2009.)

• Mayer, M.2009b (Winter) Bodymind Healing in Psychotherapy: Towards an integral, comprehensive energy psychology, The Energy Field: The International; Energy Psychology News and Articles, p13. Available free online: www.bodymindhealing.com.

• Mayer, M. (2010). Hypertension: An Intgral, Bodymind Healing Approach, Natural Standard: The Authority in Integrative Medicine, January, (Peer Reviewed).

• Mayer, M. (2010). Bodymind Healing in Psychotherapy and Behavioral Healthcare, Smart Life Forum Newsletter, October.

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