Energy Psychology: Self-Healing Practices for Bodymind Health

Energy Psychology: Self-Healing Practices for Bodymind Health

Energy Psychology: Self-Healing Practices for Bodymind Health

Energy Psychology presents a comprehensive approach to healing that combines leading-edge Western bodymind psychological methods with a broad system of ancient, sacred traditions. Incorporating Dr. Mayer’s integral approach called Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy, Energy Psychology draws on Chinese medicine approaches, including Qigong and acupressure self-touch; kabalistic processes; methods drawn from ancient traditions of meditation and postural initiation; and psycho-mythological storytelling techniques. Drawing on thirty years of training in Tai Chi and Qigong, Dr. Michael Mayer shows how integrating the essences of these traditions and methods can restore vitality and give the average person self-healing tools for physical and mental health. Unlike the quick-fix books on energy restoration, this book uses timetested, age-old practices from sacred traditions in combination with well-established clinical approaches. Dr. Mayer teaches readers bodymind healing methods to treat anxiety, chronic pain, addictions, hypertension, insomnia, trauma, and other prevalent conditions. Written in a clear, intelligible style, Energy Psychology includes real-life case studies that highlight the effectiveness of his techniques.

List of Illustrations . . . xv
Acknowledgments . . . xvii
Preface . . . xxi
Introduction . . . xxxiii

SECTION I: Our Birthright: The Self-Healing Energy within Us . . . 1

Chapter 1: The Self-Healing Power of the Bodymind . . . 3

The Self-Healing Power Hidden within Us . . . 4
The Real Scoop on Energy-Enhancing Substances . . . 5
Energy Medicine . . . 7
Qigong: An Age-Old Path for Cultivating the Energy of Life . . . 13
Tai Chi and Qigong: Age-Old Methods of Mind-Body Medicine . . . 15
Summary of Qigong’s Benefits to the Sphere
of Energy Psychology . . . 21

Chapter 2:
Energy Psychologies: Tapping the Vital Healing Power of the Bodymind . . . 25

Energy Psychology: An Einsteinian Approach to Psychology . . . 25
The Origins of Energy Psychology . . . 26
Breadth of the Field of Energy Psychology . . . 27
The Emotional Freedom Techniques . . . 30
Energy Psychology Research . . . 31
The Benefits and Problems with Energy Psychology . . . 39
Toward a Comprehensive Energy Psychology:
Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy . . . 55

Chapter 3:
The Ancient Roots of Energy Psychology . . . 59

The Age-Old, Broader Traditions of Energy Psychology . . . 61
Hypnotic Anchors and Ancient Sacred Wisdom Traditions . . . 63
Depth Psychology, Ancient Sacred Wisdom Traditions,
and Energy Psychology . . . 66
Qigong and Creative Visualization: Anchoring Healing
Altered States . . . 68
Tai Chi/Qigong: A Rosetta Stone of State-Specific,
Healing Altered States . . . 69
Imagery: The Missing Element in Qigong’s Definition . . . 71
Storytelling as Qigong and Trance-Formation . . . 72
The Physician’s Energy Staff: Co-optation and Denigration
of Aesclepius . . . 77

Chapter 4: Combining Qigong, Imagery, and Breathwork: Practices to Activate State-Specific
Altered States . . . 85

House of Five Doors: Bodymind Doors to Opening Energy
Trance States . . . 86
Beyond Qigong as Qigong Movements: Activating the Core Energy
of Our Being . . . 101
Transcending versus Transmuting Your Psychological Issues . . . 102

Chapter 5: Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy: The Psychotherapy of Shape-Shifting . . . 103

A New Origin Myth for Psychology . . . 103
The Marriage of Psychological and Energetic Approaches
to Bodymind Healing . . . 106
Bodymind Healing in Everyday Life: A Full-Spectrum Approach
to the Image/Body Energy Dialectic . . . 109
The Full Spectrum Symbolic Process Methods of Bodymind Healing
Psychotherapy . . . 110
Shape-Shifting, Metaphors, and Psychological Transformation . . . 113
The River of Life . . . 119
Toward a Comprehensive Energy Psychology: The Ten Psychoenergetic
Holographic Dimensions of Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy . . . 126
Qigong and Tai Chi: A Soulful Practice for Bodymind Healing . . . 128
Summary of Applications of Bodymind Healing Methods
in Psychotherapy and Behavioral Health Care . . . 132

SECTION II: Case Illustrations for Common Mental and Physical Health Issues . . . 133

Chapter 6: Anxiety and Panic Disorders . . . 135

Anxiety Disorders: Sociopolitical and Economic Background . . . 135
What Qigong Offers to Anxiety Treatment . . . 136
Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy’s Ten Psychoenergetic Holographic
Dimensions Applied to Anxiety/Panic Disorder . . . 137
Case Illustration: Panic Disorder . . . 138
Standing like a Tree Qigong—Finding Your Stance . . . 151

Chapter 7: Qigong and Behavioral Medicine: An Integrated Approach to Chronic Pain . . . 153

Case Illustration: Qigong with a Disabled Car-Accident Victim . . . 153
Pain and Economics . . . 154
Research on Complementary Treatment of Pain . . . 154
Methods of Qigong and Visualization: Partners in Pain Relief . . . 156
Dealing with Various Types of Pain: The Medicine Wheel
of Possibilities . . . 164
“Focusing” on the Meaning of Pain . . . 166

Chapter 8: Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress . . . 169

The New Biology and Somatic Approaches
to Healing Trauma . . . 169
Using Qigong to Modulate the Sympathetic Nervous System
Stress Response . . . 173
Depth Psychotherapy and Trauma . . . 175
Healing Trauma with Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy . . . 176

Chapter 9: Addictions . . . 181

Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy for Addictions . . . 181
The BMHP Process for Smoking Addictions . . . 182
Case Illustration: Binge Eating . . . 190
Sacrifice: A Key Tool in Addictions and in Therapy in General . . . 190
Twelve-Step Programs . . . 192
Case Illustration: Working with Codependence—
A Kabbalistic/Qigong Perspective . . . 192

Chapter 10: Insomnia . . . 195

Research . . . 195
Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy Treatment Protocol
for Insomnia . . . 198
Case Illustration: The Unresolved Issues That Invade Your Sleep . . . 201
Alternative Visualization Methods . . . 205

Chapter 11: Hypertension . . . 207

Research . . . 207
Qigong and the River of Life: A Quick Fix for Hypertension? . . . 210
Case Illustration: The Hypertensive Executive—What Lies Beneath
the Surface? . . . 211
Chinese Medical Approaches to Hypertension . . . 213
Case Illustration: Is Qigong Palatable to Fundamentalist Christians? . . . 216

Chapter 12: Depression . . . 219

Research: Medication versus Behavioral Health . . . 219
Exercise . . . 220
Qigong: An Exercise That Is More Than Exercise . . . 221
The Integrated Approach of Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy . . . 222

Chapter 13: Additional Syndromes Alleviated by Qigong and Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy . . . 225

Arthritis, Joint Problems, and Musculoskeletal Disorders . . . 225
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome . . . 230
Joint Problems . . . 232
Fibromyalgia . . . 233
Diabetes . . . 238
Headaches . . . 240
Raynaud’s Syndrome . . . 242
Stomach Disorders . . . 243

Chapter 14: Qigong Psychosis . . . 245

Case Illustration: “I’m Going to Cut My Wife’s Head Off
with My Samurai Sword” . . . 245
SECTION III: Using Ancient Sacred Wisdom
Traditions and Western Bodymind Healing Methods
in Your Everyday Life . . . 249

Chapter 15: Changing Your Life Stance . . . 251

Shape-Shifting and Changing Your Life Stance . . . 251
Enhance Your Stance: Transforming Your “Depressive Position”
with Qigong . . . 258

Chapter 16: Your Everyday Gestures: Activating the Healing Energy of Your Primordial Self . . . 261

The Taoist Initiate Who Sees the Sacred in Everyday Movements . . . 263
Tapping the Metaphorical Wisdom of the Bodymind
Using Internal Martial Arts . . . 263
The Healing Power of Psychological Metaphors Hidden
in the Internal Martial Arts . . . 265
Why Tap on Points on the Body When You Can Tap
on the Wisdom of the Primordial Self ? . . . 271

Chapter 17: Centered Emotional Expression: The Embodiment of Tai Chi . . . 273

The Tai Chi of Emotional Expression . . . 273
Case Illustrations: Balanced Emotional Expression Is Enhanced
by Tai Chi Postures . . . 274

Chapter 18: Everyday Life as an Internal Martial Art . . . 279

Broadening Our Psychological Repertoires with Interdisciplinary
Somatic Practices . . . 279
Language, Tai Chi, and the Body . . . 280
Verbal Tai Chi and the Subtle Art of Bantering: Case Illustration
of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder . . . 281
Finding Verbal Power in the Ring of Life: Case Illustration
of the Wife of the Verbally Adept Salesman . . . 286
Role Playing: To Activate Our Vital Energy . . . 288
Tai Chi Practices to Enhance Empowerment and Change
Your Life Stance . . . 289

Chapter 19: Healing with the Elements and Transpersonal Hypnosis . . . 291

Transpersonal Psychology and the Energies of the Wider Whole . . . 291
Transpersonal Hypnosis and Healing with the Elements . . . 293
Anchoring State-Specific States Using the Five Elements
of the Internal Martial Arts . . . 300
Four Elements of Constructive Communication
of Negative Feelings . . . 300

Chapter 20: The Mythic Journey Process: Transforming Your Demons with a Qi-Filled Story . . . 305

Mythology: The Key to the Door of Your Psyche . . . 306
Focusing and the Mythic Journey Process . . . 310
The Mythic Journey Process . . . 313

SECTION IV: Healing the Healer in You: Bodymind Healing Qigong’s Twenty-Minute Practice Routine . . . 327

Chapter 21: Bodymind Healing Qigong’s Twenty-Minute Practice Routine . . . 329

Oh, Healer, Replenish Thy Self . . . 329
The Bodymind Healing Qigong Twenty-Minute Routine . . . 331
The Eight Bodymind Healing Qigong Practices . . . 332

Afterword . . . 347
References . . . 351
Notes . . . 383
Index . . . 411
About the Author . . . 431

“Michael Mayer gives us the breadth and depth of energy psychology and helps us see how it can be part of all of our healing.”
—James S. Gordon, MD, founder and director of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine, former chairman of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy, and author of Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven Stage Journey Out of Depression

“Energy Psychology is a thrilling blueprint for the integration of body, mind, and spirit. This book rewrites the origin myth of psychology and transforms the very ground of psychology by adding Eastern energy practices, storytelling, kabbalistic techniques, and imaginal processes to psychology’s roots. It takes the radical perspective that all psychology is energy psychology; and when we expand our scope of vision this way we discover a fertile field for revitalizing our primordial Selves and reclaiming our self-healing abilities.”
—Larry Dossey, MD, author of Reinventing Medicine: Beyond Mind-Body to a New Era of Healing

“Drawing upon over thirty 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, as he offers us a treasure house of energy-based practices to cultivate our self-healing powers. 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,_University of California, San Francisco and University of Arizona School of Medicine, and author of The Best Alternative Medicine: What Works? What Does Not?

“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, and former professor of psychiatry, Harvard University

“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, PhD, author of The Promise of Energy Psychology: Revolutionary Tools for Dramatic Personal Change

“Energy Psychology is a valuable addition to the literature on psychological transformation and integral healing, bringing energy into the center of its scope. The procedures described in Michael Mayer’s splendid book embrace both mind and body, both East and West, and both  “physical” and “mental” problems. Most importantly, they coordinate external behavior change with internal healing processes. The result is a self-healing program whose goal is lasting change rather than superficial symptom removal. Contemporary practitioners and their patients often opt for the ‘quick fix,’ but this temporary pallative does not satisfy Dr. Mayer or those who will benefit from reading his book.”
—Stanley Krippner, PhD, professor of psychology, Saybrook Graduate School, and author of Haunted by Combat: Understanding PTSD in War Veterans Including Women, Reservists, and Those Coming Back from Iraq

“Energy is the most self-renewing quality of any organism–if the organism is functioning properly.… The energy that joins body to mind is the continuous current that flows through all of Michael Mayer’s healing efforts. He brings a practical capacity to utilize Eastern and Western disciplines into relationship with his powerfully intuitive trust of bodymind in a way that is a delight to learn from.”
—John Beebe, MD, Jungian analyst, former president, Jung Institute of San Francisco, and author of Integrity in Depth

“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, PhD, psychoanalyst and author of The Dark Side of Love: The Positive Role of Negative Feelings

“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. With this book Michael Mayer breaks new ground in the realm of bodymind healing approaches, putting his unique synthesis of ancient healing practices and cutting edge psychology into a highly readable form. This deeply researched, unique, and practical manual will undoubtedly bring life-changing experiences to many readers.”
—Rick Cannon, Esalen Institute Coordinator, Movement Arts Program

“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 the East with the psychotherapy of the West.”
—Fong Ha, internationally recognized grand master of Tai Chi Chuan and Yi Chuan Qigong

“Written by a licensed psychologist, Energy Psychology combines eastern practices of energy medicine with western practices of psychotherapy for holistic self-healing strategies integrating the best of both worlds. Praising the ancient healing and wellness techniques of Qigong and tai chi, Michael Mayer advocates treating the overall causes of common mental and physical conditions such as anxiety, insomnia and chronic pain, instead of the symptoms. Utilizing case studies of his past patients, Mayer explains and demonstrates these bodymind healing methods in a comprehensive-yet-approachable manner.”
AsiaSpa Magazine

Very interesting and informative book, March 22, 2010, By T. Rogers “President, Qigong Institiute” (Los Altos, CA USA) – 

Energy Psychology is a must read for anyone interested in a career in psychology, psychotherapy,
cognitive science, or in a health-care related field. Although it’s like taking a graduate level course in
energy medicine and energy psychology in terms of the depth and breadth of the information presented,
it’s still approachable even if you are not familiar with the field.

In a society whose medical paradigm is disease oriented and whose medical system gets involved once
disease happens and then only treats symptoms, Mayer’s book presents a timely alternative. He has
been a pioneer in promoting the incorporation of energy medicine into psychology and psychotherapy.
Mayer is bringing the body and the healing power of the energy of life that has been a fundamental part
of virtually every indigenous culture back into a field that has over-emphasized the mind. Mainstream
western medical practitioners are just now beginning to catch up. He describes sacred wisdom traditions
and profound ancient healing and wellness techniques; discusses what is so effective about them; anddescribes how he has successfully integrated them into his psychotherapeutic practice. One major byproduct
of this integration is that he’s figured out a natural way to heal psychological conditions with
fewer drugs, or no drugs. This fact alone should make the western medical community take notice.

Mayer convincingly challenges the accepted modern origins of psychology. He relates energy metaphors
to physiology. These are not new-Age ideas. They are medical fact. The bio-physiology behind energy
medicine is well known and documented. He connects psychology to ancient sacred wisdom traditions
that were based upon energy healing where the emphasis is restoring equilibrium to the entire system
instead of curing disease. Jung provided the basis for this by defining an energy-oriented approach to
symbols (he defined archetypes as “energy potential” where symbols can initiate healing energy). Mayer
explains how energy psychotherapy works for common physical and mental health conditions including
insomnia, addictions, anxiety disorders, through case studies. He also cautions that ‘quick fixes’ of
relaxation modalities may not get to the deeper underlying psychodynamic issues that need to be

The human body is not a thing or mechanism. It is overlapping fields of energy that constitute our
substance and consciousness. Our interaction with that information field is what Mayer is able to tap into
and affect through ancient practices married with modern healthcare and Qigong. This is called
Integrative Medicine. If the 20th Century was the era of intervention medicine, then the 21st Century is
the time of integrative medicine. The western medical profession has not been receptive to holistic
healing methods, but that attitude is changing due to the realization that psycho pharmaceuticals are
often not effective over time, pharmaceuticals dis-empower people regarding their own self-healing
capabilities, and medication may relieve systems but not address deeper underlying issues. Integrative
medicine takes a new look at how to heal. As Mayer explains, it treats the cause of disease and not the
symptoms. It looks at the problem energetically, not bio-chemically.

In addition to psychotherapy, Mayer provides a wonderful introduction to a number of topics: Qigong, Tai
Chi, Energy Medicine, Integrative Medicine, and ancient healing and wellness traditions. You can read the
book to get a fundamental understanding of Qigong and self-healing practices and then you can learn
the 20-minute session to actually experience it for yourself. The book can be, Mayer says, “an essential
tool to activate [your] inner process of change”. This process of change has been referred to as spiritual

Ultimately, the book’s main message is simple: Self-healing methods from a combination of Qigong,
Western psychology, and ancient wisdom traditions can treat common ailments, chronic conditions, and
transmute long-standing psychological patterns in order to not just live longer, but to live a more vital
life. Energy Psychology is a wonderfully detailed book filled with insights borne of decades of working
with energy in clinical and teaching settings. It takes some time to digest. I can’t say enough good
things about it and thoroughly enjoyed it. I use it as a reference guide and highly recommend it.

  Once in a generation book, December 21, 2009. By David Z. Weinstein (Berkeley, CA United States) – 
A book like this only appears once in a generation. Energy psychology is a self-help book in the highest
sense of the term. If you are interested in fundamental healing from a range of physical ailments,
perhaps even ‘chronic,’ or how to approach psychological issues in an effective and lasting manner, Dr.
Mayer gives you the keys in this accessible, well-written book based on the most up-to-date research as
well as several decades as a practitioner of psychology and the ancient art of qigong. Energy Psychology
is a treasure trove for those seeking to understand the nature of health and healing as the author clearly
explains how the new paradigm of energy medicine, the medicine of the 21st century in the West,
meets, like two rivers becoming one, the perennial healing traditions of the East, most notably Taoist
Qigong. From this confluence of ancient wisdom traditions and cutting-edge science, a wide range of
traditional psychology, energy psychology, Gendlin’s focusing, Dr. Mayer has fashioned Bodymind
Healing Psychotherapy and Qigong that addresses the healing and transformation of the body, mind,
psyche and spirit in a way I believe is unique in its depth and comprehensiveness in all the current
literature available on the market today.

If you are a healthcare practitioner, a psychotherapist or simply looking to find a path to health and
healing, I believe this book is not only indispensable, it will be a pleasure to read and dip into for as long
it is on your bookshelf. If you are simply looking for a twenty-minute Qigong daily routine for balance
and vitality or looking to find and anchor your life stance and to activate your primordial self to deal with
and transform core life issues, this book it for you. If you are looking for non-invasive, natural healing
from issues such as joint problems, fibromyalgia, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome or psychological
issues such as depression, poor self esteem, anxiety or panic disorder by activating your own inner
healing energy and potential, this book is for you. If you are looking for a holistic, integrative healing
method that not only is a rich tool-kit for self care but is simultaneously a path to greater awareness,
growth and transformation as a human being, this book is for you.

David Z. Weinstein, MA, counseling psychology – co-author of the film, “Big Trouble in Little China.”

  A Watershed Work on Body Mind Healing, June 20, 2009, By Linda Hedquist (Iowa, USA) – 

Energy Psychology: Self-Healing Practices for Bodymind Health is a watershed of a work on integrative
natural self healing methods which would be valuable for anyone interested in healing themselves or
working with others as a healing professional. The wealth of material it explores and integrates is
thrilling and Michael’s engaging writing style makes for enjoyable reading and easy comprehension.
As a long time qigong practitioner and a Focusing Trainer, I was thrilled to discover this book, which
creates such a straight-forward and user-friendly synthesis of Focusing, qigong practices, breathing
awareness, visualization, and other foundational approaches to healing and self awareness. Focusing
practitioners, meditators, and qigong enthusiasts in particular will find much in this book to enrich and
expand both their understanding of the healing process and their practices. At the same time,
newcomers to natural healing will find an excellent introduction to and thorough explanation of many
simple yet profoundly effective self-healing technologies.

Kathleen M. Hooper “Pieter Kilkens” (San Francisco, CA)   June 2, 2009- 

Dr. Mayer’s book Energy Psychology is not only a must read for the traditional psychologist, but is also a
clear insight for the martial artist giving both a balance and wholeness of body-mind integration. Using
the ancient wisdom arts of Tai Chi and Chi Kung along with modern Western psychology, Dr. Mayer gives
the reader a direct path to healing both body and mind. As a practicing martial artist since age fifteen,
this book and The Secret to Living Younger and Longer are a gift to those who want to be whole in the
physical and mental arts; and gives one a direct recognition of being a human being that is in harmony
with all that is.

Seems Much More Legit Than Any of the Other So-Called Energy Psychology Schools, April 21, 2010 By   David M. Bell – 

I have just recieved this book and have read a chapter and skimmed several. So I will edit this when I finish it. But so far this author knows what he is talking about. His version of Energy Psychology seems much more grounded than the other books I look into on the subject. And I’m frankly put off by the other books on Energy Psychology.

I also love his use of the Taoist energy arts, being as I have a history with using qigong with martial arts. I have ventured into the energy practices of yoga, but always seem to feel at home with the Chinese systems.
I’m always looking for future reference material for when I become a therapist, and am always on the look out for quack methods. Dr. Mayer’s does not appear to be one of them

The Energy Field: International Energy Psychology News and Articles, (Mayer, Winter, 2009, p.13)

In order to bring the healing abilities of a comprehensive energy psychology to the public, I believe that in addition to the well-known energy psychology methods such as EFT, the field of energy psychology (EP) would be well served by expanding its terrain to include Qigong and methods of energy cultivation from other traditions of meditation and postural initiation (Goodman, 1990), depth psychology, symbolic process traditions, Kabalistic methods, etc. My newest book, Energy Psychology: Self-Healing Practices for Bodymind Health is written to help accomplish these aims (Mayer, 2009).

   Qigong (of which Tai Chi is the best known system) is a many thousand-year-old method of cultivating the energy of life through breath, posture, movement, touch, sound, and imagery. There is now much scientific evidence about the efficacy of Qigong in the treatment of insomnia (Irwin, 2008), lowering blood pressure (Kuang, 1991) preventing falls amongst the elderly (Province,1995), etc. The Wall Street Journal (Weil, 2004) said that Qigong is “the hottest trend in stress relief.” Being one of the most ancient forms of energy psychology, it is a natural for integrating with EP methods, yet it is under-represented in EP approaches. Tapping is just one of the many forms of medical Qigong techniques which has an extensive history from which EP can benefit.

As a psychologist trained in keeping alternative medical approaches separate from my psychotherapy practice eventually, due to becoming aware that Qigong could be beneficial to my patients for stress reduction and other behavioral health concerns, I began to integrate Qigong into my practice with cases involving anxiety, carpal tunnel syndrome, insomnia,depression, etc. (Mayer, 2007, 2009).

The most recent phase of my work began, which I call the integral (Walsh, 2006; Wilber, 2000) phase, when I strove to bring Qigong into my work with patients without ever doing a Qigong movement and without ever mentioning a word about Qigong. The greatest Qigong involves cultivating the energy of life by practicing living a life cleared of psychological encumbrances which block the rivers of our chi. On this pathway one can extract out the essence of what creates transformation from Qigong as a Self-cultivation practice. 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 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 my Mythic Journey Process (Mayer, 1994) and River of Life Process (Mayer 2007, 2009), 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, 2004). Thus one can cultivate “the spirit and soul” (Hillman, 1975) of Qigong (Mayer, 2004, 2007).

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

I have incorporated these traditions into my Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy approach which is one approach to creating an integral, comprehensive energy psychology tradition (Mayer 2007, 2009). To take another step forward on the path to actualizing the contribution that EP has to make to the field of psychology in general, I believe it will be important to increase the recognition that all psychotherapy is energy psychotherapy. By therapists better understanding that, psychotherapy can be enhanced and people in need will be able to use a broad range of energy psychology methods to add vitality, healing, and psycho-spiritual depth to their lives. For example, psychodynamic psychotherapies have “libido” at the center of their approach; cognitive therapy emphasizes changes in beliefs, but could benefit from the understanding that these beliefs create somatic changes (Shapiro, 1995) and energetic shifts (Mayer, 2007); and Dr Eugene Gendlin (1978) revealed that the process of change in all therapies involves a felt energetic shift. BMHP adds that at the core of the process of psychotherapeutic change is a felt energetic shift that creates a new life stance. BMHP includes the following holographic elements:

1. Breath, microcosmic orbit, guided imagery and hypnosis to activate the “River of Life.”
2. Self-soothing with a somatic, psycho-energetic emphasis
3. “Focusing” on felt meaning
4. Psychodynamics and object relations
5. Cognitive restructuring
6. Chi Nei Tsang
7. Energy psychology approaches including EMDR
8. Acupressure: Phenomenological approach and Acu-Yoga
9. Exercises from Bodymind Healing Qigong
10. Symbolic process approaches to healing

The field of energy psychology is in a pre-paradigmatic phase where the most viable course seems to be to incorporate a wide range of energy psychology methods from diverse traditions as research grows and we see which methods are most efficacious for which people at what times. I hope that Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy’s energy psychology approach will contribute to EP becoming increasingly acceptable to the wider field of psychology, and add vital elements to our healing tradition.


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Bio: Michael Mayer, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist, hypnotherapist, and Qigong/Tai Chi teacher who specializes in giving his patients self-healing methods for health problems. Dr. Mayer presents his approach to bodymind healing at professional conferences, national/international workshops, universities, and hospitals; and he is a keynote speaker. He is a co-founder of, and a practitioner at a multi-disciplinary medical clinic. Dr. Mayer pioneered the integration of Qigong and psychotherapy, and was the first person in the United States to train doctoral psychology students in these methods. He is the author of peer-reviewed articles, and twenty publications on bodymind healing including five books. Dr. Mayer has certification programs which include Bodymind Healing Qigong for Qigong practitioners/teachers, and a Bodymind Health Practitioner’s Certification Program for health professionals. His last book Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy, and his new book Energy Psychology: Self Healing Practices for Bodymind Health (North Atlantic/Random House,  Spring 2009), have received endorsements from top leaders in mind-body medicine.

What is Energy Psychology?

Energy psychology (EP) is a leading-edge psychological method. Like the field of energy medicine, EP is based 
on the notion that psychological disturbances can be effected, modulated, regulated, and healed through interventions that change the disturbances in the body’s electromagnetic energies and energy fields. Combining ancient knowledge of the body’s bioenergy flow in and around the body with modern applications, energy psychologists have developed 
simple techniques that anyone can learn to alleviate a wide range of common problems that plague modern people. Energy psychology combines physical interventions derived from acupuncture, yoga, and other ancient systems of healing with cognitive 
interventions including imaginal exposure to bring about therapeutic shifts in thoughts, emotions and behavioral patterns 
that are involved in a wide range of psychological problems. The chief medical officer of Kosovo, and the founder of Green Cross said EP was the most effective method they’ve seen for healing the effects of severe trauma. Research on EP has also been shown to be effective for many of the common issues of our everyday lives. Dr. Candace Pert, former chief of the Section on Brain Biochemistry at the National Institute of Mental Health, calls it “the most important development in medicine since antibiotics.”

A recent 2012 review (Feinstein, 2012) identified 51 peer-reviewed papers reporting clinical outcomes of tapping on acupuncture points to address psychological issues. (Click here to see a pdf of the article.) Critical evaluation of 18 randomized controlled trials in this sample led to the conclusion that they consistently demonstrated strong effect sizes and other positive statistical results that far exceed chance after relatively few treatment sessions. Criteria for evidence-based treatments proposed by Division 12 of the American Psychological Association were applied and found to be met for a number of conditions, including PTSD. {Feinstein, D. (2012). Acu-point stimulation in treating psychological disorders: Evidence of efficacy, Review of General Psychology, 16, 364-380.}

Expanding the Field of Energy Psychology

EP is most often associated with tapping certain acu-points on the body while stating new constructive beliefs. Dr. Michael Mayer’s book, Energy Psychology: Self Healing Practices for Bodymind Health (North Atlantic/Random House, 2009) broadens and deepens the field of EP by integrating Qigong and other cross-cultural energy healing traditions, symbolic process methods, depth psychotherapy, Gendlin’s “Focusing,” and other well-established psychological methods.

Qigong, of which Tai chi is the most well known method, is a many thousand-year method of cultivating the energy of life by synchronizing breath and movement. Qigong, one of the five branches of Chinese medicine, also has time tested stress reduction methods such as breathing techniques that simultaneously relax and energize while one is remaining still.

For private sessions or workshops call Dr. Mayer at 510-849-2878.

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