What is De-Armoring?

Updated: Sep 2, 2020



What Happens in a De-armoring session?


Body Mind De-armoring is a modality that removes embodied somatic defenses from the body and its emotions and sense of personal identity. My approach is to use Shiatsu as a form of bodywork, combined with breathing, voicing, and movement awareness practices to engage the body-mind with its emotion, and self-identity to revise the configuration of a client’s embodiment. Bodywork is combined with ontological coaching conversations both before and after hands-on work, to create the context for the work we are undertaking together and process the realizations that take place when the mind and emotions are hands-on secondary to the experience of the body during the bodywork. This sets the stage for carrying the work back to life, and for the homework that clients do in processing between de-armoring sessions.


Body Armor, Character defenses, and Life-Force energy


Wilhelm Reich is the father of all body-mind modalities. He coined the word armor to describe how the body builds a structure of contracted energy to defend against perceived threats. He said this begins in infancy, and continues notably through a child’s development, but also throughout all of life. The character also develops together with armor in the body. Character armor complements its bodily expression with defensive armor in our thinking, feeling, and most notably our Self-Identity. He also was the first western scientist to distinguish the life-force energy of the body, offering his version of the ancient understanding of Qi that is at the root of all Asian systems of healing. Shiatsu, Acupuncture, and Traditional Chinese Medicine all share the same underlying belief in the force of expansion and contraction of the life-force energy also known as Yin and Yang, respectively.


The Development of Armor or Emptiness in the Body


Armor in the body is developed over a person’s lifetime. It often is a structure of contracted energy held in the body, sensed as tension, or felt as an emotion that conditions how we understand ourselves and recognize the world. Armor provides defenses against perceived threats learned from past experiences. These defenses begin in infancy and continue throughout life, even long after the actual conditions of life are gone. Armor can also be an emptiness that refuses to give life a resistant tension. Its contraction is the denial of its own power and force. This emptiness actually needs to be fortified. While Armor is full in its contractive force, emptiness is so expansive that it seems like there is nothing at all there. Both Fullness and emptiness, or contraction and expansion are extremes of the natural state of energy that pulsates between these states and touches the pulsation of the world that we inhabit.


Body Mind as Identity


One’s self-identity is the bodily expression of our edges and boundaries of self-hood including learned somatic defenses. Together, our temperament, body, and identity can makeup either the hero or the victim in us. Said another way, the mature or immature man or woman in us. When we succeed it is their success, and when we fall short, it is their structure and configuration that fails us.


However, there is good news. Nothing is unchangeable. We are always becoming. If past experience trained us to be structurally configured with armor or emptiness, we have the possibility and the opportunity to somatically revise our Body, Feelings, and Mind. We can become a newly embodied hero in our own life story.


Photo by Samantha Kennedy on Unsplash


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