Last week I created a series of videos and posts promoting my new Grounding Camp experience for men who want to overcome awkwardness and shyness to become charismatic communicators. There were several fellow Christians who were concerned that the Bioenergetic Exercises I teach at Grounding Camp might be condemned as New Age deception. 

So today I am going to show why I believe Bioenergetic Exercise is consistent with Christian theology and Church teachings. 

First, we’ll define what Bioenergetic Exercises is and is not, according to its founder Alexander Lowen.  

Then we’ll take a look at whether Bioenergetic Exercise consists of being a “New Age Therapy” or deception.

Finally, we’ll look at what the Traditions of the Church say about Bioenergetic Exercise.

So what exactly is Bioenergetic Exercise? 

According to The Alexander Lowen FoundationBioenergetics is a way of understanding personality in terms of the body and its energetic processes. A pioneer in this field, Alexander Lowen, M.D. developed Bioenergetics as a therapeutic technique to help people get back together with the body and enjoy the life of the body to the fullest degree possible. 

BA starts with essential functions of the body such as breathing, motility, feeling, and expression. BA examines the body-mind’s restrictions on these functions: physically in one’s body, emotionally in one’s feelings, and intellectually in one’s understanding. 

BA differs from other forms of therapy in that it combines analysis of personality and character with body techniques and physical exercises to recognize and release chronic muscular tension - a necessary step in overcoming feelings, behaviors, and attitudes that detract from life. BA recognizes the ability of the body to heal itself, and promotes that process.

So based on this description the one thing that stands out to me is the use of the word “energy” or “energetics”, which can be easily misunderstood as some kind of “invisible magic stuff” or “spirits” but that is not what is being spoken of here.  Here energy is defined as the movement of feeling, emotions, self perception, self possession and self-expression.

Is Bioenergetics A “New Age Deception”? 

From Book: Medications and Meditations in the New Age (out of print)

I am adding the broad way and the more in-depth way of determining whether or not a practice is new age from an extensive book written by a Catholic Apologist, Michael Prabhu.

There are some broad factors that can guide even a novice in identifying whether something is New Age or not:

  • The discipline is presented as “spiritual” but not “religious”
  • The terminology (e.g. affirmations, “altered state/s of consciousness” or ASCs, at-one-ment, attunement, aura, chakra/s, cosmic energy, w/holistic, w/holism, harmony, harmonic convergence, interconnectedness, intuition, life force, oneness, prana, meridians, subtle body, synergy, vibration/s, visualization, vital body, universal energy, wellness, yin-yang - or one of their many equivalents/permutations and combinations) used in the promotion of a program, therapy or product.
  • The religious philosophies and backgrounds of their founders and promoters.
  • The compatibility of the particular program or therapy or product with other established New Age practices.

More In-Depth Principles to Identify New Age medications and meditations

There are a number of principles for determining which therapies or techniques that should be avoided. We have reproduced these principles below, added others, and provided illustrations with various New Age therapies. In recognition of the ancient Latin phrase “caveat emptor/ that is, let the buyer beware” they are listed as “caveats”.

Caveat #1. Beware of therapies that are energy based and claim to manipulate invisible or mystical energies or that rely on psychic anatomies. Examples are acupuncture, muscle testing, ayurvedic medicine, reflexology, and color therapy. Be aware, also, that a practice which appears entirely innocent, such as Passing a hand over the body (as in therapeutic touch), may not be innocent at all. Therapists who claim to mandate invisible energies may harm a person spiritually by such a method.

Caveat #2 - Beware of those who seem to use psychic knowledge, power, or abilities.

Caveat #3 - Beware of a practitioner who has a therapy that no one has ever heard of.

Caveat #4 - Beware of anyone claiming that therapies will cure almost anything.

Caveat #5 - Beware of any technique that is promoted before it has been validated by mainstream science.

Caveat #6 - Beware of someone who's explanations are bizarre or don't make any sense.

Caveat #7 - Beware of therapies whose primary proof is the claim of satisfied clients.

Caveat #8 - Beware of therapies that rely upon entering Altered States of consciousness

Caveat #9 - Realize that a practitioner sincerity is no guarantee of  scientific or medical legitimacy.

Caveat #10 - Beware of any method that has been scientifically disproven.

Caveat #11 - Beware of a therapist who claims to diagnose or treat patients based on intuition.

Caveat #12 - Avoid any therapist to things his methods are specifically connected to God. 

What Does The Bible Say? 

See Bible my AI Chat Video asking if the bible condemns anything remotely like Bioenergetic Exercises (nothing)

What Does The Church Say? 

Is there a spiritual component to this or is it just a body-mind therapy? What About the Energy component in Bioenergetics?

Found on on an article called Natural Energies are Okay

Whether a healing technique involving bodily “energies” is problematic depends on the way the energies are conceived and the evidence that such energies exist. There are natural energies in our body—e.g., the electrical energy in the nervous system. If natural energies are in question, then the technique is not automatically problematic.

But if it postulates natural energies for which no evidence exists, then it involves the scientific equivalent of superstition. On the other hand, if the energies in question are thought to be supernatural, then the technique involves superstition in the proper sense and thus violates the first commandment (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 2111). 

The claim that a person has an inner energy that must be manipulated for healing to occur is a New Age idea that must be rejected.

The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the “form” of the body:* i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature. - II. “Body and Soul but Truly One”, CCC 365

So, based on my research and prayer I conclude that Bioenergetic Exercises are completely safe and in alignment with Christianity and Church teaching… but I am open to being shown different.

Also, I personally practice and teach Bioenergetics in a “prayerful” environment at Grounding Camp, inviting Christ into my heart and into our experience before engagement.  I call this “containment” and it is something I will teach you at Grounding Camp.

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What is your conclusion? What is your opinion? Comment below.