In the 1930s, Austrian Dr. William Reich discovered "orgone energy", a "life-force" energy that he believed is shared by all living beings. He called the study of it Orgonomy and he defined Orgonomy as being the science of cosmic orgone energy. Reich believed that muscular tension or body "armor" reflects psychological armoring; that the orgone energy charge in the human biosystem was expressed in emotion and sexuality and could be measured in a biolectrical way. This phenomenon of chronic "muscular armoring" theory developed by Reich offers emotional context to the concept of "chronic tension" and adds a layer of depth that distinguishes acupressure from Jin Shin Do® Acupressure.
Patterns of Armoring and Jin Shin Do®
Jin Shin Do® Bodymind Acupressure®, a unique synthesis of traditional Japanese acupressure technique, classic Chinese acupuncture and acupressure theory, Taoist philosophy, Qigong, Reichian segmental theory and principles of Ericksonian psychotherapy, can be used to address the segmental "rings of armor." By choosing appropriate local and distal acu-points (localized skin areas with high electrical conductivity where an acupuncture needle is inserted or finger pressure applied), muscular tension and muscular armoring can be released more efficiently. The stimulation of acu-points can help reduce pain and discomfort by relaxing muscular tension, balancing the body energy or Qi, and increasing the body's production of endorphins. There are seven "armor rings" occurring circularly and divided into horizontal sections in the body. Segment in this regard refers to a horizontal area of the body in which the muscles and acu-points are functionally related.
Each segment contains specific acu-points that are important to release each "segment". The theory is that when tension becomes chronic, there is usually not just a tight knot in one spot, but rather a "ring of tension" around the area. If the tension of one point cannot be relaxed, other surrounding and related points in that segment may be affected as compensating tensions develop. This could be referred to as the "segmental effect", as tension tends to spread to points and muscles in the same segment. The muscles in a segment work together to produce physical movement and to express feelings and emotions. Relaxing any one point in a segment will directly affect other functionally-related points, and relaxing tension in the front helps simultaneously relax tension in the back ("the front-back effect" as coined by the founder of Jin Shin Do® Acupressure, Iona Marsaa Teeguarden). Reich advised working from the top down, which occurs during a Jin Shin Do® session, releasing first the facial musculature of the head and neck and jaw and ending with pelvic release.
In our approach to trauma-informed somatic therapy, understanding the way the body holds traumatic memories and the systematic way to gently release these charged cellular body memories in the “segments" using Somatic Experiencing® techniques and specific pressure on acupuncture points with Jin Shin Do® Acupressure is key. These two concepts work seamlessly and beautifully as a fully integrated approach for addressing and healing trauma.
"Armoring" tends to present itself as a lack of sensation, a rigidity, stiffness or tension, and a block against the breakthrough of emotions and organ sensations, particularly the emotions of "anxiety, rage and sexual excitation”, according to Reich. Body defenses show up on emotional, psychic, and muscular levels.
Interesting to note, Reich’s concept of 7 armoring segments also relates to the 7 chakra system of eastern philosophy, which may have similar emotional connotations. Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist, developed a Hierarchy of Needs, which focuses on the stages of growth in humans. Maslow used the terms "physiological", "safety", "love and belonging", "self-esteem", and "self-actualization" or "self-transcendence" to describe the psychological needs and patterns that human motivations generally move through.
Seven Segments of Armor
“Reich's Segmental Armouring Theory.” Energetics Institue. http://energeticsinstitute.com.au/psychotherapy-counselling/characterology/reichs-segmental-armouring-theory/
Teeguarden, Iona Marsaa. The Joy of Feeling. Tokyo and New York: Japan Publications, INC., 1987. Print.
Teeguarden, Iona Marsaa. A Complete Guide to Acupressure. Idyllwild: Jin Shin Do® Foundation for Bodymind Acupressure®, 2003. Print.
“7 Segments or Belts of Tension in BioDynamic Breathwork & Trauma Release.” Website Title. Website Publisher, 20 April 2016. https://www.biodynamicbreath.com/inspiration/demo-post-88/
Specializing in Trauma-Informed Somatic Touch, Jin Shin Do® Acupressure, & Thai Yoga Bodywork