MoonDragon's Alternative Health Information
Touch & Movement Therapies
For "Informational Use Only".
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POLARITY THERAPY DESCRIPTION
In this blend of Western therapies, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, well-being is said to be the result of an unobstructed flow of "life energy" around the body. This energy corresponds in nature to qi in Traditional Chinese Medicine and prana in Ayurveda, and is thought to move in currents around the body between positive and negative poles. Practitioners aim to rebalance or restore energy flow by means of touch, nutritional advice, exercise, and counseling. The therapy is well established in the US and growing in Europe.
MAIN USES OF POLARITY THERAPY
Migraines. Fatigue, lethargy, etc. Menopausal problems, PMS. Stress. Allergies. Digestive disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome. Back pain. Arthritis.
MoonDragon's Health & Wellness Index: Disorders, Therapy & Nutrition
Polarity therapy was developed in the late 19th century by Dr. Randolph Stone, who was born in Austria, but spent his working life in the US as a naturopath, osteopath, and chiropractor. In search of a unifying healing principle, he studied Eastern medical traditions and came to the conclusion that all pain or illness is due to an imbalance of energy, and that well-being and deeper self-understanding result when life energy is able to flow without interruption or stagnation.
Dr. Randolph Stone, who grew on elements of Eastern and Western medicine to develop polarity therapy, believed that "the awareness of life as energy currents... is the key to the natural art of health building. Dr. Stone conducted many teaching seminars on polarity therapy, mostly aimed at he medical profession. In 1984 the American Polarity Therapy Association was set up, and over 150 practitioners have since been certified.
Polarity therapists see the body as a system of energy fields, and believe that life energy is kept in constant motion by the pull of opposing poles, which act like magnets. The head and right side of the body are the positive pole, and the feet and left side are the negative pole. The center of the body along the line of the spinal cord, is neutral. Energy flows clockwise between the poles, passing along the central channel, where there are five neutral energy centers of ether, air, fire, water, and earth. These correspond in position to Ayurvedic chakras and in character to the Five Elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Each center has a particular function:
- Ether controls the throat and hearing.
- Air regulates respiration, the lungs, the heart and circulation.
- Fire governs digestion.
- Water controls glands and emotions.
- Earth governs excretion.
Illness and poor health are considered to be the result of stagnation and depletions in the energy currents, and practitioners may use one or more of a number of therapies to restore balance: therapeutic "bodywork", nutritional advice, "polarity yoga" or stretching exercises, and counseling.
A field of electromagnetic currents is said to surround the body. At its heart are the five neutral energy centers of ether, air, fire, water, and earth.
For bodywork, touch and manipulation techniques are used to pinpoint and relieve stagnation and encourage the free flow of energy around the body.
Food is believed to contribute directly to the quantity and quality of this energy. Poor nutrition and digestion may be at the root of many physical problems, and practitioners often prescribe cleansing or detoxifying diets to eliminate harmful products that may have accumulated in the body. A "health-building diet", containing plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, may then be recommended.
Polarity yoga exercises, based on the body's natural movements, consist of simple postures designed to help maintain muscle tone, release toxins, and strengthen the spine. They are accompanied by gentle rocking, stretching, and vocal expressions, said to open up the flow of energy.
Counseling is used when practitioners feel that negative thoughts are impeding energy flow. They believe that the mind has a direct impact on the way the body works, and that counseling helps to enhance self-awareness and self-esteem and encourage a positive attitude.
THEORY & BASIC PRINCIPLES OF POLARITY THERAPY
From The Standards for Practice and Code of Ethics, American Polarity Therapy Association
ASSOCIATE POLARITY PRACTIONER
The beginning student is first introduced to the notion that all life is an expression of energy in motion, and that energy emerges from and returns to a central unified source of life energy. Energy in the body is a manifestation of the cyclic journey of spirit: from its cosmic unified source, into the duality of the physical realm, and back to its source.
This theme is further developed with the concept of unity and neutrality and the creation of the polarized opposite forces of attraction and repulsion. These two forces, in turn, follow the blueprint inherent within their source as they mutually interact to weave the fabric of manifest life. Consequently, all forms and processes are generated from within the universal source of life energy, and are expressions of that life energy in motion.
The theory is further delineated with the formation of the three primary principles of motion as Sattva, the neutral Airy Principle, Rajas, the positive Fiery Principle, and Tamas, the negative Watery Principle. These three principles set the stage for energy to manifest as five discreet qualities or steps, characterized by the five elements of Ether, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth.
By virtue of these elements, the physical human body is created. The body is a composite of the interaction of the five elements (which are electromagnetic in nature) in the physical domain. The body, then, is an electromagnetic energy system expressing the dynamic interplay of the five elements from their most subtle to their most dense forms. Each form manifests a unique anatomy, with the most subtle form expressed as a "wireless" circuitry directing the flow of energy in its etheric state. Thus are created not only all aspects of the body, but also the totality of human expression, described by Dr. Stone as the Pentamirus combination of the elements.
The student is also introduced to the idea that healing and disease are processes that can be described in energetic terms. Generally, healing and health are attributes of energy flowing in its natural and unobstructed state, while disease is a reflection of energy in an obstructed condition in one or more of its several levels of manifestation.
In addition the life process can be described as states of energy stepping down, as in the case of disease, and stepping up, as in the case of healing, through the five elemental states of Ether, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. The five states of energy are defined by the quality of energy motion through the "wireless" circuits of the body.
Ether is seen as the manifestation of a free, uninterrupted energy flow, experienced as a state of freedom of expression, creativity, movement and health. As energy becomes blocked in its pathway of motion back to its energy center in the body, the body experiences varying states of ill health, or disease. These states, varying from mental and emotional disturbance, to acute physical inflammation, to chronic illness, and finally to full degeneration, are characterized by energetic states corresponding to the four step down elements of Air, Fire, Water, and Earth, respectively.
As disease is regarded as the effect of energy being disrupted in its flow, healing is seen as the process of releasing the obstructions to the free flow of energy so that it may fully reconnect with its source. Consequently, a return to physical health is the reconnection of energies in the body with their respective centers or sources.
This relationship between health and energy connecting with its source is expanded to include any system. That is, the health of any system is dependent upon its full, undisrupted connection with its source. With this understanding, the underlying principle of Polarity Therapy emerges as the idea of "reconnection to a source" and pertains to each facet of the work. This includes establishing reconnections to sources of energy in the body, in nature, in interpersonal and societal relationships, and within oneself, to the source of life energy itself. Health is considered in its larger context beyond just the body, recognizing the interconnectedness of all things to each other and to a unified central source of life energy.
REGISTERED POLARITY PRACTITIONER
Once an understanding has been derived as to how energy relates to form and process, the study delves deeper into the dynamics of how the body is created and functions as an energy system. The body is seen as a system of energy fields and centers, "wireless" energy pathways, lines of force, and geometric and harmonic relationships. The energies of the body are derived from and organized around a central ultrasonic core. The ultrasonic core is an expression of primary energy as the neutral essence. This neutral essence is stored in and conveyed by cerebrospinal fluid throughout the whole of the human system. The neutral essence is considered to be the basic ordering and healing principle in the human body.
The ultrasonic core is the central pathway of motion along which the five primary centers are created, located anatomically along the central canal of the spinal cord. Two intertwining currents of pranic energy, each the polarized opposite of the other, pursue a double helical pathway along this core, creating the five chakras or whirling energy centers of Ether, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth, located in the center of the throat, behind the heart, in the solar plexus behind the umbilicus, at the lumbosacral junction and at the sacrococcygeal junction, respectively. In this way the five sensory pranas are formed in order to allow the perception of our physical experience.
Similarly, five motor pranas are formed from two currents also emergent from the entry point of the ultrasonic core, at the eye center. These two currents form the five primary oval fields of the head, neck, chest, abdomen and pelvis, representing the five elements of Fire, Ether, Air, Earth and Water, respectively. These five fields enable the body to interact with its environment. They also contain the five primary chakras of perception and establish an energetic physiology as the motor and sensory pranas commingle.
From the ultrasonic core and the five primary chakras emerge currents of subtle electro-magnetic energy that fill the space of the etheric body with etheric energy waves. The pathways of these etheric energy waves create a "wireless" circuitry that interconnect every point of this subtle form with every other point within the energetic system. The pathways follow three distinct directions as vertical North-South Watery currents on the right and left sides of the body, coronally spiraling Fiery currents on the anterior and posterior aspects of the body, and transverse East-West Airy currents intertwining horizontally from the feet to the head. These three primary currents create an interwoven field which expresses the three principles of energy movement (also known as the Gunas). The energy body created by these three etheric energy wave circuits describes a spatially oriented triaxial set of polarity relationships as to top (+) and bottom (-), anterior (+) and posterior (-), and right (+) and left (-). The center of the body lying in between any of the three axes is neutral.
The three principles of energy movement are the primary forces that are expressed as fundamental relationships in the centers and fields of the body. These relationships allow the creation and interweaving of the five elements and are first expressed in the creation of the eye center and head. From this level, energy is projected into the physical domain and the physical body via the five elements. The projected energy creates the arena in which life is experienced. These same energies are then reflected back as sensory feedback. This reflection of sensory information modulates the continued projection which, in turn, modifies additional reflected feedback. In this way the projection-reflection loop tempers our perception and experience of life.
The body is seen as an intricate and dynamic interplay of the Three Principles and Five Elements which creates its subtle anatomy and physiology. Furthermore, the Three Principles and Five Elements are understood to make up more than the body alone. They intercombine in their many states to create all aspects of human expression, including body, emotions, mind, and spirit.
The five chakras, which first define the elements in the physical realm, are expressed negatively as the emotions of pride (Ether), greed (Air), anger (Fire), attachment (Water) and fear (Earth). This is the experience of humankind when the attention is directed entirely down- ward and outward into the world for the purpose of identifying the ego with the worldly creation, thinking itself the prime mover of life. In contrast, when the attention is directed inward and upward, acknowledging the source of life energy as the doer behind our experience and understanding of the world and ourselves, the passions transform into the five virtues of courage (Earth), detachment (Water), forgiveness (Fire), contentment (Air) and humility (Ether).
Beyond the passions and virtues, the elements express our experience of emotion, gross and subtle body movement, and lifestyle habits as well as the fluids and tissues of the coarse metabolic body. These element intercombinations are described through the Pentamirus Combinations. Each element predominantly influences the other four elements in some aspect of our experience. The representation of the elements as the various qualities of our personal experience of worldly life are separate from the observer of life. In short, we are not the elements. We watch them weave their play. We can watch with respectful distance and appreciate the tapestry, or get caught up in the weave and lose sight of who we are, where we are, and where we are going.
The role of consciousness as it affects the energies of the body is strongly acknowledged. A hierarchy of consciousness from the most sublime states of being to the coarsest levels of life. In the realms of mind, consciousness may be experienced in many ways and forms, all of which embody particular frequencies or vibrations of energy. Energy is the real substance behind the appearance of matter and forms, therefore applies to consciousness as well as physical phenomena.
Thoughts impact form according to the energetic charge and wave form of the thought; these are significant forces or stresses to be reckoned with in the physical body. The energies of the body change and transform in accordance with the form of the impacting thought, thereby affecting the integrity and health of the system.
From emotions, to physical states, to the overall quality of life, the interplay of the principles and elements expresses our state of mind and health. As the energies are disrupted in their motion away from and back toward their respective centers both in the body and in nature, we experience the stepped-down states of pathology, both organically and psychologically.
The more disturbed the flow of energy in the body, the more inefficiently the body functions. The body's energies shift from their concentric flow around the ultrasonic core toward an increasingly eccentric motion. The intent of the Polarity practitioner is to assist the body's re-establishment of concentric energy movement by releasing blocked energy in the body and guiding the client to do the same in all aspects of his or her life. Once blocks to this free flow are released, energy naturally returns to its source, whether in the body, in nature, or throughout the domain of consciousness.
EVIDENCE & RESEARCH
No clinical trials have been carried out so far. This is partly due to lack of funding and partly because practitioners have no background in research.
CONVENTIONAL MEDICAL OPINION
To date, there is no scientific evidence for the theory of "life energy" flow. The treatments, however, seem harmless, as long as caution is exercised when embarking on detoxifying diets.
CONSULTING A PRACTITIONER
The practitioner will begin by asking questions about your medical history and lifestyle. In most cases, you then lie on a treatment table while the practitioner assesses your energy flow using polarity bodywork. It is not essential to undress, and you can be examined through clothing if you prefer.
The practitioner usually starts by moving her hands around your head, then down toward your feet, up the body over the five energy centers, finishing back at your head. She will employ different levels of pressure:
- Neutral: A light, fingertip touch to restore body awareness and balance.
- Positive: Which aims to stimulate energy by stroking, molding, and rocking the body.
- Negative: Which uses deep, sometimes uncomfortable manipulation of body tissue to stimulate the flow of energy.
Bodywork Techniques: The practitioner uses her left or right hand to restore energy flow at the negative and positive poles of the body. The pressure applied will vary but she will ease it if you find it uncomfortable. The practitioner's right hand is believed to be the positive energy charge. The left hand corresponds to the negative energy pole. The practitioner applies pressure with her fingertips to the abdomen.
Most people find bodywork profoundly relaxing, but it is possible that in clearing areas of stagnation, it may induce an emotional outburst of anger, grief, or mirth.
The practitioner may show you exercises to follow at home and recommend a "health-building" cleansing diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables. If she believes negative thoughts are contributing to the problem, she may suggest counseling.
Your practitioner may suggest simple polarity yoga exercises to be carried out at home and that require only a few minutes daily to complete, together with a specific diet or detoxifying regime. Dr. Stone believed strongly in the cleansing and healing power of fruits and vegetables. A diet might therefore include steamed or boiled vegetables, soups, fresh juices, and herbal teas, such as the polarity liver flush and tea.
PRECAUTIONS: Consult with your health care provider before following a detoxifying diet.
POLARITY LIVER FLUSH & POLARITY TEA
1. The Liver Flush: The liver flush aims to cleanse the liver, kidneys and bowel. Drink the flush first, which blends lemon, orange, and pink grapefruit juices with olive oil, garlic, ginger, and cayenne pepper.
2. Polarity Tea: Polarity tea should always follow the liver flush. An infusion of linseed, fenugreek, anise, fennel seed, licorice root, peppermint leaves, and slices of ginger, it is an acquired taste.
Relaxing Pose: Sit for two minutes with the soles of your feet together. Gently push your knees upward and push against them with your hands. Keep the shoulders back to avoid slouching.
Calming Stretch: Sit as shown, with knees bent. Reach forward to grasp your toes. Hold for three minutes while gently rocking back and forth. Breathe deeply to calm the mind. Bend forward from the hip.
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