Part 2 of an interview with Moumina Jeffs and Agni Thalgott
What’s the most profound transformation you’ve witnessed in your work?
Moumina: Some of the most profound are people you might know, so we can’t talk about them. But I remember one woman whose inner changes were very much reflected in her body.
As a teenager she’d been a cocaine addict and was only 19 when she came to us. She’d begun doing Osho’s meditations and said they’d saved her life; they’d enabled her to give up the drug. She then went deep into body therapy to help with her skin allergies, eating disorders, panic attacks, very low self-worth. Plus she felt she’d never have a loving relationship.
At first her body was thin and weak, but then it became extremely fat. Yet after a few years of doing body therapy and trainings with us she was transformed. The panic attacks and skin disorders were gone and her body became very beautiful, slim but strong. She met a man who loved very much and they founded a successful health food business together.
How does Body Types shape your work as therapists?
Moumina: It’s extremely helpful. We often hear people say: “Oh my god! Every therapist should know this.” Body Types offers a basket of very deep insights into each client – what is the nature of that person’s deepest needs, as well as their deepest fears, and effective suggestions on how to best work with them in therapy.
There are other wonderful systems; the Enneagram is one. The difference with Body Types is that it is rooted in the physical body. And quiet often you can get all that information by glancing at somebody with their clothes on.
I am not sure I like that! It makes me feel trivialized – one glance and I am put into a box?
Agni: Well, it depends on the therapist. I have known very psychoanalytic therapists who do reduce people to a two-dimensional formula. But we take care to see the person behind the pattern. And when you use it like that, people feel this work helps liberate their essence.
Mostly we are very identified with our patterns. We feel weakness or hopelessness or false independence and we think ¨This is ME¨. It can be a surprise to realise that lots of other people who look similar to us have basically similar thoughts and feelings. But if you are a meditator, it is liberating. You get to see “I am not this” wholesale rather than thought-by-thought retail.
Why do you recommend Body Types and Body Reading to all therapists, regardless of their main discipline?
Moumina: Because it empowers work in any client/therapist relationship, from acupuncture to zero balancing, including those who don’t directly work with emotional issues. It’s very clear that each type has a pattern of relating.
Agni: For example, if you tell a masochist body type to express themselves, it will not help their inner dilemma. Spaciousness is always needed, even if it pushes buttons in the rest of the group.
Moumina: You’ll go in the opposite direction. Asking a masochist to put out their anger it’s absolutely the wrong thing to say. Their whole structure is built to resist any kind of pushing. But once you recognise their body type, you’ll know the best way of reaching them is to invite them to move without putting pressure on them.
Or a psychopath, for example, won’t accept your authority, will challenge you and try to prove they know better. An oral client, on the other hand, will keep on and on coming to you, even if the healing has taken affect and you see fit for treatment to end.
Agni: Once you recognise someone’s body type you have the awareness that this is an unconscious pattern they’re acting out and you don’t get hooked into it. Where you used to react you can now respond.
How did you get into this work?
Moumina: I was in bodywork trainings like Rebalancing and Rolfing, where they were teaching muscular patterns. I saw and received very good body readings that looked in detail at the muscular structure and where the tension was. But the session was just left at that.
I noticed that a reading brought up all kinds of emotions. It was very strong becoming aware of what I was holding in my body. Then I felt the work needed to include much more and I began including the emotional structure, energetic presence, the past and the healing.
How did you go about adapting Reich’s Body Types and Lowen’s Body Reading?
Moumina: By experimentation in the groups we led in Pune, Medina in England, and all over the world in the 80s. In this very rich time, therapists from many different disciplines, rather than holding onto and being completely identified with their own method, shared their work, going into each other’s trainings. We could learn from highly experienced therapists in other disciplines. Because we were participating in the workshops, we had the chance to experience the methods from the inside, which fully trained therapists often do not have the chance to do.
Agni: On top of this we had Osho’s words inspiring us to question our fundamental beliefs about therapy, and to question our own identities as therapists.
Moumina: This pushed me to learn something inside myself beyond any theoretical system. Looking back I can see what an unsurpassable learning experience I had. As we learned about the body, we learned so much about the emotional body. Our growth as therapists came to be about seeing how they go together.
Agni: We used everything we learned to expand the work and that process continues today. We are constantly adding to it. There’s not been a single time where we’ve feel ‘Oh. This is it now’. There are always new recognitions and insights every time. We always include them in our next workshop.
Can you give an example of what might happen during a body reading?
Moumina: Of course it is completely different every time. But we can give a couple of examples…
Agni: There was once a woman who believed herself to be unattractive, numb and left behind by life. Her body was overweight and collapsed. She lived isolated, and had no engagement with life.
Through the body reading she discovered a great resource in her legs. And by allowing the movement that came through the legs and then spread through her whole body, she accessed her previously unlived juice and aliveness. This led to a major shift in the way she lived her life.
Moumina: I am just thinking of a body reading we did with an older man from Germany. By looking at his legs the group could see that they looked very young but as if they were surrounded by harsh discipline, almost military in nature. At this point he shared with us that he had been in the Hitler youth and never in his whole life been able to speak about it. Then he was able to share about it and it was a profound relief for him.
Why is meditation at the heart of your therapy?
Moumina: Because it’s from where our main understanding of the work has come from. We use these concepts to reach and nourish the being behind them, just like in meditation.
One of the very first times I taught the Body Types and Body Reading was in the Medina commune in England in the 80s. I had two guys stand up to represent the schizoid structure. It stunned me – and the whole group – to see them together.
One was short, the other tall. One English, one Austrian, and they’d never met. Yet they were replicas. Very thin, very white skinned, with a contracted diaphragms, skinny arms and bony legs. The feeling was they’d been tortured. They didn’t have to say anything, you just saw it.
One was meditating, while the other was new to personal development. His eyes were dead. Although they shared the same structure, the others’ eyes were alive; he was living in himself. It became clear to me then that your structure is not a prison sentence. It is simply a gateway to unravel ourselves further. Likewise, meditation supports the being in us that is undamaged.
Why is Body Types work relatively unknown?
Agni: It’s more something studied by therapists than a therapy offered as a group for personal development. Many excellent therapists use and have developed it, including somatic therapy pioneer Stanley Keleman, Hands of Light author Barbara Brennan, and creator of the Hakomi Method somatic therapy, Ron Kurtz. All are really into the body types and use them firmly in their work in a very interesting way.
Moumina is the former Director of the Centre for Transformation at the Osho International Meditation Resort, India. She’s been leading transformative groups across Europe, South America, India and Japan for 29 years.
Agni is a specialist in Neo-Reichian emotional release work and the Reichian Body types. She’s been leading international groups in Mystic Rose meditative therapy, Star Sapphire Energy Work, Childhood De-conditioning and Tantra for 18 years.
Photo of Joy courtesy of Flickr Jing Qu, of Back courtesy of Perfecto Insecto