Life is Pulsatory
Bioenergetics and William Seifriz's film on Protoplasm
In the process of sorting and digitizing the Lowen archives, we found this 1954 film on Protoplasm by William Seifriz, Professor of Botany at the University of Pennsylvania. Its connection to bioenergetics may not seem obvious at first glance. Yet, it is highly relevant to the fundamental understanding of the energetic principles of bioenergetics and of life itself.
This is a 9-minute preview. Watch the full film below >
*What has emerged from Reich’s work, clinically validated by Lowen, is that life is fundamentally pulsatory and vibratory. Life is in movement, and only in death is there no movement. While we do not know the source of this pulsatory energy, just as we do not understand the “dark energy” of astrophysics, it is characterized by a rhythmic vibration and/or pulsation inherent in all living tissue.
In this film, Seifriz presents his research into the physical interpretation of life forces. He uses protoplasm, the basic material of which all living things are made to demonstrate the ways in which this “stuff of life” acts similarly wherever it is found, be it in lowly plant or man.
Seifriz shows that life is in fact pulsatory and argues that “all forms of motion in protoplasm are the result of nervous impulses emanating from excitation focile... electrical impulses therefore are responsible for protoplasmic movement, for the contraction of muscle, and the transmission of messages along nerve fiber…”
Pulsation is expansion alternating with contraction. Most obviously present in heartbeat, breathing, and digestive (peristaltic) activity, it is also inherent in all muscular and cellular activity, and in our feeling states.
On the level of the organism, expansion is generally associated with pleasure and openness to the world, and contraction is associated with fear, pain or withdrawal. An important aspect of pulsation and vibration is how clearly it demonstrates both unity and duality. Expansion and contraction are simply the opposite dual poles of the unity.
In his second book “Love and Orgasm,” Lowen demonstrates convincingly that consciousness arises from an awareness of opposites, beginning with the awareness of “self” as distinct from “other.” The duality is important because it implies that life is characterized by polar opposites. Healthy energetic functioning requires a constant oscillation, or movement from one pole to the other. Being stuck in one state or the other is inherent in dysfunction.
Knowing that expansion is associated with pleasure and the desire to reach out and engage the world, and contraction is a fear response, we can see human behavior is governed by two energetic motivations: fear of pain, and desire for pleasure. As the poles of a unified organism, both fear and desire are important to the health of the organism.
As stated above, dysfunction occurs when the energetic pulsation ceases, and the energetic functioning becomes stuck with all energy focused towards only one pole. From an energetic perspective, it is the role of health workers and psychotherapists in particular, to help the client restore the pulsatory, vibratory nature of their energetic functioning, thereby regaining freedom from dysfunction.
Seifriz biological experiments support Reich and Lowen’s theories about the underlying energetic nature of human behavior and of life itself.
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This is the full film. Watch the 9-minute preview >
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*The above text is based on the Lowen Foundation's presentation entitled "Alexander Lowen and Bio-Energetic Analysis: Keystones in the Foundation of a Science of Subjective Experience"