Somatic Experiencing® is my first relationship and commitment to understanding the physiological knowledge and instincts of myself and others. Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a organic approach to the completion and healing of trauma. Developed by Dr. Peter Levine and author of Waking the Tiger. Peter’s work is based on the instinctual behavior patterns of wild animals and their instinctual responses to fight, flight, and freeze. The “Fighting, Flighting, or Freezing (immobility)” responses in animals is also supported by Robert Scaer. Robert articulates his observations of these responses in his book The Body Bears the Burden. He has observed animals are regularly threatened and are rarely ever traumatized by their events or threats. Animals have an innate system to regulate and discharge huge levels of energy. The energy created in their event are associated with their instinctual survival behaviors to threat. The regulatory system of its physiological systems supplies a fail safe immunity to trauma. The system provides ways to normalize its event of threat. Humans have this same system of organic discharges as animals. Except, our rational mind keeps us straightjacketed in the event and contains the energy of the trauma locked inside our physiological systems. This causes us to feel fear, sadness, anger, phobias, drama, illnesses, PTSD, guilt, shame, and many more dysfunctions of our physiological systems. Spending most of our time finding ways of coping with the mind chatter and the discomfort in our bodies. We are unaware of possible ways of organically discharging the aroused sensations that were created by our event.
These response/sensations are housed in the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). The ANS regulates primal functions of our physiological systems. The ANS is an automatic response to our survival instincts. The Sympathetic System (SNS) and the Parasympathetic System (PNS) are combined to form the ANS. The SNS & PNS mirror each other in opposing their physical and emotional reactions to our environmental moment. The parasympathetic keeps us balanced and regulated organically.
The sympathetic regulates us out of balance and stuck in our events or story. The PNS is the brake pedal and the SNS is the gas pedal of our nervous system.

The chart below gives us a chance to study the connection and functions of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) in action.

The PNS assists us in resting, unwinding how it regulates from threat or stress. During arousal the PNS acts as stopping system to slow the body process. Then it initiates a fight, flight, and freeze responses to defend against its threat. The SNS readies us for action in times of stress and threat. It also supports us in times of emergency.

The PNS and SNS is crucial in understanding and supporting the discharges of arousal and equilibrium in our bodies. The SE bases its teaching on this system and teaches how to work with this autonomic nervous system.

These two systems suggest a new way to look at my work and myself with the regulation and wisdom of the ANS system.

Working with arousal and dysregulation of the nervous system is fascinating and enlightening. To observe how trauma strikes our nervous system and the emergence of two trauma vortex’s appear in our physiological world.

The above illustration is trauma in action. The trauma starts as a fracture to the boundary of the body. It literally and physically breaches the core nervous system. Shown with the arrow saying “Shock Trauma Boundary Breach” with such force that two “Vortex’s” (vortex can be any circular or rotary flow that displays vorticity) come flying out.
One vortex the “Trauma Vortex” (as seen above) is the event fracture. The second vortex called the “Counter Vortex” is the now experience for the fracture.

These vortex’s form the mechanism of deregulation of the trauma when worked in a “Pendulation” of awareness and discharge.


by Robert Weston

Chapter 1: An Introduction to the Munyer Method™

Arthur Munyer/Shambho sits directly in front of a client. They are both in identical Ikea chairs, only Arthur’s has a sheepskin draped over it. Their knees are nearly touching. They are in the studio/sun porch of Arthur’s home in Carmel, California. The room has windows all around, revealing a lush, tree lined back yard. Sunlight pours into the room, refracted into sparkling diamonds by a hanging crystal. There is a picture on the wall of a pair of hands holding a newborn infant. There are several ‘altars’ around the room with various icons: statues, crystals, pictures of spiritual teachers.

Fred (not his real name) has come to Arthur for trigger point massage to address a chronic neck stiffness and pain he has had now for nearly 10 years. He has sought almost every kind of remedy for this condition you can imagine: deep tissue massage, chiropractic, physical therapy, stretch exercise, electro contractions, magnets, essential oils, psychotherapy, antibiotics, cortisone, and supplements galore. All have helped, to a degree or temporarily, but his range of motion is still 30% restricted and the pain is acute. Arthur is his latest effort. A call to the local massage school asking for a referral to a trigger point masseur yielded only one name: Arthur Munyer.
Arthur, also known as Shambho, a Hindu word meaning “abode of bliss”, is a senior instructor of Esalen® Massage and Trigger Point Release. He has practiced and taught bodywork, spiritual, and emotional release disciplines at Esalen® Institute in Big Sur and other locations in the US, South America, Europe, and Bali for over 30 years. He is also a certified Sivananda Yoga instructor. He has developed his own unique somatic healing practice which he calls “The Munyer Method™.”
Fred and Arthur talk. In fact, on this first visit, they talk the entire session. There is a massage table right beside them, and Fred naturally expected to spend most of his time on it. But Arthur has other ideas. He wants Fred to tell him about the best thing that has happened to him in the past 24 hours. Fred wants to tell him about his neck, but Arthur doesn’t seem all that interested. Instead, he asks about what has given him the most enjoyment during the past day. Fred thinks about it, describes a moment of walking through the Point Lobos National Reserve just up the road. He describes the natural beauty of the place, the freshness of the air, the dramatic joining of ocean and land, the unique geology, the seals, otters and sea lions. He begins to relax. Arthur notices that Fred is shaking his legs.
“Slow that down,” he says, and then leads Fred into a wide ranging meditative exploration of his body and the images, thoughts, and feelings that come up as he moves his legs slower and slower, finally in micro movements that almost don’t look like movements at all. Fred’s mind wanders all over the place, from some image from childhood to memories of a painful divorce over 40 years ago, feelings about his mother, his relationship with his current wife, unemployment, fatigue, depression and neck pain. Throughout the journey Arthur is watching Fred closely, listening, listening not so much to the story as for something in his voice or perhaps in his body movements. Sometimes they sit without either of them speaking for a long time. Arthur asks Fred to check in with his body at intervals. “Are you feeling anything in your hands? Notice any heat on your face?”
After a while he asks Fred to look around the room. He had invited him to do this the moment they sat down. “Just take a look around.” he says. “What do you notice?” Fred had commented on the spider webs outside the windows, the greenness of the shrubbery, and the warmth of the sunlight. Now Arthur asks “Do you notice anything different?” Fred scan the room again, and sure enough, he says, things look brighter, greener, more 3-D. He sees a picture he hadn’t seen earlier. “How is your neck feeling?” Arthur asks.
Fred twists his neck around, back and forth. “About the same,” he says.
“We’ll have to work on that,” Arthur says. And eventually they do. Intensely. Arthur is indeed a trigger point masseur. He eventually uses various body-work techniques to release and move Fred’s neck in ways it hasn’t moved in years. But they always start the same: Scan the room. Tell me about something good that happened to you today. Notice an unconscious gesture or movement. Slow it down. Follow your thoughts, feelings, images inside your self. Notice repetitive stories. Allow feelings to come up and be expressed. Come back to present time. Reorient to the room. And then, if asked for, table work. Deep, strong table work.
Over time, Fred begins to comprehend what Arthur is doing. “The Munyer Method™,” is an integrated four body (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) therapeutic process for the healing of trauma through the movement and release of trapped or compacted energy. Fred had thought that he was signing up for “Trigger Point Massage,” a method developed by Janet Travell in the 1960’s which involved a combination of pressure and injection to unlock trigger points of contraction within the muscles and tissues of the physical body. Arthur doesn’t use injections. And though he knows the anatomy as well as any therapist Fred has worked with, his interest is that of true yoga, an integration of body, mind and spirit.
Of the four bodies, the Physical is the most obvious. It is where most massage begins and ends. There are the muscles, tendons, cartilage, fascia, bones, lymph and blood. According to Arthur and a great many other somatic therapists and teachers, the physical body registers traumas of all sorts and, if the traumas are severe or sustained, retains physical symptoms. The trauma may be physical, including birth itself, but it may be psychological, emotional or spiritual as well. Life affords manifold opportunities for trauma. From the original one of birth, through early childhood confusions and possible abuses, into adolescent emotional distresses, relationship failures, vocational frustrations, and the occasional fall off a log or getting a little whiplash from a rear ender. Each of these, if severe enough or endured long enough, will likely result in pathological symptoms, ranging from migraine headaches to cancer. Stiff necks are a common trauma consequence. Whether the trauma was whiplash or computer freeze, necks appear to be highly vulnerable. Lower back is another hot site.
The Emotional Body is home of our feelings. According to Arthur, there are really only five feelings: Love, Joy, Sadness, Fear, and Anger. All the others are sub sets or aspects of these five. We are, he maintains, in one or another of these states, or a combination of them, all the time. An appropriate response to the question “How are you feeling?” would be: “I’m feeling a lot of love, and some sadness.” Or, “I’m experiencing a lot of anger right now.” Or, “I’m really sad.” Or, “I’m feeling afraid of …..” Or, hopefully, “I’m really joyful right now.” Of course we usually prefer to respond with the conventional “I’m good. How’re you?”
Love is the feeling of enjoyment and attraction to someone or thing. There will be gratitude and perhaps some ‘longing after’ in love. Desire, lust, is an elemental manifestation of love. It is clearly a positive feeling, an affirmative state of being, though it is possible to become a ‘love junkie’ and co dependent. It is related to Joy, which is simply the expression of delight in or enjoyment of some one, some thing, or simply life itself. Sadness ranges from despair and depression on the one hand, to the heartfelt reaction to a situation or story or song that touches us with its tragedy or poignancy. Anger is a rousing energy that responds to situations we find unjust or irritating. It can be healthy and motivational, or can be pathological when it becomes locked into hatred, prejudice or a passion for vengeance. Fear is what eats us up as worry, gives us panic attacks, and free floating anxiety, and turns us into cowards and wimps. When positive it serves as caution.
The Mental Body is the home of our stories and the source of our choices. It is the house of analysis and talk. Most of us are more comfortable in this body than any of the others. We are happy to talk endlessly about our opinions, experiences, hopes, desires, plans and catastrophes. Much psychotherapy deals exclusively with this body, under the impression that understanding something will lead to healing. Not necessarily so, according to Arthur. He points out how easy it is for us to get stuck in our soap operas and life dramas, and how telling the story over and over may bring some relief but it may also reinforce the trauma unless there is a fundamental energy release. We can, Arthur insists, make choices in the Mental Body that will definitely affect our sense of being. It is here that we can take control of our use of language, whether in self-talk or conversation. Contradicting the negative, critical, put-down of most self talk can shift our experience. Taking responsibility for our condition through “I” statements instead of projections and blame can lead to empowerment: “I need or want you to” vs. “You ought to;” or, “I feel anger” vs. “You make me angry.”

The Spiritual Body is where we experience the realities of bliss, cosmic or agape love, peace, and enlightenment. This is the realm of our specific religious and spiritual practices and commitments. It can be the locus of dogma and fundamentalism, or the airy fairy platitudes of pop spirituality. At its best, the Spiritual Body is an experience of presence, consciousness in the now, and unattached love.

The point of all this, according to the Munyer Method™, is that in a “natural,” undamaged state, energy flows in and through all four of these bodies all the time. When trauma occurs, however, instead of a ‘natural’ discharge of energy, in most humans there is a blockage, a compaction of energy in one or more of the four bodies. We get stuck. Stuck physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually, and usually in all four domains. And so we do not heal. We do not recover from the ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’ that Hamlet complained of so bitterly and which we all know to some degree or other. Symptoms appear: stiff necks, depression, indecision, despair, migraine headaches, diabetes, cancer, and the addictions, prescribed and otherwise, which are supposed to kill the pain. What is needed is a way to access the compacted energy, whatever body it is in, release it, and allow discharge and expression. Hence, The Munyer Method™.

The method is an original integration of therapies and practices ranging from hatha yoga, Esalen® Massage, Deep Tissue, Feldenkrais and the Alexander Method, to Gestalt psychology (Fritz Perls), trauma therapy (Peter Levine), and meditation and mindfulness practices. The context of the method is Shivananda Yoga and the spiritual teachings of various spiritual traditions, articulated profoundly in the work of Eckhart Tolle. It is a method that has evolved over thirty years.

My focus is to articulate a book providing the reader with a practical manual of my unique four body integrated healing method, a practice that has application for body workers, therapists of all stripes, and the layperson who is looking for a guide through the maze of healing modalities that are out there. A Path of Healing: a Somatic Four Body Trigger Point Release is primarily a reference guide for body work practitioners who are interested in moving beyond physical manipulation into release in any of the four bodies. It is based on 30 years of practice and teaching others how to accomplish this work.

• Subsequent chapters describe and illustrate bodywork, gestalt practices, and meditation techniques as applied to the Four Bodies to achieve release and healing.
• Content to be drawn from current manuals including gestalt stories, case studies, workshop examples, testimonials, meditations, and theoretical background as needed.
• Material to be organized as a manual, going “body by body,” providing techniques, tools and guidance, and illustrated by several “fictional” - but reality based-- case studies that demonstrate the method in an integrated fashion.
• Subsequent chapters describe and illustrate bodywork, gestalt practices, and meditation techniques as applied to the Four Bodies to achieve release and healing.
• Content to be drawn from current manuals including gestalt stories, case studies, workshop examples, testimonials, meditations, and theoretical background as needed.
• Material to be organized as a manual, going “body by body,” providing techniques, tools and guidance, and illustrated by several “fictional” - but reality based-- case studies that demonstrate the method in an integrated fashion.

Author's Bio: 

Arthur has 35 years of experience in body-work, is a CMT, Esalen Massage Therapist, and a practitioner of the Somatic Experiencing® of Peter Levine. Robert is a poet, academic, graduate of the Breakthrough Men's Workshops and member of the leadership of the Breakthrough Men's Community.