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The Biodynamics of the Immune System

Balancing the Energies of the Body with the Cosmos

Foreword by Bill Harvey
Published by Healing Arts Press
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

About The Book

Biodynamic therapy practices for optimizing the immune system and healing the spiritual suffering at the root of many modern ailments

• Examines the need to restore balance to the immune system through a deeper spiritual connection to the energies of the universe

• Shares unique biodynamic protocols to balance the metabolism with the cosmos as well as optimize the immune system and the function of the vagus nerve

Drawing on more than 45 years of practicing Eastern medicine, Michael J. Shea, Ph.D., presents a holistic guide to biodynamic manual therapy practices for optimizing the immune system and for healing the deep spiritual suffering of our contemporary world. Showing spiritual suffering to be the root of our modern epidemic of metabolic syndrome and other widespread health issues, the author explains how the pervasive degradation of the human body relates directly with the food we eat, the air we breathe, and our thoughts and emotions. He explains how the Five Element theory of Eastern medicine offers a method to reclaim the body by sensing each element in and around us as a single continuum.

Focusing especially on “the fluid body” in biodynamic osteopathy and biodynamic craniosacral therapy, the author shows how inflamed components of the fluid body, such as the blood and lymphatic system, form the substrate of metabolic syndromes. He offers practices to visualize the health of the fluid body. He explains how, in order to enact the full benefits of the immune system, we need to nurture a deep sense of safety inside the body--a symbolic return to our embryonic and cosmic origins and a restoration of our sacred wholeness.

Offering an extensive section of therapeutic applications, including both in-person and remote techniques, the author shares new and unique biodynamic protocols to balance the metabolism with the cosmos as well as optimize the immune system and the function of the vagus nerve. Enacting healing at the deepest spiritual level, Shea reveals how to create inner and outer balance to restore wholeness as it was at the time of the origin of the universe.


From Chapter 13, “Principles of the Fluid Body: Buoyancy, Density, Dissipation, and Heat”


Dissipation is the next principle of biodynamic practice to explore. As therapists, we must consider our body to be first and foremost a fluid body, whether or not that involves the perception of the body being a majority of water or a near totality of water molecules or simply a living water balloon. Both before I contact a client and when I start a clinical session, I sit and sense my own fluid body, starting with the shape of my skin and the micromovement under the skin. I gradually wait until my attention drops down to the movement of my respiratory diaphragm and the movement of the heart that is attached to the diaphragm. I hold these two movements of the diaphragm and heartbeat to be one interconnected whole.

I ask my students to let go of the concept of respiratory diaphragm and its related function of breathing into simply being a wave that is self-generated in the middle of the body and moves in all directions from the bottom of the feet to the top of the head. This includes the movement of the heart, contributing its pulsatory and oscillating quality. After I do this, I wait for the Tide to start moving through the middle of my fluid body. I let my heart become transparent as it was in its initial development. As the Tide moves through my heart and cardiovascular system, from both the back and front of my body, the dynamic stillness in the room gradually but very clearly manifests. At some point, I will then place my hands on the client.

When I place my hands on the client, I immediately move my attention back to my own fluid body in order to sense the connection of the client’s fluid body with mine. Any stress in the client’s fluid body will naturally start to dissipate in and through my own fluid body. All I am required to do is sit in total attention to this process of dissipation and allow my fluid body to settle back into the exchange with Primary Respiration and the stillness. Each time I place my hands in a new location on the client, this is the initial perceptual process I follow.

Sometimes, because the nervous and vascular systems of the client and therapist are merging, I can feel tension in my respiratory diaphragm and more intensity in the movement of my heart. This is all very natural and the message here is to simply relax into that merged state of fluid body to fluid body, heart to heart and brain to brain. It will settle as long as the therapist allows attention to be distributed throughout his or her entire fluid body. Once the process of dissipation has settled, several therapeutic processes may unfold. A deep stillness may be felt in the room, and at that point, the instruction is to connect the stillness with the literal movement of the heart in myself. This may be the holistic shift, or a Neutral, in which Primary Respiration switches to its repair function in the client’s body. This can also be felt as an increase in the potency of Primary Respiration.


Now I want to mix a couple of metaphors in my explanation of heat. The fire element exists between the wind of Primary Respiration and the fluid body of water and earth. It is a type of friction, like rubbing two sticks together. One stick being space and wind, the other stick being water and earth. Heat is the most significant effect of a biodynamic session. It is an indication of a deep metabolic change occurring, not only within my body, but also the client. Thermal regulation is regulated via the heart-brain connection and the Triple Warmer meridian in acupuncture. Not only does the hypothalamus in the brain function in fight/flight, eating, and sexuality, but it also coregulates heat. Heat is also coregulated by the heart. The heart produces a lot of heat simply from its mechanical function, and it needs to be distributed and cooled by PR. At the same time, the principle fulcrums of the fire element are the superior mesenteric artery and liver in the Hara, the abdomen. This is the metabolic fire necessary for proper digestion and assimilation of food. The wind of PR moves the heat and distributes it properly unless there is a malfunction. Another way to look at heat is that it is also maintained by its friction with the fluid body. Since the biological water in a human body is saline by nature, it maintains and distributes heat through this connection to the sodium molecule. I saw a YouTube video of a physics experiment in which a tube of salt water was exposed to an electromagnetic field, and it burst into flames.

The heart as another fulcrum of the fire element has the strongest and biggest electromagnetic field in the body. It extends approximately fifteen feet around the body. According to the HeartMath Institute, the bioelectromagnetic field (ECM) shares information about the heart from inside the heart and pericardium to the outside of the soma through the fluid body. This would also increase heat in the therapeutic relationship as two heart fields become interconnected. How? Physical touch also generates heat via convection at the point of contact and a shared electrical conductivity between the therapist and the client. With this much heat in the body, then of course, there would be constant evaporation occurring from the skin, which is accelerated by the two heat sources of the therapist’s hands and the client’s skin. In fact, three to seven liters of water can evaporate off the body per day.

This means that within the ECM we are also surrounded by a warm, wet, electrically charged cloud. Neurologically this is called the peripersonal space. The peripersonal space is a specific region surrounding the body by up to three feet. It is like a constantly moving, eccentrically shaped cloud. It is also Zone B extending from the center of the body out to the edge of the peripersonal space or the “biosphere” as Dr. Becker called it. It acts as an interface between the body and the environment for defensive and/or purposeful actions toward objects. It is a type of safety detector closer to the body, whereas the larger ECM is an emotional safety detector and field of empathy further away from the body. Neurologically it is thus an extension of the amygdala, the so-called fear detector center of the brain. But it is also an active metabolic zone filled with evaporated biological water, a microbiome sloughing off from the surface of the skin and the air being exhaled filled with different metabolites. It is charged with electricity and filled with infrared heat. It is also breathing with the Tide of PR.

Biodynamic practice is initially focused on the rehabilitation of the fluid body. This means integrating the fluid body between the soma, Zone A (from the skin inward to the center of the fluid body) and Zone B, the warm, wet cloud immediately around our body up to about twenty to thirty inches. In metabolic syndrome, the skin loses its ability to detoxify the body. It closes down like a window shutting, while the important metabolic passageways inside the body open up and become leaky. The detoxification pathway of the skin is a first order of business in biodynamic practice. One way to help integrate the fluid body that has closed its windows on the skin is to simply turn your hands palm up when in contact with a client. I like to imagine that my palms are simply holding a warm, wet cloud. Gradually, after sensing my own fluid body dissipation and settling, my attention will automatically be drawn back to both sides of my hands. Gradually, this warm, wet, charged cloud surrounding the client will come alive and breathe with PR and the window of the skin opens thus integrating Zone A with B as a single continuum. Then the deeper repair of the fluid body can take place.

Density, buoyancy, dissipation, and heat are the sensory experiences of a living body of fluid—an intelligence unto itself. Rather than initially focusing on the abstractions and concepts of anatomy and physiology, genetics, and metabolic regulation of the body, our own sensibility contacts the interior of our body in its simplest form, the elements of Eastern anatomy and physiology of a subtle body. This is our originality, our perpetual embryo that exists in and around us. It knows. And contact with such a sensibility is so close because it is never lost in its direct association with the Health. This is the starting point in biodynamic practice, the wholeness of the original fluid body before the possibility of lesioning. It builds a foundation for a bridge that can then be built to explore and influence the body’s metabolism in both the therapist and contemporary client, which is suspended in the fluid body.

About The Author

Michael J. Shea, Ph.D., holds a doctorate in somatic psychology from the Union Institute and has taught at the Upledger Institute, the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute, and the International University for Professional Studies. He is a founding board member of the Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Association of North America and the International Affiliation of Biodynamic Trainings. He is the author of several books, including Somatic Psychology, and lives in Juno Beach, Florida.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Healing Arts Press (January 17, 2023)
  • Length: 456 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781644115268

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Raves and Reviews

“Michael J. Shea offers a potential bible for anyone wanting to support or improve their health. He generously provides specific scientific details about the physiology underlying the pandemic of metabolic syndrome and also the guidance to heal, incorporating more than 25 years of experience in the field. Beyond that, what brings the book to heart for me is Michael’s personal stories. He candidly writes of his journey with fat and fasting, effects of military service–related PTSD, and his own prenatal and ancestral/epigenetic history. His story invites us to also investigate our own lives with more curiosity. In the process, like Michael, we might find our embryo, the biodynamic fluid body of our origins, and its cosmological connectedness with all that is. This discovery is facilitated by a beautiful collection of embryo art as an additional bonus to explore in the book. The Biodynamics of the Immune System reminds us of the essential continuity of mind, body, spirit, and nature and how the splitting of these generates suffering and dis- ease. This is no ordinary book about metabolic syndrome! It offers paths to deep healing you have probably been craving.”

– Cherionna Menzam-Sills, Ph.D., author of The Breath of Life: An Introduction to Craniosacral Biodyna

“Superbly comprehensive! This book translates an understanding of metabolic syndrome to its relationship to human embryology and describes how biodynamic cardiovascular therapy assists the healing process across the spectrum of consciousness. Written like prose yet often reads like poetry.”

– Dale G. Alexander, Ph.D., licensed massage therapist and workshop instructor-presenter

“Michael J. Shea’s understanding and explanation of the intricate interrelated workings of the human immune system in relation to our metabolic, hormonal, gastrointestinal, and even spiritual health represents integrative care perfectly.”

– Jaimie L. Mickey, M.D., dual board certified in family medicine and integrative holistic medicine

The Biodynamics of the Immune System is like a tall glass of cool, clear water. Page after page, this book soothes and nourishes my mind, body, and spirit. Whether you are a health care provider, a bodyworker, or ‘just’ a regular human trying to make it through these challenging times, this book offers respite and incredible information. More importantly, it offers ways to incorporate many of the ‘thousand faces of Health’ into your daily practice.”

– K. Michelle Doyle, biodynamic craniosacral therapist and founder of Local Care Midwifery

“Michael Shea brings together the ancient history of separation from nature and from each other and provides a beautiful, practical guide to bring healing and health to us as individuals and as a collective. His poetic metaphors and scientific research show us that health on every level is possible and how to live from a place of wholeness and love. The specific therapeutic applications and collaborative somatic learning experiences will benefit all humans and sentient beings on the planet. While this book was originally intended for manual therapists, all of us in the helping professions can greatly benefit both personally and professionally from the philosophy, information, and practices found here. If everyone read and applied this wisdom, we as a planet and a people could move more quickly into sustained health and happiness! I found myself inspired and my heart opened as I traveled through the pages of this incredible gift to all of us. Highly recommended!”

– Marti Glenn, Ph.D., clinical director and chief experience officer of Ryzio Institute

“In this paradigm-shifting book Michael Shea shares his biodynamic embryology, anatomy, and spiritual expertise so we too may clearly see. This book is about the pursuit of truth through compassion and critical thinking, giving us the insight and inspiration to see and heal the elephant in the room. In these times of COVID and a worldwide plague of heart disease, anxiety, depression, dementia, and obesity, this is the one book to read . . . and share!”

– Mary Bolingbroke, osteopath and lecturer at the Daisy Clinic Trust

“I am familiar with the beauty and biodynamic nature of this book because I’ve had the good fortune to have a collegial relationship with Michael for many years. We regularly treat each other, supervise each other, and share clinical experiences. This book represents an advance in biodynamic thinking to include a sense of origin and connection to the universe so necessary for the contemporary client.”

– Brian Shea, D.O., a 30-year clinical biodynamic osteopathic practitioner in Boulder, Colorado

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