We all have potentials that we use more or less strongly, and sometimes fully neglect. Especially the perception of our own body is often very reduced to single aspects (muscles, bones) or only
comes into focus with restrictions and pain.
Yet we all, if we only are open, can refine the perception of our bodies and moods. This approach can become part of our lives.
There are many ways to get there. I would like to show you the path of creative interaction with body and mind:
What is there still hidden in each and every one of us?
Which individual transitions do we find between sensing and movement?
Between the inner and outer world?
How can we encourage and create space for whatever form of expression? How to elicit the new, so that we can walk through life differently.
Methodically I mainly work with Body-Mind Centering®, transmitting and developing it. For children in its special imprint IDME Kids.IDME. These approaches appeal to me as they require of me as a teacher a profound knowledge of movement patterns, anatomy and physiology and thus offer a clear structure. Beyond that, they open up spaces for exploration: for exploring the own body, for playing with philosophical questions, for precisely working with patterns of movement and behavior in order to expand or change them. And this exploring reflects back into the approach of BMC®: With the questions that arise in our sessions and all the different results that people contribute from their explorations, we all are continuously developing this method further. We are opening new spaces for it.
So what is Body-Mind Centering® about?
I will try to explain this according to a more general and my personal understanding.
We will see how the immense clarity and openness of this work is already deeply anchored in its method. How it has far-reaching effects that often come to light most clearly time after the initial body-mind experience. And how it can be applied to all themes, needs and people.
How to generally describe Body-Mind Centering®?
Body-Mind Centering is a method that has been developed by the movement explorer Bonnie Bainbridge-Cohen in the USA and is based on anatomical, physiological and psychological principles. The ongoing centering of body and mind knows two main aspects:
The first one is „experiential anatomy“, a study of the body systems by personal experience of the different tissues which each correspond with our behaviour and thinking. You may, e.g., find the depth of emotions in your organs; in your skeleton: supportive structure and joint levers that give new directions to thinking; in your body fluids: the mobility between points of view, the balance between rhythms of excitement and calm. Once you have found a differentiated awareness and access to less familiar systems, you can always re-activate them. You win new qualities of movement, fresh impulses for behavioural patterns and an expanded therapeutic potential.
Click here for a video on the Skeletal System, one of the courses in the BMC training,
produced by Raquel Fonfría for www.movimientoatlas.com
The second aspect is the development of movement and perception. Using the early neurocellular patterns of movement you can differentiate and assess your spectrum of movement. You learn to recognize movement processes more precisely and then re-establish them more efficiently. The body becomes more perceivable in its relation to space and gravity. And the patterns allow to assess and then facilitate specific re-patterning of difficulties in movement and perception in both healthy and challenged people of all ages.
The importance of movement
BMC re-establishes the adequate importance of movement that has been lost in our culture and society. Movement as a form of expression, but also as another sense to perceive the self and the environment. Movement can give an opportunity to observe the manifestation of mind through the body. It can also be a pathway to facilitate changes in the relationship between body and mind. And last but not least:
Movement can simply be fun!
The centering of body and mind
Our occidental culture has a long tradition of separating the body and mind. A separation that is unknown in other cultures (Asia, Africa), that is originally unknown to our own being. And even though we have internalized this separating image of ourselves while growing up, there will always be moments when this separation seems strange and disturbing. Rare contentment, when once a decision came “from the belly”. Annoyance that “the head” always has to be in control.
I often see it as a first conciliatory step to realize that the head is a part of the body, too, and not its enemy. All the cells of our body originate from our first cells and are thus closely related, even though they later specialize – for the benefit of the whole organism. Therefore the busily working nerve cell is a sister of every cell “in the belly” – and might like to get ensnared by their slower pace, if it was only allowed to…
In her book "Sensing, Feeling, and Action" (see end of this page for literature on BMC), Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, the founder of BMC confers the body and mind to the sand and wind:
"Body-Mind Centering (BMC) is an ongoing, experiential journey
into the alive and changing territory of the body.
The explorer is the mind – our thoughts, feelings, energy, soul, and spirit.
Through this journey we are led to an understanding of
how the mind is expressed through the body in movement.
There is something in nature that forms patterns.
We, as part of nature, also form patterns.
The mind is like the wind and the body like the sand;
if you want to know how the wind is blowing, you can look at the sand.”
So, imprints that the mind leaves on the body. And also imprints that the body leaves on the mind.
Body as mind, mind as body, each leaves its imprints on the other.
Philosophy and poetry of the body
One of the most precious gifts that BMC has to offer, is the non-judgemental exploration of our own bodies with all their different systems, tissues and cells. The result of this always new experiential journey is a clearer awareness of the body and a wider range of movement – with guidance, but without given form.
Always changeable, but in no way random or inaccurate.
As I described in Physical Philosophy, I strongly connect my artistic work with my collaboration with people. Therefore my teaching has continuously been based on philosophical questions, that we persue not so much intelectually, but rather by way of the direct physical expression (in movement, voice, touch...) – without the expectation of finding all-bountiful or final answers.
It is about the personal growth of each and everyone. With respect to the body as well as to the soul. Or spirit, if you want so. Via the body as our partner, because it often gives clearer, more immediate answers than our thinking. Via the movement as an entry way, because it helps to sense and perceive things and because it brings joy.
And the methods?
Movement. Fun. Enjoyment.
We are going on an experiential journey into our own body. This leads to new acquaintances: our body systems and the methods that BMC offers for approaching and experiencing them:
In somatic meditations as well as guided and free movement studies we can make immediate physical experiences. Anatomical and physiological illustrations mediate precise knowledge. Including the breath and voice helps to release and experience the body as a whole. We use all our sense organs, especially the touch for manual experiencing while working with ourselves or in partners. And we go into expression, on our own or with others. Improvisations might find their motives in a preceding exploration on the body or voice; they might also find further impulses in language or art.
For movement and the mind: Velocity. Stillness. Dance. Permeability. Balance. Concrete freedom.
Fit for all – but also for all the same?
In its openness this work appeals to a variety of people: people of each age and gender, beginners and teachers in the somatic field, caregivers, corporate executives and managers, amateurs and professionals in dance, body work and therapy.
But the fact that BMC holds precious experiences for everyone, doesn’t mean that the courses all look the same. Quite the opposite. The BMC teacher can design a very special and theme specific offer for each group constellation. Thus a program for child caretakers will have other focuses than, for example, ongoing classes for dancers, even more so when in some studios the option to drop-in for one class leaves the concrete constellation unforeseeable till we begin.
I like to prepare theme specific seminars for defined groups:
For a conference of corporate people on their annual balancing, that could, for example, be relaxing and activating body work on the theme “Closure and Beginning”.
Or a systemic work on group constellations in a working team – not so much from an intellectual, but rather a physical approach. Using the body’s Organ System, for example: they all carry the same “team name”, but each organ has its very specialized task that is different from the others. And only their collaboration lets the whole organism prosper optimally.
Or it could be a specific dancers’ training with a special focus as needed and wished for.
BMC is variable and specific at the same time.
For the following aspects of my work, please, also confer the mentioned pages:
How does Body-Mind Centering possibly effect you?
BMC is a very practical approach. The experiences and new capacities that you acquire in class or in an individual session, will be stored by your body. You can take them with you and apply them in your daily life.
The learning often takes place on a very deep level and not so much cortically, grasped by the consciousness. That is sometimes frustrating or even disturbing, because we are so used to immediately structure, understand and store everything in our nervous system. But the completely new learning happens on the cellular level, which has not been affected by concepts of thought. Some call this body learning, followed by the body’s knowledge.
The brain, not able/asked to seize the newly learned at once, sometimes reacts with disbelief, even annoyed, denying the significance of what has happened. You might need a good portion of ease and trust to fully engage in this work and its value. It often starts deep processes which sometimes find a clear manifestation in the very moment, sometimes only after days and weeks.
Do I have the ease to let these processes happen? And while they unfold, settle down, sink in: can I accept, can I enjoy the state of cortical unknowing?
In the end I will be richly rewarded, because this kind of learning leads to a long-lasting integration, to new forms of perceiving my self and the world around me. Each cell of the body is participating in this subconscious processing of the information, that mounts into the conscious understanding, the conscious experience with the flow of time. Therefore it is instructive to observe yourself even after the BMC session and to be attentive for later, small changes.
And to continue your exploration at home:
If you want to continue this work at home and have some guidance with it, I can offer you my Audio-CD see Offers, Media. So far it’s unfortunately only available in German.
To make up for that, most books on BMC are only available in English. Here are some of them, starting with the most important and influential one that holds the thoughts of the founder of BMC:
Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen
Sensing, Feeling, and Action
The Experiential Anatomy of Body-Mind Centering
Gill Wright Miller, Pat Ethridge, Kate Tarlow Morgan (Editors)
Exploring Body-Mind Centering
An Anthology of Experience and Method
North Atlantic Books
Wisdom of the Body Moving
An Introduction to Body-Mind Centering
North Atlantic Books
A Guide to Experiential Anatomy