Body-Mind Centering (BMC), developed by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, is the study of movement which supports the study of the mind. It blends traditional anatomy and physiology with actual physical and emotional experiences as part of feedback and growth processes. It studies the body as the most immediate and intimate living system we have contact with. Our bodies contain parts within parts and systems within systems, which are whole in themselves but also make up larger systems.
The muscular system allows for the development of strength and vitality, expression of power, and engagement in communication about boundary and resistance. The major fluids of the body set the ground for communication. The study of fluids helps us to learn more about contrasts, polarities and differences in the system. The nervous system is the major control centre of psychological processes in our bodies. By developing awareness we can learn how to record and integrate experiences, and in turn change, extend and transform how we live our lives. BMC invites us into our bodies in a very dynamic way that helps create intimacy and experience which facilitates healing of old wounds.(Bainbridge Cohen, 1997, & Aposhyan, 1998).
As part of the Body-Mind Centering work, the study and use of basic neurological patterns help to establish a base for learning, communication, and relationships. The basic neurological patterns are the automatic movement responses that underlie our voluntary movements. This work is based on the premise that universal patterns form the basis of individual patterns of movement and expression. The work stems from studies of the evolutionary origins of movement and early motor development
Movement can be considered in the context of five fundamental actions (1) yielding, (2) pushing, (3) reaching, (4) holding, and (5) pulling. Any movement can be seen as a variation or combination of these basic actions. Susan Aposhyan describes the actions, as outlined below:
Yielding is a quality of resting in contact with the environment and underlies our basic relationship to the world. It is about the state of being versus doing, and forms the basis for the ability to act effectively in the world. In being in contact with the environment, discernment can be developed as to whether push, reach, or pull is desired or appropriate.
Pushing separates oneself from the immediate environment. The action contracts (shortens) all the musculature around the pushing limb resulting in the body becoming denser and more substantial. This action supports the capacity to psychologically feel, establish, and maintain boundaries, thus promoting an internal sense of support. It also supports the process of individuation and confidence building.
Reaching is an action that supports going beyond the sense of self. It is a way of extending out towards others or towards objects. Psychologically, reaching manifests curiosity, desire, longing, and compassion. This action may, however, expose one to risk taking and a sense of vulnerability.
Holding and Pulling allows for reaching out into the environment towards something/someone desirable and bringing it closer to oneself. Psychologically, the ability to hold and pull depends on the capacity to yield, push and reach. These actions provide the opportunity to reach out and take in from the external space.
Developmental movement is not linear, but occurs in overlapping waves with each stage containing elements of the others. The neurological actions form building blocks for being in the world from infanthood to adulthood.
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Last Updated 23rd May 2020