Intro to Body-Mind Centering and meditation practice

“The mind is like the wind and the body is like sand. If you want to know which way the wind is blowing take a look at the sand.”

This is one of my favorite somatics quotes and one that has guided me over the years. This week we will begin looking at the work of Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen – Body-Mind Centering. Please check out these websites and I highly recommend that you read Cohen’s book, Sensing, Feeling and Action.

What was your experience during our brief meditation? Can you describe how the mind-body connection is revealing itself to you and your practice in this class?


14 thoughts on “Intro to Body-Mind Centering and meditation practice

  1. I just have something small to say. After we all performed the, what we equated to “viewpoints”, exercise, it made me feel relieved to know that other people sometimes felt unsure of themselves or were worried about looking silly too. I know it seems obvious, but sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that you’re not alone.

  2. I very much needed the meditation session that we held on Tuesday. It was nice to let everything go for a bit. Although I wasn’t able to clear my mind completely, I know I could really benefit from taking a moment to internally check in every now and then. I tend to daydream a lot, whether I’m running, working at the library, or on the bus, and I find those times valuable since I don’t have to feel guilty about my mind being off somewhere else. But like we discussed in class, dancing can be a form of meditation as well. It’s what some refer to as “the zone,” and I believe it can train the mind in similar ways that sitting and self-reflecting can.

  3. It’s actually quite interesting that we focused on mind body connection last week because I’ve been experiencing a greater difficulty moving my body lately. Lack of movement in my neck has been prevalent since the beginning of the quarter, but what has changed more recently is my inability to move the part of my body where my abs are. I didn’t really know what was going on – I have somewhat of an idea, which is a bit personal – but it left me with the question of: How can I escape this sense of numbness that I have seemed to develop in my lower torso area? I’ve been eating better and trying to keep moving, BUT – i’m still not in touch with my whole body. Life experiences (including class last week) have really encouraged me to start looking at my mind. This has been really intense for me lately, so the quote above really resonates.

    “The mind is like the wind and the body is like the sand. If you want to know which way the wind is blowing take a look at the sand.”

    Honestly, it’s all a bit discouraging to me right now (that’s where my mind is at – sort of negative). So, If I apply this to mind-body connection, I can see how negativity could result in body numbness which results in lack of movement.

    On a positive note, there is a BMC workshop center in Berkeley! (my home town) – So if I ever want to dive into this specific practice I know how close it is. And.. on another positive note.. positives and negatives come in waves – so i’m confident a breakthrough is in line if I keep working on it!

  4. I have not really taken into consideration of how challenging it is to have the body and mind centered in one. Throughout class, I have noticed the complexity of combining these two components of a dancer. I also believe its a working progress where you must train your mind and body to do so.

  5. “When I look for dancers, I always check their walk to see if they are present in their own body,” Gerald’s quote that I have heard more than a few times in our classes. I thought about this a lot and now I consistently think about it when I am dancing. Am I present? Am I forcing something that takes so much thought process that I am not present within my body but rather only present in mind hoping my body will follow? After reading about Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen and her study of Body-Mind Centering I see how this concept is such a good approach to dancing. The body and the consciousness must both be open in order to have self-discovery. Last week in class when we meditated, I was thinking the entire time, “Damn it! It is hard enough for me to ask my body to follow my mind let alone ask it to be quiet and just focus on itself in silence and stillness!” This interuption of my thoughts made me realize, I have a long way to go when it comes to meditation. I found myself then focusing on the things that hurt like my pelvis area (due to breaking my pelvis in two places a while back) and then I had to really ask myself to listen to my body. How can I work past this pain? How can I allow myself to fully let go and be in the moment? Dance is one of those things that when your really in the moment you can’t NOT let yourself go, unless you are NOT present inside your body. I find when I know the movement and my mind isn’t yelling at me to follow or figure it out, I naturally let go and my body and mind work as one and not seperately. This is the biggest epiphany I have come to in this class. I suppose I never thought about it before, I just either “got it” or didn’t and now I am becoming more aware of moving past that and what it takes to get there. Letting go through movement has to be one of the most powerful and amazing feelings I have ever felt. Just be in that moment with yourself, with your body and mind working together in fluidity makes you meditate while flowing. I can’t articulate this thought in words, but if you know what I am talking about…well you just know what I am talking about. You have seen it before watching other dancers and “being present within their own bodies” and if you are lucky enough you have felt it too. I feel pretty lucky in this sense and I crave more moments like this that I speak of.

  6. I found that i struggled with the meditation a lot. I found throughout the class that when I really focus on my breath the quality of my movement changes dramatically. However during the meditation, I found my mind attempting to relax but my body was the very tense all throughout my body. once you instructed us to turn our focus to our body, the tension flared up. I became aware of every movement in my body and that annoyed me. Through this class and my own reflection is that I tend to hold on to things. Whether its tensions within my muscles, or thoughts, or situations, I struggle a lot with letting go and I find that very frustrating .

  7. I am having a little trouble keeping my physical awareness on in the morning during meditation practice. Whenever we meditate, I just want to slump down and go limp. I really enjoyed the viewpoint exercises that we did last week. I had a lot of fun jumping in and out for a moment to check and see what kind of other movements other people were making. It helped to gradually work up from simple walking on grids to arcs to skipping to running to shapes to levels to dancer to dancer interaction. I think that all dancing should start out simplified like this before working up to a more complex design. I get plenty of inspiration from other people in this class when everyone is off doing their own routine on the floor, but I still don’t feel as though I can fully synchronize with my partners yet. It feels as though I am to concerned about my own body to feel the physicality of another person.

  8. During the small reprieve of meditation I was not able to settle my mind. When I was sitting in the quiet room my mind raced from work to school to goals to relationships and without my normal distractions I was rather stressed out by the small experience. What I found to calm my mind and aim my focus was to connect with the auras in the universal energy field I was noticing. I am a student of Barbra Brennan’s Healing Light which deals with a field of energy connecting all beings and works in us individually through our chakra. I know it sounds like hippie jargon but it is a strange feeling when you connect to someone’s energy and attune yours to understand them. What I noticed in the room was a calming sensation after about five minutes of silence and decompression. After the session of meditation I was feeling more connected to my classmates and more comfortable to be using my body under their gaze.

  9. Last weeks classes – which were mainly focused on partner work – were really interesting experiences for me. First off, I really enjoyed the back-to-back partner work. I thought it to be really cool to be able to feel someone else’s presence as I was doing familiar things, such as a spinal twist. I actually felt a lot of comfort when we would lie back with our heads on each other’s shoulders. At first I laughed – a lot – cause it was so different, but once I settled into it I found something really calm and comforting in being that close to someone else’s head and neck.

    The hard part for me last Tuesday was the improvised dance. I am very aversive towards this type of stuff. I think that some of it is due to the fact that, in this culture, we affiliate touch too closely with sexual intimacy. On top of that, I’m not a hugger – I didn’t grow up in a family that hugged a lot. I notice exactly when someone is touching me and when I’m touching others. So, when faced with an exercise that has to do with working with someone – one-on-one – and repetitively touching each other in a ‘this is normal’ fashion.. it gets really hard for me. But I think that it’s a good barrier to break through. If I love dance and want to keep doing it – touch is necessary and important. Also, I really feel like being able to touch and be touched is something very healthy (we’re animals!) and I’m thankful I was challenged in that way, BUT – it was intense for me.

    I know this isn’t partner work – but the yoga warmup last Thursday ROCKED MY WORLD. I had a huge paper due later that day and the warmup took me completely out of my head and into my body and I had the BEST aerial workout that night.

    I also really dug the inversions we were working on. Getting in touch with being able to balance upside-down is a valuable skill. At one point I kicked up into a ball and extended my legs without even using the wall! It was really cool.

  10. The mind body connection is intriguing to me. I constantly feel like I don’t know how to keep a connection between these two things and it often leaves me feeling confused and unconnected.
    With our meditations I feel like I can practice the exploration of both mind and body through my visuals. Last year we practiced a lot of meditation during our improvisation class, and i really learned how to help me focus during a meditation. I have picked up the technique of “taking a walk” and often visualize myself walking somewhere familiar to me. It’s funny, because i still imagine myself walking to my boyfriend’s house even though he doesn’t live there anymore. I have discovered that as I “walk” my focus changes between my immediate thoughts and imaginary trek. I enjoy our meditation sessions very much so and hope it is something I can work to discover further in the future.

  11. I don’t know if we are having another blog post, so I just wanted to give a short out to Gerald for an amazing class. Thank you Gerald for one of the best classes I have ever taken in my life. To my fellow classmates: even if some of us didin’t connect in your typical conversation way, we all concected through an “exploring movement” way and it was a wonderful experience. I hope to see some of you in Gerald’s class next quarter.

  12. With everything going on in our World today, and our own individual lives, Its comforting to take some time out of the day to meditate and think about what priorities are really important and gives us time to consider what matters to us as “people of a nation under one sun”.
    Also, I would like to say I’m going to miss participating in Gerald’s class but will continue what I learned through out my own life. Thank you for the amazing experience!

  13. I really loved just being able to walk in to dance class this week and let everything go from all of the chaos of finals, shows, rehearsals, essays, life and just focus once more on my body. Where am I mentally, emotionally, physically and what can I do to take better care of myself or get to a good place. This small time was well overdue. I believe this center is something I need to work on more in my life and I wish I could have worked on more personally this last quarter. But it is a good thing to remember for future stressful months.
    But Thank you so much for everything Gerald! You are an amazing teacher and I have learned so much! I look forward to taking another class with you in the future. Thank you for everything! 🙂

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