“Body-Mind Centering® (BMC®) is an integrated and embodied approach to movement, the body and consciousness. Developed by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, it is an experiential study based on the embodiment and application of anatomical, physiological, psychophysical and developmental principles, utilizing movement, touch, voice and mind.” - The School of Body-Mind Centering
Please read this article by BMC Teacher Rebecca Haseltine where she describes some of the underlying concepts and principles of Body-Mind Centering:
Elements of Body-Mind Centering Include:
Entering each tissue to get to know its functional, structure and expressive qualities. Each body-system is covered: muscular, skeletal, fascial/ligamentous, endocrine, organ, nervous and circulatory.
Progressing through the major developmental patterns that underlie all human movement and sensory integration - such as rolling, various phases of crawling, eye-tracking - and their basic co-ordinations - spinal, homologous, homolateral, contralateral etc. Includes working with the primitive reflexes, righting reactions and equilibrium responses as well as detailed study of movement and sensory development during infancy.
Senses and Perception
The senses are the physical organs which receive information from the internal and external environment. The process of perception is how this information is filtered, distorted, generalised, interpreted and acted upon.
The process of perception is the basis of how we make meaning out of our experience and of our core emotional and cognitive processes. Understanding this is a key to the psychological aspects of the work.
Interwoven throughout is the recognition that body and mind cannot truly be separated and of what this means for a human being. Embodiment is a deeply relational process, not just about rehabilitation or developing virtuosity but also how and who we are in the world.
Embodiment underlies our core cognitive processes. Movement patterning influences how we process information, express ourselves and function. Finding integrated ways of moving, breathing, feeling and thinking, helps meet life in a vibrant and centred way.
Touch and Repatterning
As practitioners we develop sophisticated ways of being in contact with the many layers of someone’s body-mind process, take informed and sensitive embodiment into hands-on bodywork. Bodywork includes contacting the various tissues territories and body-systems through touch as well as facilitating developmental patterning.
Dance, Creativity and Art
Body-Mind Centering is being applied to teaching, learning and creating dance, theatre, performance, music as well as in the visual arts. Using creative materials and tasks is sometimes used in private work to help clients discover and understand their inner states and processes.
Many Body-Mind Centering professionals are applying this work within the field of community arts as well as teaching in professional dance and theatre trainings.
Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen
Originally a modern dancer with the Erick Hawkins company and an occupational therapist, Bonnie has been recognised a pioneering movement teacher, researcher and therapist.
She was greatly influenced by Rudolf von Laban - the grandfather of modern movement studies and the creator of Laban Movement Analysis and Labannotation - via Irngaard Bartinieff. She also studied Movement Analysis with Judith Kestenberg and Warren Lamb.
Another major influence on Bonnie were neurodevelopmental therapists Karel and Bertha Bobath, who created a method of treating cerebral palsy and stroke patients by facilitating the integration of early infant movement patterning - primitive reflexes, righting reactions and equilibrium responses - and through changes in muscle tone, based in sensory reorganisation.
Frustrated with the hospital environment, Bonnie later left to pursue her own explorations and found herself working with dancers, athletes and others interested in movement at a high level.
One of her breakthroughs was when she began applying principles of experiential anatomy - prevalent in somatic practice at the time, but usually only applied to the muscular-skeletal system - into internal structures such as organs and endocrine glands. Later all the major body-systems - skeletal, muscular, organ, endocrine, nervous, integumentary, sensory, connective tissue/fasical, and circulatory - became the part of the basis of the Body-Mind Centering Practitioner and Somatic Movement Educator curriculum.
After a debilitating bout of post-Polio syndrome in her 50s, she has devoted much of the rest of her career to embryology and has expressed in various interviews that understanding the embryological process was key to her recovery.
She teaches, writes and lives in California.