When I was about 17 years old I was in a Drama class. My teacher had studied something called “Laban Movement Studies” and was getting us to explore shaping the body.
The task was this: without leaving the spot where you were standing, move the body as far forwards as possible. As far back. As far up and as far down. As far left and as far right.
When we got to as far open and as far closed as was possible, I spontaneously burst into tears.
Big, releasing tears. Like I was accessing buried emotions which were held in my body. It felt as if I had put a layer of armour around my heart and the movement I was doing was melting that armour.
I had no way of anticipating this release. It genuinely surprised me. After spending some time with this and letting my body do what it was doing, I soon felt better and rejoined the rest of the activities of the class.
Something in this moment happened.
As I was releasing whatever it was that I was releasing, some part of me said:
“This! This is what I am going to explore!”
Since then I have engaged in a continuous and committed exploration of whatever it was that happened on that day about 12 years ago.
After that, I did a degree in Choreography – I thought performing arts was were this stuff mainly happened – before discovering that there was a field of exploration, study, education and therapy; and the a rich community of explorers/practitioners who are really into this kind of this.
After doing a class with Bonnie Bainbridge-Cohen in 2011, I discovered a sense of home in the approach she was present (partly the material and how it fits together, but more the underlying mindset of it) and went on to certify as a Somatic Movement Educator in Body-Mind Centering in 2014.
Since graduating from that programme, I have since continued my explorations in various ways, extending and deepening my repertoire of skills and reference points within and beyond the Body-Mind Centering canon.
- The main practices I have explored beyond Body-Mind Centering are (note that despite my explorations of these disciplines being committed and in depth, and that they deeply influence how I practice now, I am not a certified practitioner of any of them):
- Continuum – a movement practice based around soft, wavelike motion which connects the body-mind to its underlying fluid nature
- The Discipline of Authentic Movement – described by its originator, Janet Adler, as “a mystical practice” focused on the development of witness consciousness. It takes a simple ritual – a mover, who moves with their eyes closed; and a witness, who witnesses with the heartfelt desire to see the other clearly – as its ground form
- Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy – a form of manual bodywork, geared towards facilitating the body-mind’s deepest resources and healing forces to come into expression, from a basis of listening and stillness
- Laban/Bartinieff Movement Studies – returning to where I started, and deepening my understanding of it
- Somatic Psychology – a deeper look at the interplay of body and mind, including the effects of early childhood and pre-natal experiences on the embodied psyche
- Energy Medicine – particularly from an oriental perspective. Having grown up doing Kung Fu, I have always had an interest in martial arts and the internal basis for it. I have studied Wing Chun and Martial Tai Chi, as well as the acu points, their meridians and energy circuitry.
This really feels like it is scratching the surface. The body-mind has an endless depth and an endless withdom. We will only ever know the tiniest fraction of what really happens in the interplay of embodiment.
I once read:
The purpose of this study, is not to demystify the body, but to embody the mystery