Body-Mind Centering® is an integrated approach to movement, the body, and consciousness. Each participant in BMC is both student and subject matter, both inquiring mind and living anatomy to be learned about. We learn how all body systems contribute to how we move, and how to distinguish between systems, tissues and cells through touch and observation. We also learn the development of movement from conception through infancy, and how our histories layer into the ease with which we are present today.
Students of BMC have at times found profound relief from stress and pain, as well as many openings to greater expressiveness, empowerment, and vitality. Strictly speaking, such positive experiences are side effects of the primary endeavor, which is learning. Potential benefits of BMC could be described this way:
~Deep learning about the miracles of life inside us
~Profound support and transformation
~A treasuring of individual uniqueness
~Inclusion in a thoughtful and open community
Body-Mind Centering is a toolkit for self-exploration.The field of its exploration is potentially limitless, and is being engaged in by networked practitioners with different interests worldwide. It is a unique tool for understanding both microcosms of bodily sensation and macrocosms of group interaction.
Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen
(photo by Marilynne Morshead)
Body-Mind Centering was developed by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, who has worked worldwide with countless other explorers of how the mind expresses itself in movement. Drawing on her experience as an occupational therapist, modern dancer and somatics pioneer and on what she has learned as a practitioner of yoga, Tai Chi, and Zen meditation, Bonnie has spent close to half a century using mindfulness to explore anatomy and how movement develops. Renowned for her ability to help brain-damaged children and her extraordinary knowledge and gifts as a teacher, Bonnie is also widely loved for her simple humility and willingness to learn.
...I tend to teach both to the unconscious and to the conscious in the student...I sow the seed so that they can continue to learn at home.
Erik trained as a Body-Mind Centering Practitioner from 1996 to 2000 in Berkeley, California, and as a Body-Mind Centering Teacher in 2012 in Paris, France. He is one of few BMC Teachers to also hold AmSAT certification as an Alexander Technique teacher, and has training from both disciplines in developmental movement. He trained with Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, the originator of BMC, as well as with Joan and Alex Murray, the pioneers of the Dart Procedures©. He is past president and founder of the Institute for Body-Mind Centering, and has taught movement workshops worldwide. He is a well-known folk dance teacher, an innovative ski teacher, a poet, a translator, and a devoted father of two adult sons. He lives with his wife in a log house he designed near Asheville, North Carolina.
What does Body-Mind Centering focus on?
BMC practitioners want to discover:
1) Which aspects of your body are more in the light of your awareness, which more in shadow?
2) How do your patterns of movement fit into your lifetime of development?
The way you move has roots in earlier phases of your development, and these phases can be retrained. Equally, the way you function can right itself when aspects of body systems that have been unconscious emerge into awareness. BMC practitioners exploring these questions follow a client’s lead rather than imposing an agenda. Even in deep rest, the client of a BMC session remains an active participant. Even in full movement, there is quiet witness.
What is unique about BMC?
BMC is uniquely specific in how it distinguishes among sensations. An experienced BMC practitioner can differentiate by touch not just flesh from bone, but layers of bone, and even cellular and sub cellular levels of bone. The same is true for other tissues. So the BMC work on regenerating bone is unparalleled. So is its work on glandular balance, on brain function, on circulatory issues, and on reflex patterns in the nervous system. In contrast to all this specificity, BMC is also uniquely able to work with what is unknown and ill-defined. This makes it an ideal companion to artists trying to express nuances of color, tone or gesture, as well as to those who suffer vague malaise. With both, BMC invites whatever has been in shadow to emerge into awareness.
What are examples of experiential learning in BMC?
Example 1: The Experience of Touch ~ After having the outlines of her bones clearly and thoroughly traced through touch, a student often feels a much more well-defined support from the solidity of her bones.
Example 2: The Experience of Movement ~ After improvised movement to a particularly fluid kind of music, a student may notice all his daily moments begin to connect into ongoing flow.
Example 3: The Experience of Sound
~ After using vocal exercises, students may attune to resonances in their own bodies and in their relationships with others.
Example 4: The Experience of Color ~
After making free- form color drawings, students may discover how their gut feelings color their experience.
Each of these experiences can be a springboard to a deeper understanding of anatomy, and can be explored solo, in pairs or trios, or as an entire group.
Can students continue this exploration on their own?
Most people who enter this work keep looking for ways to return to it again and again, sharing with each other as friends, becoming students of longer trainings (of which there are many), taking private sessions or learning to teach. There are many ways to be involved.
How does BMC relate to yoga?
Because of yoga’s Indian origins, Americans often approach it as outsiders and can have difficulty fully making it their own. BMC, which is based on Western understandings of anatomy as well as on profoundly personal explorations of experience, can be a bridge into creating a yoga practice that is not pasted onto life from the outside, but instead blossoms and grows from deep within.
What age range is drawn to BMC?
People of all ages are welcome to BMC, even babies, who are our teachers. I don’t know any statistics on who is drawn to the work. It is very individual.
Do you need prior knowledge to benefit from BMC?
No special prior knowledge is needed to benefit from this work. All people carry prior knowledge from their own experience, though most people do not fully recognize the value of what they already know. As people rediscover that value, they often experience a sense of coming home.
What can students “walk away with”?
Students walk away more fully connected to life.
As a painter for several decades, I had become painfully 'lopsided' from working at my easel using the dominant hand. Over the course of several sessions, Erik Bendix helped me to regain balance, grounding and peace -- not only in body, but mind and life as well. I sing highest praises of recommendations for what Erik does.
Erik's work and teaching bring to life the beautiful synergy of science, art, and intuitive aptitude in relationship to each unique body and its present needs. His depth of keen listening and awareness of the body's support from within is truly remarkable to sense in action
Erik and I have been students together, we’ve taught together and I’ve taken some of his classes. I appreciate the depth of Erik’s study and experience. I find him to be a compassionate, creative teacher; receptive and responsive to his students. He gives his students the support and opportunity to have a somatic, embodied experience. He shares the wealth of what he has read, studied and learned.
I love Erik and his work. He is a truly wonderful human being who has so much embodied knowledge and skill that he shares with an integrity and compassionate clarity in his presence, his words, and his hands-on work. I have also had the pleasure of collaborating professionally with Erik and I have thoroughly appreciated both our collaborative process and our teaching together. Erik is creative, generous, and forward-thinking in his embodied approach to his work and his life.
Erik's hands are responsive, subtle, and his patience comes from deep knowledge and experience.
In one session with Erik many years ago, I discovered a repositioning of my head on my spine and a completely new relationship to the world through my eyes. It precipitated a journey of awareness that continues to this day, and would not have been possible without Erik’s gentle hands and deep insight. I consider him to be a master somatic movement practitioner.
Erik has a sensitive presence that mindfully and compassionately supports people in both his individual sessions and group classes. I have directly experienced and benefited from his individual work and greatly enjoy teaching with him.
In his work as a somatic practitioner and in his interactions with people, Erik touches the deep spaces in himself and others with gentleness, compassion, and deep wisdom. He perceives with “the ears of his ears and the eyes of his eyes,” encouraging in his students and clients a freer, more flowing, joyful, and resonant embodiment of the whole self. Just to be in his presence is healing.