Body-mind centering® is a somatic therapeutic method of bodywork focused on creating awareness and integration between touch, movement, breathing, voice, and thought. Developed by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, a dancer, occupational and neurodevelopmental therapist, body-mind centering® culminated from years of study of yoga, Laban Movement Analysis and the Japanese method of katsugen undo. Ms. Cohen has also worked extensively with children who have suffered brain trauma to help facilitate movement reeducation. In the early 1970s, she opened The School for Body-Mind Centering® in Amherst, Massachusetts to train others in her techniques. Today, this modality is used in physical and occupational therapy, psychotherapy, athletics, and has many other applications.
Body-mind centering® is based on two primary principles that embrace the theory of the body-mind connection. First, it holds that the mind is central to the functioning of the body as opposed to being isolated from it. Secondly, the mind may be explored and communicated with through the body. In addition, body-mind centering® involves four areas of concentration: the body systems, developmental movement, movement reeducation (or repatterning), and expression through movement.
The first step to practicing body-mind centering® is to study the body systems, including the skin, skeletal, nerve, muscle and endocrine systems. The tissue and cells that compose each body system are explored through a process called embodiment. First, tissue is studied through lecture and text and then recalled through imagery. The next step is somatization, which involves conscious movement to reveal the "state of mind" of the tissue.
The therapeutic aspect of body-mind centering® comes into play when concentration is centered on the tissues and cells of a specific body system to effect movement within that system. This is accomplished by paying attention to occurring thought and inclination toward movement while concentration to the area is being applied. The practitioner facilitates this process by guiding the subject individually or in a group.
The study of developmental movement involves the recognition of learned patterns of movement and the development of subsequent patterns. This forms the three "Rs" of the movement: reflexes, righting reactions and equilibrium responses. Combined, these patterns contribute to the basic neurological patterns, from which cognitive thought, and physical and emotional balance is derived. It is believed that a mis-patterning or partial development of any of the basic neurological patterns may result in impairment of thought perception or movement.
Movement reeducation, or touch and repatterning, aims to identify and elevate the vibration frequency and resonance of tissue by directing focus to that specific area. The premise is to stimulate the tissue through vibration entrainment, much in the same way that an orchestra tunes up the vibration of a tuning fork. By utilizing this principle of entrainment, the movement and mind connection in tissues and cells become less stressed and available to reconditoning.