Bodymind practices (also termed “somatic” practices) are therapeutic and educational methods based on the recognition that “body” and “mind” are not two separate things.
This is NOT the same as saying that body and mind influence each other. The bodymind perspective adopts the radical view that our body and mind, and our environment, form a single unity, “Body”, “feelings”, “mind”, “self” and “other”, are just different aspects of that unity; in the same way that different facets of a jewel are not separate things.
Unfortunately, the view that separates mind and body, self and other, is very deeply conditioned into us; and it is not easy to really grasp this new perspective. And yet, it is vitally important; much of our suffering as modern humans is due to this belief in separation. It is the aim of the bodymind practices to awaken recognition of this prior unity, and in the process to relieve stress, trauma, and mental, emotional and physical disease.
I have spent my whole life studying and teaching bodymind practices. I started with Judo in 1956 at the age of 11, and went on to study Karate, Aikido, Taijiquan, and Xingyiquan. I have been studying Qigong since 1969 and teaching since 1975. I became interested in meditation, and studied with Sogyal Rinpoche, Dhiravamsa, and Peter Fenner. I studied and experienced many forms of body-oriented psychotherapy, including Bioenergetics, Formative Psychology, Somatic Experiencing trauma therapy, and the Subtle Self work. I have studied a number of forms of bodywork, including Structural Massage and Cranio-sacral Therapy, and a variety of Western somatic practices: Bodymind Centering, Ideokinesis, and the Alexander Technique. In addition, I have studied the scientific bases of these systems, including anatomy, kinesiology, psycho-physiology, and neuroscience.
I do not claim mastery of all these systems! But I am thoroughly and practically familiar with them all. I am certified as a practitioner of Somatic Experiencing (SEP) and the Alexander Technique, I have been teaching Qigong for 43 years, and am a registered somatic movement educator and therapist (RSME/T). With my colleague Mardi Crane-Godreau, I have published several academic papers on these topics, and have conducted clinical trials at Dartmouth on the health effects of these practices.
I have found that all these different systems shed light from different angles on the same underlying reality. Working to reconcile and integrate apparently contradictory approaches has greatly increased my understanding, One of my biggest challenges has been to reconcile the scientific viewpoint with that of the traditional Asian methods. In published academic papers, we have demonstrated that modern neuroscience can provide a coherent framework for explaining the traditional Asian methods, enabling these to be integrated with Western therapeutics. We think this is important for two reasons.
First, the orthodox scientific community tends to reject the claims of the traditional Asian systems, because the Asian systems use terms like “chi” or “prana” (life energy), which are not acceptable to scientists.
Secondly, because Westerners trying to understand the traditional Asian systems often miss the mark and develop fantasies instead of a real understanding.
In this blog, I hope to present a practical and theoretical perspective which bridges these dualities.
The system of practice I now teach is called Bodymind Training. It integrates everything i have studied into a compact and simple package, which is easy to learn, can be practiced by anyone, and takes no time out of your busy schedule. We at Bodymind Science are making these teachings available in a number of formats, including innovative videos, multimedia, booklets, and audio files.