A Series of Nine Monthly Classes
with Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen
Experience happens first at the cellular level and then is recorded in the nervous system. Embodiment is grounded in our cells’ awareness of themselves. It is a direct experience. There are no intermediate steps or translations. There is no guide. There is no witness. There is the fully known consciousness of the experienced moment initiated from the cells themselves. In this instance, the brain is the last to know. There is complete knowing. There is peaceful comprehension. Out of this embodiment process emerges feeling, sensing, thinking, witnessing, understanding, compassion, and healing. The source of this process is free; it is love.
Touch is based in internal movement. It is an expression of, as well as a way to assess, that movement. Approached in an embodied way, touch can be a subtle and deep path for communicating with others and ourselves.We can listen with touch, we can communicate and connect through touch, and we can support others and ourselves though touch.
Touch is more than our placing our hands on someone. It involves awareness, consciousness, attention, and intention. It also involves how we initiate touch. With brain-initiated touch, the brain directs the hands. With embodied touch,we listen receptively and cellularly, and on a level more immediate than the brain.
When we direct from the brain, what we do is based on past experience, which can limit our receptivity in the present moment. When we begin from a place of receptive notknowing, our past experience can inform rather than direct the process.
When we approach touch from an embodied, open place, we can more easily differentiate the qualities and subtleties of different layers and tissues. This process begins with our own embodiment. Through the exploration and expression of external movement, we begin to access the internal qualities of our different tissues so that when touching, the person whose hands are touching and the one being touched can meet in that tissue. This is a practice for both the person touching and the person being touched. It is about being present, being centrally and peripherally attentive and ready to engage, so that each person is equally touching the other.
Consciousness, Touch, and the Sense of Self and Other
Because touch is an intimate and direct expression of communication, the configuration of awareness we bring to it plays an important role in the experience. One area where this emerges is with the sense of self and other. The self is not a singular entity but a unified entity. The sense of I develops through a multiplicity of internal and external relationships. How do we experience the basic unity of self and other without losing our sense of separate self and other? The awareness we bring to embodied touch allows us to balance these two perspectives. Then, when we are able to attune with each other, touch becomes an exquisite dance of selfother.
In this series of classes on embodied touch, some of the themes we will be exploring are:
- Touch as an expression of stillness and motion.
- Transmission through touch is unique for each person. What is your own touch?
- What is your personal tone or vibration – your basic drone?
- What is the underlying tone of the one you are touching?
- What is the relationship between your tone, the tone of the one you are touching, the space between you, and the space surrounding you?
- From this foundation, how do you develop clarity in distinguishing the subtleties of different tissues as they manifest through different states of consciousness and expression?
- How do you create the elements of trust and flow of communication, preverbal and verbal?
- How do you hold the space for the feelings and stories that emerge, not to fix, but to deeply listen with respect and compassion?
- Embodied touch as a being process, not a doing process; as an awareness process, not a thinking process.
This workshop will include movement, touch, lecture, and discussion. It is open to anyone interested in touch as a practice of transformation. Participants may come from a wide range of backgrounds, from those with professional practices in bodywork, somatic psychotherapy, movement, or other body-mind disciplines to those simply wanting to explore embodied touch as a personal interest. No prior experience with Body-Mind Centering® is necessary. Come share with curiosity and a sense of inquiry about touch, movement, the body, and consciousness.
Participants are expected to practice embodied touch between monthly classes. This could be with a partner, in small study groups, or in a professional context. This workshop is offered as a whole series and not as individual classes.