Just spent the weekend with about 100 other people in Deerfield, Massachusetts. I was studying with Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen in a workshop entitled "Embodying the Heart." Bonnie is the founder of "Body Mind Centering," an integrated approach towards movement which can be applied to yoga, dance, bodywork, as well as somatic psychology. One of the most interesting things that Bonnie did was starting the workshop by asking us to stand up and say our names twice and hear ourselves. She told us to absorb and listen, just like our own hearts absorbs. She invited us to notice how often we become so nervous and stop listening because we are thinking of what to say next.
How do we practice absorption?
How do we not get distracted?
How can we absorb what we are doing, instead of planning what we are going to say next?
She then spoke about embryology and our origins, in particular about how we are a pancake layer at first with two sides, an ectoderm and endoderm, which in turn creates the third layer called the mesoderm. She then invited us to move from the front body and greet someone, and then shift and greet someone from the back body. Bonnie has this way of inviting us to explore and emobdy anatomy. A lot of the material about embriology goes over my head, especially as she went into more detail. I am currently seeing her DVDs and reading more about this fascinating journey that we took as embryos and that we continue on for the rest of our lives! The thing with studying with Bonnie is that she creates the space that allows you to feel safe and welcome no matter where you are in your studies. She creates the space and invites you to explore, and value your own experiences. Very often she would remind us to trust our own experiences and share them with others.
One of the most sublime teachings that I've ever gotten from Bonnie has been the way she describes the sperm cell and the egg cell. She did it in her book, "Sensing, Feeling, and Action." She did it again at the workshop. She says that the egg cell that created you, was inside your mother's womb when she was inside her mother's womb.
PAUSE. Take that in. Visualize it.
This egg cell which waited three generations for you, carries within it the energy of stillness, patience and witnessing. Then you have the sperm cell which is only alive for 48 hours and is in competition with about two million others. These two energies meet: stillness with intentionality, spaciousness with drive, awareness with spontaneity, creating YOU!
All throughout the 10 hours of the weekend workshop, it felt to me that Bonnie became the egg cell, holding the space for the myriad comments, questions and sharings we had. We were -in a way- like the sperm cells, trying to dazzle, share, and express. Together all of our energies created something magnificent. I look forward to studying with her again.