Body-Mind Centering® Traditions and Applications

with Ziji Beth Goren

How might we use sound in healing ways similar to touch …allowing sounds to penetrate and influence tissue, cells, fluids, organs, glandular bodies, neurons?

Herstory A double injury to my right knee and a deep desire to understand the inner workings of the body in relation to movement brought me to BMC. I heard about Bonnie’s work from Barbara Chenven aka Morningstar when we intersected at a New York studio in 1973.  I called Bonnie soon afterwards and found out about one remaining place in a weekly class that would meet for ten session-hours.  I was on a two week family visit to New York  from San Francisco,  so it was a tricky turn-around choice. I stayed for that ten week period followed by the next series, a progression to two then three classes per week including the first training group and partner labs (ten weeks with the same partner).  Maybe you know the rest…35 years with the work and community evolution. My right knee healed in the process and the dance community began to call upon my services for treatment of their own knee injuries/surgeries.

In the early stages of BMC development, we studied one system per year in classes of 6-12 people. Bones first. Then organs over-lapping development. Organs II, continuing development, and intro to muscles. In my second year of studies, I assisted the first year skeletal class, helping others and having the opportunity to see how much I had learned during year one. There wasn’t the integration that now exists within the syllabus; we weren’t there yet. Just one step at a time.

In 1976, when we began working with the Endocrine System, vibrating with vocal sounds, humming, and toning entered the group mind to contact and stimulate the tiny glandular bodies. For me, the Light turned on! This is the thread of the work that inspired me to explore singlemindedly the coordination of voice and movement, working to fan out the full range of vocal expression to match what was already present in movement awareness. I proceeded  to rent studio space at Kiva on Canal Street and embarked on the process of sounding and moving both separately and in group ensembles.  I had a lot of questions about this new approach, mostly about the working relationship of breathing to vocalization and breathing to movement. There seemed to be distinct variations in intention and approach to breathing and musculature depending upon focus as “singer” or “dancer.” I kept the questions with me and kept working the weaving. I’d also listen hour after hour to world music selections at Amherst College’s Music Library in the 80’s, sometimes replaying a piece 15 times to remember the melody and jot down foreign sound-words in phonetics. A rich vocabulary of sounds, sound-words, and syllables developed from the songs themselves, as well as from explorations of their effects on the body-mind. At the same time, I read the works of Hazrat Inayat Khan on ancient East Indian practices;  Elizabeth Laurel Keyes on Toning;  Alice Bailey’s reference to an individual’s keynote, a chord consisting of two pitches—one resonating to the personality and one to the soul;  and Leadbeater’s Chakras.  Thus evolved the first thread of the vocal applications—expanding the range of sound with both playfulness and spiritual intention.


With this exploration underway, and a working understanding (both experiential and intuitive) of the qualities of sounds and their effects, I began to use sound in a similar way to touch. Carving direction by bending sound.  Lazers of straight, clearing sound. Lullabies of soothing sound.  Rhythms to keep things moving and cycling. What pitch?  What intensity?  What intention?  This became the second thread, now called Healing Sounds and Touch treatment. Tibetan Buddhist practices, travels to numerous island and tribal cultures, and twelve years in native New Mexico enhanced these music/linguistic/cultural studies, bringing embodiment-transmission to song, chant, dance, and lifeways.

The third thread follows the subtle and deep work of exploring the effect of vocal sound in partners upon the skull sutures and brain tissue. This work was first introduced by the late Dominique(Ruth Leeds) in summer, 1977. I resonated and picked it up again from my own perspective twenty years later.  After breathing and brain-balancing exercises, we embark on a journey of sounding directly into the different areas of the brain, breath-humming, warming, and penetrating temporal-parietal sutures to protect and open neural pathways closely related to inner hearing and perceptions, for example.  Due to the rich complexity of the brain’s structures and responsiveness, this work feels like a deep pioneering process, and lends itself to healing possibilities with neuromuscular imbalances,  as in M.S. and Parkinson’s disease.   My own response to a sounding was the feeling of being encased in a protective sphere for five hours. Responses of fourth year graduating students to the Healing Sounds and Touch partnering during summer, 2002: cleansed; fluid in the whole body; vital; vivid-clear-vibrant; hints of ecstasy.

I remain ever grateful to Bonnie and the School for the support along these in-roads to new pathways in voice, movement, and touch. ..

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