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Movement and the Emergence of Mind

Movement and the Emergence of Mind

One of my main questions that I wanted to answer this semester was how “mind� emerges in relation to the organization of the body. How is movement an expression of this emergent process?

I have read several texts this semester as I have been drafting a process paper for my thesis which is a creative project on cellular memory. By cellular memory, I mean the ways that our both experience and remember the patterns of the past through our bodies. In Genetics, Cellular memory is understood through the way that the DNA carries patterns of response and the physical characteristics of our anscestors. My definition includes this and extends beyond it as well in looking for the experiential basis of this phenomena. The overarching text that has emerged this semester is a seven minute sample of dance work that I have edited from seven years of research and performance on cellular memory.

One of the main modalities that I have worked with in my movement and art practice is called Body-Mind centering. There is only one text written by the creator which I will draw from a bit while also bringing in information from my experiential studies of the modality. The material is primarily a process transmitted by engaging with the lived experience of the body.

Body-Mind Centering is an ongoing, experiential journey into the alive and changing territory of the body. The explorer is the mind- our thoughts, feelings, energy, soul, and sprit. Through this journey we are led to an understanding of how the mind is expressed through the body in movement. There is something in nature that forms patterns. We, as part of nature, also form patterns. …our body moves as our mind moves…..this balancing is based on dialogue, and the dialogue is based on experience. (Cohen 1)

Body –Mind Centering uses anatomical and physiological maps as doorways to exploring the lived experience of the body. It is a process of exploring experientially through perception and sensation the different patterns, forms and qualities of movement that arise in the body. The process explores how human movement develops as a spiraling process. For instance, a baby learns to press into the floor and lift its head and see its own hand before it learns to reach. Also, in exploringthe movement of the breath I could trace a micro macro continuum from the cell to the expanding and condensing of the whole body.

One of the central hypotheses of this work is that consciousness is not limited to the brain, but is, at base a cellular phenomenon. If consciousness is understood as a process of self-organization through movement, then all cells, systems and organs of the body are implicated in this process. Consciousness, in this sense is rooted in the direct experience of relationship to the world as we are able to experience and relate to it through the integration of our movement and mental processes. Experiencing requires openess and a willingess to experience change.

All life is movement. Movement can be concieve as an expression of connection, process and change. We can feel this in our very movements of breathing, of the heart beating. Movement yields an experience of change and it is one medium through which we can respond to change. Even our walking is a pattern of continually falling and catching ourselves. It is the experience of life as it changes. It is through the experience of our living bodies that we encounter one another, eat, love, engage with life. It is through the experience of the passing of time and the living and dying of the body that I feel both the impermanence of our existence and the glimmers of interconnectedness that reveal the ways that we truly live in and with one another.

In this sense, movement has emerged for me as a way of experiencing my history as a process of change; I am inhaling because I have exhaled, walking because I have worked my way to standing by working through layers of movement patterns that make this possible. As the fulfillment of one movement becomes the source of new possibilities for the next, the experience of movement expresses for me the lived experience of continuity and change, for the iteration and evolution of patterns of engagement with my environment.

To move requires that one perceive the experience of the moving body internally and in relation to the environment. The dialogue between inner and outer forms the basis for spontaneous response and organization. We move because we are aware of and responding to ourselves and others and the environment. Movement can be perceived through proprio and interoreceptors in the body that track inner and outer movement. Smaller movements are also perceived through vibrational sensors in the skin. But at base, all movement is vibration. To perceive movement is to perceive vibration.

My explorations have centered on the connections between mind state, vibration, and movement.

From Bonnie’s writing on cellular consciousness.

“When we have an experience, our perception of that experience is an extension of experiences of the past which direct our focus and expectations; the experience dissolves at the moment of creation into memory; its energy form is projected into future experiences; and we can communicate it through symbols, imagery and metaphors which are then interpreted by others based upon their perceptions of their own experiences…another means of communicating experience is through vibration- by cellular resonance. One’s inner cellular experiences and expressions are received directly by sympathetic vibrations of the corresponding cells of others…less obvious in our culture is vibrational resonance above and below the level of frequency registered as sound by the human ear. Cellular resonance occurs outside this range of auditory perceptions, in the realm of silence. The degree of communication is influenced by the similarities between the cellular vibration of the respective people and the range of vibrational resonance of each of the people involved…Each of us listens and responds within the same range of vibration that we experience and express. In order to perceive vibration, the one listening must have access in oneself to the same rate of vibration as the person expressing. In order to communicate, one must be able to vibrate within the range of resonance of the listener…the potential of our range of resonance within this “silent� cellular communication is vast. It is this dimension of vibration that underlies and provides the background for all other forms of communication�
(Cellular Communication, The School for Body-Mind Centering)

I have explored my initial question this semester through sorting through four years of research into my own experience of cellular resonance, communication and memory. For the past seven years, I have been exploring what it means to remember experiences that I had as a very young child before I had the level of brain development to categorize and understand my experience in ways that are conceptually meaningful. I have used my awareness of the language of movement, touch, vibration and sound. Through my process, I have used these mediums to explore and make meaning of various experiences. I am exploring how the movement patterns that have emerged through these explorations are examples of forms of “mind emerging through movement�.

To do so, I took a particular experience of questioning the nature of my relationship to my parents who I lost as a young child. I took four years of research of me interacting with environments and objects that had shaped their lives. I worked with my body as a source of memory of their bodies. I documented my experiences and the movements that emerged through these explorations. My main question was, how do I experience my connection to these people who were my initial conditions?

This semester I cut and pieces segments together and looked for the patterns and iterations on patterns emerging from these explorations. What emerged were patterns of reaching and grasping, condensing and expanding that resonate the larger metaphoric meanings of taking in and giving out. What emerged as I sliced different pieces of work together to make a new layer of complexity was the suggested meanings in the different movements. The meaning of my experience of connection to them emerged as intimations of the similarity and difference between self and other. For instance, in merging my faces with theirs through slide projection, one can see an image that expresses how similar genetically we really are; i can merge our faces to look as one, yet we are two. In creating expanding movements and lining my body up with the slide of a mountain that my father climbed, I attempt to express the resonance between inner and outer form as his form echoes in my own.

This process has represented for me an experience of the emergence of mind through a process of iterating movement into greater forms of complexity over time. From this process, memory transformed into metafor and universal meaning arose from the particular experience. What started out as me questioning how I could experience my relationship to my parents evolved into the very movements through which I can experience relationship to anything: openness to experience of continuity and change and sensitivity to initial conditions? Cycling between movement improvisation and free writing I sculpt different layers of perceived complexity and follow the continuum between perception, sensation, personal meaning and metaphor. The process itself is and experiment in complexity, a continual dialogue between movement and searching for the meaning that is emerging in the movement. Integrating parts to reveal a a greater whole, the process looks at how meaning emerges through the properties of complexity.

My understanding of "mind" that is emerging has less to do with conceptual landscapes and more to do with the possiblity of movement as an expression of the form and process of knowing. If meaning is continually emerging and iterating into greater forms of complexity, the form of meaning could be concieved of as a moving process that is consciousness itslef.

I am sorry that I didn’t get an opportunity to show my video sample in class. I will be doing a final showing of work sometime in early January in the dance building. I will let you all know the dates and times. I hope you can make it.

Cohen, Bonnie Bainbridge. Sensing, Feeling, and Action. Northhampton: Contact
Editions, 1993.