Learn how Irmgard Bergmann, one of MBS Academy's Trainers, came to study Mind Body Studies, how she has incorporated this work into her profession as a midwife in Germany, and her experience in learning and teaching MBS.
What first drew you to Mind Body Studies?
I had a horse who was very nervous, so I took a seminar with Linda Telington-Jones. In the seminar, we also felt how the Feldenkrais Method works, doing a lesson with "the four points". I remember standing on my hands and knees and lying down and standing back up, and thinking that it was boring. (Of course, now I understand why we were doing what we did!) But, I tried a class once more. This time, it was very interesting for me. I remember that someone said, “After this half hour, I can move without a pain that I had had for fifteen years.” That impressed me.
Also, this work was already very good for my horse and my riding. I was thinking about the coming holidays and what I might do. Because I’m not a person who lies on a beach and waits until the day is over, I thought, “This was good for my horse, so I will do the same for myself!” So, I enrolled in a seminar for my next holiday.
What were your impressions from that first seminar?
At that time, I didn’t have many pains or problems with my body. I did have problems here and there, but nothing serious. So, I was not looking for relief for a problem. But, I found I could find something out while doing a simple movement and it had a very good effect on all the other parts of me. I felt much lighter and freer, also mentally and, I would say, seelisch (“in spirit or soul”). I did the seminar once more and also sensed the same effect: that I felt much, much better. So, I decided I wanted to do a training. With my shift work as a midwife, that was easier than attending regular evening classes. I also thought that I could use it for pregnant women. And I do find it has a really good effect for pregnant women.
What kinds of effects have you seen, when using this method with pregnant women?
There is a small piece of cartilage, called the pubic symphysis, toward the front of the pelvis, where the two halves of the pelvis are joined together. In the bodies of pregnant women, this cartilage becomes more flexible, to help with childbirth. However, when the cartilage is too loose, it can cause the woman a lot of pain. They cannot even walk.
I gave one-on-one sessions to a woman who had this difficulty with the pubic symphysis. We did simple things, noticing where the movement went through her body and where the movement stopped. She really became able to go on much more easily. She found she could stand differently, so she didn’t carry the baby’s weight in such a difficult position. We made perhaps five or six sessions together.
During the Practitioner Skills Seminar in October, we focused on using this method with babies and children. Did you find any crossovers between this particular application of MBS and your work in the delivery room?
Before that workshop, I had never done MBS with children before. Of course, I have a lot of experience with newborn babies, touching and holding them. I’ve worked in delivery rooms for about 25 years, and I think I have had around 2000 births and deliveries. So, I have cleaned and checked around 2000 newborn babies. I am used to having newborn babies in my hands, and I really enjoy it. Of all the work of the midwife, the baby is of course the greatest pleasure. They bring such peace.
A newborn baby is also usually a little bit spastic. This is normal. In order to open their hands and grasp at something, they first have to lose that spasticity. Of course, they can open and close their hands, but they are not conscious of it, yet. When a baby is born, the midwife has to look into the palm to check on something. I have to wait for the moment when the baby is ready to open the hand. You cannot struggle with it. So, I am used to waiting for what the baby wants to do, and then to try right at the moment that they also want to do something. With MBS, as well, you don’t go against someone. You go with them. Especially with children. This is the art of contact we learn in MBS. I wait until they are curious to do what I want to do, also. Then, we can have something like exchange.
Outside of work, how do you see MBS reflected in your own life?
I used to take lessons in singing. When I began with MBS, I found out that singing can become so much nicer! The voice gets much richer.
Now, I have three parts of my life: I do MBS, I work as a midwife and I ride horses. I have a little MBS group, once a week, but because I work shifts, I do not have a lot of extra time to have an FI practice. Riding is perfect, because I can do it whenever I am not working shifts. And I love it very much.
Of course, through doing Mind Body Studies, my riding also improves. The communication improves, between your body and the horse. And your coordination, generally, improves. In riding, if you cannot communicate clearly with your body, the horse cannot know what you want. For example, it has a lot to do with how you shift your weight. One the one hand, you have to be flexible, but you also have to have some tension here or there, for example in the legs, so you don’t fall down. So, MBS really develops your ability to improve your riding.
At this point, Irmgard laughs and insists, “But you can learn more about horses from other people!” During the 2011-2014 Professional Training, several professional riding instructors, horse trainers and equestrians pursued studies with MBS to supplement their work with horses. For more about the relationship between MBS and riding, read on here and here.
How have you seen your understanding and your use of MBS evolve, from your initial Foundation training to your work as an Assistant Trainer?
From the beginning, I have learned from Mia, and from Leora. For me, learning from them is like having a mosaic come together. With the years, I’ve felt that I keep receiving a little piece more. Out of these pieces, the mosaic becomes clearer and clearer.
When I had just finished the Foundation training, I would try to put too much into my ATMs. Later, I found out that this was not the best way. As Leora explains with the “in-betweens”, often it’s better not to do too much at a time.
As I went through the trainers’ training and started to have the experience of being an assistant trainer, I really appreciated the clearer message in the work of Mia and Leora. I have also learned to have a really good FI structure. So, this is something I continue – from the start, I was very fascinated by FI work.
My work with myself is also much easier. Before, I did an ATM like I was following a model. Now I think, ‘how would I think about this movement in MBS style?” I think I can work on my own more efficiently and also independently. I can think on my own about a movement, now.
What has most helped you to develop this independent kind of learning? Or more generally, what have you found most essential to your learning with MBS?
To stay in these simple things. All of these questions, like “In which direction does the movement go?” make for interesting learning. But, the beginning is with very, very simple questions. “What can I sense?” “How far does the movement go?” “Is the movement smooth or ‘tick-tick-tick’”? All these questions we learn to ask in our training.
The most imprtant thing of MBS for me is that I can use it for ‘all of me’. Of course, I can use it to help alleviate pain or some difficulty. But I also have a connection to my whole self. I also feel better in my thinking and in my feeling. It’s not only that I can use it for the pain in the body. Sometimes people have pain and they want to get rid of it, but for me, it’s also an effect on my whole. So, I can do something for my body – but also at all the levels. I also saw the people who make my foundation training became… happier, perhaps! And this is a very important thing for me, about the method.