An interview by Cydria Schaefer, June 27, 2015
The moment I tune into my body, I’m here. I’m not in the future, and I’m not in the past. So I think that is one of the key contributions to living more alive.
Sa Chien Khaw and Simon Wong graduated from the Mind Body Studies Academy Foundation Training in 2014. Both residents of Singapore, they work together offering ATM (Group Classes) at Gallery Helios, where Simon also gives NLP trainings, and teach FI (Individual Lessons) in people’s homes. They have given a workshop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and plan to do more in Asia. Together they have found ways to develop their skills while assisting members of their community to improve their health and foster their personal development.
WHAT INITIALLY LED BOTH OF THEM TO THE MIND BODY STUDIES ACADEMY (MBS)?
Sa Chien already had a bodywork practice and was “looking for a more holistic way” to work with people. A client of hers recommended Feldenkrais work after she experienced it in Toronto. Shortly after this recommendation, Leora Gaster (the Program Director and Co-Founder of MBS Academy) offered a Mind Body Studies Introductory workshop in Singapore.
In 2008, while attending an NLP course organized by John Grinder in London, Simon learned that Mia Segal (Educational Director and Co-Founder of MBS Academy) and Leora Gaster would be giving a Mind Body Studies workshop for NLP practitioners. He returned later to attend a five- day workshop at the NLP Academy in Croydon, England.
Intrigued by their enhanced self-awareness during these MBS Introduction workshops, they both were motivated to become MBS practitioners.Towards the end of the MBS Foundation Training, Simon and Sa Chien decided to organize ATM classes together as a team so they could get more practice and develop their skills. Initially they asked people they knew (friends, students, and NLP clients) to come and try the ATM classes. Some have been attending since they started two years ago, and “word of mouth” has helped the class grow.
HOW HAVE THEIR LIVES BEEN AFFECTED BY THEIR STUDIES AT MBS ACADEMY?
They both agree that what they have learned at MBS Academy has affected their lives both personally and professionally.
Sa Chien describes herself as “a quick person, very quick, and fast paced.” The MBS work “really slowed me down a lot … gave me a lot of space for experiencing life, and … a lot of inner thoughts to myself…. It changed the way I think, and it opened up more possibilities.” In the bodywork she did before, she addressed different parts of the body as if they were isolated from the whole body. For example, if someone came to her with shoulder pain, then she worked just on the shoulder. She added, “Now I can see things more holistically.”
Individuals who come to Sa Chien’s private practice do so “because of injuries, and they feel a lot of aches and pains, a lot of restriction of movement.” She works with adults, seniors, and children, including a 14-month old baby. She notes, “The people who come to me now behave differently. Before when they came in they said, “Oh, you fix me.” Now she explains the work she does is not about fixing them; it’s about what they can learn. “I’m turning their attention to a learning lesson, instead of a fixing lesson, which is a big shift that makes us all happier.”
Simon is an NLP trainer and feels that what he has learned through MBS has affected two phases of his professional work. The first phase is that “it enhanced my personal skill as an agent of personal change or coach.” He says the biggest improvement has been in his ability to see changes in movement when someone has a change in thought or emotion (such as a twinkle in their eyes, a change in the tonus of the muscles or their breathing). “In NLP coaching this type of observation is referred to as ‘calibration.’… We also ‘match and mirror.’ So the moment the person stops breathing, I can tell and notice I’m not breathing too. So it has a reflection. Being more sensitive to the body now with Mind Body Studies, I then can start to breathe and affect the other person’s breathing. … MBS improved my ability to ‘calibrate’ very significantly and helped me to become a lot more precise.” Subsequently, his coaching has become a lot more effective as he can respond more appropriately with direct, precise questions. He noted his ability to teach NLP students how to see “calibration” has also become more effective.
Simon added, “My self-calibration or personal awareness has changed. I have become a lot more aware of my body and tonus and that can link to my state of being.… Let’s say I’m feeling irritated, or angry. How do I know I’m irritated, how do I know that I’m angry and which part of the body is moving, which is not moving, which part is not flowing so that I can shift it? How long do I need to be in a particular state of emotion? ‘Oh, I’ll give myself five minutes to enjoy my stew (laughs), and then I’m done with it.’ That is NLP. MBS helps me to be fully aware of what I am feeling, bringing more mindfulness to my work. The moment I tune into my body, I’m here. I’m not in the future, and I’m not in the past. So I think that is one of the key contributions to living more alive.”
He continues, “In sports, self-awareness helps in recovery.” Through practicing MBS I have“improved my sports, my running, my cycling. Running and cycling are playgrounds for me to apply NLP and MBS awareness. For example, if I’m cycling, how do I change my patterns so I can cycle easier or faster? It’s been phenomenal, lots of improvement. Through MBS you can change your whole pattern and offer more choices in mind-body patterning. In NLP we say our job is to create more maps so that the person has choice in terms of how they think about things, how they rationalize what they feel, so there’s a lot of overlap. It’s about choices, it’s about reprogramming the mind-body,the patterning.”
HOW THEY ARE HELPING PEOPLE IMPROVE THEIR LIVES
The second phase in which MBS training has affected Simon professionally is as a platform to help people improve their lives. He feels he is making a “positive contribution helping others to reduce pain. I not only work with the mind, but also with the body.” He is referring to the MBS ATM classes and FI lessons he gives with Sa Chien.
One person who came to their ATM class had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease four years prior and continues to be under medical supervision. They paid particular attention to her and took a video of her to track her improvement. She has attended their ATM class for one year, and they also gave her FIs. Initially she was shaking, losing her balance, and falling down; she couldn’t stand by herself for long, and needed Simon to help her to get up the staircase. Now, they report while she still has a little shaking, she is able to walk, run across the road, stand on one leg, climb, do tai chi, and swim. She continues to come to ATM classes while also seeing her doctor.
Sa Chien added, “We are giving lessons to another person with multiple physical challenges which include, recovering from double mastectomy surgery, scoliosis, lordosis and kyphosis.”
Simon commented, “We asked her ‘How will you know that you have changed?”’ so we could have an assessment of where she wants to be. She’s a nutritionist, and she’s very good at what she does. She wants to go back to giving trainings and workshops for fitness instructors. That was only a year ago she couldn’t breathe very well because of problems with her lungs.”
Sa Chien and Simon worked with her three times a week for three months. They report now she can walk further, she’s very stable and confident, can stand a lot longer, and no longer has the fear of falling. Sa Chien added, “She can feel changes in her spine and her sternum and feels her ribs are opening up. She could even feel where she is not fluid, so she was able to learn how to let go. Now she can raise her hand and tie her hair.”
Simon added, “We’re a team. Together we are stronger!!”
HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THE WORK OF MIND BODY STUDIES?
Sa Chien replied,
“For me, Mind Body Studies is all about life.”