Mohammed Abu Zeinab is on a mission. The entrepreneur, who is the founder and regional Director of Brain Education ™ Middle East ™ (BEME), wants to empower individuals and the community. For Mohammed, the key to personal happiness, health, and peace can be found in the brain. The former TEDx speaker believes that everyone, no matter how young or old, has the power to take control of their own happiness and health and harness their brain power.
Inspired to Move
Throughout his career, the Qatar Foundation alumnus has worked in education, health, and sports. It’s obvious that movement has always been an integral part of Mohammed’s life. From the age of four, Mohammed has practised martial arts and competed as part of Qatar’s only Muay Thai team. Now, the Master Brain trainer is utilising his passion for therapeutic movement to inspire his community.
So how does Mohammed describe the practice behind Brain Education? “Essentially, it’s a movement practice for the mind to create physical, emotional, and mental health. It’s a self-discovery tool,” he says. Mohammed also describes the practice as “holistic” and calls it “education with a purpose”. He says that it aims to promote good mental health and well-being and foster peace and mindfulness in the community.
Brain Education has also played a personal and influential role in Mohammed’s life after challenging times. “I had been shaken to my core beliefs. I was questioning a lot of things in my life, and I was almost paralysed by my inability to take action. I had hit a plateau in my life, both personally and professionally,” he shares. But as soon as he found Brain Education, something clicked. “[I] immediately was hooked. Straight from the start, there was a sense of camaraderie. I went through the different workshops and felt a profound and deep connection.”
The Origin Story
Originating from South Korea, Brain Education is the brainchild of Ilchi Lee—a New York Times bestselling author and respected educator. Born in South Korea in 1950, the young Lee struggled with depression and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). “Ilchi Lee was the first student and master trainer of the Brain Education practice. He founded the practice as a form of his own self-enlightenment,” explains Mohammed. According to him, Lee also struggled with the education system and faced other adversities throughout his youth. “As a child he suffered greatly from the pressure of social expectations such as finding a job, getting married, and having kids. He lost a close friend, and this started his personal journey for truth, authenticity, and meaning in his life.”
Inspired by ancient Eastern philosophy, Lee practised yoga, fasting, and meditation to heal his mind and body. After graduating from university with a degree in Clinical Pathology, Lee began teaching his healing exercises in a local park. As word spread, his popularity grew, and Lee opened his first Brain and Body Yoga centre in Seoul, South Korea. Since then, 500 new centres have opened around the world.
The South Korean government has recognised Lee’s holistic teachings as an academic discipline that has been introduced to schools across the globe, including South Korea, the United States, Japan, and El Salvador..
The Middle East Chapter
For Mohammed, Lee’s education principles are an integral part of BEME. Throughout the year, workshops and sessions are offered for kids and teenagers, and so far, it’s been well received by everyone involved, even the parents! “Parents say it’s very sustainable, which is surprising because they don’t usually expect the impact to last for weeks. Anytime the kids come to a session, especially a group session, they feel very active. They develop positive self-affirmations, self-confidence, and more creativity,” he says. Packed with dynamic movement, the keyword in these sessions is “fun”, but it’s not just about the physical. Mohammed says that the programme is as much about challenging the mind as it is about the body. He also adds: “There’s a lot in terms of global citizenship values because we’ve developed the programme with a humanitarian approach.”
And the results seem to speak for themselves. Mohammed recalls the transformative experiences people with particular challenges—like uninspired youths or children on the autism spectrum—have had while being a part of the programme. Still, he believes that Brain Education can be impactful for all kinds of people.
“It’s a form of therapy for a lot of people. Movement therapy is not passive. Sometimes during the sessions, even though they’re in a group, students can get super emotional because they’re reconnecting to a very strong pillar of value in their life. They find a resolve for physiological release, and this can reflect on their choices and behaviours.” He believes that his students experience a sense of empowerment during the sessions, which leads them to desire change. And this experience, he says, causes their entire brains to be “incorporated into meaning and emotion”, resulting in physical, emotional, and mental relief, and later on, growth. This aligns with his goal, which is to put the power back into the students’ hands. “We’re asking people to shift their mind and perspective in how they see everything, how they see themselves, and how they connect with everything,” he says.
In the winter months, many sessions are taught outdoors in what he considers to be welcoming and inclusive environments with like-minded people searching for authenticity, purpose, and wellness. They involve therapeutic exercises such as qi gong, meditation, and breathing, alongside interactive discussions. “A lot of the programme is based on stretching, strengthening, and breathing—all different effects that can influence the body. Movement as a whole can influence the body and thus have an effect on the mind,” says Mohammed.
Doha Family would like to thank Mohammed Abu Zeinab and Brain Education Middle East for supplying images to this article.