Friday, December 25, 2009

Holiday season

I am finding the holiday spirit quite interesting this year. My personal spirituality is of the universal light. Such a simple statement, yes it is true. How can such a thing as spirituality be described in a simple statement? I question that myself. For one, there is the individual perspective of spirituality. Then, of course, as one has an idea about spirituality, it may happen to be of a particular group perspective. Some beliefs may be of a group that has more followers than others, or less followers than others or there may be non-believers(or antagonists to societal norms). I feel that those that wish to chose what they believe, how they believe, or whether or not to believe is entirely up to the individual.
I have had religion, belief and worship in my life. It started when I was very young and has continued (sporadically) until this day. Along the road I have questioned everything as it has been portrayed to me. This is normal to me and I accept it as so.
Although the practice of Aikido is presented to me in a non-spiritual way, Aikido has ultimately enhanced my spirituality in a way that I am not quite sure how to describe. The practice of Aikido is for me, not a religious venture. From what I read on the internet, there are those that describe their spirituality specifically in relation to their practice of Aikido. That is o.k. to me. Those that can pinpoint the spiritual aspect of themselves by practicing Aikido, I can relate to on a certain level. Aikido may be that venue, albeit, so can Judaism and all of its denominations, Chrisitianity and all of its denominations and Islam and all of its denominations. Or, whatever Eastern religions or beliefs out there that may exist. How can I question what one is to believe to be spiritual?
I sat through a Roman Catholic sermon today. It is not unfamiliar to me, as I attended catholic high school, but I am not catholic. But the priest gave a wonderful speech about humanity. He asked that everyone look at someone nearby or close by, and describe what their faces looked like. He continued, and said that one may see the superficial aspects of the facial attributes and be able to describe those attributes. This, is of course, a description of someone that you don't really know personally. However, if one were to be asked to describe someone in which one had a close or intimate relationship, the description may offer more detail about the individual. Such as: she is really struggling with her relationship with her child, or anything else that can come to mind about that individual, but on a more personal level.
Then the sermon examined, questioned or enlightened(whichever one may view it), about what the face of their worship may actually look like. This particular face, as explained, may look very different from that person that one sits next to, and may actually take on the light of all that is destructive and evil in the world, i.e., abuse and war. That face, as terrible and horrific as it may be, reveals the suffering of those in this world and is as real as the kind gentle face of the neighbor next to you. What does the face of humanity look like? The glory and the pain.
Where does my practice of Aikido fit in to all of this?
I practice Aikido on the mat at our dojo. There are many different types of people that practice with me. We are all friends, old and new. I don't think about who believes in what. We all gather to practice Aikido and have fun. In order for us to connect with one another and perform a technique to a level in which it "feels correct"(a misconception in most cases, for me), the humanity of the individual(s) reveals itself. This, to me, is the true spirit of Aikido and the source of what Ueshiba intended in his creation of this art form.
Let us not seek the path to peace and love, for it is there for us to see in many forms, presently.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Holidays

Happy and Healthy holiday season to all. Thanks for the memories of the past year and looking forward to the next year with all of you.

2009

This year, as usual, has just flown by in a blink of an eye. I think back to were I was last year this time, wondering where life may lead me. An important concept to ponder as I am writing these words. Wondering where life may lead me. Does life really lead me anywhere? Or, is it my view or perception of life that reveals whether or not I am being lead or whether I am doing the leading. Last year, without direction, life lead me. Why was I without direction? Because I didn't know how to lead myself in a positive way. As I have diligently practiced Aikido for the last 12 months, I have begun to discover that I can lead myself along this path, or that path as it may be. The point being, that I can now chose which path I may take. How do I chose what path I take? In some moments, I feel that the path is there for me to take and the choice is mine, whereas, other moments reveal that the choice may not be mine and there is something guiding me along the way. What does this mean to me? For one, that my life is continuing on an ebb and flow that is both chosen and unchosen. It is certain and uncertain. I used to believe that be contradicting the uncertain with my perceived intentions would inevitably lead to control of the uncertain. I have discovered that this only lead to unhappiness and internal strife. Complete control of the uncertainty in life is an invalid and untrue perception, just as when the certainty of a situation magically disappears. A perception. What reveals itself when all individual/and or group perceptions are non existent?Truth.
On the mat, leading and following in the moment is filled with truths. Truths for nage and truths for uke. Practicing on the mat, reveals many of the truths because on the mat, perceptions just don't work. These truths that present themselves, to me, is and has been the most challenging aspect of practicing Aikido. There is no hiding from "things" that reside within. Eventually, they will appear and will have to be dealt with in order to let Aikido flow in the moment. After 4 and a half years of practicing, I have only begun to stratch the surface of what it means to lead. Be present with one point, connect with uke and take them for a ride. Easier said than done, and much work has been afforded to even get to the scratch.
Well, what first started off as a simple post about last year, turned into a deep inner revelation that I can ponder for the next year and subsequent years.
Looking forward to the new beginning, and beginning and beginning......

teaching a class


is like throwing an uke...offering, accepting,waiting and blending. Enjoying the ride letting go of the results.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

how to relax


do you know how? "RELAX" he said. i got tenser. i relaxed after i believed i wasn't relaxed. there is the question again...? i can relax. Now.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Be Still


Winter’s cold and darkness closes in. The days growing shorter as the earth tilts our hemisphere away from the sun. The house is buttoned up against the fierce New England winds. Cold and dark like a cave, a den. I am feeling like that hibernating creature these days. Quiet time... time to be still.

Even my aikido is entering stillness right now. It is like I am taking a slight pause, other things are calling me right now, but aikido is never far. Not on the mat as much as am used to. I do indeed feel the absence. This winter will bring adventure and travel too, but that is later and already the earth will begin her journey back to spring.

Now is time to look within। In Norse mythology this was the time of Isa. I have had a set of runes for many years and thought I’d share with you some aspects that I am exploring.

Isa is associated with the rhime-giants, the Hrimthursar and the wisdom of age। Ice can be considered "static" as many do, however, ice whether one is speaking of the rune or of actual ice, is a mysterious and surprisingly fluid substance.

This is the primal ice, the icy stream (or glacier) that flows from Niflheimr। This glacial image should also convey the power of Isa to shape other things the way a receding glacier can shape the canyon walls as well as the ability of Isa to be formed into different shapes due to the influence of other things.

Isa can bring things to a halt, or place something in suspension. But, the mysterious flow of the glacier is also inherent in Isa as it is related to the primal stream. Ice can also be an expansive force or one that crushes anything caught in its grasp.

This feels exactly where I am in my practice and my life for the two are one in the same. Even in a state that feels still and frozen, movement in happening. One of my options is to resist it and try to rail against a massive force like ice, or enter into the state with openness and knowing that ice is not forever. Isa cannot reign always. Spring will come. But for now be still... but still moving.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

the dance class


that i watched today was eye opening...there is so much to learn and let go of...Someone once told me: "that to become a great teacher I should learn something new very year...so I could remember what it feels like to be a beginner"...hence the dance class!

Monday, December 7, 2009

kata tori shiho nage tenkan


What a challange! I got to watch frustration and blaming and impatience till I was willing to let go...

Finally, I was free to focus on the technique... I had such fun...peace overcame me...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Mat


is my friend...as I relax into my roll...mat holds firm as I glide over his smooth surface...each muscle, bone and tendon synchronizing in a gentle circle...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

correct distance


matters so much....taken for granted....it's lost

revisited it's found... correct distance again....

Sunday, November 29, 2009

listening from my center


I pay complete attention to the speaker, letting

words flow over me with no comment or judgement...I accept what is and move on...

Can we give a greater gift than listening from our center?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

grateful


I am so very grateful for our dojo and our community and for Ron, Sensei.

Have a happy peaceful holiday...there is class on Saturday, Nov 28 and Sunday, Nov 29 of this week.

Friday, November 20, 2009

changes


So many!

Good ones, too.

Where is my center at this moment....deeps breaths restore me.

Class tommorow morning.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Just a thought

The virtue of perfection is that it is always just beyond a persons reach . This is a good thing ,if perfection were attainable then it would have no value, there would be no reason to train and pursue it.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

missing class


I missed class today because I was sick. I could hear the door open and happy people entering. I heard water running and the toilet flushing as people prepared for class. I fell back asleep until again the door opened. I could hear feet on the stairs and warm voices talking. I felt part of still...because I have a dojo at my house.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

new ideas


When I disagreed with someone, my default was to assume I was wrong. I would feel shame for having popped my head up to be noticed. Today, I know I don't have to make another person wrong for me to be right. It just doesn't matter. In the end, all that matters to me is how do I feel and whether I lose my center...Yes, I sure do and it comes right back.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

still water


In stillness the pond is moving.

ToDay

Back at home for a while. My gi bag is unpacked new t-shirts admired Flowers put in vase, sweet card read, certificate resting on the table…. I can’t help but smile. Today was a special day, but it was also just a day. A day of moving and exploring, a day of love shared, and of recognition of our aikido journeys; a day that carried such significance for me. And it was just a day in many. Sun-shining, seasons changing… there unto itself and along with everything else, I noticed the “day” itself. I appreciated it in its own grandness beyond what was happening for me.

Oh how lovely to be alive and part of this day’s greatness. Beyond my own, but shared along with so many other beautiful people. Each and every one of you is amazing and to have so many together in one place… well that is immeasurable, inspiring, and humbling. Today I was able to share with cherished friends on and off the mat my love and passion for this art, which is as much about who we are as what we are doing. What really amazes me about our community of aikidoists is that we really do seek the feeling of harmony and connection. We also have a darn good time and share a lot of laughter and joy as well as our fears and struggles. What most stands out for me though is this willingness to journey and grow together; to gaze fully into each other’s lives, even if just for that time on the mat. It is incredibly special.

And today is just a day already giving way to night, on it’s own journey. The earth whirls and the stars twinkle grander and greater than anything my small self may be able to comprehend. I will keep showing up, as will many of us. Each day will hopefully renew finding us living, seeking, and growing. And on the mat!

Thank you everyone for making so many days noticed and for celebrating on this momentary pause of noticing each other on this shared day.

Here are the poems I wrote and read.

The Beginning

I remember wanting
To move like that
To be in the flow like that
My mouth fell open
My eyes fixed
My body vibrated
Like the ringing of a bell

The black and white blurred
Who was who?
I saw mere people fly
Maybe they were not
Mere people, but some
Special beings that could
Loosen the bonds of gravity
And become like great birds

I only knew I wanted
To be as they were
To become a great bird
If only for an instant
I could not take that step then
My want was not enough
To overcome the fear
That had long sat in my belly

I tried to forget
Cradled my fear and anger
A little longer, telling myself
This keeps you safe
But you know you cannot
Contain the wind
Once it starts to blow
Even if the slightest breeze

The wind was blowing now in me
Blew me back to the place
Where I first saw them
Mere people as great birds
Again I felt the yes
The ringing of a bell
The breeze now a full force gale
Blowing me beyond my fear

The Unraveling

Left and right
I don’t know which is which
How hands and feet
Are supposed to move
All together
What do you mean?
It’s not about the hands and feet
This thing called One Point

So many black belts
I am not one of them
I can barely tie my belt
I wonder if they notice me?
Please don’t notice me
Try to hide behind others
Just keep rolling
Somewhere in here is One Point

Testing brings new colors
Brings new expectations
Brings new fears
Are these people safe?
Do they really see me?
Accept me with all my faults
I wonder if this is home
Sometimes stumbling over One Point

I have become noticed
I think I have found One Point!
Oh there it goes… oh now it’s back
Sometimes a great bird calls me
Loosens the bonds of gravity
Gives me a chance to fly
Harder to hide now
Old fear and anger have been waiting

I weep for the world
Because so many have so little
The dojo is far away
My center unknown to me
My teachers, the great birds
In an unexpected place
Remind me I have a place
A home for my full self

The Continuing

I have found home
Where my absence is noticed
My full self opens
Sometimes the slightest breeze
Or a full force gale
No one turns away
Instead we enter and turn
Finding the common center

Maybe I could teach
Just teach what you know
I know something
I know nothing
That’s the gift; it’s both at once
Student and teacher are
One in the same like
Black and white blurred

Beginners teach me even as I teach
Always back to beginner’s mind
Which is no mind, just doing
Loosens the bonds of gravity
Loosens the bonds of ego
To overcome the fear
One Point now felt in my belly

You know what?
We are not great birds
More like flying squirrels
Or opossums and otters
Stretching, tumbling, rolling,
We can still soar through the air
But only for an instant
Always we must return to earth

The wind is blowing in me now
You cannot contain the wind
Even in a mere person
No need to question who is who
It is the common center
It carries us along
Our bodies humming, vibrating
Like the ringing of a bell

Thursday, November 5, 2009

letting it happen


letting things be

leave them alone

receive and blend

lessons that keep coming

I am willing to learn

to judge not and accept

discern

let and let again

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

It is some times amazing to me , that we can learn so much but no so little in are own quest of learning and perfecting our techniques in the art of aikido.It is very nice to have a technique develope and blend with your uke to the point of not having to use very little energy. The technique is just nice and smooth and clean.

peaceful pond


horizon-tal turn... a peaceful pond

vertical sweep... a peaceful pond

inner sactum restored...again!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

it hurt

Wow...my neck was out just a little and it made my whole body hurt....
A couple of weeks ago Ron did a great throw and I met the mat sooner than I expected...the bell rang. I knew that I could take a good fall. I did bounce. Last Saturday, I was waiting for my balance to be taken. My nage got more tense. I felt that bad feeling of when you know it's more than a passing ouchie!
All week was touchie ...then I awoke with a severe headache and a cordy neck. Ron did a little
Kiaistu ...I could feel the pop. Later in the day Heidi, my Chiropractor Extraordinare completed the fix.
Off to the river to throw away my fears and then home to write about parental forgiveness....I really love the process. The physical pain is just my body showing me that the progress is upon me!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tenkan or Tenk...


Tenkan is by far my go to move...I love the feel.
The turn creates drama and effect.
Why do nages deprive themselves of this wonderful feeling? Tenk....is boring, ineffective...listless even.
Uke gets to rest and lean and just overpower users of tenk....
What is tenk you ask? It is a little over half of tenkan.
Tenk is that pitiful move that so many do when they could be doing tenkan...rather than sweep their foot in a dramatic circle creating space and energy for themselves and their uke they turn a little and then back peddle. Ukes moves in… settles down and nage feels frustrated and overridden. Why? Because nage is overridden…Uke is not resisting…Uke is resting…Why? Because by doing tenk nage has provided a perfect place to rest!
Most people do a beautiful tenkan without an uke...then uke attacks and they revert to that horrible tenk....
Let us praise tenkan!…Dare to let go of tenk…and rejoice in tenkan!

Relax How?

Uke strikes shomen...I enter... then gently do fulton nage...never pushing... never pulling... simply blending with my uke who strikes shomen...

It's Time to Clean the Dojo!

Class starts in about an hour and a half. Now I get to go clean the dojo.
Thank you, universe!

Entering From My Center...

Entering from my center can be a challenge. The attack was tsuki with a bokken…the defense… just a turn of the bokken with a slight irimi. My center came up most times I was attacked. I felt a slight movement backwards…hardly seen but felt by me.

After class I asked Ron to attack me until I could enter and turn my bokken without flinching. Without moving back …without moving my feet…or just my head …oh so slight.

By the time we left I could enter, turn my bokken and my center stayed down. My first step was asking for help…then I could acknowledge how rattled I was. Now, I am looking forward till class tomorrow when I get to do it again…a little stronger and less afraid.

Seeking Connection


This morning I realized my resistance to competitive testing for one point was because of basketball.

When I played in college it was really fun because I was good and so were they. The connection that was created was so real I can still experience it in my memory. As we defended together in a 1- 3- 1 zone our team moved liked birds when they all decide to fly and turn at once. Our offense moved into a fast break off the defensive rebound like we practiced it a million times... which we did.

The only downer about college basketball was that all that connection didn't matter to most of us if we lost. If one team got more points than we did everything sucked. I couldn't understand that then but I do now. Most people are focused on winning...I could care less. I am interested in connection...that incredible feeling of mind body coordination that happens when 2 or more people move together in the flow.

That is why I love Aikido...it is a perfect venue for an athlete like me who loves movement and flow and the beauty that comes from it.

Now about testing for Ki...I believe noncompetitive testing for Ki is so important because after a person finds IT...the real challenge is to learn how to trust the feeling. Especially for men...Men are so used to muscling through things that learning to trust one point and relaxation is a huge challenge for them.

When a person has learned how to find their center… testing can become more intense. IT should always come from a place of nage and uke working together so the feeling can be developed and trusted.

As uke and nage work together strength is developed that is dependable and relaxed. This allows both to take the feeling out into the world and use it in everyday situations...at work and at home.

I started Aikido because a basketball game was cancelled....I always knew there was a cosmic connection...;o)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Welcome

Hi Folks, this blog is for you to post your Aikido related thoughts, opinions and ideas. I've sent out an invite to people whose email addresses I have. If you know of anyone else who might be interested in posting please send me their email addresses and I'll invite them to become contributors. Looking forward to what everyone has to say.

Ron