Be Here Now again.

Be here now. I never really thought about this until this morning. I just expected myself to do it. I was challenged today to ask myself: Where am I?” Here. Then, “What time is it?” Now. I saw this 3 word sentence in a new way.


I brought this questions to class. I asked Ron, Jocelyn and Anne where are you and what time is it? We focused on that for a moment then I asked them to let go of the story they brought to class about who they were, how they felt about themselves and this experience this morning.


Then I challenged my class to mirror their nage as uke and the same as nage. So if uke felt stiff to nage, nage was to respond in kind. If nage felt quick to uke …uke could become quick. We did this with any attack and the technique that rose up organically through the interaction.


The results were illuminating. Our habits got shook up because we interrupted what is normal for us.
Jocelyn had a startling break though with Ron as uke. She was so in tune with him he thought he was going to get to rest at usual place during the throw and just as he started to settle in she turned again and down he went in a smooth soft circle.


When I attacked Jocelyn she felt quick so I got quicker and it was such a revelation to change my routine of steady aggression. I continued to move quicker than what is normal for me. I used this interaction as a talking point to further illustrate what I meant to the class. Vague concepts can be hard to understand especially when well-loved habits are challenged.
I then invited nage or uke to ask questions or give feedback at any time after a series of throws.


Class was interesting and uncomfortable. I feel like I may have changed an idea that was so ingrained in me that I did not know it was there. I am still letting in come to surface.
Aikido training can be many things to many people. At Berkshire Hills Aikido I challenge long term students to examine the things that they can change, to notice how they feel and how the person feels to them and to watch their own thoughts.


It’s so easy to go sleep and to accept the mediocre from ourselves or to blame others for our choices. My life is enhanced when I feel what is here and now and make centered decisions that rise out of shared energy.

ikkyo and rowing — cousins?

Ikkyo exercise  and rowing exercise. I used to think they were cousins and tried to relate the movement of each to the other because they both involved hips and arms. I said, “Ron, how do they relate to each other?” and Ron said, “They don’t.”  That brought me up short.

And it set me free. Just because 2 things have similar qualities does not always make them the same.  

Ikkyo exercise is an extension of ki and then a dropping of heavy arms with a precise stop at the hips to end. The hips come out, then the hands. The hips come back and then the hands. Perfectly simple and often misunderstood.  Frequently people extend hips and hands together. It is a careful practice to do hips, hands, hands, hips. And it feels so very good: an accomplishment every time it is completed correctly. Very satisfying.  

Rowing exercise is lower and different than ikkyo. When rowing motion is done solo it can be very neat. Hips lead and arms follow at hip level, very relaxed with wrists slightly bent into open hands not clenched fists as they extend out.

Feet are in hamni for both and posture is chest open and shoulders back.

When ikkyo exercise is practiced with a partner nage does it in a relaxed and regular way not “more” because we are being tested. Uke extends their arm so nage has to lift through uke’s arm to accomplish the extension.  Nage’s challenge is be natural and do it just like they do when there is no resistance.  

For rowing exercise uke grabs nage’s wrists and pushes gently as nage extends out and pulls gently as nage rows in. Again the challenge is to move naturally and not get muscly just because there is resistance.

Sometimes I ask nage to stop working with uke and show me how they do it with no uke. Then I ask nage to resume working with uke with resistance in the manner they just demonstrated with no resistance. It is very challenging because we forget that we are looking for a dependable feeling in ourselves not an accomplishment of moving the arms of another.

Resistance ought to always be appropriate for the person doing the exercise. To be helpful uke should push or pull just a bit so nage has some energy to work with but not so much that they feel discouraged or develop a “pushing with muscle” feeling.

While they are not cousins Ikkyo and rowing are fundamental exercises in Aikido training that give us opportunities to develop strong extension of ki using our whole bodies with the emphasis of the hands arriving last.

Mindful again

Aikido helps with mindfulness because each nage must be in the now with each uke in each moment. We feel what happens as we move to reconciliation together. Uke offers their energy as a gift. Nage creates a framework and accepts the gift as it is offered and moves with uke in the trough of energy.  Energy is given by uke, nage and the blending of the two.  The sum of uke, nage and energy blending creates more than is given. It creates harmony and a beautiful feeling of peacefulness.

Aikido journeys.

Kokyu nage

In class last night Ron felt rough and abrupt, stopping me with his kokyu nage, his arm heavy and directive.

 When we worked on nikkyo together, his movements felt substantial and sudden on my cold tender wrists. No harm was done but the pain was sharp and I tapped out quickly. I noticed how vulnerable and sensitive I was.

Ron looked huge when he was nage for freestyle, like an elk, powerful, elegant and menacing. His strength seems to be expanding from the frame made by his shoulders and extended arms. The frame felt impenetrable and flexible like the cable used to hold up suspension bridges.

Ron feels to me, when I am uke for him, robust and healthyfor his 71 years or for that matter, a man of 40. He feels like a mountain andat the same time like an ocean wave; solid yet moving and looming. You getinvited in and then realize that you would rather be just about anywhere else.

You can’t think yourself into this bearing. You must be one with what is happening right now. You must take in all the sensations of the moment and process the situation.  Then you can move solidly to lead and follow into peaceful resolutions.

Aikido reshapes, redesigns and heals us on our journeys.

Does Aikido work?

There seems to be need to defend aikido. As in :”Why do you train in Aikido. It doesn’t ‘work”?”

It depends on how we define “work”.

The benefits I have received from my training include:

* Spacial awareness
* Safety consciousness
* Enhanced spirituality
* Increased flexibility
* Enhanced physicality (ability to move freely at 60 years of age)
* Awareness of what it mine and what is yours regarding what to change
* Enhanced ability to see my own side of the street
* Enhanced ability to see the good and not so good in others and accept them as they are
* Not to mention, I am more patient, and much less likely to blame others for my responses.

We all train in our own ways and get our own results.

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I would say Aikido “works” for me. Does it “work” for you and how does it “work”?

 

Serenity prayer aikido-

Serenity prayer aikido– what can I change? what can I accept?

And yes, Wisdom to know, now please.

Let uke grab and hold. Notice how it feels. Breathe, seek wisdom by staying with the feelings and moving with the energy provided.

The answers come in the situation, courage to change what we can, ourselves. Serenity to accept we can change ourselves, Wisdom to know which is which.

In life it can be trickier because bad motives cower behind good intentions. Careful attention must be paid to the now so the responsibility that comes from acceptance of what we can change does not allude or overwhelm us.

True technique and true love are rooted in this prayer and this practice.

 

I asked him to take it back but he didn’t.

Ki in daily life is the writing prompt Ron gave me a few days ago. I asked him to take it back but he didn’t.

I am feeling blah around it but I am practicing new behaviors so here we go.

I have noticed lately that I am feeling low. I am not excited to get out of bed. I am having a lot of negative thoughts like:

“I have worked my whole life and this is where I have ended up.”  I need to make more money or have more recognition.” Now the more money would be nice but I don’t need someone telling every second that I am doing a good job.

As I have said before I am turning sixty in a few days. I think the pall that I feel is because something in the back of my mind says 60 is the big one: the one where we really are all done. No more fun…just grown up hard stuff.

That being said…and I am going to keep telling about it until it passes because I know that it is a lie and if I keep telling it will diminish like all untruths…only the truth lasts and I want to live in the truth.

That being said…I feel great. Last night Ron and I went for a bike ride after work. We had a nice healthy dinner and then cleaned up the kitchen.

We played mitts and sticks and then an exciting game of “Ticket to Ride” where we had some healthy fun feuding.  He gets to wear the imaginary engineer hat and scarf because he won yet again.

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Work felt long yesterday and I felt lonely for a bit and sad because I think I don’t get to see my family enough.

I noticed all this because I pay attention to my feelings and notice when they arise and how long they last and if they are true or a deliberate manufacturing of self-pity.

Ron and I have a lovely life together. Yet I can wander away from it to torture myself with “what ifs”…”what if we lose the house?, what if I die first?…what if I die last? What if I get dementia?  What if I am a street lady?”

I can let myself get filled with self-centered fear like a helium balloon that breaks the string and flies off to balloon heaven (or hell).

 

I practice ki in daily life by coming back to what is real. And what is real in each moment is that I am ok. I am so ok.

Then I can see if I am ok in this moment maybe I will be ok in all the moments. One moment at a time.

I come back to now by doing something physical…it may be going for a walk, hopping on my bike for a spin, doing some ki exercises, juggling for a few moments,  vacuuming the floor, sweeping the cobwebs off the lights and my mind. Sometimes I go out to the dojo and do rolls just to remind myself that I can.

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I might write down what is bothering me, or I might write a gratitude list and share it with my gratitude group. I might write an email to my sponsor or tell Ron what is going on. I might write my blog. Sometimes I just get on my knees and pray for help. I have many tools to bring me back to the moment where all is well.

I think the challenge of getting older is to stay in the now as much as possible and to appreciate all the gifts that abound around me.

I do not have to give up and sit in my chair like my mother did. I want to grab the rest of this life and live it. I love to be alive and I am happy for the chance to see what my sixties look like on me.

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