Ki Moments Blog

Support for life’s “key” moments.

Showing posts in the category “Inner Self Defense”

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  • November 21, 2017

    Thankful: A Ki Moment at Portsmouth Harbor

    Thankful: A Ki Moment at Portsmouth Harbor

    My early morning walk takes me by the waterfront in Portsmouth, NH, where I live. I see the sun rising over the fast-flowing Piscataqua River and the fishing boats moored nearby. I feel the cool autumn breeze and hear the seagulls calling to each other.

    I have my headphones on, listening to an audiobook. It's a good story, and the audio takes me away from where I am in time and space. I lose my sense of place, and pretty soon I no longer see the harbor, feel the breeze, or hear the gulls.

    But.... this particular morning the sunrise over the harbor pushes its way into my consciousness: Stop! Take those headphones off! Look, listen, feel. Be. Be present to the awesomeness of this moment.

    And I had to take the headphones off. It was an exciting chapter, too!

    I watched myself make the decision to stop, take them off and look around...

  • October 10, 2017

    Center As You Enter: Creating Centering Practices That Stick

    Center As You Enter: Creating Centering Practices That Stick

    I open my eyes. Morning.

    Quiet time. Meditation.

    I  relish this moment. Yes, there is much to do. The difficult conversation ahead. The pile of work sitting on my desk and on my mind. The emails to return. The seminar to design. Do I have time?

    Yes. I will make time. I will sit quietly and do nothing. Nothing except to notice the breath coming in and going out of my body. The thoughts, the physical awareness, the birds chirping outside my window. All coming and going, like the breath.

    Wendy Palmer, a teacher of aikido and leadership presence categorizes the many ways to practice centering into three areas: committed practice, ritual practice, and spontaneous practice.

  • September 26, 2017

    The Language of Centering

    The Language of Centering

    The driver cut me off without warning. We almost collided. My pulse accelerated, my adrenaline pumped, my anger went from 0 to 60 in less than a second.

    I breathe in, exhale, and choose to center. At first I'm only about 20 percent centered. I keep breathing. 30%. I think: what rational explanation would allow for that driver to do what he did? 40%. More breathing. 50%. Smile to myself--everything’s okay. No damage done. 75%. It’s over, without me doing anything I’ll regret later. Life is good. 100%.

    The language and practice of centering is one in which some people are fairly fluent. Yet even those who understand the concept are often unsure exactly how to get there on purpose.

  • August 28, 2017

    Centered in Center Field

    Centered in Center Field


    When Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the pioneer of positive psychology, writes about the "flow" state, he describes it as a quality of being, with certain traits:

    • Challenges are higher than average.
    • Skills are higher than average.
    • You're doing what you really like to do and are completely involved.
    • You have clarity; you know what needs to be done and how well you're doing.
    • A feeling of serenity; going beyond the bounds of the ego.
    • Timelessness; totally focused on the present; time disappears.

    This pretty much describes how it was on July 31, New Hampshire Day at Fenway Park, when I was invited to sing the National Anthem at a Boston Red Sox game. I was honored to be in this position. And I knew it was going to be a test of sorts and an opportunity to practice what I teach....

  • August 15, 2017

    Time Management is Self Management

    Time Management is Self Management


    When I think about time management I smile. Time is what it is. What we manage is ourselves. Time management is self-management, energy management. If I only have so much energy, where do I focus it? So this is really a conversation about Purpose.

    In Aikido, we have a free-style sparring practice called "randori," in which the student stands alone on the practice mat and as many as five opponents attack simultaneously. The term literally means "chaos taking." The workplace—and life—can feel like this. Which task, event, or relationship do I take on first? How do I manage the chaos?

    The first secret of randori is to handle one adversary at a time....

  • July 18, 2017

    Practice Deep Breathing

    Practice Deep Breathing


    I saw an article recently titled "Rise Above Your Awful Commute" about how to stay calm in the midst of traffic jams, rapid transit delays, commuter rail breakdowns and other similar challenges of getting where you want to go on time. The article encouraged strategies to be productive, lower tension in crowded places, and calm yourself during the commute as well as ways to shake off the effects once you arrive at your destination, such as:

    • Download and listen to calming music, audio or e-book.
    • Take a walk around the block before going to your desk.
    • Think about an inspiring person, story, or value you hold.
    • Spend a few minutes in a setting with natural light, vegetation or similar calming attributes.

    What stuck with me most: practice deep breathing...

  • July 4, 2017

    Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

    Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

    I was a grouch yesterday morning. Not sure why, but I arrived at the pool noticing all the things that were wrong--Why is everybody so noisy today? She never turns the shower off! Oh, that swimmer practically ran me over!

    Luckily (!) I noticed and centered myself. As I've often written in these posts, centering doesn't always make me a nicer person or make difficult emotions go away, but it does show me I have a choice in this moment about how I respond.

    When I centered myself, I could see that I was the one who needed to change. And I decided to smile. At myself. Then I decided to smile just because it's a lot more fun than the alternative. And then I decided to appreciate what I could about the day, the water, the weather, the people, and whatever else I could find.

  • June 6, 2017

    What Aikido Can Teach Us About Learning Plateaus

    What Aikido Can Teach Us About Learning Plateaus

    The achievement of goals is important. But the real juice of life, whether it be sweet or bitter, is to be found not nearly so much in the products of our efforts as in the process of living itself, in how it feels to be alive.
    ~George Leonard

    I receive many thoughtful responses to my monthly posts. Recently an Aikidoist from Canberra Australia, James Samana, emailed me some late night reflections on his Aikido journey. 

    James is a black belt in Aikido and works for the Australian Public Service as an executive coach, course designer and facilitator. I couldn't help extending his Aikido experience to the way we practice, learn, and attain mastery in any endeavor, including the mastery of conflict and communication--if that indeed ever happens.

  • April 11, 2017

    How to Say No: Tips and Tools

    How to Say No: Tips and Tools

    Assertiveness has never been my strong point. Maybe that's why I watch people who are really good at it, read books and take courses on it, and practice whenever I can.

    The impetus for my current life's work teaching conflict and communication skills actually grew out of my inability to express myself. 

    I was a successful real estate agent and company owner back in 80's, and I often found myself in the middle of a heated contest between buyer and seller or with a banker, building inspector, or concerned family member. My default conflict style is to accommodate other people’s wishes, and that isn’t always useful in negotiated transactions.

  • March 28, 2017

    Coaching Corner: A Difficult Conversation With My Daughter

    Coaching Corner: A Difficult Conversation With My Daughter

    Recently a reader sent me a question after reading my “Checklist for Difficult Conversations” at JudyRinger.com. She described a difficult conversation in which her daughter said some things that were hard for her to hear. Afterwards Mom was struggling not to take her daughter’s remarks personally and asked for advice and maybe some tools to help her respond and not make things worse.

    The following is how I replied to Mom. Since most of us have similar goals to hold conversations that are useful, to not take tough comments personally, and to stay grounded in purpose, I’m sharing my reply more broadly. 

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