Ki Moments Blog

Support for life’s “key” moments.

  • May 19, 2020

    The Tao of Tea

    The Tao of Tea

    My Ki Moments post today, The Tao of Tea, is by Jonathan Blakeslee, who writes about someone from his past, a role model who used aikido principles to disarm and redirect a difficult customer. As Jonathan puts it, I learned a lot from Veerinder, who in many ways inspired me to walk the path I am on now work-wise.

    If you live anywhere in or near the seacoast of New Hampshire, you probably know Jonathan and his work. He and his restaurant--White Heron Tea--are a wonderful feature of life here. Even in the shutdown, White Heron Tea continues to offer healthy and organic signature teas (and delicious muffins, cookies, and sandwiches). Knowing this, I think you'll appreciate Jonathan's essay even more.

    Whether Veerinder knew of aikido, he certaily understood how to turn an enemy into an ally, and how to advocate without attacking. Thank you, Jonathan, for the wonderful story....

  • May 5, 2020

    How Is Aikido Relevant Today?

    How Is Aikido Relevant Today?

    by Brian Maguire

    I’m sitting at my desk, practicing the social distancing advised by the CDC. The kids are off in cyberspace and I’m awaiting news about a friend who is getting tested for Covid-19 exposure. Like many, I’m anxious about this situation. I’ve never lived through a pandemic and I’m trying to cope. Aikido has been helping with that.

    Aikido training does much for a person. It teaches that through practice with scary situations, you can learn to control your emotional response. In aikido, this starts with the initial attack. You cannot stop the attack, just respond to it. You cannot control your attacker, just yourself. The attacker doesn’t have to be a smiling partner that says "onegai shimasu".* It can just as easily be a faceless virus. Maintain your center and calmly meet the attack....

  • April 21, 2020

    Human Kindness: Passing it Along

    Human Kindness: Passing it Along

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about kindness. Not in any big, universal way. Just in the small, day-to-day way. I think the impetus was an email I received from a good friend, Pam McPhee, who sent along a poem as well. The email and poem are printed below.

    Pam is a special spirit in the world who teaches by example. She doesn't know she's doing it most of the time, but she just is kindness, compassion, resilience, and good, and I'm grateful for her presence in my life.

    Maybe the email started my reflections or maybe there’s just something in the air these days. A pressing need to be nicer, to notice the good, and to pass it along. And I've been making a conscious effort to notice what is already good everywhere around me, if I choose to look....

  • April 7, 2020

    Centering in the Time of Corona: The Work of Optimism

    Centering in the Time of Corona: The Work of Optimism

    Life itself is always a trial. In training, you must test and polish yourself in order to face the greatest challenges of life.

    ~Morihei Ueshiba, Founder of Aikido

    *********************************************************

    In this time of uncertainty and unsettledness, but also of surprising kindness, generosity, and creativity, I’m reminded about the importance of centering and true power. 

    Centering—the ability to access our clarity, flexibility, stability, and compassion. A mind-body state of calm at the center of the storm.

    *********************************************************

    True power—the ability to achiever purpose, to turn obstacles into energy and resistance into connection.

    In my work, I teach these concepts through aikido activities I learned from my teacher, Thomas Crum, many years ago. They offer a physical grounding in these concepts and a path to presence and personal power, which are especially important in difficult moments.

    Just like you probably, I've had some amazing ki moments in the past month, and my emotional energy has gone through its ups and downs. Below are links that I hope will help you return to center, and to see the opportunities available to you every day.

  • March 24, 2020

    Not Cancelled: Love

    Not Cancelled: Love

    It's good to do uncomfortable things. It's weight training for life.

    --Anne Lamott

    Things have changed. The world is not the way it was a month ago. 

    • The pool is closed, swim teams canceled, my daily swim on hold.
    • Aikido classes canceled.
    • Public Library closed.
    • Workshops canceled.
    • Church canceled.
    • Grocery store shelves with holes where canned goods and paper products used to be.
    • Many losing jobs and worried about the next meal.

    And yet....

    • Calls with family increase exponentially, making sure we're all healthy and that Mom is safe.
    • Daily routine more relaxed, less stressed.
    • Learning to work virtually, be more creative.
    • Long walks, hikes, and rambles in the warming weather, strangers smiling and waving at me.
    • Families playing outside together.
    • Restaurants, businesses and residents pitching in to help neighbors and others who need food and assistance.
    • Reading a lot, my pile of "someday" books dwindling.
    • Quiet time-yes!
    • My suitcase unpacked!
    • Church on Facebook Live!

    An inspiring graphic from WeAreUnsinkable.com appeared by way of my sister, Paula, on Facebook last week, and it helped me regain some perspective....

  • March 10, 2020

    Training Your Inner Dragon

    Training Your Inner Dragon

    Wendy Palmer is writing a new book on "Dragons and Power." It's about how to to cultivate benevolent dragon energy. Quoting Wendy: 

    The power within us is like a dragon. In order for our dragons to become protectors they need training. We need to have a way to keep our dragon energy from running wild and becoming destructive.

    I love this concept of an inner dragon and can't wait to read Wendy's book. The concept puts me in mind of the DreamWorks animated movie "How to Train Your Dragon"...

  • February 25, 2020

    The In-Between Place

    The In-Between Place

    I'm excited to introduce a good friend, Susan Poulin. Actor, author, playwright and performance artist, Susan recently created a Talk for TEDxPortsmouth, here in Portsmouth NH where I live. Susan's TEDx Talk--Can You Find Your Identity Through a Heritage-Language--is fabulous. You should watch it if you want to see a really great Tedx Talk, and learn a bit about Susan's journey to re-learn her native French language. 

    As fascinating as is Susan's story of the journey back to her roots, how she achieved the goal of a stellar online video is an education in centered presence and emotional intelligence, and I asked her to write about it. I know you'll enjoy Susan's video, and the tale of discovery that led there....

  • February 11, 2020

    Predict the Potholes

    Predict the Potholes

    Carrol Suzuki is an online friend, colleague, and teacher. Her posts always inspire me to be a better listener, and her "Listening Better" website is a guide and instruction manual for how to do just that.

    Carrol is recognized as one of North America's premier business and workplace listening coaches, facilitators and specialists, and her writing is terrific and to the point. I love how much she says with so few words. I've passed along her nuggets before, and here's another for your learning pleasure.... (Thank you, Carrol!).

  • January 28, 2020

    I'm About to Learn Something!

    I'm About to Learn Something!

    Whenever conflict, large or small, comes along we are about to learn something.
    —Donna Schaper, Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City.

    I write often about the opportunities inherent in conflict, and about the importance of practice. The concept of practice applies to any skill we want to cultivate and, without doubt, practicing new conflict and communication skills requires some risk-taking.

    Yet, every conversation we engage in can be seen as a kind of practice. In the ones that go well, it may be easier to see the skills we used -- I had a clear purpose, I was centered, I asked some useful questions that helped my partner get to what was really bothering them.

    Yet, in my experience, it is the challenging, difficult, risky conversations that offer the greatest learning....

  • January 14, 2020

    Think of Something Pleasant: Mantras for the New Year

    Think of Something Pleasant: Mantras for the New Year

    How do you regain perspective?

    When I'm anxious, I usually go to the woods or the ocean, take a walk around my neighborhood, or make myself a cup of tea. I get out of that little corner of my mind that likes to obsess about what could go wrong, and instead look for what's right. I find a lot of beauty--in nature and in people--if I can change the filter on my viewing lens.

    Another way I can regain perspective is to watch what others do. How do they manage the obstacles that come their way, sometimes without warning? What mantras, values, and beliefs do they hold that give them back their sense of balance?

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