Ki Moments Blog

Support for life’s “key” moments.

Showing posts in the category “Aikido”

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  • June 2, 2020

    Not Too Close! New Normal, New World

    Not Too Close! New Normal, New World

    Friend and colleague, Susan Poulin, produced a sweet video--The Coronavirus Shuffle--when the C-Virus first started making itself known here in NH and Maine. Susan's an author, playwright, and performance artist aka her wise and funny alter ego, Ida LeClair from Mahoosuc Mills, ME. In the video Susan/Ida reminds us what we should do to stay safe, while singing, dancing, and gesturing phrases like: "Wash your hands!" and "Wave to your neighbor!", and "Not too close! Not too close!" 

    Ida would be happy to know how often I think of her when I'm washing my hands, waving at a neighbor, or when I've wanted to respond to a close shopper or runner the way she does: "Not too close! Not too close!" Instead, I laugh at myself and regain my center.

    There is plenty about this new virus that doesn't make me smile, of course, at least not at first. One of the changes I've had to make, for example, is moving most of my in-person training (workshops, presentations, one-on-one coaching) to an online format. What?! Aikido movements on Zoom? How could that possibly work?

  • 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 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"...

  • December 3, 2019

    In the Spirit of Giving: Respect, Presence, and Pausing for Breath

    In the Spirit of Giving: Respect, Presence, and Pausing for Breath

    Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

    -- attributed to Ian Maclaren (1850-1907)

    In this month of sharing gifts, I'd like to share four brief stories from Ki Moments subscribers like yourself. Over the years, stories like these from generous readers demonstrate how big a difference it makes when we pause, take a moment to find our presence, and offer respect, sometimes when it is least expected. 

    These writers' experiences highlight real-world applications of aikido principles, such as respect, moving with instead of against, and that the only real enemy is the one within. When we practice inner self defense, we can manage whatever comes our way from outside...

  • November 5, 2019

    Sitting Off the Mat: Practicing Spiritual Aikido

    Sitting Off the Mat: Practicing Spiritual Aikido

    Always practice The Art of Peace in a vibrant and joyful manner.

    ~ Morihei Ueshiba, O Sensei

    Silence.

    I'm sitting off the mat at Portsmouth Aikido, as 27 people line up in seiza (kneeling position) to await the seminar instructor. This is the dojo I founded 25 years ago and that is now impeccably managed by its new owner and chief instructor, Aaron Cass Sensei.

    For about five minutes, it is completely silent. I sit quietly, alone, in a spectator's chair on the sidelines, taking it all in: the mat, the beautiful space, the Japanese calligraphy adorning the walls, the flowers on the kamiza (spiritual center of the dojo), the pictures of Kanai Sensei who helped us found the dojo and of O Sensei Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido.

    I sit there in peace, noticing everything, both outside and inside....

  • August 27, 2019

    Circles and Sides

    Circles and Sides

    It seems like everything is ‘sides’ these days. Which side are you on? That’s all we want to know, isn’t it? It tells us everything we need--to pigeonhole, to categorize, to finish or continue our thought. After all, if you’re not on my side, why should I talk to you? Should I even like you? As I watch the nightly news and browse social media, it would appear not.

    And yet, there are many sides, aren’t there? So many more than two. Consider a circle: walk in any direction and you return to where you began. There are no sides to a circle, just round and round. Go left and you come back to the right; go right and you eventually come back to the left. In fact, left and right aren't even different sides, they meet in the middle.

  • August 13, 2019

    Power Plays: How to Regain Power In Difficult Situations

    Power Plays: How to Regain Power In Difficult Situations

    All meaningful and lasting change begins on the inside.

    – Martin Luther

    I've been reading the first book I wrote in 2006, Unlikely Teachers: Finding the Hidden Gifts in Daily Conflict, looking for a story to help you regain power in difficult situations. I'd forgotten that the book is peppered with anecdotes from students who tell their own stories about regaining perspective in difficult situations. It was fun to rediscover this feature of Unlikely Teachers, because that's what the book is about--the teacher hidden in the difficulty. The difficulty is the teacher.

    So...instead of sharing one story, I'd like to share four that struck a chord for me. The chord is one I play often and that you are probably familiar with, and one we all forget all the time...

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