Ki Moments Blog

Support for life’s “key” moments.

Showing posts in the category “Aikido”

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  • 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...

  • July 30, 2019

    How to Rebuild a Damaged Work Relationship

    How to Rebuild a Damaged Work Relationship

    A friend and colleague asked for some advice about rebuilding her relationship with a coworker. The relationship used to be easy. The two worked well together, laughed often, and accomplished their department's goals cooperatively.

    When a change of leadership in the organization caused a realignment of roles, my friend Mary and her coworker Sarah (not their real names) got out of synch. Sarah's responsibilities with the new leader increased, which reduced her availability to support Mary. Trying to make things work, Mary stayed curious and open-minded about the change, asking for help when needed. Both the new leader and Sarah seemed to hear when Mary expressed her need for support, but nothing changed. Mary ended up finding other ways to get the department's work done, usually by staying late and working weekends.

    Mary also thought she noticed a change in Sarah's attitude--from friendly conversation to terse replies, minimal eye contact and limited connection. Trust eroded, and gradually they stopped talking unless it was absolutely necessary.

    As you might imagine, Mary began to dream up stories and interpretations for Sarah's changed behavior. I suggested Mary invite Sarah out for a cup of coffee, lunch, or a sweet and talk about the relationship. Mary emailed me asking how to begin the conversation. I thought my answers might be helpful to anyone in this situation, and Mary gave me permission to share her story and my thoughts...

  • July 2, 2019

    Another Lesson at The Pool: Being a Good Neighbor

    Another Lesson at The Pool: Being a Good Neighbor

    I'm a swimmer. Not a competitve one, but one who enjoys getting in the water for 30-45 minutes each morning to center myself and begin the day. I usually swim between 6:30 and 7:30 am. It's a busy pool at that time, and I often run into "unlikely teacher" lane partners--which I've written about in the past.

    I've been swimming at my pool for almost 40 years (since it opened), and I can get territorial. I have a favorite lane, which I think of as "my lane" (I know, I'm not proud of this, just telling it like it is). And I think new members should familiarize themselves with pool rules about circle swimming, showering, and the lanes designated for faster swimmers, leisure swimmers and so on. So I see myself as an elder at my pool, if you will, and do my best to respectfully enforce some of the etiquette. But today I received a well-timed and delivered etiquette lesson from Sam (not his real name), who didn't even know he was teaching.

  • June 18, 2019

    Two Steps, One Breath

    Two Steps, One Breath

    One of my coaching clients attends a weekly meditation class. We were talking about ways to return to center when we get triggered, and he shared a motto from the class--Two Steps, One Breath. In other words, feel your feet on the ground, and breathe.

    The motto came in handy during a challenging meeting the client had in which I was an observer...

  • June 4, 2019

    Listening When It's Not Easy

    Listening When It's Not Easy

    Many of my posts in the past few months have been focused on my new book, Turn Enemies Into Allies: The Art of Peace in the Workplace. The four phase model starts with managing yourself, making sure your mindset and emotions are centered and purposeful, before engaging others. An integral part of managing yourself is the practice of active, aligned listening, sometimes when it's not easy. And I realized recently just how long I've been making this point.

    I had the occasion to re-read my first book, Unlikely Teachers: Finding the Hidden Gifts in Daily Conflict last month. One of the stories--"Listening When It's Not Easy"--gave me pause. Because it's about listening when it's not easy to do so, I found it as relevant to our current cultural landscape as it was when I wrote it in 2006, maybe moreso. The story is about a conflict that arose as I was leading a workshop back in the day, and how I practiced metaphorical aikido by managing myself in order to manage what was coming at me....

  • April 23, 2019

    Teaching the Power of Purpose: Aikido's Unbendable Arm

    Teaching the Power of Purpose: Aikido's Unbendable Arm

    In this last video of the five-part series about my new book, Turn Enemies Into Allies: The Art of Peace in the Workplace, I demonstrate how easy life can be when we're clear about what we want for ourselves and our relationships. This feeling of flow, ease, and connection is demonstrated through The Unbendable Arm, a physical experience of the power of a clear purpose. 

    The Arm has become my metaphor for living powerfully, communicating with purpose, and expressing emotions with the intention to connect rather than harm.

  • March 26, 2019

    Resolving Coworker Conflict: Bringing the Parties Together

    Resolving Coworker Conflict: Bringing the Parties Together

    "When co-workers can't get along, what are some ways to bring them together to resolve the problem?"  -- a common question from the managers and leaders I work with.

    In this third video of the five-part series about my new book, Turn Enemies Into Allies: The Art of Peace in the Workplace, I introduce "Phase 3—Redirecting", or how to bring the parties together.

    In Phase 2--Entering and Blending, the book talks about the wisdom of working with each party to the conflict individually for one or more sessions, in order to hear them out, defuse the conflict, and teach skills. Phase 3 offers ways to begin the joint sessions--now that the parties are more prepared and skilled--to talk about what they’ve learned, plan for the future, and keep the conflict from recurring. This phase also offers questions, ideas, and tools to resolve the conflict and redirect any remaining challenges...

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