Ki Moments Blog

Support for life’s “key” moments.

Showing posts in the category “Aikido”

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  • November 1, 2021

    Thankful to Be Thankful--It's a Practice

    Thankful to Be Thankful--It's a Practice

    From early on in my professional career, and probably my whole life, I've been thankful that I'm thankful. Because I'm an aikidoist who teaches conflict skills, and because aikido teaches that the attack can be a gift when we embrace the energy, my ability to notice what's good has grown.

    My first book, Unlikely Teachers: Finding the Hidden Gifts in Daily Conflict consists of 28 stories dedicated to this theme. And my blog is filled with posts about gratitude as a path to center, and the people in my life who have shown me how to be thankful, even when there seems to be nothing to be thankful for.

    And there are days, of course, when I forget to practice. I don't start the day with gratitude and I don't say "Thank you very much," when someone gets in my way. And that day isn't usually as easy or as fun. I notice what's hard and what's not good in my life, instead of what is.

    But because I do practice most days, I usually find my way back. And sometimes I get reminded. 

    I was reminded recently by a movie....

  • August 9, 2021

    The Mask as Metaphor

    The Mask as Metaphor

    I had an interesting conversation with a friend recently about masks. Of course I'm always alert to situations in which conflict might rear its head. I'm not looking for it, but I pay attention when it arises. I process, often in the moment, what I do, how I feel, and where I am on the centering continuum.

    I'm also curious about how people are managing this whole crazy pandemic world we're in, and what I might learn from talking with those who feel differently from me. Also, this was a friend I trust to be thoughtful, kind, and as curious as I am about these things. 

  • May 4, 2021

    Questions About Common Conflicts

    Questions About Common Conflicts

    In my workshops and coaching, I'm often asked about how to resolve specific conflicts. Especially now that workshops are happening on Zoom, the questions that appear in "Chat" will often have similar themes. Two themes that appear frequently are ones around new relationships and others around "letting go."

  • January 12, 2021

    What is Leadership Presence? -- Finding Center, Accomplishing Purpose

    What is Leadership Presence? -- Finding Center, Accomplishing Purpose

    Power properly understood is nothing but the ability to achieve purpose...."

    ~ Martin Luther King, Jr., "Where Do We Go From Here"

    "Presence" can be tricky to define, and "leadership presence" trickier. Google searches produce thousands of pages and hundreds of thousands of hits. We're interested, it seems, in knowing what they mean, whether we have them, and how to acquire them.

    Fact is, we all have presence--a quality of mind, body and spirit that is us. Sometimes our presence is more evident to others, sometimes less. Sometimes we feel big, sometimes small and contracted.

    When we walk into a room, we influence the people and the environment in that room by our presence in it. It has changed because of us. And we are changed by our experience of what is already there.

    If you're aware of energy flow, you'll observe these changes when people enter and leave, and you'll gain awareness of how you can be more intentional about the influence you have.

    How would you describe your unique presence? ...

  • December 1, 2020

    Shifting Attention: Finding the Gift

    Shifting Attention: Finding the Gift

    The way we know is fateful... Human beings and organizations move in the direction of what they inquire about. 

    ~ Jane Magruder Watkins, Appreciative Inquiry Theory and Practice

    Tell me a story about the best Christmas, best Hanukkah, best holiday season you ever had. What made it so wonderful? Who was involved? What about that time makes you remember it so vividly? How did you contribute to its special qualities? Write the story down if you like.

    As you think about this special time of year, what do you think is at the heart of the holiday you celebrate? Can you look for that this season?

    Sometimes, when the world feels upside down, fear and anxiety dominate our thoughts, and we forget to appreciate the gifts all around us, and especially the beauty and joy of this season. It happens to me, too. Just like any practice, however, we can get better at shifting toward what's good, what works, what is there to be loved and appreciated....

  • August 25, 2020

    Awase in the Time of Covid

    Awase in the Time of Covid

    by Aaron Cass

    The word Aikido (合気道) is made up of three kanji. The first character, 合(ai), may be translated as ‘harmony,’ ‘confluence,’ or ‘agreement.’ This kanji can also be used on its own as the verb 合わせる(awaseru) meaning to ‘match,’ ‘fit,’ or ‘join together.’ If I wanted to set my watch to someone else’s we would 時計を合わせる, tokei wo awaseru, ‘set our watches to the same time.’

    In the context of training, much of our practice is 合わせ稽古 (awasegeiko), or what might be called cooperative practice. We refer to the person who applies the technique as 投げ (nage, ‘person who throws’) or 取り (tori, ‘person who executes the technique’). The attacker, who later finds himself on the receiving end of the technique, is called 受け (uke, literally, ‘person who receives’). These are prescribed roles, and in class we alternate between them with our partners as we practice.

    One of the greatest criticisms of Aikido on the Internet--for those who pay attention to these sorts of things--stems from this approach to training. When uke attacks, he knows he’s going to be thrown or pinned. As nage, we know we’re going to ‘win’ and successfully apply our technique to the other person because that’s our role. The criticism then becomes that Aikido is merely an elaborate performance in which people take turns falling down for one another like some sort of martial dance....

  • 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....

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