Ki Moments Blog

Support for life’s “key” moments.

Showing posts in the category “Centered Presence”

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  • December 1, 2021

    The Path Is Made by Walking

    The Path Is Made by Walking

    Traveler, your footprints


    Are the path and nothing more;


    Traveler, there is no path,


    The path is made by walking.

    ~ Antonio Machado, excerpt from Traveler, There Is No Path 
    (Trans. Asa Cusack)

    Last summer my friend Melodee related a story about centering that stuck with me. When Melodee was a teacher she had a centering bell she'd ring for her students as they returned from recess. 

    As they flowed back into the four walls of her classroom, wired with frenetic energy, she'd let them get somewhat settled then ring the bell. She'd explained the purpose on day one, so they knew the ringing tone meant for them to take a breath, exhale, and go to the quiet, centered place that was uniquely theirs.

    There is No Path

    This time of year is alive with energy--frenetic and flowing, excited and solemn, relished and resisted. All kinds of ki flowing in, out and around, so much that we're not sure what to do with it all. Families celebrating, children anticipating, workplaces buzzing with holiday joy, preparations, and even fear about what the holidays might bring this year.

    Recently I was reminded of the Antonio Machado poem, Traveler, There Is No Path, an excerpt of which begins this post, and--for me--its reflection on living a more intentional life....

  • 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....

  • October 4, 2021

    Be the Vaccine: An Inoculation for Stress

    Be the Vaccine: An Inoculation for Stress

    My sister works hard. She's a lab tech in a busy university hospital where she's been a valued member of her team for many years. As you might imagine, her workload and the pressure for accuracy have only increased during the pandemic. Sometimes the stress is more than she can take, and so we were talking recently about ways to de-stress in a stressful environment....

  • 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. 

  • June 29, 2021

    The Non-Comeback Comeback After an Insult

    The Non-Comeback Comeback After an Insult

    Tammy Lenski is a frequent guest on my blog. I read her posts consistently, and I love sharing them. This one gave me pause not only because the Zen koan was so poignant but also because I have been on the other side of Tammy's story. I've had moments of judgment about mask wearers. I've never spoken my judgment out loud, but I've been there. Most of the time I center myself and shift fairly quickly to wonder, curiosity, and non-judgment. And now, thanks to Tammy's story--to compassion.

    As always, I'm grateful to Tammy for sharing her wisdom, and for the insight I gained. Enjoy this great story and the Zen koan.....

  • June 1, 2021

    Should I Say Something? When to Speak Up In a Group

    Should I Say Something? When to Speak Up In a Group

    A reader wrote in recently with a difficult (and common) question about when to speak up in a group, and what to do if you speak and then wish you hadn't.

    From my reader:

    I read your message on how you can always center yourself--anytime and anywhere. However I have a hard time knowing when to speak up in a spiritual circle I belong to. We’re supposed to listen and not acknowledge our reactions, and this is hard for me. Sometimes I speak and have a tough time feeling okay afterward, as if I'd done something wrong. Any advice?

    I love this question because it hits on something that happens to me quite often, and I know from experience what it's like to wonder whether I should say something or stay quiet in a group setting....

  • April 20, 2021

    Noticing the Now: The Power of This... Ki... Moment

    Noticing the Now: The Power of This... Ki... Moment

    On my newsletter and website, I use the slogan "Support for life's 'key' moments..." to help readers understand how I use the word "ki" and how to pronounce it. This constant association between "ki" and "key" in my writing and my thoughts--as in: "Each moment is a 'ki moment' or "Make this moment a 'ki moment' --has reinforced for me the awareness that all we really have is this... ki... moment. 
     
    When I first named this blog and newsletter Ki Moments, I had just a general idea of what I meant by it. I still like this as a working definition, and the phrase "this... ki... moment" has come to mean more...

  • April 6, 2021

    Building Muscle: The Benefits of Meditation

    Building Muscle: The Benefits of Meditation

    A few years ago, I found myself in a skid on an icy bridge. I reacted, turning the wheel in one direction and then another. In that perilous moment I forgot all I knew about how to handle a car.

    High emotion can cause reactive states. Neuroscience tells us that when emotions are triggered, our fight-or-flight sympathetic nervous system activates and our mind and body lose connection with each other. At those moments the limbic brain proclaims an emergency, recruiting the rest of the brain and body to its urgent agenda. The hijacking occurs in an instant, triggering a reaction crucial moments before the thinking brain can glimpse what is happening. 

    In this past year of pandemic, according to clinical psychologist Christine Runyan, we have been in a constant state of fight-or-flight, our nervous systems continually on alert. In her revelatory interview--What’s Happening in Our Nervous Systems‪?--on Krista Tippett's "On Being" podcast, Runyan explains how and why we are feeling exhausted, our emotions on short fuses, and tending toward despair even as we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel....

  • March 23, 2021

    Sleepovers at Baba's: Coming Back to Home Base

    Sleepovers at Baba's: Coming Back to Home Base

    Once upon a time when I was very young, maybe between three and seven years old, I would often stay overnight at my grandmother's house. My grandmother, my grandfather, and my aunt Mary lived together in Oak Park, Illinois. I've written several posts about Mimi, which is what we cousins called our Aunt Mary. My grandmother we called Baba. She and my "Gramps" emigrated from Greece as teens and built a strong life and family in America.

    One of my fondest memories continues to be sleeping over at their house--Baba, Mimi, and Gramps's house on Maple Avenue. The photo that heads this story is that house. Of all the lovely places I've lived in my life, I think my memory of that house brings the most peace. Here's why....

  • March 9, 2021

    Centering, Not Centered

    Centering, Not Centered

    Beginning again and again is the actual practice, not a problem to be overcome.
    --Sharon Salzberg

    How centered are you right now? Are we ever completely centered, or centered for very long? The more I teach and practice centering myself in this life, the more I'm pretty sure (at least for me) that being centered is really a continual RE-centering process. 

    Life is always changing, as difficulty and conflict arise and recede. The continuous losing and coming back to center is natural. There may not be a Perfect Center. Only Centering, as we make continual little adjustments and return again and again--a natural and beautiful part of what it means to be human and to be aware.

    So let's practice....

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