Ki Moments Blog

Support for life’s “key” moments.

Showing posts in the category “Happinessoptimism”

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  • 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....

  • 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....

  • 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?

  • December 31, 2019

    Looking Back From the Future

    Looking Back From the Future

    When I first met Thomas Crum, my most generous mentor in this work I do with conflict and aikido, he asked the group he was leading to partner up and do an exercise on visioning--a very different kind of visioning.

    Instead of imagining the year ahead and writing down goals, Tom asked us to imagine we were looking back on the year ahead from a vantage point of having already lived it.

    We were to tell our partner all the things we hoped the year would bring--financial well-being, strong relationships, physical health, workplace success--but in a way that told the story as if these things had already happened. 

  • 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...

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