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Aikido Mindset

Hold Your Breath

Focus, Intention, and the Value in the Pause.

“Breathe in,” Sensei said as he raised his sword to the sky, aligning it with his midline as if it were a lightning rod. “Imagine drawing energy down this line, to concentrate it here,” the sword sunk into a ready position, held at the hara, the physical center of the body.

“Hold your breath.”

I did as directed, closing my throat to prevent the air escaping. The breath did not want to be held. It strained against my upper chest, begging for release. Internally I squirmed, waiting for Sensei to move, to give the signal to release the energy I was struggling to hold in my lungs and in my sword. 

 

suburi with bokkenBreath is Energy

Kokyu the Japanese word for breath, is used synonymously with energy, power, and spirit.Learn More

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Don’t Be a Destroyer

Practicing peace amidst conflict

There is another way.

Recently, I was introducing Aikido to a student who came to try out the Kids Aikido class. While practicing our basic tai no henko, he looked at me and asked, “and then do you break their arm?”

He was not joking, nor did he show any hint of malice. It’s not that he wanted to see an arm broken, it just seemed to him the logical next step in that situation.

The boy is not unusual in this. Another student trying Aikido for the first time last week, this one an adult, saw an opportunity to punch for the face during a similar exercise. Instinctually she felt the urge to strike, but did nothing to address the fact that uke had a controlling grasp on her arm.Learn More

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The Fight That Will Not Be Won

White Rose in Glass

Last week a longtime friend and supporter of our dojo, Celia Nachlas, passed away. Mother to Miriam Lippe and grandmother to Larissa and Hannah Lippe, Celia has contributed much to the wide family of people who knew her. I appreciate the time she spent here.

“I know this glass is already broken, so I enjoy it incredibly.” — Achaan Chah Subato

I first read those words sometime after my Sensei had passed away. It was a passage he’d enjoyed; something which held meaning as he faced an illness from which he might not recover. Something he wanted to be read when he had passed.

I am a fixer, a problem solver – especially where it comes to health and well-being. I never accept that an injury, illness, or bad outcome is just the way of things.… Learn More

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Clearing Cobwebs

Seedling Blowing In the Breeze

More than any other chore, I enjoy dusting and sweeping. It’s simple, relaxing, powered only by my body and a simple hand tool. No spraying or scrubbing, no loud noises.

That doesn’t mean I do it more often. Dusting never seems as urgent as dishes, or laundry, so I tend to neglect it.

Seedling Blowing In the Breeze

This week I traveled to Virginia to be an uchideshi, a student living in the dojo to work and to train. For my personal responsibility, I chose to maintain spaces that required more dusting and sweeping than the other spaces. I believed the meditative quality of the work would be good for me after intensive training. I then discovered the dilemma of clearing cobwebs.

As I cleared the cobwebs from the sunroom on the first day, I felt a growing satisfaction.

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Hope Blooms

Tree with bright yellow flowers

Darkness has risen in the world.

Maybe it was always present. Most likely, you have some sense of what I’m talking about. That’s good, because I’m not going to explain it. It is likely we would diverge on the specifics, and peering into the abyss is not the purpose of this piece.

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.
– Friedrich Nietzsche

I’m Writing About Hope.

Tree with bright yellow flowersThis is the vision that greeted me as I entered the dojo one morning, not long ago. The tree is two years old, and this spring it bloomed in earnest for the first time.… Learn More

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