Five Steps to Mindfulness
The concept of fullness and methods for achieving it are often more implicit than explicit in Aikido. It was in Aikido practice that I had the opportunity to study myself in movement. Aikido was my laboratory for developing and testing my ideas and methods of body awareness training. Aikido pointed me in the direction of fullness. However, the concepts and exercises are generally not brought out in the specific, systematic ways that I need to learn and like to teach. In the end, I had to develop my own training methods. These training methods emphasize breaking complex, global processes down into modular units of exercise and skill acquisition. In the next section, in order to give an idea of the methods by which I teach body awareness and effective movement, I will briefly describe examples of some of the fundamental body awareness exercises I use. Efficient body use is the foundation for strain-free, effective movements for task performance and is also the basis for emotional...
The systematic process of body awareness teaching that I have developed I call Being In Movement mindbody training (BIM), and it is this which forms the basis of my teaching both in and out of Aikido. BIM is an educational process which uses practical movement experiments to help people learn how to examine the body as the self, and it explores the underlying links between structural functional efficiency, emotional spiritual wholeness, and social justice. By examining how breathing, posture, and movement simultaneously shape and are shaped by thoughts, feelings, and intentions, BIM teaches people how to discover the underlying ideas that rule and restrict their movements and how to develop more effective strategies for action strategies based on mindbody integrity.
Think back to the four body awareness themes that I discussed earlier. Because space is limited, I cannot go into full details about how I teach fullness as the foundation for powerful, efficient, strain-free hoeing. However, generally speaking, the body should be well-aligned, with full breathing, and power being generated by the legs and hips. There should be a balanced and open awareness of the self in space. In particular, using the hoe makes use of the rowing exercise and is very much like using the Aikido jo (short staff). It is not necessary for pregnancy to be so uncomfortable. It is relatively easy for most pregnant women to learn how to use body awareness to create comfort. Body and movement awareness education is very important (along with exercise programs and childbirth classes) for a safe and comfortable experience of pregnancy.
The work with breathing, posture, movement, and intentionality combine to create the mindbody state of fullness. This section on applications of body awareness training will show how that state of fullness can be applied in various areas. We will start with simple postural work and move on to work with developmental and emotional difficulties. These may seem like radically different topics, but from the perspective which sees the human being as a somatic whole, these topics are fundamentally much the same and can be addressed by attending to mindbody wholeness and fullness. This section on computer use illustrates one example of how body awareness training can be applied in business and industry. I have also done numerous presentations to massage therapists on strain-free ways of delivering massages, and I have taught factory assembly line workers how to move in ways that reduce strain and fatigue. In a seemingly very The workstation design and setup are based on body awareness. The...
All of the BIM work on postural stability and efficient movement certainly applies to teaching Aikido. In addition, the somatic self-regulation that I teach as part of conflict resolution training also applies. In this section, I will focus on how one particular body awareness concept that is part of Being In Movement can improve Aikido training. In my Aikido practice and teaching I emphasize aligning the body vertically. This focus came to me early in my practice, though it wasn't something that was emphasized or even taught. For me, it was a consequence of the meditations I was doing on symmetry and expansiveness of awareness. If your posture leans in one direction or another, your awareness leans as well. The only body placement that allows equal commitment to all directions in the environment is the The same considerations of spiritual balance and combative readiness apply in doing any other Aikido techniques. There are a lot more elements of BIM that I use in enhancing my Aikido...
One of the exercises that I use to keep present and in faith, is to catch myself judging another or lacking of forgiveness. These states of mind do not come from faith they come from fear. You will find that you are constantly judging, and this does not just refer to negative judgments. Accepting things as they are is as freeing as it is difficult. Reality is that at any given moment things are exactly as they should be because they are responding to Universal law. The fact that we think that they should be different means we are not accepting what is, we are denying reality. How does this transfer to a martial art, you may ask Allowing things to be as they are frees us from fighting and contesting. A key element in Systema is not to contest for space or to hold ground. Learning to blend and flow with force is taken to an exceptional level. It also keeps us in the present moment of time, freeing us from the confines of the past and future. The conscious human mind, the ego mind, is...
First of all, at times like that, nothing distinct enters your mind. Your consciousness is vague and you are in a state of subservience to your instincts. Sleep is the time when the Ki of the Universe flows into your body, therefore, you should sleep soundly. But lying in bed after you have once awakened will not rest your body. You must jump straight out of the bed resolutely, then you can call forth the plus Ki that gets your day off to a positive start.
This exercise is a way of practicing keeping an open, even, symmetrical awareness of your whole body. Most people, when they first start working with this exercise, experience that there are areas of their body or directions of their breath that are not clear for them. Any dim spot in the feeling of your body's field of attention is an area of reduced body awareness and reduced vigor. Finding gaps in your field of awareness and breathing life back into them is a way of remembering to live fully in your body. More than that, it is a way of contacting the feeling of living fully in the world. You can do this exercise for a few minutes every day, and it will tremendously improve your Aikido practice.
There are many many combinations of attacks and defense techniques to practice. Underlying that practice is the study of body awareness and movement and the study of conflict and harmony. Every Aikido class is different, but there are some typical patterns that you will experience in all the Aikido classes.
Acts of kindness and love may be unremembered by the doer, but they are remembered by others. These gifts and gratitude for them, stored in the minds and memories of others, are the treasure stored up in heaven. See the review of Miracle of Mindfulness (Thich Nhat Hanh, 1987) for an unforgettable kindness done by a nameless old woman under the most amazing circumstances. See Conari Press (1993) for many more. What was the effect on the receiver
A difficult one to develop this confidence and control. This is also the reason why our motto is the latin 'Per Ardua Et Astra' (through hardship to the stars), and why such people as the American Dog brothers work with the motto 'higher consciousness through harder contact'. Code Red is the final stage. You have evaluated the situation in Code Orange. If there is a threat, prepare to fight or run. Never stand and fight if there is a possibility of flight. If no threat presents itself, drop back to Orange and Yellow. Never lose your awareness and drop to White -many people have been beaten in real situations because they have lost their zanshin (awareness). Stay switched on.
During this period, the samurai were relegated to bureaucratic roles, with little fighting to do. Some killed time in a life of dissipation, but others became rededicated to the pursuit of the martial arts. For many of them, however, this rededication involved a shift in the meaning of these arts. The martial arts had always stressed mental as well as physical training in preparation for combat. However, before the Tokugawa era, mental training was practiced as part of the fighting arts in order to perfect skill in fighting. In the Tokugawa period, since there was relatively little need for fighting, the fighting arts often came to be practiced as a form of mental training. For those arts which were transformed in this way--and not all were-- the aim of martial training became the attainment of a state of complete concentration and inner peace and the way of living that springs from it.
Seminars Seminars are invaluable in broadening your awareness of different approaches to Aikido. Students who are testing for fourth and third kyu should have attended at least one seminar per year since their last test. Students who are testing for second kyu and above should have attended at least two seminars per year since their last test.
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