I appreciate everyone participating in this new format and welcome to everyone coming for the first time. We are working to keep our regular class schedule going so it will be easier to return to our training together.
Please share any comments, suggestions or questions from Tuesday’s class.
This difficult time, while we wish it was not going on, is an opportunity to deepen our practice by appreciating what is really important to us and what we can let go of-Joseph Campbell passage (Hero With a Thousand Faces pg. 25).
We started in our last class with a focus on experiencing dimensions of consciousness using the rowing exercise, fune-kogi undo and the kuji kiri.
Today we will continue this emphasis on states of consciousness working with the three basic states as O Sensei spoke of them: manifest; hidden and divine-(pg. 22 The Secret Teachings of Aikido).
Everyone experiences these three states on a daily basis. The manifest is the physical dimension experienced during our waking state as we go through our daily activities. The hidden dimension is the realm of subtle energies which are familiar to Aikido students as ki. Everyone experiences the hidden dimension in the dream state. The dream state is not the hidden dimension but it is one way we commonly experience it. The divine dimension is more difficult to describe but is a place of pure emptiness in which creation is present in its potential form. Everyone experiences this when in a state of deep dreamless sleep. But it can be experienced consciously, with practice.
This “map” of consciousness is not unique to O Sensei or Japan. It goes back at least as far as India (Shankara’s Crest-Jewel of Discrimination pgs. 45-49). We also find it in similar forms in Tibet (The Three Levels of Spiritual Perception by Deshung Rinpoche pg. 9) and China (Cheng Tzu’s Thirteen Treatises on T’ai Chi Ch’uan pgs. 75-81) and many other traditions East and West. In his bestselling book, Proof of Heaven, Eben Alexander also describes a similar structure.
The Aikido of Petaluma website has more information on this in recent blog posts and some videos.
Today we will focus on the manifest dimension and in later classes move on to the hidden and divine. When we consider the manifest or physical dimension our most immediate experience of the manifest is with the physical body.
In this class we will use another Aikido exercise, ikkyo undo, as our reference point as we did on Tuesday with the rowing exercise.
First, let’s start with a little bit of stretching and then misogi breathing.
Let’s begin with a round of ikkyo undo six times on each side. As we do it try and remember your experience so we can refer back to it as our practice progresses.
- Feedback on the first round of practice.
Now we will go through a progressively more inclusive focus on the body as a way of experiencing fuller levels of the manifest dimension by using our body and our experience of ikkyo as a reference. At each point there is a sense in which you become a different person, there is a shift in identity-Nadeau Sensei quote (Aikido in America pg.s 70 and 71).
- Feel your hands and fingers. When you do what do you notice, to where is your attention drawn?
- Repeat ikkyo undo and get feedback-how did the hand focus change your experience?
- Next feel your entire arm including your hands, arms and shoulders. Where is your attention drawn?
- Repeat ikkyo undo and get feedback-how did the whole arm focus change your experience?
- From the arms let’s shift your attention to include your hips. How does your experience change?
- Repeat ikkyo undo and get feedback-how did the hip focus change your experience?
- Now expanding our awareness let’s include legs and feet. Does adding the focus to the entire lower body change your experience?
- Repeat ikkyo undo and get feedback-how did adding the leg focus change your experience?
- Moving to the core of the body include the spine from the low back to the base of the head. What does the focus on your core bring in what wasn’t there before?
- Repeat ikkyo undo and get feedback-how did the spine focus change your experience?
- Completing the process adding your head and now we have complete body awareness. How does this complete body awareness enhance your experience?
- Repeat ikkyo undo and get feedback-how did the full body awareness change your experience?
By using a progressive process of including more and more of the physical body we have gone through progressive layers of a functional experience of the manifest dimension.
Feedback on practice.
Finish with misogi breathing.