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-Koichi Tohei Aikido the Arts of Self-defense (pgs. 168-169).
We started in our last class with a focus on experiencing levels of consciousness in the manifest realm using the ikkyo undo exercise.
Today we will continue this emphasis on states of consciousness working with the hidden realm-using an expanded version of ikkyo undo called zengo undo which is ikkyo undo done in four directions (pg. 34 The Secret Teachings of Aikido).
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 routinely experience it.
Today we will focus on the hidden dimension and in later classes move on to the divine and then to the void. When we consider the hidden dimension there is an energy body that correlates to our physical body in the manifest dimension.
First, let’s start with a little bit of stretching and then misogi breathing.
This practice is a good place to focus on another of O Sensei’s teachings-standing on the Floating Bridge of Heaven (pg. 30 The Heart of Aikido). The Floating Bridge is a place where we can train to achieve a state of balance and harmony even in difficult times.
Let’s begin with a round of zengo 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.
Now we will go through a progressively more inclusive focus on the energy body as a way of experiencing fuller levels of the hidden dimension by using our energy body and our experience of zengo undo as a reference. At each point there is a sense in which you become a different person, there is a shift in identity as we quoted Nadeau Sensei in the last class.
This practice is based on the progression through the energy body outlined in Prof. Cheng Man-ching’s Thirteen Treatises on T’ai-chi Ch’uan Chapter 11, pages 77-78. Our most immediate experience of the energy body is the feeling of energy in our hands and fingers.
- Feel your hands and fingers as energy flows back and forth between them. What do you notice, to where is your attention drawn?
- Repeat zengo undo and get feedback-how did the hand focus change your experience?
- Next open the hands and arms to include your whole body, an exercise called the Universal Post.
- Repeat zengo undo and get feedback-how did the whole body focus change your experience?
- Now expanding our awareness let’s include legs, feet and arms. In Tai-chi the focus is on the relationship between the bubbling wellspring in the front of the foot to the lao gung point in the palm of the opposite hand (Cheng Tzu’s Thirteen Treatises on T’ai-chi Ch’uan pg. 78). Does adding the focus to the legs, feet and arms change your experience? The great Chinese sage Chuang-tsu taught about breathing from your heels (Chuang-tsu The Inner Chapters pg. 114).
- Repeat zengo undo and get feedback-how did the leg/foot/arm focus change your experience?
- Next feel your energy going to hara, your center. What is your experience?
- Repeat zengo undo and get feedback-how did the focus on hara change your experience?
- Moving to the spine from the low back to the top of the head. What does this focus bring in that wasn’t there before?
- Repeat zengo undo and get feedback-how did the spine focus change your experience?
By using a process of including more and more of the energy body we have gone through more inclusive layers of a functional experience of the hidden dimension.