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.
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-The Essence of Aikido by John Stevens (pgs. 97-98).
In our last on-line class we began our series of classes focusing on center. We started with a practice of the rowing exercise (kogi-fune undo) and experienced levels of center available to us in the manifest/physical dimension of consciousness.
Today we will continue our focus on center expanding our practice with a core principle from O Sensei, chinkon kishin. This refers to calming the spirit and returning to the divine or the source. The breathing practices related to chinkon kishin O Sensei called the Breath of Heaven; Breath of Earth and the Breath of Human Beings-The Secret Teachings of Aikido translated by John Stevens (pg. 108).
Our Aikido technique will continue to be katate-dori ikkyo.
Let’s bow in and start with misogi breathing and a good full warm-up.
Five Principles for Ki Breathing
Breathing tip of the day
Our tip today on the misogi breathing is to mirror the breathing practices we will do later in class. The exhalation represents the Breath of Heaven; the in breath the Breath of Earth and the pause the Breath of Human.
- Breathe out with the sound of HA, don’t let your breath just leak out
- Breathe out as calmly and quietly as possible
- Breathe out the Ki of your head to the Ki of your toes
- Breathe in from the tip of your nose until your body is full of air
- Calm your mind infinitely smaller at the one point after inhaling
- Let’s begin with a round of practice with the technique.
- Begin with the practice on katate-dori ikkyo.
- Get feedback on the technique to establish a baseline to use for comparison as the practice progresses.
Calming the Spirit and Returning to the Source Through Center
- Let’s begin where we left off on Tuesday with the rowing exercise (kogi-fune undo). Place particular emphasis on the hips moving first before the hands and arms. The rowing exercise is an ancient Shinto practice from the yamabushi, the mountain ascetics. O Sensei’s version came from a famous teacher, Bonji Kawatsura, who reputedly learned form a mountain wizard who was 697 years old.
- Let’s return to the technique to see how this round of circle/center practice with the addition of the rowing exercise has enhanced our performance of the technique.
- The rowing exercise has given us a good basic center from which the rest of our practices can build. Now let’s add the first of chinkon kishin breathing exercises, the Breath of Heaven. This starts with the hands resting on your legs. Then the hands move in front of your center and up the center line of your body as you inhale. Then the palms turn outward and circle down back to your center with the hands crossed over each other as you exhale. The goal of the practice is to touch the divine source and bring it into your own center.
The practice is described in detail in Aikido the Way of Harmony by John Stevens (pgs. 31-33).
- Let’s return to the technique to see how the Breath of Heaven practice has enhanced our performance of the technique.
Then moving on to the next practice the Breath of Earth. This practice starts with hands in front of your center palms up with the thumbs pointing toward each other. There is a starting exhalation which focuses on aligning the shoulders and upper body with the hips. Next is an inhalation with the shoulders rising slightly. Then an exhalation with the breath focused on center and the shoulders relaxing. The goal of the practice is to touch the life giving fecundity of the earth and bring it into your center. The practice is described in detail in Aikido the Way of Harmony by John Stevens (pg. 34).
- Let’s return to the technique to see how the Breath of Earth practice has enhanced our performance of the technique.
- Then moving on the next practice the Breath of Earth. This practice starts with hands in front of your center palms up with the thumbs pointing toward each other. Then visualize the energies of heaven and earth coming together in you center. Our goal is to experience through our center the fullness of our humanity as the blending of heaven and earth. The practice is described in detail in Aikido the Way of Harmony by John Stevens (pg. 35).
- Let’s return to the technique to see how the Breath of Human practice has enhanced our performance of the technique.
This series of classes is designed to offer a deeper and multi-dimensional experience of center. The more vibrant and alive the experience of center the easier it is to maintain center as we go through our regular daily activities. Today we worked to create the experience of a fuller more calm center. This is a good foundation for future classes in which we will practice some of the more subtle practices of center both from a multi-dimensional perspective as well as the center related alchemical practices.
Feedback and discussion.
The Secret Teachings of Aikido translated by John Stevens (pg. 40).
Practice before next class
Practice the three breaths before a daily life activity and see how it enhances your ability to accomplish the task you selected.
Finish with misogi breathing and bowing out.