Unified Centering in Manifest, Hidden and Divine

Unified Centering in Manifest, Hidden and Divine

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 when we 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 Spirit of Aikido by Kisshomaru Ueshiba (pg. 45).

Introduction

In our last on-line class we continued our series on center.  We are exploring center from several perspectives.  These include both vertical and horizontal dimensions of center.

At a basic level, center or hara is about creating a balance within the physical body and then integrating mind and body together.  As Tohei Sensei says, we are bringing into a state of unity mind and body that are already unified but are often experienced as separate.

 We will continue our practice with some basic centering practices such as the rowing exercise and then practice center as a “travel vehicle” or portal to finer dimensions of centered consciousness. 

These finer dimensions allow for practices in which the creation and void may be experienced in a unified manner.     

Our Aikido technique for today and Thursday will be kata-dori ikkyo.

Let’s bow in and start with misogi breathing and a good full warm-up.

 Five Principles for Ki Breathing

Our tip today on the misogi breathing is the same as last Thursday’s class to experience the exhalation as manifest and the inhalation as hidden dimension, with the pauses as a focus on divine center. 

  1. Breathe out with the sound of HA, don’t let your breath just leak out
  2. Breathe out as calmly and quietly as possible
  3. Breathe out the Ki of your head to the Ki of your toes
  4. Breathe in from the tip of your nose until your body is full of air
  5. Calm your mind infinitely smaller at the one point after inhaling
  1. Let’s begin with a round of practice with the technique.
  • Begin with the practice of kata-dori ikkyo.
  • Get feedback on the technique to establish a baseline to use for comparison as the practice progresses.

Centering Basics

  1. Let’s start with the very basic practice of physical centering we have practiced throughout this series. First, locate where your mind is currently focused.  It is OK if is not in the present or on the body. 

Before we try and bring the mind into center in the body, let’s give it a moment to settle and relax where it is. 

Then we can without tension or force bring the mind to center-Cheng Tzu’s Thirteen Treatises on T’ai-chi Ch’uan (pgs. 41-42). 

Notice the difference this seemingly simple practice makes.

  1. Next focus specifically on the manifest/physical dimension. From the relaxed center allow your attention to focus on any part of your body that attracts your attention.  Bring that part of your body into connection with your relaxed experience of center. 

From this relaxed state of center in your manifest body, allow your attention to rest on any part of the manifest space you are now in. 

Then connect that awareness to your relaxed center.  We are now experiencing ourselves, in a standing practice, as a manifest being in a manifest world with a focus on center. 

What is your experience as centered manifest being in a manifest world?  This relaxed experience of center can make it easier to maintain center in a sustainable manner. 

From here let’s move to the rowing exercise we have used in previous classes again as a manifest dimension practice.

Let’s start with a basic version from the manifest center experience we now have, leading the movement both forward and back from the hips with the hands and arms following.

Our goal is to advance the experience of a manifest center from a standing position into one in motion. 

Once we have done a few repetitions of the basic rowing exercise let’s pause and expand the experience of center by visualizing an extension of center to the base of the spine.

With this practice we can build on our experience of inner mirroring from our previous series as we shift back and forth from forward movement to backward movement.  As before the hips should lead.

From this baseline of manifest horizontal centering let’s now move to vertical centering.  Let’s shift from the rowing exercise to ikkyo undo.  This is like the rowing exercise except the hands and arms move up and down rather than forward and back.

Adding to the up and down movement visualize the movement of energy up the spine and down the front of the body back to your center. 

This creates a version of what O Sensei called the Aiki cross.  It provides a harmonious relationship between the vertical and horizontal.  The practice is designed to create a balanced and sustainable physical and energetic structure.

We then want to focus our attention on the point of contact between the horizontal and vertical centers.

One way O Sensei referred to this unified center is the plum blossom that blooms in 3,000 worlds-The Secret Teachings of Aikido (pg. 72). 

This structure provides a stable experiential basis for our manifest center.  It also provides the ability to use center as a “travel vehicle” for movement into more refined states of consciousness while retaining center and stability.

  • From this practice let’s go through the technique and see if our experience is different than our last round.
  1. From the stability of the manifest aiki-cross let’s move to the hidden dimension of consciousness.

To transition from the manifest/physical to the hidden/energetic we can use the practice from recent classes, first with palms facing each other and flowing energy between them.  Once the flow is well established, shift your focus from the hands to the energy itself. 

Follow a similar, pattern with the universal post practice by opening the hands and arms into a circle.  Once the space feels energetically full, shift your attention to your energy body. 

From the energy body shift your attention to the energy space which allows your mind to flow out to the energy world surrounding you as the energy body. 

From this experience of the hidden dimension let’s focus on the both the horizontal and vertical experience of center. We will go through the rowing exercise and then ikkyo undo in the hidden and then focus on the point of contact between them as the aiki-cross or blooming plum blossom. 

What is your experience as a centered hidden dimension being in a hidden dimension world?

  • From this practice let’s go through the technique and see if our experience is different than our last round.
  1. Let’s shift our practice to the divine dimension of primal emptiness and potentiality.

To transition from the hidden/energetic we can use a practice from recent classes.

Our practice for the divine is a breathing practice from Koichi Tohei Sensei.  He calls it the Breathing Method That Transcends Breathing-Aikido in Daily Life (pgs. 36-37).

The practice starts with a very slow and quiet inhalation through the nose and then focusing your attention on your center.  This allows your attention to rest comfortably and gently on your center.  From this gentle focus on center move the hands into a position in front of your center.  The back of the left hand is resting on the palm of the right hand with the thumbs almost touching each other to form a circle

This next part of the practice is added to Tohei Sensei’s.

Visualize the circle formed by your hands as an opening to the divine dimension of great, great quiet. It is an opening like a tunnel or a portal to the divine dimension. 

In this place of great, great quiet your divine body is already present in a potential form.  It is like a silhouette waiting to be filled in. 

This potential body has the ability to experience itself as a centered divine being in a divine world.

Maintaining the experience of center is crucial at all times but especially in the divine.  The divine is a place with few external references.  If you reach outside of yourself for external references you push yourself out of the divine realm of consciousness.  This is because you are searching for references that exist in the hidden and manifest dimensions but not in the divine.

From this experience of the divine dimension let’s focus on the both the horizontal and vertical experience of center. We will go through the rowing exercise and then ikkyo undo in the divine and then focus on the point of contact between them as the aiki-cross or blooming plum blossom. 

What is your experience as a centered divine dimension being in a divine dimension world?

  • From this practice let’s go through the technique and see if our experience is different than our last round.

Conclusion

This series of classes is focused on a multi-dimensional experience of center. 

Center is a basic practice which allows us to develop a stable basis for experiencing more refined states of consciousness without losing our reference point. 

When we lose our reference point we can become stuck, “floating” in a state of consciousness without functional capacity and emotional stability.

When we achieve a stable center it can then become a travel vehicle for moving into refined states of consciousness.

In this class we continued our practice using center as a travel vehicle to help us experience both the manifest, hidden and divine states of consciousness. 

This is how center can be a travel vehicle or passage way to increasingly refined states of consciousness.    

Feedback and discussion.

The Essence of Aikido by John Stevens (pg. 46).

Practice before next class:  take a few minutes before a daily life task and practice centering at this deeper level from both manifest, hidden and divine as we have done in today’s class. 

See how it enhances your ability to perform the task you selected. 

Finish with misogi breathing and bowing out.

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