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 Secret Teachings of Aikido translated by John Stevens (pg. 22).
In our last on-line class we continued our series on experiencing dimensionality.
Dimensionality is both a concept and a practice stemming from the recognition that our identities and our experiences exist on multiple levels.
A basic example with which to start are our bodies.
If we begin by focusing on our hands and we explore their functionality and aliveness we will have some very interesting experiences. Obviously though this is a small part of the totality of the body experience and our embodied identity.
Then we shift our awareness to the entire arm not just the hand. This increases the scope of our experience and embodied identity from just focusing on the hand.
We can go further focusing on increasingly more parts of the body until we arrive at a whole body identity and experience.
This example shows a progression in dimensionality in the manifest dimension of physical reality. As O Sensei outlined, a more complete picture of the creation also includes the hidden or energetic dimension and the divine or causal dimension. Dimensional experiences are also present in the hidden and divine parts of creation as well.
We will begin our practice where we started last week with the manifest and then move on to explore the second of the three basic dimensions-the hidden dimension.
We will also add an expanded focus on the realms that correspond to our personal experience as a manifest and hidden body.
We are also adding one additional element to this series that we have not done before. On a purely voluntary basis, select a call-off you would like to work with throughout this series.
This will help to make the practices in each class more personal and well connected. It is an opportunity to experience dimensionality over a series of classes and timeframe with something of specific significance to you.
Our technique for today will continue to be kata-dori ikkyo.
Let’s bow in and start with misogi breathing and a good full warm-up.
Our tip today on the misogi breathing is the same as Tuesday, to focus during the exhalation on the experience of the space around the body. During the inhalation focus your attention on the experience in the body. Utilize the pauses between the exhalation and inhalation to focus on your center. This will help us to get started with an experience of the space/realm/situation around the body as well as our experience as an embodied identity.
Five Principles for Ki Breathing
- 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 toe
- 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.
Deeper Experience of Dimensionality in the Manifest and Hidden Dimensions
- 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.
- Let’s now begin, as we have been in this series with a dimensional practice with the manifest/physical body. Previously we were starting with the hand and progressing to the whole body. Since we have had practice in prior classes let’s start with the whole body experience.
What is your experience of the manifest body?
- Let’s go back to the technique to experience it from this whole body perspective. How is it different than the first round?
- Let’s now expand our experience in the manifest dimension using the circle center practice. As an embodied identity in the manifest dimension, scan the manifest space where you currently are. What is your experience as a manifest being in a manifest body of the manifest realm? Does the experience of the manifest realm enhance your experience of your identity as a manifest embodied being?
- Let’s go back to the technique to experience it from this manifest realm perspective. How is it different than the previous round?
Let’s pause for a moment to review further a topic we discussed in previous classes. That is a consideration of the dimensional process and how it works, as well as potential difficulties in making dimensional shifts.
Depending on circumstances, we may experience resistance of different kinds in making dimensional shifts.
Here are a couple of examples. We may resist changes that we feel are being forced upon us by outside circumstances and pressures.
Basic Aikido practice is a good example of this. As the nage we are being attacked by the uke.
We feel pressure from our uke/partner to respond in an aiki manner with a flowing, well executed technique.
In the context of a class or series of classes, especially when preparing for a promotional test, we may also feel pressured to improve our ability with the technique to reach a higher level of performance. This performance pressure can lead to tension and other responses that may actually diminish our performance rather than improve it.
A second example is resistance to a dimensional shift when we feel we will lose something we value in the process.
A common call-off in our Energy Classes is to achieve greater levels of authenticity. As we feel the dimensional process beginning it may seem as if parts of our current identity, such as wanting to please others, may be lost or reduced.
This could cause us to pull back for fear of losing a part of ourselves that we value.
Another common example is our basic tendency to return to the familiar and often comfortable level from which we started our dimensional practice. This can happen for a variety of reasons. One is that at the new dimensional level we may not notice an immediate improvement in our performance or in our experience of well-being.
Any change in our sense of routine or identity may take time to adjust and experience the benefits of making the dimensional shift.
While going through this adjustment period we may actually feel as if we are losing ground. This creates a desire to pull back to our familiar level. Sometimes it may also be as simple as we don’t recognize the dimensional shift has occurred or that a movement back to the familiar has happened.
Starting with smaller more basic practices like the ones we are doing in these classes, may help to reduce resistance to dimensional change because we can experience a basic truth of dimensionality.
Dimensional shifts transcend our current level but they also include and in some cases enhance the quality we value in ourselves rather than reducing it. We will still recognize ourselves and our identities as we advance through dimensional growth.
This is also an opportunity to share your experiences with the series length call-offs you have selected and see how they are progressing.
- Before we move to the hidden dimension let’s first experience a deeper dimension of the manifest. Ask yourself what is the level two experience of you as a manifest being in a manifest world? Stay present and allow the mountain echo response to work as you shift from level one to level two.
How is your experience at level two different than level 1?
- Let’s go back to the technique to experience it from this deeper dimension of the manifest realm. How is it different than the previous round?
- Let’s now progress to an experience of the whole body in the hidden dimension.
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.
- Let’s go back to the technique to experience it from this hidden dimension perspective. How is your experience different than the manifest?
- Let’s now experience a deeper dimension of the hidden. Ask yourself what is the level two experience of you as a hidden dimension being in a hidden dimension world? Stay present and allow the mountain echo response to work as you make the shift from level one to level two.
How is your experience at level two different than level 1?
- Let’s go back to the technique to experience it from this deeper dimension of the hidden realm. How is it different than the previous round?
In this class we continued our series on dimensionality. Our beginning practice was working with the whole body experience.
We also explored some of the possible areas of resistance that can happen to making dimensional shifts.
We then expanded further into the manifest dimension by including the manifest realm experience in addition to the manifest body.
We then moved to a deeper level of the manifest.
Next we made a shift to the hidden dimension and experienced the technique from the hidden dimension perspective. We experienced the hidden dimension both as an embodied energy being and then included the hidden realm in our experience.
We then moved to a deeper level of the hidden.
The Heart of Aikido translated by John Stevens (pg. 63).
Feedback and Discussion
Practice before the next class:
Select a daily life activity and take a moment to make a shift to the next dimensional level of that task from both the manifest and hidden dimensions. Go as deeply into these as time allows. See how this shift changes the experience as you perform the task you selected.
You may also take a moment to experience any dimensional shifts in the area you selected as your call-off for this entire series of classes.
Finish with misogi breathing and bowing out.