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. 25).
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.
The primary benefit to the practice of dimensionality comes from a greater experience of wholeness and functionality as we experience ourselves in a more total way.
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 realm and the divine or causal realm. Dimensional experiences are also present in the hidden and divine parts of creation as well as in the manifest.
We will begin our practice, as we have been throughout, with the manifest and then move on to explore the second of the three basic dimensions-the hidden dimension and then the third dimension-the divine.
We will continue our focus on the realms that correspond to our personal experience as a manifest, hidden and divine bodies.
Today we will continue our practice to include all three realms and then work with a practice to bring them together into a unified centered experience. We discussed this in our Tuesday night class but today we will work with a practice to provide the direct experience.
We are also adding one additional element to this series that we have not done in earlier class series. On a purely voluntary basis, select a call-off with which you would like to work 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 a longer timeframe with something of specific significance to you.
Our technique for today as it was on Tuesday will be shomen-uchi irimi nage.
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 Tuesday, as we go through the three rounds of breathing visualize manifest, hidden and divine coming together into a unified experience.
- 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.
Unifying Centered Experience of Dimensionality in the Manifest, Hidden and Divine
- Let’s begin with a round of practice with the technique.
- Begin with the practice of shomen-uchi irimi nage.
- 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 now expand our experience in the manifest realm using the circle/center practice. As an embodied identity in the manifest realm, 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 the manifest realm.
Let’s pause for a moment to review further 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 at the new dimensional level we may not notice an immediate improvement in our performance or in our experience of well-being.
We may even feel our performance is not as good as it was before we made the dimensional shift.
Any change in our sense of routine or identity may require some time to experience the benefits of making the dimensional shift.
If during this adjustment period we feel as if we are losing ground, it 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.
That truth is dimensional shifts transcend our current level but they also include and in some cases enhance the qualities we value in ourselves rather than reducing them.
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.
- Let’s now progress to an experience of the energy 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 the hidden realm. How is it different than the round from the manifest?
- Let’s now move on to the divine dimension.
The divine dimension is a place of primal emptiness but full of the potential energy that becomes form in the hidden and manifest.
Prof. Cheng in Thirteen Treatises calls this the Heavenly Dimension, the place of perfect clarity. Shankara calls it the Causal Dimension. It is place of total emptiness and freedom in which all possibilities reside.
The Tibetan Book of the Dead calls it the place of Pure Light.
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 position in front of your center with the left hand on top of the right, thumbs pointing toward each other.
This 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 do not exist in the divine.
- Let’s return to the technique to see how this experience in the divine dimension has enhanced your performance of the technique.
- Let’s now move to a practice in which we can unify the experiences of manifest, hidden and divine. We are not looking to unify the manifest, hidden and divine realms. We are expanding our own capacity to experience them in a unified way.
Let’s begin with the circle/center practice to establish a space of unified experience. Using O Sensei’s mountain echo practice, ask the question what is the space of a unified experience of manifest, hidden and divine?
From that unified space ask the next question, what is the experience of unity including manifest, hidden and divine? Once again rely on the mountain echo practice. Stay full, present and alert and allow the experience to present itself.
What is your experience? How is it different than the individual experiences of each dimension?
- Let’s return to the technique to see how this unified experience has enhanced your performance of the technique.
In this class we continued our series on dimensionality. Our beginning practice was working with the whole manifest body experience.
We also explored some of the possible areas of resistance to making dimensional shifts. We then expanded further into the manifest dimension by including the manifest realm experience in addition to the manifest body.
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 concluded with an experience of the divine dimension, focusing on the experience of the divine body and as divine being in a divine world.
We completed our practice with a unified experience that included all three basic dimensions of consciousness.
The Heart of Aikido translated by John Stevens (pgs. 65-66).
Feedback and Discussion
Practice before next class:
Select a daily life activity and take a moment to open your system to include the manifest, hidden and divine dimensions in a unified centered experience. Go as deeply as time allows. See how this unified opening 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.