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. 62).
In our last on-line class we completed our series on dimensionality with a focus on a unified experience of the Pure Witness; including manifest, hidden and divine dimensions.
Today we are beginning a series on a deeper experience of the I/self. Defining I/self can be a difficult task. We will rely more on experiential practices than definitions in words.
However a very basic outline may help us to get started.
O Sensei talked about the consciousness we call self as being present even before the dawn of creation.
By this he meant two very important things that will help us to focus our practice.
First, consciousness at this most original level was an instrumental part of the birth of creation itself. O Sensei said the energies of creation, coming from spirit that formed the creation flowed through the consciousness we call the self at the very beginning of creation. Consciousness was present even before the creation and was a co-creative partner in the birth of creation.
Second, since consciousness was present prior to the creation, it is not a part of the creation or the function of creation but is an experiential partner to creation. At its most original level, self is a mirror that provides clarity and order to creation precisely because it is not a part of the creation itself. We worked with this to some degree in our most recent series of classes with the experience of the Pure Witness.
When we experience the beauty and harmony of the balance of the energies of creation we are providing a clearer opportunity for I/self to shine through. It is however important to recognize that when you feel the balance and harmony of creation that is not the self but a beautiful experience of the creation.
The I/self being a witness or experiential partner to creation is true at this most original level of creation.
Our more normal experience of I/self, which we are calling I, provides a consistent sense of personal identity. This is true regardless of which aspect or level of the creation we are interacting with in our ordinary or extraordinary experiences in our daily lives.
This is how we have been using the experience of I in our forging practice.
Today, we will begin a series of classes on working with the I/self.
The I/self is the part of our system, at a basic level, that provides a qualitative experience of satisfaction and meaning to our activities. It is the source of our perspective on our lives and our world in both an immediate and overall sense.
The health of the I is a big factor in how well we forge with the units that are important to us both in the sense of personal satisfaction and wellbeing and our functional performance in those roles.
The overall goal of this series of classes is to experience progressively finer dimensional levels of I/self.
O Sensei and most other spiritual traditions teach that the I in our ordinary frame of reference is so entangled with the creation that we don’t experience the I/self in its deeper, finer level.
He said at the dawn of creation and then as the creation unfolded, we became increasingly entangled. This entanglement interferes with our ability to more fully experience I/self and also interferes with the functioning of creation itself.
We have all experienced versions of this in our daily lives. One example is when attempting a difficult or challenging task the harder we try the less able we are to complete the task. In some cases we may get so upset over our inability to function at the level we expect that frustration and anger boils over and causes us to say “I don’t know who I am.”
Our plan for this series is to practice disentanglement between the I and the creation.
This process will allow us to backtrack from an entangled state to a state closer to the experience of I/self at the most original level before entanglement first occurred.
We can also continue an additional practice we added in our previous 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 with something of specific significance to you over a series of classes and in a longer timeframe.
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 to experience the pause between inhalation and exhalation as an opportunity to experience the I/self.
Five Principles for Ki Breathing
Our tip today on the misogi breathing
is to experience the pause between inhalation and exhalation as an opportunity to experience the I/self.
- 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.
Fuller/Finer Experience of the I/Self
- 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 start with a basic practice of clearing and settling. This is how we begin our forging practice. Here we will spend a little more time and attention on clearing by working through several levels of clearing. It is a simple process of relaxing and settling. Feeling the back, the under half of the body and then deeper.
Let’s go through three cycles of clearing to experience clearing at deeper level.
What is your experience of this deeper level of clearing?
- Let’s go back to the technique to experience it from this deeper level of clearing.
Awareness & Experience of the I
- From this deeper level of clearing let’s work with the two parts of the I/self. In our forging practice we work with the I/self having two parts. One part that is more awareness oriented and the other that is more experientially oriented. Our shorthand for these are the mind of I (awareness/thinking) and the body of I (feeling/experience).
Our goal, initially, is to experience these parts of the I and their interaction with each other. It is in this interaction that a real opportunity for growth and development of the I/self exists. When there is a lack of connection or even conflict between the parts of the I we are starting out from a place of fragmentation rather than wholeness.
If this lack of integration is not acknowledged we will experience the effects of it in reduced satisfaction and performance. It will also make it difficult to progress to dimensionally finer experiences of I/self.
One way this happens is that part of the I ranges out and tries to obtain satisfaction from outside itself. One example is when the I tries to direct the unit, it results in both maintaining the fragmentation of the I within itself and interferes with the unit’s ability to perform.
From O Sensei’s perspective this tendency toward entanglement and its results is a key part of the difficulty of the human condition.
Bringing the two parts of the I into a more balanced and integrated experience with each other is a big step toward reducing entanglement and its resulting negative effects. It is also an important first step in experiencing dimensionally finer levels of I/self.
Our practice at this level is to allow each part of the I an opportunity to experience itself.
In some cases this may take some time as one or both parts may need to balance and integrate within themselves before they can interact with their counterpart other half.
Once each part of the I had had a turn and feels comfortable with itself, let’s return to the technique for feedback.
- Let’s go back to the technique to experience it where each part of the I is comfortable with itself.
- Let’s now move to a practice of interaction between the two parts of the I.
Let’s start with the mind of I, utilizing the practice from our forging classes. The mind of I has a capacity to mirror. Often this mirroring capability is turned toward what is going on in the outside world. Here we will turn it inward. As the mind of the I, allow a mirrored image of the body of I-the more feeling/experiential part of the I-to form in you the mind of I.
What is the experience of this mirrored image?
Then switching perspectives moving to the body of I. Allow yourself a moment to change perspectives.
Before we continue with the mirroring practice, what is the difference in your experience between the mind of I and now the body of I?
From here the body of I mirrors the mind of I. The body of I may take a different approach to mirroring than the mind of I does. It may not even be visual.
What is the experience of this mirrored image?
We now have the two parts of the I mirroring each other. What is your experience? What is their relationship with each other in this mirroring process?
Is there a greater overall experience of wholeness as I?
- Let’s go back to the technique to experience it as the more whole I.
In this class we began a series to experience finer/fuller levels of I/self. We started with some fundamental practices from our forging process.
In future classes we will practice to move toward more refined levels of I/self, the goal being to get as close as possible the experience of what O Sensei called the most original self.
The Heart of Aikido translated by John Stevens (pg. 93).
Feedback and Discussion
Practice before next class:
Select a daily life activity and take a moment to pause and allow the experience of I/self to shine through before beginning the task. See how even a small experience of I/self may change the task.
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.