Tapping Into Hara as a Source of Knowing

ushiro technique

For nearly 20 years I showed up on the aikido mats and practiced. We were practicing a martial art, yes, learning how to pin and throw and be pinned and be thrown. Sometimes I flew through the air and landed hard on the mats. Sometimes I softly blended my energy with my partner’s. I was learning how to move around rather than against, how to extend my energy beyond the limits of my physical body, how to wield a wooden sword or staff, and how to blend with the energy of others. And yet what I was learning most was what it meant to move from the physical center of my body, the hara.

I remember Takashi Tokunaga, my teacher at that time, would tell us to leave the dojo and do everything from this center. I remember practicing driving from center, eating from center, walking from center, playing tennis, cooking, cleaning, making love….all this

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Coming Home: Finding Ourselves Where We Are

path forward

I haven’t posted in some time! I’ve been away for nearly a month.  As I return I am reminded of something Jim Harrison once wrote:  “Finding myself where I already am is a daily chore.”  This feels particularly true right now, as I’m finding my way back home.  What is “where I already am”, anyway?  And what’s the path to getting there?

Something I’ve been considering this week is that part of the the return path is remembering and dreaming, and the other part is placing yourself firmly where you are (at the desk, in the garden, in a difficult conversation, advocating for yourself, etc.).  What’s required is that we show up over and over in our commitments so that we can see and remember who we are.  Sometimes our commitments can serve as ballast, sometimes as a path forward.  They help us to navigate.

Photo by John Salzarulo on Unsplash

Part of my

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Working With the Habit of Comparing

what's the point of comparing? we're all different sized eggs!

The ways in which we compare ourselves to others often stops us from entering into our own joy.  And when we compare ourselves to others, it’s often a signal of an area of growth that we want for ourselves.  Comparing isn’t very generative, is it?  And yet we do this.

Recently this came up with a client who was moving into some new territory for herself and her business by taking a business development course.  Before the course began we had a session, and she was distinctly in that territory of comparing herself to everyone else on the course.  As it happens when we get into this territory, we often come up short.  Everyone else had more experience in business than her.  Everyone else had a current website.  Everyone else knew just what they wanted and she was still searching.  And she hadn’t even met these others yet!

I utterly understood her struggle, as I’d

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Somatic Learning in Action: Centering, Declaring, Entering

momentum, flow

Through practice, we build our capacity to move toward what we deeply care about. Richard Strozzi-Heckler says: “We are what we practice, and we’re always practicing something.” So, why not have conscious practices that create change in us? Building awareness about what we are practicing and how this affects how we live our lives helps us to make choices that are more generative. We practice to become more alive to what pulses in us as the heart of what matters.

When we practice with others, in community, the learning takes place in what I have often called a cauldron. There’s a bubbling to the surface that can occur when practicing in the presence of others — a way into seeing ourselves that is otherwise invisible. By learning in community and taking the time to tease apart the practices, participants can deepen in their understanding of the practices themselves and, more importantly, the relevance of practice

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Creating a Practice that Works

In the last post I talked about a practice that I am engaged in at present for my own development.  It is a very particular practice that arises out of my two decades’ worth of training in the martial art aikido as well as my work as a somatic coach.  I am hoping that seeing the practice in the video inspired you, but another thought I had about this is that it might have made you feel a bit intimidated.  Or maybe that the practice isn’t something you would choose to do yourself.  Or maybe it seemed to be too hard to learn.  Or perhaps you didn’t see the relevance.  (Or maybe you’ve all purchased wooden swords and are voraciously making up your own forms!)

All these pieces are crucial in designing a practice that works.  The practice needs to be right for you.  It needs to engage you for your own reasons.  And of

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Life Living Through Us: A Practice

momentum, flow

There’s been a lot of attention in the past week or so to the phrase: letting life live through you. My dear friend Doug started this by naming his blog with this phrase, then citing the poem from which it originated. It’s a poem by Roger Keyes called “Hokusai Says,” which was introduced to many of us by Richard Strozzi-Heckler in our Strozzi Institute training. My favorite lines: “He says it doesn’t matter if you draw, or write books./… It matters that you care./It matters that you feel./It matters that you notice./It matters that life lives through you.”

Then just yesterday a colleague sent along a meditation with Tara Brach, and what is it named? Of course: “Letting Life Live Through You.” I just listened in and let myself be guided through this meditation, to see what Tara Brach’s idea of life living through felt like. In a meditation practice we can be encouraged to

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Awareness & the Self-Critical Voice

The Self-Critical Voice

As part of the launch of the Embodied Creative website, I encouraged your questions. The first one I received is a juicy one, so I wanted to spend some writing time on it in the hopes that it speaks to many of you as well. Here it is:

How can one minimize or eliminate the self-critical self?

Such a good question. Such a place of grappling, for both writers and non-writers.

I’ve often found that the self-critical voice appears as I’m expanding my repertoire. Deciding to claim some new territory, new ground. As if the critical voice is saying: Oh no, why don’t you just stay small/safe/inside yourself? And then the litany can begin — if you go there, you’ll be ridiculed/be seen as not smart enough/go broke …, etc. It’s never very pretty, where this voice sends me. Or likely, you.

So, I encourage you to try these three steps in confronting that self-critical

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The Embodied Creative: Voice & Body

As a poet I have always been interested in language’s energetic components, how we can get in the way of the energy of a poem and how when we step aside the poem can sometimes write itself. OK, so that’s rare. But it happens. So what is present in us and in language when grace happens?

In 2006 I began a course of study in somatics at Strozzi Institute that was a natural outgrowth of my many years of training in the martial art aikido and my many years of expressing myself through the language-medium of poetry. I’m fascinated with the relationship between how we live in our bodies and what we bring forward in our voices and our expression in the world. I wanted to understand in a more conscious way that remarkable relationship between body-knowing and intellectual knowing.

I will never forget the day I felt in my own body that my writing

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