How the Body Reveals Habit Nature

Basil & The Habit of Effort

I wrote two essays that were published in my book, Water Shed: Aikido Tanka back in 2004.  In re-reading both today, I see how much is still true within that writing.  Often what we’re working on just keeps showing up, doesn’t it?  Maybe in differing guises and in varying strengths, but nevertheless, present.

What brought me to this path of learning through the body, affecting change through the body, and writing with and through the body is meeting a teacher who has an unusual way of seeing and reading the body.  It was through his observations and assessments on the aikido mats that I came to experience aikido as an art of body-centered learning, knowing, and transformation.  I’d always felt it was that way, but none of my teachers had spoken of it in this manner until I met Robert Nadeau Sensei.  A long time ago.

He was teaching an aikido class and I was mirroring

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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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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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