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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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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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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