Ways to Create Spaciousness

Lots of us tend to rush headlong into what’s next.  But what would it be like to create a kind of intentional spaciousness?  This is not a squishy place, but rather a place filled with air and light and breath.  What might happen if you intentionally slow everything down and ask yourself, “What do I want to do or be next?”  A different quality comes alive with this question—one that contains desire, yes, but also trust and a belief that something will arise if I just quiet myself and let it.  

If you say to yourself, “What do I want to do or be next?” invariably there will be other voices vying for attention.  Some of these are likely to be critical in nature, “shoulds” or judgmental in some way, or  diversions. Some of these objections or diversions might be necessary or true to some degree.  You might hear: “I need the money, so I

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Postures of Authenticity

In the Strozzi Somatics™ centering practice, we experience the dimensions of length, width and depth.  Each dimension has a physical component, but also a psychological one.  For instance, when we center in our length, we are working with how to feel more of the vertical space we occupy.  We can also sense how to allow ourselves to be held by the earth beneath us while also feeling literally uplifted.  We notice what we feel in this new “shape”.  The quality that goes along with feeling our length is dignity.  When we can more fully occupy the physical dimension of length within and without ourselves, our perception of both begins to shift.  

Centering can shift our state of consciousness before we sit down to write.  This reminds me of a writing workshop I led in Telluride. We had completed the centering practice then moved into a writing practice.  The room was alive with the sound

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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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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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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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