Monthly Archives: May 2015

healing a sick world

healing a sick world

The e-book I’ve been posting here piecemeal will continue here with the sixth chapter entitled “What’s Inside You?  Desire, Belief, Passion and Intent”. 

Tab F (What’s Inside You)

Borrowing from Richard Strozzi-Heckler’s seminal book “In Search of the Warrior Spirit”, it asks early on 

“For what reason do you come?”,  the master asked the student.

“I have come to learn the art of self-defense”,  said the student.

The master responded:  “Which self do you wish to defend?”

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O’SENSEI, A WAR VETERAN WITH PTSD…???

“.. the potential that Aikido, the “art of peace” could be a product of Post Traumatic Growth is a compelling point… Aikido is often referred to as “medicine for a sick world.” … the practice of Aikido can be a path towards healing.….”

Tom Osborn’s exploratory and explanatory essay can be read at the link

http://www.searchofpeace.com/blog/2015/05/27/osensei-a-war-veteran-with-ptsd/#more-594 

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Awo2s7aaof0/T5C3DNGACPI/AAAAAAAAAXg/0BkT_X0ynOk/s1600/aikido+quote.jpg

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Later, on pages 36 & 37, the sixth chapter touches upon — with two snippets — a subject addressed in a separate ex parte article below.

The main characteristic of an addiction is that it creates a need for itself that doesn’t provide you with energy to do something more. What you get from cigarettes is a craving for cigarettes, as well as the denial of a lot of other needs.

Some people eat because they’re hungry, others because they are bored, tired, or sick of being fat. A single substance comes to meet the needs of a lot of subtleties without fulfilling real needs. As Eric Hoffer said, “You can never get enough of what you don’t really want.”  In that way, it becomes an end in itself. It may seem like the supermarket and the video store give us choices but often we choose the same thing over and over again. When we choose the same thing time and again, it has to become bigger, better or more potent to meet the original need it satisfied. Addictions are substitutes for real community.  Any of the states that you reach through a substance you can meet through some form of relationship. In a fully functioning community, you can live on less, or do without.

Addiction is any dependency that self-perpetuates or self-catalyzes at an ever-accelerating rate…. Addiction consumes energy and leads to slavery.

Practice generates energy and leads to freedom…. Habits are addictive, if that mysterious acceleration factor is present, when enough is never enough, and what was enough yesterday is not enough today. Habits are addictive if the reward and the work are inverted. Samuel Butler joked that if the alcoholic’s hangover preceded the intoxication, there would be mystical schools teaching it as a discipline for self-realization.

So practice is the reciprocal of addiction. Practice is an ever-fresh, challenging flow of work and play in which we continually test and demolish our own delusions; therefore, it is sometimes painful.

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I guess that I just don’t know

http://www.blacklistednews.com/Drug_War_Fail%3A_Doctors_Now_Creating_More_Heroin_Addicts_than_Drug_Dealers/44174/0/38/38/Y/M.html 

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xcwt9mSbYE 

On a great big clipper ship

[Ed.: The fortunes of the founders of Skull and Bones (as well as the family fortunes of one of its more famous members, the current US Secretary of State), the shadows of whose membership have brought us the American security state empire (read this book from cover to cover) and its prolonged intervention in Afghanistan, its hijinks within the Golden Triangle and so much more, were built on the opium trade out of China during the era of the clipper ships.]

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The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think

It is now one hundred years since drugs were first banned — and all through this long century of waging war on drugs, we have been told a story about addiction by our teachers and by our governments. This story is so deeply ingrained in our minds that we take it for granted. It seems obvious. It seems manifestly true. Until I set off three and a half years ago on a 30,000-mile journey for my new book, Chasing The Scream: The First And Last Days of the War on Drugs, to figure out what is really driving the drug war, I believed it too. But what I learned on the road is that almost everything we have been told about addiction is wrong — and there is a very different story waiting for us, if only we are ready to hear it.

If we truly absorb this new story, we will have to change a lot more than the drug war. We will have to change ourselves.

I learned it from an extraordinary mixture of people I met on my travels. From the surviving friends of Billie Holiday, who helped me to learn how the founder of the war on drugs stalked and helped to kill her. From a Jewish doctor who was smuggled out of the Budapest ghetto as a baby, only to unlock the secrets of addiction as a grown man. From a transsexual crack dealer in Brooklyn who was conceived when his mother, a crack-addict, was raped by his father, an NYPD officer. From a man who was kept at the bottom of a well for two years by a torturing dictatorship, only to emerge to be elected President of Uruguay and to begin the last days of the war on drugs.

I had a quite personal reason to set out for these answers. One of my earliest memories as a kid is trying to wake up one of my relatives, and not being able to. Ever since then, I have been turning over the essential mystery of addiction in my mind — what causes some people to become fixated on a drug or a behavior until they can’t stop? How do we help those people to come back to us? As I got older, another of my close relatives developed a cocaine addiction, and I fell into a relationship with a heroin addict. I guess addiction felt like home to me.

If you had asked me what causes drug addiction at the start, I would have looked at you as if you were an idiot, and said: “Drugs. Duh.” It’s not difficult to grasp. I thought I had seen it in my own life. We can all explain it. Imagine if you and I and the next twenty people to pass us on the street take a really potent drug for twenty days. There are strong chemical hooks in these drugs, so if we stopped on day twenty-one, our bodies would need the chemical. We would have a ferocious craving. We would be addicted. That’s what addiction means.

One of the ways this theory was first established is through rat experiments — ones that were injected into the American psyche in the 1980s, in a famous advert by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. You may remember it. The experiment is simple. Put a rat in a cage, alone, with two water bottles. One is just water. The other is water laced with heroin or cocaine. Almost every time you run this experiment, the rat will become obsessed with the drugged water, and keep coming back for more and more, until it kills itself.

The advert explains: “Only one drug is so addictive, nine out of ten laboratory rats will use it. And use it. And use it. Until dead. It’s called cocaine. And it can do the same thing to you.”

But in the 1970s, a professor of Psychology in Vancouver called Bruce Alexander noticed something odd about this experiment. The rat is put in the cage all alone. It has nothing to do but take the drugs. What would happen, he wondered, if we tried this differently? So Professor Alexander built Rat Park. It is a lush cage where the rats would have colored balls and the best rat-food and tunnels to scamper down and plenty of friends: everything a rat about town could want. What, Alexander wanted to know, will happen then?

In Rat Park, all the rats obviously tried both water bottles, because they didn’t know what was in them. But what happened next was startling.

The rats with good lives didn’t like the drugged water. They mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used. None of them died. While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did.

At first, I thought this was merely a quirk of rats, until I discovered that there was — at the same time as the Rat Park experiment — a helpful human equivalent taking place. It was called the Vietnam War. Time magazine reported using heroin was “as common as chewing gum” among U.S. soldiers, and there is solid evidence to back this up: some 20 percent of U.S. soldiers had become addicted to heroin there, according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Many people were understandably terrified; they believed a huge number of addicts were about to head home when the war ended.

But in fact some 95 percent of the addicted soldiers — according to the same study — simply stopped. Very few had rehab. They shifted from a terrifying cage back to a pleasant one, so didn’t want the drug any more.

Professor Alexander argues this discovery is a profound challenge both to the right-wing view that addiction is a moral failing caused by too much hedonistic partying, and the liberal view that addiction is a disease taking place in a chemically hijacked brain. In fact, he argues, addiction is an adaptation. It’s not you. It’s your cage.

After the first phase of Rat Park, Professor Alexander then took this test further. He reran the early experiments, where the rats were left alone, and became compulsive users of the drug. He let them use for fifty-seven days — if anything can hook you, it’s that. Then he took them out of isolation, and placed them in Rat Park. He wanted to know, if you fall into that state of addiction, is your brain hijacked, so you can’t recover? Do the drugs take you over? What happened is — again — striking. The rats seemed to have a few twitches of withdrawal, but they soon stopped their heavy use, and went back to having a normal life. The good cage saved them. (The full references to all the studies I am discussing are in the book.)

When I first learned about this, I was puzzled. How can this be? This new theory is such a radical assault on what we have been told that it felt like it could not be true. But the more scientists I interviewed, and the more I looked at their studies, the more I discovered things that don’t seem to make sense — unless you take account of this new approach.

Here’s one example of an experiment that is happening all around you, and may well happen to you one day. If you get run over today and you break your hip, you will probably be given diamorphine, the medical name for heroin. In the hospital around you, there will be plenty of people also given heroin for long periods, for pain relief. The heroin you will get from the doctor will have a much higher purity and potency than the heroin being used by street-addicts, who have to buy from criminals who adulterate it. So if the old theory of addiction is right — it’s the drugs that cause it; they make your body need them — then it’s obvious what should happen. Loads of people should leave the hospital and try to score smack on the streets to meet their habit.

But here’s the strange thing: It virtually never happens. As the Canadian doctor Gabor Mate was the first to explain to me, medical users just stop, despite months of use. The same drug, used for the same length of time, turns street-users into desperate addicts and leaves medical patients unaffected.

If you still believe — as I used to — that addiction is caused by chemical hooks, this makes no sense. But if you believe Bruce Alexander’s theory, the picture falls into place. The street-addict is like the rats in the first cage, isolated, alone, with only one source of solace to turn to. The medical patient is like the rats in the second cage. She is going home to a life where she is surrounded by the people she loves. The drug is the same, but the environment is different.

This gives us an insight that goes much deeper than the need to understand addicts. Professor Peter Cohen argues that human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections. It’s how we get our satisfaction. If we can’t connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find — the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe. He says we should stop talking about ‘addiction’ altogether, and instead call it ‘bonding.’ A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn’t bond as fully with anything else.

So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.

When I learned all this, I found it slowly persuading me, but I still couldn’t shake off a nagging doubt. Are these scientists saying chemical hooks make no difference? It was explained to me — you can become addicted to gambling, and nobody thinks you inject a pack of cards into your veins. You can have all the addiction, and none of the chemical hooks. I went to a Gamblers’ Anonymous meeting in Las Vegas (with the permission of everyone present, who knew I was there to observe) and they were as plainly addicted as the cocaine and heroin addicts I have known in my life. Yet there are no chemical hooks on a craps table.

But still, surely, I asked, there is some role for the chemicals? It turns out there is an experiment which gives us the answer to this in quite precise terms, which I learned about in Richard DeGrandpre’s book The Cult of Pharmacology.

Everyone agrees cigarette smoking is one of the most addictive processes around. The chemical hooks in tobacco come from a drug inside it called nicotine. So when nicotine patches were developed in the early 1990s, there was a huge surge of optimism — cigarette smokers could get all of their chemical hooks, without the other filthy (and deadly) effects of cigarette smoking. They would be freed.

But the Office of the Surgeon General has found that just 17.7 percent of cigarette smokers are able to stop using nicotine patches. That’s not nothing. If the chemicals drive 17.7 percent of addiction, as this shows, that’s still millions of lives ruined globally. But what it reveals again is that the story we have been taught about The Cause of Addiction lying with chemical hooks is, in fact, real, but only a minor part of a much bigger picture.

This has huge implications for the one-hundred-year-old war on drugs. This massive war — which, as I saw, kills people from the malls of Mexico to the streets of Liverpool — is based on the claim that we need to physically eradicate a whole array of chemicals because they hijack people’s brains and cause addiction. But if drugs aren’t the driver of addiction — if, in fact, it is disconnection that drives addiction — then this makes no sense.

Ironically, the war on drugs actually increases all those larger drivers of addiction. For example, I went to a prison in Arizona — ‘Tent City’ — where inmates are detained in tiny stone isolation cages (‘The Hole’) for weeks and weeks on end to punish them for drug use. It is as close to a human recreation of the cages that guaranteed deadly addiction in rats as I can imagine. And when those prisoners get out, they will be unemployable because of their criminal record — guaranteeing they with be cut off even more. I watched this playing out in the human stories I met across the world.

There is an alternative. You can build a system that is designed to help drug addicts to reconnect with the world — and so leave behind their addictions.

This isn’t theoretical. It is happening. I have seen it. Nearly fifteen years ago, Portugal had one of the worst drug problems in Europe, with 1 percent of the population addicted to heroin. They had tried a drug war, and the problem just kept getting worse. So they decided to do something radically different. They resolved to decriminalize all drugs, and transfer all the money they used to spend on arresting and jailing drug addicts, and spend it instead on reconnecting them — to their own feelings, and to the wider society. The most crucial step is to get them secure housing, and subsidized jobs so they have a purpose in life, and something to get out of bed for. I watched as they are helped, in warm and welcoming clinics, to learn how to reconnect with their feelings, after years of trauma and stunning them into silence with drugs.

One example I learned about was a group of addicts who were given a loan to set up a removals firm. Suddenly, they were a group, all bonded to each other, and to the society, and responsible for each other’s care.

The results of all this are now in. An independent study by the British Journal of Criminology found that since total decriminalization, addiction has fallen, and injecting drug use is down by 50 percent. I’ll repeat that: injecting drug use is down by 50 percent. Decriminalization has been such a manifest success that very few people in Portugal want to go back to the old system. The main campaigner against the decriminalization back in 2000 was Joao Figueira, the country’s top drug cop. He offered all the dire warnings that we would expect from the Daily Mail or Fox News. But when we sat together in Lisbon, he told me that everything he predicted had not come to pass — and he now hopes the whole world will follow Portugal’s example.

This isn’t only relevant to the addicts I love. It is relevant to all of us, because it forces us to think differently about ourselves. Human beings are bonding animals. We need to connect and love. The wisest sentence of the twentieth century was E.M. Forster’s — “only connect.” But we have created an environment and a culture that cut us off from connection, or offer only the parody of it offered by the Internet. The rise of addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live — constantly directing our gaze towards the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us.

The writer George Monbiot has called this “the age of loneliness.” We have created human societies where it is easier for people to become cut off from all human connections than ever before. Bruce Alexander — the creator of Rat Park — told me that for too long, we have talked exclusively about individual recovery from addiction. We need now to talk about social recovery — how we all recover, together, from the sickness of isolation that is sinking on us like a thick fog.

But this new evidence isn’t just a challenge to us politically. It doesn’t just force us to change our minds. It forces us to change our hearts.

Loving an addict is really hard. When I looked at the addicts I love, it was always tempting to follow the tough love advice doled out by reality shows like Intervention — tell the addict to shape up, or cut them off. Their message is that an addict who won’t stop should be shunned. It’s the logic of the drug war, imported into our private lives. But in fact, I learned, that will only deepen their addiction — and you may lose them altogether. I came home determined to tie the addicts in my life closer to me than ever — to let them know I love them unconditionally, whether they stop, or whether they can’t.

When I returned from my long journey, I looked at my ex-boyfriend, in withdrawal, trembling on my spare bed, and I thought about him differently. For a century now, we have been singing war songs about addicts. It occurred to me as I wiped his brow, we should have been singing love songs to them all along.

The full story of Johann Hari’s journey — told through the stories of the people he met — can be read in Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, published by Bloomsbury. The book has been praised by everyone from Elton John to Glenn Greenwald to Naomi Klein. You can buy it at all good bookstores and read more at www.chasingthescream.com.

The full references and sources for all the information cited in this article can be found in the book’s extensive end-notes.

If you would like more updates on the book and this issue, you can like the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/chasingthescream

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-hari/the-real-cause-of-addiction 

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On the last page of the sixth chapter, it says

Beliefs are ideas that can be shaken,

but faith is the result of having been shaken.

Much has been written — I think of Laurence Gonzalez’ book “Surviving Survival” — about those circumstances, events or encounters that shake us to our bones.  

Many of us have had such events; war brings them to soldiers (as noted); accidents and health care crises brings them to civilians; imprisonment or worse brings them to people who succeed at overcoming that experience and writing about it: Nelson Mandela, Vladimir Bukovsky, Hurricane Carter — the list is long because authority keeps impounding people; that list is getting longer, having added Manning, Kirakou, and thousands of unnamed souls thrown into dank, dark centers of isolation and torture.  

I was lucky.  I was in a coma in a bed surounded by doctors and nurses and loving and caring family and friends.  Surviving has a way of getting you clear on which self. 

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There is present within the socio-political leadership of our milieu — including people, institutions, media outlets, and our economy — a massive pathological addiction to violence and war. 

 

relationships

One of the things that absolutely fascinates me about the value of aikido, the physical practice of which as a practical discipline in martial arts I had to give up when it became apparent that I had some as-yet-undefined-or-unaddressed compromise in aortic function, is in its embodied lessons in understanding and working on relationships with other human beings.

Whether it is the delivery of ukemi across distances of the Internet in the middle of some political discussion with contentious virtual opponents, or the closely interpersonal and psychologically intimate discussions in a dyad, or the multiple grapplings of dinner table randori in a family setting, beginning to understand and embody how we present ourselves, how we perceive, how we move, and how we contend, disarm, charm and take effort not to injure is an important understanding.

This is why I am attracted to and resonate with people like Richard Strozzi-Heckler, this fellow whose blog I subscribe to in Richmond, VA, or the instructional videos of Nick Lowry at windsong dojo in Oklahoma. I am always looking for insight.

My very first sensei, Dave Card, had a piece of calligraphy I grabbed off the Internet and copied (my scanned copy keeps disappearing inside my archives), replicated, and once was made into a painted red/white/black acryclic signpost outside my door at the empty aerie overlooking a river I briefly occupied before my own personal Wacht am Rhein on 12/16/07.

The calligraphy simply was two mirroring curved lines of the circling uke and nage, wary perhaps, co-exsting on the tatami of life and the moment, with a heart in the middle.

The message was simple:

At the heart of the interaction, the discipline, the practice, all those techniques, the ukemi, was love.

Here is a piece I wrote on ma-ai at that time:

Ma-ai

The distance between us waxes and wanes.  Our sensory receptors sometimes strain to detect changes, movements, new positions, new insights, responses.  Sometimes we are in a frenzied interaction, built on moves and techniques learned elsewhere or from our previous dances.  You hear, I say; I talk too much, you feel; I clarify, you add, you subtract; you change the tune, I introduce a new rhythm.

I look ahead to where we might be in a different corner of the dance floor and how we will get there, and you get lost in the detail of hand on hand, or pressure point, or pulse.

You add, and suggest.  I wonder; you add graphics.

I speak in poetic prose; you speak in urls and umms.

Sometimes we tango, and sometimes we salsa.  Oft times we waltz: we enjoy a slower pace for observation and exploration.

You query; I respond.  I query; you respond.

We speak of parallel universes and perpendicular tangents.

You probe; I withdraw.  I move forward; you turn away.

You think of lips and light brushes of skin; I push and pull with firm pressures.

Our antennae re-cycle the data from each moment, linking to our engines of thought and emotion.  One stumbles; the other answers to re-position, to minimize the effects, to stay in touch.

One leads; the other follows.  One takes a break; the other remains, to pick up again from where leaving was.  Where you were, I was.  Where I will be, you have been.

How and why is this so easy and yet so hard?  We have each been here before, perhaps, and yet the dance of the moment is alive with freshness and newness that is like light dew on gardens in the glow of a rising sun.

We reflect and think; we feel and delight in flesh-on-flesh.  We listen to our hearts’ pulsings and poundings; we taste what might be; we hear echoes of music; poetry arises from time to time, matched only by bursts of exclamation, periods of silence, and renewed contact.  We trade laughter and smiles, grins and grimaces.  We step on each other’s toes, and we keep on moving.  We dance in kitchens, and we dance in offices.  We visualize Arthur Murray moves while driving.  We conduct orchestras in training.  Heaven and earth seem at times to move in connected unity.

When we get out of step, we re-orient with a gaze to the other’s eyes, and a gaze within.  And we listen again.  And we dream of dancing.  And then our heart’s eyes lock again from across the floor, and we advance slowly… our ma-ai changing once again.

The Universe moves slowly in its inexorable and mysterious rotations within rotations, and we within them.

****

Here is a piece taken from the newsletter published by my second sensei, Judy Ringer:

Mitsugi Saotome, in Aikido and the Harmony of Nature (Shambhala, Boston, 1993), tells us that ma-ai is the distance in time and space between people, events, or energies. When we are in touch with ma-ai, the larger pattern, we know when to move, when to pause, and when to blend. There are rhythms of ma-ai throughout our daily lives, and in the differences between society and solitude, between action and contemplation, in pacing and momentum, in knowing when enough is enough.

Terry Dobson, in It’s a Lot Like Dancing (Frog Ltd., Berkeley, CA 1993) says, on page 39: “In the martial experience, you learn that it’s very good to be close to your opponent. When I’m close to him, I know exactly where he is, what’s likely to do. I can control, direct, relax, quiet, and restore this person by being close to him.”  Later, on page 149, “The word ma-ai in Japanese means ‘space-time’. Try to keep at least a distance of the length of two arms when dealing with strangers in the street. You take a step towards me, I take a step backwards to maintain this distance. I’ve spent many hours dancing around at this distance just to learn how far that really was.”

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Essay as part of the requirement for shoudan.

Requested by Alan Higgs Sensei and Peter Cleydon Sensei.

Maai and Metsuke

Metsuke and Maai are two very important aspects of Aikido.

Metsuke is essentially eye-to-eye contact without focusing on a singe point which permits awareness of the total field of vision.

Metsuke is also the idea of focusing the eyes and the mind so as not to be drawn in by the opponent’s attack. It is a perception of everything that is happening around you and the pre-perception which enable us to sense an attack or aggressiveness in the form of impending danger, before it actually occurs. Metsuke can also mean insight into the human soul, which can inhibit an attack by the expression in the eyes or diffuse it with benevolence or compassion.

Metsuke should result in eye contact on the opponent’s centre. Shifting you eyes from one focal point to another (ie from eyes to hand to feet) constantly changes your perception of distance and angles. To develop perception of these aspects it is essential to focus on one point in the attackers centre line, but still having an awareness of the total field of vision.

Maai is the relation of space and position between uke and tori. It literally means “harmony of space”. It mainly consists of keeping the correct distance and maintaining correct body position and direction. Establishing maai is achieving and maintaining a position that puts you at an advantage and your opponent at a disadvantage. Many factors must be considered for correct maai, such as relative size of the people involved, whether there are multiple uke, the environment and the types of weapons. Maai is constantly changing by the actions created by attacks or defence. The moment tori or uke move maai begins to change. To stop your opponent from attacking you, you must be far enough away so the opponent cannot reach you, but this distance must be balanced with an ability to subdue the opponent’s attack when it does come. Through taisabaki, blending and entering, tori can end up quite close to uke at the execution of the technique. When stationary and unarmed, maai for aikido tends to be a distance of two outstretched arms, but because of the fluid character of Aikido and because distances change depending upon the situation, maai is more a sense that has to be developed and practiced.

The principles of maai and metsuke are practiced in all aspects of Aikido. When practicing, eye contact is kept and a correct distance between tori and uke is maintained.

Two exercises which develop maai and metsuke are tegatana awase and seichusen no bogyo.

Tegatana awase is essentially a practice of keeping eye contact and a correct distance. When at a safe distance of two arm spans away, there is nothing that your opponent can do, unless they enter first. Balance and distance must always be maintained as the two partners move around. The body should also always be aligned so that it is facing your opponent. In this way maai is maintained. This exercise can also be done without the hands in front of you. The same distance should be maintained, and this develops and understanding of maai.

Seichusen no bogyo is a timing exercise which also develops an understanding of maai and metsuke. Metsuke is important in this exercise, as focusing on one aspect, such as the right hand, will result in you being attacked from a different quarter. For this reason focusing on the centre line is important, and maintaining a 360 degree peripheral vision is essential. Seichusen no bogyo is important for maai, as the attacker must enter in order to attack. Fast body movement is essential to place you in an advantageous position that puts your partner at a disadvantage. It is essential that your body is facing your partners body. Eye contact is also important in this exercise, as you might get a clue from which direction the next attack is coming from.

Metsuke and Maai are both extremely important aspects of Aikido, and should be practiced in every exercise.

Ewa Rej

****

“To stop your opponent from attacking you, you must be far enough away so the opponent cannot reach you, but this distance must be balanced with an ability to subdue the opponent’s attack when it does come.”

But in a relationship you want to maintain and enrichen, you’ll want your partner to “attack”, to bring an energy of intensity and improvement, and so you’ll have to allow yourself to be thrown. You have to be vulnerable enough and trusting enough that you won’t be hurt. You’ll have to be competent enough to insure that neither you nor your partner get hurt. But you can’t stop dancing just to avoid getting hurt; you’ll get hurt anyway.

This is what the insights on ukemi will tell you.

****

24/8/07

“.. Ukemi is 50% about being able to deliver that type of quality attack that will challenge the nage and force him to continually raise the level of his technique. It is impossible to reach the highest level of skill without having skilled ukes to train with…..”

http://www.bulunganaikido.com/The_Nature_of_Ukemi.html

So too must we bring the utmost of our selves to personal interaction.  Much of our lives are focused on contentiousness, whether it’s while we’re driving in traffic with frenzied and otherwise-distracted peope in too much of a hurry, or talking with a spouse about handling household decisions, or enlisting the support of co-workers into our ideas, our energies, our contributive talents.

While much of the video you can find on the Internet is about “taking out” some tough guy in a combative encounter, try looking at it (and experiencing it) as an art of power and grace in any non-violent daily encounter.

The principles will also come in handy if you need to suddenly take on a tough guy.

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Aikido Three Ranges of Interaction (!!!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNzmKLDR3K8 

(9:17)

****

Beth Gineris wrotes about verbal aikido.

If you can see that an interaction or dialogue is an exchange of energy and you understand that some dialogue is passive-aggressive, you can use “… core principles to turn and lead, deflect and redirect, another’s critical, negative, manipulative and emotionally aggressive behavior back to the one who is enacting it….”

****

http://izumitherapy.com/blog/2013/10/the_art_of_emotional_aikido_10_skills_to_turn_relationship_conflict_into_connection_ 

****

“A Sincere Attack”

An essay in the marvelous book entitled

“The gift of danger: lessons from aikido”,

Mary Stein, Blue Snake Books, Berkeley California 2009.

I have been brought up to be polite and not hit people, so, when I first tried aikido, my strike would automatically swerve to one side at the last moment to avoid contact with my partner’s body. My partners, more advanced aikido students, had a uniform reaction: they stopped everything and insisted that I aim the side of my hand or my fist directly at their head or belly. “Hit me!”, they said, then stood and walked into my strike connected with their body. The strike didn’t have to be hard, but it did have to connect. When they decided I was getting the idea, they’d step out of the way as the blow approached. If I forgot the lesson and veered off target again, my partner will once again stand in front of me, motioning for me to hit. When I strike with full intention to make a connection, my partner has to be skillful and accurate in responding to my motion.

Gradually I realized why this was important. If my partner moves incorrectly, he or she will be hit. By striking sincerely and precisely, we provide our partners with an essential risk. This demand for sincerity goes to the heart of aikido.

I learned to appreciate this, too, when I was the one being attacked–struck by the side of my partner’s hand, or grabbed by the wrist or shoulder. Because my partner was striking accurately and with determination, I learned to assess the angle of my partners approach, to align myself to that so that I could move skillfully to meet the blow, moving aside perhaps only a fraction of an inch, just enough to allow the meeting, the acceptance of the attack, and a quick redirection that set my partner into a fault or roll. The tiniest miscalculation of the angle and I might be too far away to have any power to move my partner. Too close, and I’d be hit.

… One of our instructors pointed out that this constant assessment of the angle or attack of approach had helped him in dealing with people outside the dojo. Aikido had helped them become much more attuned to body language and tone of voice, to listen to more than just the words people were using. His time on the mat had given him greater sensitivity to another’s intentions or attitude.

When I’m sincere I can see how the slightest tension distorts my movements and throws me off course as an attacker or as a defender. The “mind of contention” seems to be where those tensions originate. As we repeat the movements of aikido, we can become more aware of our own habitual “angles of attack.”

The Japanese word uke doesn’t literally mean “attacker,” though uke plays that role. It actually means “receiver.” Aikido’s sincere and determined attack is absorbed by nage, the “thrower” or defender, redirected, and transformed into an energy that destabilizes at the end of the technique uke, who then “receives” the fall. In a way, all of aikido is ukemi or receiving, for both the attacker and defender must be open to receiving impressions of the situation as it changes from moment to moment. Only in that way will they respond appropriately to each other. They need both to welcome and adopt as to what’s happening to themselves and their partner. They need to welcome the gift of danger that they’re bringing to each other.”

The Gift of Danger is aimed at men and women for whom the question of what is genuine in their lives has taken on fresh urgency.” http://www.aikidojournal.com/bibliography_details?id=332

****

Aikido Five Elements for Delivery of Energy (!!!!)

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjP3ohV8gQU 

(12:24)

****

From the dojo of my second sensei:

Judy Ringer is a conflict and communication skills trainer, black belt in Aikido, and founder of Power & Presence Training and Portsmouth Aikido.

http://www.judyringer.com/resources/articles/fear-of-failure-and-the-art-of-ukemi-3-lessons-from-aikido.php 

http://www.judyringer.com/perch/resources/fear-of-failure-and-art-of-ukemi-2.pdf 

****

“… There are many complex and difficult concepts to learn in martial arts, concepts that are introduced to you in a very elementary way when you start out and then progress in their complexity as you advance through training. One example of this is ‘distance’ and ‘timing‘.

Even a white belt sparring with a partner for the first time may be told to ‘keep your distance’ and ‘move in to punch then move straight out again’. A little further up the grades and you get advice like ‘move in to disrupt a kick’ or ‘move off line’. The more advanced practitioner then starts to actually anticipate what there opponent is about to do before they’ve even made a move (sen no sen) and moves in to attack first or disrupt the opponents attempt. This is advanced stuff! We’re still talking about distance and timing here but this ability is many tiers up – now we’re in the realm of maai.

Truly appreciating and utilising maai requires a unity of mind and body. It is as much a mental skill as it is a physical one. The Japanese word maai translates simply to ‘interval’ and is referring to the space between two combatants during a fight. The wikipedia entry on maai describes it as: “a complex concept, incorporating not just the distance between opponents, but also the time it will take to cross the distance, angle and rhythm of attack.” If one controls the space between then one controls the fight.

An analogy that I like that helps to describe maai comes from a friend of mine, Peter Seth, who is a 5th dan in aikido (maai is big in aikido!). He says, “Imagine music without the ‘spaces’ of silence between the sounds, the gaps between the notes. Without the spaces there would be constant noise, which may vary in pitch and intensity but would be chaotic and unbearable. These spaces set the time/timing, rhythm and beat of the music, which in turn affects/controls the whole composition. So influence in this area of the ‘space/s between’, effectively allows the leading of all these energies. You become the ‘conductor of this orchestra of energy’.

Maai is a fluid thing, constantly changing as a fight progresses. Maai has a temporal element as well as a spatial one. It also pertains to the momentary lapses of awareness that are manifested in the opponent’s mind. Capitalising on these mental intervals (or lapses of concentration in your opponent’s mind) is also a way of controlling the maai. Being constantly aware of both your maai and your opponents as they constantly change and then being able to manipulate this to your advantage so that your opponents techniques are constantly disrupted requires an intuitive understanding of movement and timing. I am in awe of people who have mastered this skill because I am very much still operating in the lower tiers of elementary ‘distance’ and ‘ timing’. ….”

http://kickasssuec.blogspot.com/2010/11/maai-maai-how-difficult-this-one-is-to.html 

****

The Complete Video Series from WindSong Dojo

https://www.youtube.com/user/kazeutabudokai 

[Look for the two-parter on sensitivity] 

****

Here’s one example, shown in slow-motion, of the culmination of the black belt test called the randori in which three people attack simultaneously.  Watch it ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MC7g6uFlzx8) and imagine the defender is you and that you are blind, and then think about how mindfulness, awareness and having a sense of who and where you are at any moment can be useful in your life when you can see.

****

Finally, read this short entry:

http://www.searchofpeace.com/blog/2015/05/20/tonglen-and-the-energy-of-compassion/#more-574 

By the way, the featured image at the top of this entry was originally POSTED BY MARGUERITE MANTEAU-RAO AT http://minddeep.blogspot.com/2010/06/aikido-of-mindful-communication.html 

mapping the magic

mapping the magic

I continue to make some progress in excerpting key elements of those three Dispenza books. I just cemented in the description of the differences between semantic and episodic memory, which I think has everything to do with the current Cartesian psycopathologies of global conflict:

Semantic memories pertain to the information that we come to know intellectually but have not experienced…. Episodic memories involve the body and the senses as well as the mind. They require our full participation.”

The world is caught in the clutches of over-thinking people who are disconnected from the realities and consequences of their actions.

 

I did slice open the DVD package from Professor Richard Restak’s course Optimizing Brain Fitness long enough to decide that it’s of major interest, has a 12-page bibliography that promises much more material (there are six books on cognitive neuroscience alone, two of them his), details on all 12 lectures, and his own august bio.

I’ll spare you the enormous volume of detail in that bio (I’m sure you can find one online) but I had a prolonged twitch in my frontalis muscles when I saw that he’s lectured at the FBI, the NSA and the CIA.

(I’m going to reflect on that the next time I hear from some political wag announce that we’ve had a yet another “intelligence failure”.)

But as you progress through this extended e-book on performance psychology, I thought it would be a good time for me to post four of the appendices:

 

Mind Map 2013 pdf

Mind Map Explained

 

Becoming a Champion in Sport and Life

Goals pdf

Mind Mints

On Mentors and Coaches

 

At long last, after some research which gave me a crash course in minor things IT. I have succeeded in fixing the problem and you the reader are now able to read the pdf’s.

 

To thank you for your patience and sweeten the pot a little, I threw in some extras: the mind mints, and the notes from a lecture by a world-class sports psychologist on becoming a champion.

 

Remember, this all has no agenda except the one that you give it.

 

The Body and The Brain

Recently I featured Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi

and his concepts and books on the flow theory.

I must pass along to you this tidbit I just discovered:

http://disinfo.com/2015/05/wu-wei-flow-states-and-the-art-of-being-a-lazy-fuck/ 

 

 

 

 

 

[Laurence Gonzalez on The Stream]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00FhfOaw7dk 

 

 

 

Next up in the Summon The Magic parade of chapters is the infamous Tab B, the one about the brain (The Brain and The Body). 

Tab B (The Brain & The Body) [fixed!]

 

It is a given that the material is outdated; it was gleaned two decades ago in a quarter-century in which the cognitive sciences have exploded like a nova.  But it’s a beginning for those who have not been focused on what that hunk of grey “wetware” between your ears is capable of, how it works, and where and how you can learn more about it. 

Those three books by Dispenza sit on my “bread board” like a very large lump of leavening and unkneaded dough. Be patient.  

There’s a DVD with guidebook, six hours of lectures by Professor Richard Restak, on “Optimizing Brain Fitness”, courtesy of “The Great Courses”, whose package I haven’t even unwrapped yet. I do think, however, that there is a difference between optimizing fitness of the brain and learning how to use it. Optimization sounds like working towards being a tri-athlete for people who are still learning how to ride a bike.  

If you already know how to use your mind, then jump in and lend a hand. Offer up a video, a book suggestion, a link.  

I am convinced that our learning how our brain works is the antidote for the world’s troubles; it keeps us more likely to recognize and counter-act external manipulation, fosters our creativity and problem-solving abilities, helps us with our social interaction and our ability to articulate what we see and feel, and so much more.

 

 

The third, fourth and fifth chapters are also added here so that you have some place to go when all that stuff on the brain starts to put you to sleep, and so that you can begin to have some better understanding of how it all applies to you. 

Mental and Toughness Training gives you an introduction to attention, breathing, visualization and focus, and mindfulness, and then presents a summary of Loehr’s work on toughness training. 

Tab C (Mental & Toughness Training

 

The Body and The Brain reverses the focus and discusses how your body feeds back into the brain.

 

Tab D (The Body & The Brain) [fixed!]

 

Where Are You Going? starts to sharpen your personal focus. 

 

Tab E (Where Are You Going) [fixed!]

 

Remember that 

the entire e-book has no agenda

except the one that you give it. 

Summon The Magic

So, as it says over at http://www.thesullenbell.com/2015/05/12/alarumed/,

“Shouldn’t we learn how to better control and care for our own minds before they become targets of those whose values are not in keeping with our own?”.

just precisely how do we learn all that?

Well, I’ve been working on that, and I’m going to share it with you, for better or worse.

What will follow, in fits and starts, is an e-book I’ve entitled “Summon The Magic: How to Be a Better Athlete (or anything else you want to be).”

I don’t suggest that I am an expert.

Indeed, there has been a vertibale explosion in our popular and scienitifc understanding of what goes on within mind, body and spirit, and I’ve tried to keep pace with it. I’m still reading; the science is still exploding like a nova.

Ars longa; vita brevis.

I got curious as I watched my kids grow up, struggle with school, athletics, adolescence, the choices about colleges etc.,and I began to talk to other people and I began to read. I haven’t stopped, but my kids have their own kids now.

Along the way, I’d excerpt entire paragraphs, even pages at a time, using the old Macintosh I’d bought for my kids in high school. I’d print them up and mail them off to them in college. When my daughter came home after graduation in the old Mazda 6 we’d bought her for the long ride up north, there in the trunk was a binder with all those pages in order.

Some time later, I began to look for professional assistance and suggestion from people with credentials and made a few chapters available to small handfuls of people.  I felt I had something to which people needed to be exposed. In the interim, I had a heart attack, emergency open heart surgery for a valve replacement, an peri-operative left-sided motor stroke, the rehabilitation process, and eight years of post-op follow-through.   My motivation for getting up out of that rehab bed and learning to walk again was the need to take what I am about to present here to you to this level…. to bring it to the point where it was polished enough that it could be widely shared.

It’s still not polished, or perfect. For openers, as noted, the field of the cognitive sciences is moving faster than I can type. What is presented here is now almost 20 years old, though there are clues as to how you can leap ahead.

If you are an adult with a post-graduate education, you can zip through this quickly and probably add something.

If you are a young parent who’s never been exposed to this kind of science, psychology or “coaching”, you may benefit significantly.

If you have children, or are an older adolescent, then this will hopefully be something that will serve you well for years.

If you are a teacher or a coach, you will have some extra fodder for your own leadership and educational ventures.

What will follow, in fits and starts, is an e-book I’ve entitledSummon The Magic: How to Be a Better Athlete (or anything else you want to be).”

In PDF format, it will contain the intro, a complete expanded table of contents, a “mind map” of the content (and its explanation), a folder full of various focused short topical bits including a series of “mind mints” (like fortune cookie strips for the mind, body and spirit), numerous posters, and the complete book (the chapters are called tabs, from the original three-ring binder format) from A to S.

Still in development is some excerpted material from within three books by Dr. Joe Dispenza. It willprobably show up as Tab T.

While the focus is on athletics, it is also immediately applicable to music or other artistic performance, as well as other pursuits.  Tab S covers this, as does earlier chapters. There is a complete bibliography.  Almost everything is footnoted as to its source. Some parts of the material were written by me. The material is all either direct quotes from the annotated source, or paraphrased and blended from two or more sources, or synthesized from several. I was after text that kids would read and which would appeal and work and which would get them to read more…  to find that source book and engage it.

The book cites the idea of “mind sprints” but hopefully makes it all an enjoyable exercise in the development of mind, body and spirit. I hope that you will spend some time getting to look into this material and that you share it with others who can help you determine its value and use.

Today’s offering will include the introduction, the expanded table of contents, the bibliography, and the first chapter, all in pdf format.

Introduction

Expanded Table of Contents

Bibliography

Tab A (Intro & Overview)

A note to readers

A note to readers:

I haven’t forgotten you. 

I’ve been doing a customized three-step dance in which I am catching up with substantial personal medical change and detail (for the better), and shifting gears in terms of the local climate; it’s spring which, in these parts, jumps to summer pdq, and so it is getting warmer, which necessitates a change in clothing, internal apartment air flow, re-arranging lots of space inside a small apartment, moving bookcases, desks, re-wiring things, and un-packing old boxes (in which I have found a few old surprisesoh, that’s where that disappeared to) which you will continue to see in mild form in the not-too-distant future. 

I’ve tried to stay current over at Occurrences, and have been drafting and polishing several substantially large pieces for BoyDownTheLane and The Sullen Bell. 

Coming soon will be a good deal of material that will sway back and forth across the corpus callosum both topically and between those two sites. 

Expect something next week that will extend in one case for a week and in the other for months. 

And then there’s all those goodies I’ve been packing away ….