Aikido: Practice and Inquiry – Cully, Switzerland
May 9th ~11th, ‘08
Last May I was in Cully, Switzerland to teach another “Aikido: Practice and Inquiry” seminar together with Patrick Cassidy of Aikido Montreux. This is the 4th time that Patrick and I have taught this seminar in Cully (plus one at the Dead Sea in Israel – see earlier post below) and these seminars continue to evolve and deepen. Not just in the way Patrick and I are teaching but also among the participants. The seminar keeps growing and this time we had over 60 participants who joined us from around Europe, Canada, and the U.S.
It was clear from the opening meditation that the group was quickly dropping into the present as a preparation for the practice. After we bowed in Patrick set the context for the weekend by touching on our API training guidelines:
- Keep an open mind
- Suspend judgment
- Allow yourself to not know
- Listen deeply
- Include others
- Feel yourself (body, heart, mind and spirit)
- Commit to your highest intention
- Accept all that is
I followed by evoking a wish from an old African proverb:
If you want to go far, go together.
As usual Patrick and I set out to unify the intention of the group from the outset so we can move forward – together. In our past experience with these seminars it would take a day or so for the group to drop into the context of inquiry as a whole. But now it is as if the group shows up already in that space. With each year we are seeing a clear shift take place in the culture and context within which we meet. The groves we have been laying down are making it easier for all to slip into the context and collective intention.
We usually choose a theme for these API seminars and this weekend we looked into the question “What is evolutionary aikido?” Both Patrick and I have been exploring this question independently for a few years now and we have come up with our own slightly different models for evolutionary aikido. However, even though our models are different they both take in the integral perspective. Patrick calls his modal “the evolution of uke/ nage”, and I call mine the “evolution of response”.
On Thursday we began the training/ inquiry by looking into our most basic instinctive “low road reactions” of fear and emotions, and basically identified with the resistance. We did several practices working with our lower base responses in order to become familiar with these innate tendencies we all have in stress and conflict.
After becoming familiar with the way resistance and fear arise in the practice rounded off the evening with a jiyu waza practice in order to open up the energy and give us a taste of the direction of the weekend. A direction towards free and spontaneous movement that reflects our higher evolutionary capacities.
The next day we continued with our inquiry and proceeded to move up the evolutionary scale with different centering and connecting practices. Patrick led us in several exercises that worked to bring us into alignment with the intelligence of the system.
I introduced exercises where we worked on relaxing the tendency for fear and emotional based responses and worked towards remaining in centered awareness and tapping into the intuitive connection of the partner.
After training on Saturday we all gathered for dinner up in the mountains above Lake Geneva. We continued the conversations and inquiries into the night while enjoying the fresh mountain air, the beautiful view and the delicious goat cheese fondue.
On Saturday we had great weather so I took the group outside to give a bokken jyuwaza class by the lakeside.
In this class we continued our exploration of the evolution of response through a series of exercises that focused on the stages of centered awareness and intuitive response.
After Patrick lead the final training we ended the seminar with a group dialogue on three questions: 1) What did you feel? 2) What did you see? 3) What was the communal experience?
Thanks to Patrick and his students who did a wonderful job of organizing and hosting us all. Our next API seminar will be in December at the Dead Sea in Israel. We hope you can join us!