Another week has gone by like the blink of an eye-
I have been meaning to share some thoughts from the books I have been reading. The Kodo: Ancient Ways book is so full of wisdom that it is hard to pick what to talk about. One thing that resonated with me is the idea that liking your practice is important. Here is what Kensho Furuya says;
I used to ask prospective students why they wanted to study aikido. I usually got a variety of answers. Some said “I want to beat up my little sister.” Others said “I want to be a famous movie star and make a million dollars.” So-called “serious students” almost always said “I want to harmonize with the energy of the universe.” Few ever said “I want to study aikido because I like it!”
He quotes a famous Zen master, Sawaki Kodo as often saying, “To study meditation, all you have to do is like it.”
I like this because I had a realization myself after having studied Taekwondo for a few years, stopped and started again, that the real reason I liked it so much was because it was fun. This surprised me, because if I had stopped to think about all the benefits of my learning Taekwondo I would have probably said self-defense; not having to worry about being attacked while walking down the street, balance and coordination; when I think about it I was not the most coordinated kid, mental focus, self-confidence; there are so many benefits that I probably wouldn’t have thought to say, it’s fun. But that’s really what kept me going back class after class. I know it’s hard to logistically get yourself to a class, stop whatever else you’re doing, put off other things that need to be done, allow travel time, change into your uniform (sometimes I used to drive 2 hours from Ithaca for a 1 hour class). Some times I’d think to myself “why am I doing all this to go to class?” But when I got to class it would make more sense and by the time the class was done it was all well worth while.
I’ll start on the book I’m reading for homework now, it’s Mantak Chia’s book Awaken Healing Energy Through the Tao. This is his book from 1983 and it’s out of print (in case you are looking for it). Master Chia has been teaching methods of cultivating Chi energy for many years. I believe Master Pearson has been at some of his workshops. One of the exercises in this book is called the “Inner Smile” and we have done this at Winter Retreats. I like what Master Chia says about the power of the smile.
“Have you ever walked down the street grumbling or worrying about things you have to do, your relationships, your job, your whole life? When you glance up someone smiles at you, and before you know it you’re smiling back. In only a split-second you’ve dropped your troubles, you stand up a little straighter, and walk on knowing everything is going to be okay. A genuine smile has tremendous power.”
I like to smile at people, and sometimes I wonder if I am changing their outlook without them knowing it. I feel powerful and sneaky. Once I was smiling and someone remarked about it, they asked me how old I was and they were surprised by how old I am (as people often are) and said “no wonder you’re smiling.” Cause I look younger I guess. I was thinking about that later and realized that if I don’t smile, I don’t look so young, and I decided that the person had gotten it backwards- I don’t smile because I look young, I look young because I smile. So there’s the fountain of youth I’ve found, smile! And be happy. Happiness is sort of my weapon against being made miserable by outside influences. “Well I’m going to be happy anyway, so there.” But back to Master Chia’s Inner Smile-
“Unfortunately, while all recognize the difference between cheery people and glum people, and while we associate happiness with health, and sadness with sickness, we still do not acknowledge the power of smiling or understand its full potential. In short, we don’t take smiling to our organs and nervous system seriously. Why, for instance, if a smile is associated with health, aren’t there doctors who specialize in smiling?”
Master Chia’s Inner Smile is smiling into your eyes, then into your organs in three steps. The instructions are kind of long to re-type, if people are interested in actually practicing the Inner Smile I will look in to what form I can share it in. Maybe Master Pearson has it on file already. This is sort of a pre-step to what most of the book is about as it helps clear energy and make your body function more efficiently. The rest of the book focuses on developing the Microcosmic Orbit that is the Chi flow from point to point around the upper body, and then directing Chi also into the arms and legs. Having not finished the whole book yet I have my work cut out for me today.
My class is going well, with help from Master Shaffer. I had a few students last night. I am learning a lot about teaching, and the “basics,” what they are and how to teach them- also how to make it fun. Master Shaffer is good at that. Though I know how important it is to make new things fun (as I was just mentioning in the above paragraph) I am more inclined to want to just say “this is how you do this” and have everyone do it. Because it is good stuff to learn. But I am learning too. It’s good for my teaching and my martial arts, my own basics which in the end are still important at any level of training (as also stressed in posts by Mr. Walsh and Mr. Worden.)
Lastly I have a new project as of last week- Master Pearson has talked to us extensively about the benefits of drinking Kombucha tea. Kombucha is a complicated relationship between bacteriae and yeasts- if I am remembering correctly (the produce manager at my co-op schooled me about exactly what it is, this last week also). You can grow your own, by making tea, adding a lot of sugar and a Kombucha you may have gotten from another person who has them (they multiply themselves fairly quickly). They are flat and slimy looking. When I was about 11 years old my dad grew them and I was scared to try the finished product (confession), but now I am growing my own- you can also buy the final product bottled (co-ops or health food stores?) and it is tasty and good for you, but adds up if you like to drink several bottles a day as I would if I had my way. It aids digestion, makes me feel healthy in general and much more energetic than usual. The drink also contains folic acid and B vitamins 1,2,3,6 and 12. Maybe that is where some of the energy comes from? I might not get much B12 otherwise (no meat, eggs or dairy). So in conclusion it is good for me and I am excited to see how my new jar of tea grows. Hopefully adding more jars in the near future.
That’s my this week- wish me luck for tomorrow! Smile!