Links to People and Resources for Mindfulness and Somatic Practices in Organizations
"My students think I don't lose my center. That is not so; I simply recognize it sooner, and get back faster."
Morihei Ueshiba, O'Sensei, Founder of Aikido
[Chris and Richard were the consultants involved in the
contact: info at consciousembodiment.com/
More links to people offering aikido-based and somatic learning for personal & professional development
Teaching mindfulness practices to people in organizations: a story by Joel and Michelle Levey
These exercises, which you can practice on your own, apply aikido principles to help you act with increasing grace and effectiveness in difficult situations.
For when a problem arises: First, shake off the need to react to it immediately. Move to a sitting or standing position, and focus on your breathing. Do not force yourself to breathe deeply; simply allow your breathing to proceed naturally, as directed by your body. Let your awareness follow your breath deep into your stomach, and imagine that your breath is helping to dissolve any tightness or constricted places in your abdomen. As you breathe out, allow the tightness you dissolved to be expelled from your body. Continue focusing your awareness on your "belly" breathing for several minutes. Emerging from this practice, you may notice clear opportunities for action that you may have overlooked had you rushed headlong into generating a solution.
For centering and grounding awareness within your body: Find a place to stand comfortably for a few moments. Follow your breathing, as in the previous practice. Once you have deepened your breathing into a natural rhythm, send your awareness to a focal point at the center of your torso, about two inches below your navel. Let your body sink into a state of relaxed groundedness, with this point as your center of gravity. Let your shoulders relax and sink; let your lower back relax and become less arched. As you sink deeper into your body's center, search out any tightness or rigidity in your muscles and let that dissolve. Gradually feel your body sink further into a state of soft relaxation and balance around your center. Imagine your body connecting with and taking root in the earth beneath you. Later, after you've continued with your workday, recall this moment; let your awareness revisit your body's center while walking, sitting, or conversing with others.
When your thoughts run away with you: In any centering, grounding or reflective process, as you keep your awareness focused on your breathing, you will notice that thoughts, desires, pains, and apprehensions arise in your mind. Take note of them as they arise, then let them float away or evaporate, while you stay attentive to your breathing. You will find, sometimes, that you become occupied with a thought and lose awareness of your breathing. When you notice this happening, release the thought and gently bring your awareness back to your breathing. Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, was fond of saying, "My students think I never lose my center. This is not so; I simply notice it sooner and get back faster."
Moving off the line of attack and blending (see photos below): Ask a friend to walk directly toward you, extending an arm straight at you, palm out. As they approach, take a step to their outside as a matador might. As your friend passes, pivot slightly and move alongside him or her, cradling the outstretched arm with one hand as you usher your friend along gently with the other. As you move with him or her, in the same direction, gently experiment with leading his or her energy safely past you. Cultivate the feeling that you are connected somehow with him or her as you move together. Allow the aggressive energy to dissipate as the paired movement comes to a natural conclusion. Talk with your friend about how this movement differs from responding to an attack with reciprocal force, or with giving in. A common form of blending with another is simply to listen wholeheartedly. In work situations, look for opportunities to blend with others who may be adopting an adversarial role toward you.
Facing the approaching attacker
Blending with attacker's energy. She has stepped off line and pivoted her hips until she faces in the direction of attack. She lets the energy go by harmlessly, keeping a connection with her attacker.
When the telephone rings: Resist answering it on the first ring. Instead of "always rushing to answer the phone," get in the habit of using the time between the first ring and the end of the third ring to practice breathing your awareness to your center. People who acquire this habit find they can deal with interruptions with a renewed sense of balance and equilibrium.
Bryner, Andy and Dawna Markova. An Unused Intelligence. Berkeley: Conari Press, 1996.
A book for managers containing safe, simple Aikido practices for developing increased skill in leading when resistance arises withouth fighting back or giving in.
Casteneda, Carlos. Magical Passes. New York: Harper, 1998.
A manual detailing a set of solo movements for cultivating, circulating, and using the vital energies available within the body.
Crum, Thomas. The Magic of Conflict. New York: Touchstone, 1987.
A practical, illustrated book providing a framework and set of practices for putting Aikido practices to graceful use in managing conflict in everyday life.
Heckler, Richard, ed. Aikido and the New Warrior. Berkeley: North Atlantic, 1985.
An anthology of papers about the study of Aikido, its lessons of leadership and healing through compassion and interrelatedness, and the art's practical applications off the training mat.
______. The Anatomy of Change. Boston: Shambala, 1984.
A pioneering declaration that a path to psychological wholeness is to be found in identifying how our bodies express our thoughts and moods, containing physical practices aimed at helping readers use the "wisdom of the body" to overcome obstacles and promote health and wellness.
Kornfield, Jack. A Path With Heart. New York: Bantam, 1993.
A set of meditation practices, stories, and perspectives supporting the reader's personal journey of inner discovery and promoting the experience of connectedness and compassion with other beings.
Leonard, George. The Way of Aikido. New York: Dutton, 1999.
Powerful practices for putting the principles of Aikido into action in your life and work. These simple practices are woven within a captivating narrative of Leonard's experiences over the past three decades as an Aikido student and teacher.
Levey, Joel and Michelle. Living in Balance. Berkeley: Conari, 1988.
A comprehensive, practice-filled, text emphasizing the value of integrating mind, body, and spirit for wholness and balanced action in a chaotic world.
Moon, Richard. Aiki: The Power of Harmony. San Rafael: Aiki Press, 1997.
A guided exploration of the art of Aikido as a model for conducting life on and off the training mat. The author offers an approach to effectivness in three steps: (1) feel your center, (2) blend harmoniously with others, and (3) make your contribution.
Musashi, Miyamoto. A Book of Five Rings. Woodstock: Overlook, 1974.
By Japan's most famous and illustrious swordsman, this timeless, poetic work provides insight into the unique mental and physical aspects of the life of a warrior.
O'Neil, John. Leadership Aikido. NY: Harmony, 1997.
Specific applications of Aikido principles, skill, and practices to the tasks of managing a business and of leading strategic business initiatives.
Palmer, Wendy. The Intuitive Body: Aikido as a Clairsentient Practice. Berkeley: North Atlantic, 1994
Recovering our intimacy with our own intuition, and using the embodied wisdom we find there to inform our actions is the focus of this work. Using Aikido as a source of physical grounding and movement into life situations, Palmer provides practice guides for exploring the intuitive pathways within the body.
Satir, Virginia. The New Peoplemaking. Mt. View, CA: Science and Behavior, 1988.
A ground-breaking work in the field of family therapy. Proceeding from an explicitly systems thinking perspective on family communication, this book provides a pathway to overcoming obstacles in group dynamics based on physical positioning and interrelation.
Trungpa Chögyam. Shambala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior. Boston: Shambala, 1988.
A practical guide to understanding and following the life path of the warrior. Interpreting the warrior's path for contemporary readers, the author emphasizes the integration of mind and body, overcoming limiting habits, relaxing to find fearlessness through balance, and discovering the sacred aspects of everyday life.
A site for learning more about Aikido and for locating a dojo near you:
"White collar, black belt": an article from Fast Company:
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