Faking It

1. Introduction

I’ll be teaching in NYC and Burlington, Vermont starting in the middle of July.

In Vermont, I’ll be teaching one full day and several evening sessions, as part of a larger Master Practitioner program run by Jonathan Altfeld and Doug Obrien. If you would like to be my guest in any or all of the evening programs, send me an email at charlie@seishindo.org.

You are of course also welcome to take the entire 12 day Master Practitioner Program. If you would like to do that, email me immediately!


It will be GREAT to be back in NYC! Here is a look at the two day program I’ll be teaching there.

Would you like to know more? Please contact me. I’m really looking forward to meeting more of the Seishindo community!


Seishindo Mindbody Medicine

NYC; July 23, 24 2011

I’m guessing you’ve heard the expression “The mind is willing but the flesh is weak.” It seems to be an important premise underlying much of the Western concept of health and well-being.

“If my damn body wasn’t so stubborn, I’d be thirty pounds lighter and look twenty years younger!”
So sad to see this model of the world prevalent amongst so many people.

Oriental wisdom on the other hand teaches that “the entire unit of self” is intelligent and life sustaining. That at the very least it takes a rational mind, an emotional mind, a body, and a soul, to make up one person, And it’s our job in life to coordinate and integrate these various parts of ourselves in order to live a life that’s emotionally fulfilling.

In Seishindo MindBody Medicine-
We consider the body to be a wise ally, rather than a hindrance.
We practice becoming mindful, and thus appreciative of what we do have, rather than focusing on what we think needs fixing.
We sense an indomitable spirit lies beneath the confusion and fear we all feel from time to time.
We believe in the power of people working together in community.

This workshop will be of great value, if you want to
Feel calm and centered in times of great change
Feel at home in your body, and at home in the world
Slow down and appreciate all that you do have
Refocus your life, regain your health, and rebuild your relationships

You already possess all the resources you need, to live the life you truly desire.
Come join us for a heartfelt experience that goes beyond words!

If you want to know more, or if you want to sign up to attend, you can contact me at charlie@seishindo.org.

2. Faking It

After meeting grandma a number of times she stopped going to her hands and knees when bowing to me. Instead, she began to bow while standing.

The first time she remained standing I worried I might have done something to lessen her respect for me! Years later I realize she began to stand and bow, as a way to show me our relationship was becoming less formal and more friendly.

Having studied Aikido for a few years before first meeting grandma, I could see a definite similarity between the way she bowed to me, and the way I was taught to bow to my sensei.

In Aikido class I was taught to first inhale, and then begin my exhale and bow at the same time. When my exhale was complete I was meant to pause for just a moment, and then finally rise up just as I started to inhale once again. This simple ritual, which involves integrating your breathing with your movement, can be very powerful. You feel a definite connection to the person you’re bowing to, while at the same time feeling a deep connection to yourself.

Unbeknownst to grandma, I decided one day to playfully engage her in a bowing contest. My intention was to bow to her, in the same manner as I bowed to my sensei. I was determined to bow deeper and longer than her in order to let her know I felt she was the one deserving the most respect. I guess, in retrospect, I also wanted to show myself that my bowing was better than hers!

So I rang her bell, and seized my chance.

She opened the door and bowed deeply as usual. Then, just as she bobbed up from her bow like a diver raising her head above water to get a fresh supply of oxygen, I began my bow. I stayed down as long as I thought I could without seeming unnatural, and then just as I was coming up… I saw grandma going back down in the opposite direction. Bowing even deeper than she had the first time, while once again mumbling wonderful things about me.

Not to be outdone, I waited patiently while pacing my breathing to her movements. Just as she started to bob up a second time, I began my exhale and went down a second time. I paused for what seemed like longer than I should have, and then slowly came back up… only to see her going back down!

I’m not sure how many times we did this. Perhaps five complete rounds. All I know is it seemed like an eternity.

It was as if we were connected by a system of weights and pulleys. Her coming up required me to go down, and the same was true when we both went in the opposite direction.

What I felt from the first moment of my little contest, was that her bowing had a presence and a power to it that my bowing didn’t. I felt like the guy you sometimes see in a photo that has an odd looking smile on his face, because rather than really smiling, he’s only pretending to smile. The fact that I was only pretending to bow and show respect, and she wasn’t, was immediately apparent to me, and perhaps to grandma as well.

I was bowing with my body, but not with my heart. I wasn’t bowing as an expression of my thanks. I felt embarrassed and I vowed to myself to authentically show her my respect in the future.

What I learned from my little contest is this-
The thanks and respect we show others,
If it’s to have any real meaning,
If it’s to be more than an empty social ritual,
Must be initiated from a heartfelt sense of appreciation and humility.

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