As I said in my last newsletter, I am shifting my writing for awhile to give you a better sense of the basic principles that make up Seishindo.
I’m hoping that by reading about the basic principles of Seishindo, you’ll deepen your sense of feeling embodied, healthy, and fully alive.
Please write to me, letting me know how this new series of articles reaches you!
Below is an exercise I’ve designed to help you have an experiential understanding of what it means to be centered as we think about it in Aikido. In Aikido practice, when you’re centered you’re said to be “keeping one point”.
2. The experience of “being centered”
Can you make an image in your mind’s eye of a monohull sailboat? Perhaps a boat that sits on a large lake, and comfortably holds you and a couple of friends out for an afternoon’s outing.
There’s a mast rising straight up from the centerline of your boat, yes? The mast is meant to be strong, while also being lightweight and flexible.
Chances are as you read these words, you’ll be sitting somewhere.
As you sit, imagine yourself to be a scale model of this sailboat as you make your way through life.
Think of your spine as being similar to the boat’s mast. Strong, lightweight, and flexible.
As you sit facing forward, your boat is facing straight ahead.
Imagine it’s a calm day out, and your boat rocks ever so much.
Depending on your feeling, you can rock your boat from back to front, or from side to side.
Rock your boat in whatever direction feels best to you.
The rhythm of your rocking is meant to be similar to the rhythm of a mother rocking her young baby in her arms.
Feeling this rhythm now in your own body, take three deep breaths as you allow your rocking motion to get ever so much bigger.
Every sailboat of course has a hull. Without a hull there would be no boat..
As you sit there now, imagine that your pelvis forms the structure of you hull, and that the deck of your hull is in line with the top of your pelvic girdle and your navel. The major portion of your hull/your pelvic structure, sits in the water, and your spine is rising straight up from the center of your pelvis.
As you most likely know, every monohull sailboat has a keel at the bottom of the boat’s centerline, and it’s the keel that gives the boat stability. How does the keel accomplish this? Well in very simple terms, the keel is quite heavy compared to the weight of the rest of the boat, and the keel sits below the waterline. It’s the weight of the keel resting at the center of the hull, below the waterline, that creates the stability.
You experience yourself as having a keel when the muscles of your torso are relaxed and your spine is straight, and thus the weight of your torso falls into the lower portion of your pelvis. It’s the weight of your torso resting in your pelvis that creates your keel.
With the top portion of your imagined keel a couple of inches below your navel and the bottom of your keel resting on the seat you’re sitting on.
It’s your keel that keeps you stable, and in terms of Aikido your keel is what we call your “center” or “one point”.
As you’re sitting there now, imagine that the bottom portion of your spine melds with your keel.
Your pelvis rests in the water, and the weight of your keel, your “one point”, sits below the waterline and gives you stability, as your boat gently rocks in the water.
Nothing more to do now, but to engage in an image and the feeling this image gives you.
Your pelvis resting in the water,
The weight of your torso resting in your pelvis creating your sense of a keel,
your center, your “one point”.
And it’s your keel reaching all the way down to the bottom of your pelvis that gives you stability,
With your strong, lightweight, flexible spine connected to your keel.
As you rock gently in whatever direction feels best to you,
Take three deep breaths now,
Having the felt sense of your “center” being in your lower abdomen and pelvis.
As you feel how your rocking motion gives you the sense of being calm, centered, and able to move with the currents and winds of life.