Trauma-Informed Ki-Aikido

posted Aug 24, 2018, 9:58 AM by The Center for Mind-Body Oneness   [ updated Aug 25, 2018, 5:05 PM ]

By Laurel Strand-Crawford

Since starting a class in Ki-Aikido foundations for trauma survivors, the question I've been asked most often is, "I would like to join this class, but do I need to be a trauma survivor?" The short answer is that everyone is welcome. My extended answers are always contextualized in the conversation, but I've given this a lot of thought during our late-summer break and I want to take the opportunity to share my inspiration & intention for creating this class.

In simplest terms, the way I have come to see it, this world is a survivor of countless traumatic experiences. The world as we know it, including our individually-experienced bodies of awareness, is made up of multitudinous systems in various stages of trauma resolution. It occurs to me that everyone on the planet right now is connected to some aspect of trauma, and as such can be instrumental to the healing in process.

As someone who has studied trauma for the last 15 years, I've built an awareness of the ways human systems, both individually & collectively experienced, reflect an intricate process of healing. As biological & social systems attempt to resolve traumatic experience, they undergo changes in biochemistry, language, perception, & availability, all which can be profound, intense, and overwhelming for the individual.

In my own experience, the principles of Ki-Aikido assist this process monumentally. As we develop a stronger relationship with the very center of our living experience, we build our capacities to recognize our own stability, to access choices, to affirm our most natural freedom of movement. We practice allowing our mind to settle at the center of experience, welcoming the awareness of sensation & connection, and moving from where we're not being held. The dojo becomes a laboratory for the rest of our lives, helping us develop a new somatic baseline informed by a stable center.

When I first came to the Center for Mind-Body Oneness in 2008, as a trauma survivor several years into active healing work, I found a safe container able to support me in developing my own awareness & stability. I found non-dogmatic tradition, designed with respect for individual exploration & authentic discovery. I found a good teacher dedicated to training in daily life, committed to applying these principles in ways that open doors for each student no matter where they come from.

Learning from this example, I want to share this gift of opening doors. What I am able to offer is my own training in the universal principles we study in Ki-Aikido. As an expression of my own integration process, I offer a trauma-informed access to these principles, knowing that the availability & reflection of this work can make a world of difference in training & daily life.

Trauma-Informed Ki-Aikido begins again on September 6th at 6pm. Wherever you are in the global conversation on trauma & healing, I hope you will consider joining us in this life laboratory.

Ki-Aikido Kids Class Resumes October 5th

posted Jul 30, 2018, 10:17 AM by The Center for Mind-Body Oneness   [ updated Aug 21, 2018, 9:01 AM ]

Register Now!
Ki-Aikido is accessible for any body shape, size, and strength!

Is your child ready for a life-changing adventure in the non-violent Japanese martial art of Ki-Aikido?

Beginning Friday, October 5th, we’re inviting kids ages 8 and up to come train together right here in St. Paul. No experience necessary – we’ll be starting from the beginning!

Through stretching exercises, games, and some basic aikido techniques, this 50-minute class will focus on safety and respecting the body. Students will receive personal instruction from our experienced teachers. Not only that, but we’ll practice relaxation and beginning meditation, which is a great tool for navigating all the stresses that come with growing up. Our goal is to develop coordination, cooperation, and confidence.

What To Expect:

Above all, we strive to give children a positive and safe learning environment.

No matter what age, a person always benefits from being in a healthy, supportive learning environment. We aim to give kids a foundation they can rely on for a lifetime of positive growth. Through this Kids Class, we teach kids how to confidently interact with others by developing coordination, relaxation, and good posture. With an understanding of Japanese dojo etiquette, we learn to practice respect, teamwork, and connection to others.

Ki-Aikido will benefit students of all ages by:
  • Building mental and physical resiliency
  • Channeling energy into positive interaction
  • Settling mind and body through meditation
  • Stimulating brain-body coordination
  • Teaching how to fall without injury
  • Focusing on personal development, not competition
  • Cultivating respect for self and others
  • Experiencing a culture of tending the physical space
  • Developing a sense of joy and confidence

Ki-Aikido gives kids a chance to develop their full potential in a non-competitive community while strengthening their mind and body together with friends. Register today to give your child this experience of connection and joy as we learn and grow together.

Special Introductory First Month Membership Rate

For those who register now, we are offering a special First Month Membership rate of only $50 per child. This includes participation in weekly kids classes for the month of October, plus a new gi (training outfit and white belt).

Can't make it on October 5th? No problem! Register for the first Friday your child will be joining us, and we'll continue your Introductory Membership into November's kid classes to include a total of four classes.

Register on Eventbrite, or contact us in advance so we know you plan to register onsite.

After the Introductory Membership, ongoing monthly membership is by free-will donation – we suggest a range similar to a gym membership, sports league, unlimited yoga pass, or a month’s worth of music lessons, based on what your family can afford. This is the membership structure for all students at the Center for Mind-Body Oneness, regardless of age. The doors stay open because of our financial commitment, and our generosity is inspired by what this community means to us, and the difference that training in Ki-Aikido makes in our lives. We hope you will join us!
Register Now!

Japanese Obon Festival with Minnesota Ki Society

posted Jul 30, 2018, 9:37 AM by The Center for Mind-Body Oneness   [ updated Jul 31, 2018, 8:43 AM ]

This year, the dojo will once again be participating in the Como Conservatory's Japanese Obon Festival. The Como "Lantern Festival"  is one of the largest exhibitions of Japanese culture in the region. The event will feature entertainment, cultural booths, martial arts demonstrations (that's us!) and food from 3:00 - 9:00 pm. At dusk, lanterns are floated on two ponds to commemorate Obon, the Japanese Festival that honors departed ancestors.

Get more information about the festival here on the Como website

This is the premiere event in the Twin Cities for connecting with people interested in Japanese culture. Please join us as we share Ki-Aikido and Ki Principles as part of this fun, family-friendly festival of Japanese culture.

Sign up here to volunteer at our booth
Or get tickets in advance here

We will have a booth at the festival and put on two demonstrations. If you are interested in volunteering to help with the dojo booth or demos, please contact Kirsten ( or 651-785-4650) or sign up here. There are limited free passes for dojo volunteers, and we would be delighted to have company! Here is the schedule for the day:
  • We will begin setting up our booth at about 2:00
  • Gates open to the public at 3:00
  • We will put on demonstrations at 4:00 & 6:00
  • We will take down the booth around 8:00
Sign up here to volunteer at our booth
Or get tickets in advance here

The event takes place in Como Park, just out front of the Conservatory. Parking in the area is limited, so participants and guests are invited to park at an off-site parking lot near Midway Stadium and catch a free shuttle bus to the event.

Get information about parking and the shuttle bus here

New Thursday Morning Meditation

posted Jun 26, 2018, 8:20 AM by The Center for Mind-Body Oneness   [ updated Jun 26, 2018, 8:20 AM ]

Morning Meditation Practice Session
7:00-8:00 AM, Thursdays
Beginning June 28

Want a calm, clear start to your mornings this summer?

Meditation allows us to notice and become familiar with the thoughts and sensations present in our minds and bodies. Through this practice, we tune into our current experience, see what is happening more clearly, and find greater joy and calmness in our lives. 

Please join us for a morning meditation practice session, from 7-8 AM on Thursdays this summer. If you cannot stay the full hour, come for as long as you can, and depart when you need to.

Please note: building doors may not open right at 7. Please arrive by 7 to ensure Kirsten can buzz you in before meditation practice begins.

EKF Summer Camp with Tohei Sensei

posted Jun 26, 2018, 7:42 AM by The Center for Mind-Body Oneness   [ updated Jun 26, 2018, 7:50 AM ]

This past week, eight members of the Minnesota Ki Society traveled to Greenville, South Carolina for a four-day seminar with Shinichi Tohei Sensei, who was visiting from Ki Society Headquarters in Japan. Several of us had visited Tohei Sensei at headquarters two years ago, or had been able to train with him on one of his previous visits to the United States, and we were eager not only to have this chance to learn directly from the head of our school, but also to renew the relationship with a teacher we hold in high esteem. It was especially a privilege to support some of our friends in having their first experience training with Tohei Sensei.

At this seminar in Greenville, Tohei Sensei invited us into a deeper understanding of keeping one point, to experience connection with our partners, and to know the relationship of mind and ki. With a focus on basics, we had a chance to practice a little bit of everything – from aikido techniques, to jo and ken, to breathing and ki meditation. Now that we are home again, we are committed to sharing what we learned with each other in upcoming classes this summer. If you’re curious to hear more about it, we’d love to have you join us! You can check out the class schedule on our website calendar.

Everything at the seminar flowed so smoothly, it would be easy to assume it was effortless. Each part moved seamlessly into the next; breaks were timed perfectly; there was a gentle rhythm between explanation and practice; and when instructions were given, they were easy to follow, and everyone understood what to expect. And yet when we pause to consider how many moving parts there were, we can begin to appreciate how critical a role connection played in helping us all have a supportive learning experience together.

Everyone present made a commitment to help make this event happen – from Tohei Sensei’s dedication to making himself available to teach us, to our host instructors who made the visit possible at the highest levels, to those traveling from Texas, Colorado, New York, Wisconsin, Washington, California, Japan, and even Russia to join our group from Minnesota and the local South Carolina folks in growing and developing together. In order for this seminar to happen, it took the dedication of everyone to show up and bring their heart to the mat. The result of all these people coming together with this shared intention was a seminar filled with plus ki, creating an atmosphere where we could all learn joyfully.

In a room more than half-filled with yudansha in their hakama, we were also welcomed by representatives from the local children’s class, who helped us remember that we are supposed to be having fun! Some youthful mudansha in colored belts like my own also traveled from Virginia to be there with us – I was delighted to be their partner several times throughout the seminar. And there were several white-belts – of various ages – who joined us on the mat, in some cases having only been training in aikido a month. Yet here we all were together, finding ways to learn from each other, laughing and building friendships that spanned not only borders, but generations.

Many of us in Eastern Ki Federation have learned to think of our extended Ki-Aikido community as Ohana – a term brought by our Hawai’i aikido friends, reminding us that when we are intentional about tending our relationships to one another, we create an open-hearted sense of family. Our Aikido Ohana deepens and grows every time we come together and train with Plus Ki – whether that involves visiting Tohei Sensei, hosting a guest instructor at a home seminar, or simply showing up week after week at our own dojo, seeing our friends’ familiar faces as weeks turn into years and belts change color.

Community – a healthy sense of belonging together – doesn’t happen by accident. So I want to express my deep gratitude for all the ways, known and unknown, that we each bring sincerity and commitment to our training, whether local or distant, whether instructor or beginner, and whether you’ve been on the mat recently or not. As Tohei Sensei reminds us, Ki is constantly flowing, and the universe is constantly moving and changing. I hope that movement brings our paths together at the dojo again, so we can continue to build our joyful Ohana.

Fryling Sensei Seminar

posted Apr 24, 2018, 4:32 PM by The Center for Mind-Body Oneness   [ updated Apr 24, 2018, 4:32 PM ]

I would love if introductions always went this way: “Who are you, where are you from, and when are you your best self?” It felt natural, in the dojo, to start a seminar this way. But the underlying attention, focus, and purpose of that first step expressed a clarity of intention that could be shared by all, built throughout the day, and carried onward into daily life. 

Pete Seeger's words come back to me: “Any darn fool can make something complex; it takes a genius to make something simple.” In this one-day workshop in Foundations of Mind-Body Coordination, the genius of simplicity came from welcoming all the complexity to join in & settle at one point.

Our explorations began with a “simple” invitation: today we can fundamentally change our relationship to stress. In a room full of people, some with decades of experience in the dojo and some brand new to the mat, this was the first conversation offered. Sit down and talk with someone about what it's like when you are stressed, and what it would be like to bring that “best self” feeling to the stressful situation. From this place of listening & being heard, it seemed everyone's Real Lives were given a broad welcome to come join in the conversation.

Then, we dove into the laboratory, experimenting with a growing variety of simple tasks, noticing what happens when we use our mind one way versus another. The common habit of focusing on the point of stress, in any given situation, is what gets us stuck. “Aikido is an art of lines,” said Fryling Sensei. “When we think in terms of points, we lose sight of purpose & we get small.”

This is the joy & gift of learning together in the dojo. With a friend offering the role of the “stressor,” we are able to see clearly the way our attention affects our experience. One after another, simple exercises show us what happens when we focus the mind on the point of stress, and what is available when body & mind are free to move.

“Tension is collision with nature,” says Fryling Sensei. “We can only hear others' intentions when we're focused & relaxed.” When we feel the lines of intention from our partners, our “stressors,” and make no effort to tense up & fight at the point of stress, we are free to move along the most natural lines of connection.

This is simple access to complex habits; the treasure of training with others in this way is the clarity of feedback, the immediacy of understanding when mind & body are coordinated. One can go to a lecture & hear the words “Stress is a choice.” And although there can be benefits to thinking about these words, there is a limit to what the thinking mind can figure out. But the experiential, living, shared dojo of putting these words into practice brings the choice into tangible, somatic reality. Here we build the power of new habits together, in the complex theater of engagement, with the felt sense of body-mind coordination.. It brings it out of the head and right into the moment, where we can all work together in developing a greater freedom. And that's freedom each person has the power to carry into the world.


Laurel Strand Crawford is a poet who makes her home along the Mississippi river. She teaches the Ki-Aikido Foundations for Trauma Survivors at The Center for Mind-Body Oneness.

Introduction to Ki & Aikido

posted Mar 27, 2018, 1:07 PM by The Center for Mind-Body Oneness   [ updated Apr 12, 2018, 10:24 AM ]

Experience the power of relaxation, good posture, natural movement, and making positive connections with others in this seven-week introduction to Ki Development and Ki-Aikido.

Ki Development trains coordination of mind and body through meditation and movement exercises that promote our natural ability to respond to stress and conflict positively and creatively. Ki-Aikido is a non-competitive, mutually supportive martial art based on connecting with nature, with others, and with ourselves.

In this seven-week class, you will learn techniques to remain centered, focused and relaxed, while connecting with those around you. You will also learn basic dojo etiquette, meditation practices, a selection of Ki-Aikido techniques, and how to safely receive those techniques.

When: Wednesdays 6:00-8:30pm, May 2 - June 13

Where: The Center for Mind-Body Oneness, 550 Vandalia St, Studio 203, Saint Paul, MN 55114

Cost: $140 for the 7 week program, including a training uniform
and dojo membership for May & June.
Free for current dojo members

Foundations of Mind-Body Coordination: Sat, April 21

posted Feb 27, 2018, 3:39 PM by The Center for Mind-Body Oneness   [ updated Apr 12, 2018, 10:44 AM ]

Experience for yourself the power of relaxation, good posture, and a positive mind with Rich Fryling Sensei, 5th degree black belt in Ki-Aikido.
Anyone can learn and immediately apply these simple exercises to coordinate mind & body.

In this hands-on workshop, Rich Fryling will introduce you to universal principles of mind-body coordination. Saturday morning will focus on foundations of mind-body coordination. Saturday afternoon will focus on applying principles of mind-body coordination to managing stress and conflict through the non-violent martial art of Ki-Aikido. Each Saturday session is a stand-alone class, with no prerequisites. Register here for either the morning or afternoon class, or for the whole day. Full-day registration includes complementary lunch. 

The principles Fryling Sensei teaches are hands-on, experiential, and can be immediately applied to daily life. You will never hear Fryling Sensei say, “just trust me.” Instead, he will invite you to feel the power of these principles for yourself. When you do, you will know without a doubt that these are tools you can rely on to improve your performance and enhance your quality of life.

Saturday, April 21, 2018
9:00a            Doors Open
10:00-12:30  Saturday Morning Session: "Coordinating Mind & Body"
12:30-2:00    Lunch (included in full day registration)
2:00-4:30      Saturday Afternoon Session: "Introduction to Ki-Aikido" 
6:00p            Potluck Dinner & Social

Rich Fryling holds the rank of 5th degree black belt in Ki-Aikido and is a certified Associate Lecturer and Examiner with the International Ki Society, headquartered in Tochigi, Japan. He has been a student of David Shaner Sensei, 8th degree black belt and Chief Instructor of the Eastern Ki Federation, since 1989. For the past three decades, he has applied his training in mind-body coordination to his personal and professional life. He began his career at Grey Advertising where he eventually became Senior Vice President before leaving to found The Walking Brand mindfulness training program. Through The Walking Brand, Fryling Sensei provides customized programs of experiential instruction that promotes a deep understanding of relaxation and how it can be applied to work performance and daily life.

Don't Try So Hard

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