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Fryling Sensei Seminar

posted Apr 24, 2018, 4:32 PM by Minnesota Ki Society   [ 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.