Dojo: Aozora Dojo
Location: Birmingham, AL
Join Date: Feb 2006
Re: Ki Eureka
Well, it's been about nine or ten days since I had this sudden recognition and it feels as if it has changed my whole way of living. I "feel" more, almost as if I have a much larger body. And that larger mass of self buffers out a lot of stuff that previously went straight to my mind and could irritate me. Now I feel like I have a whole different way of absorbing influences from the world around me and I can stay a lot calmer.
Now, a good friend has said, "how do we apply it and condition it? That's the rub."
What I find is that you don't condition the ki the way you do the fascia, which you don't condition the same as you do muscle, which you don't condition the same as you do mind. In other words, like each of these other elements, you have to have a completely different approach to the ki, which you can learn directly from the ki itself if you remember that the exercise of it has to be conducted among the other elements, of muscle, bone, fascia, mind, etc. A really good exercise like silk reeling contains the right kind of exercise for all these elements at once. So you could do something that's "good for the ki" but it wouldn't be good for much else. So it wouldn't even be good for the ki, would it?
But apart from specific fighting condition, I think the best way to condition the ki is to really put the mind into it and pay attention to what ki is and does and what it likes. Recently, I was doing tai chi in snow and ice and a really frigid gust of wind hit me and I said, "Ooh. I don't like that." and I heard my ki say, "I do." And I was a bit taken aback and I thought, "Well, if my ki likes this, let me think again...and I eased off a lot of resistance that I was holding throughout my skin, trying to keep out the cold, I suppose. And when I released that and let the sensation of the frigid wind come on in, it almost made me feel warm, the ki responded so satisfactorily...I felt like I could come to enjoy this kind of practice.
Maybe it's not the ki that needs so much conditioning as it is our own awareness.
Now, I feel like I can't lose this awareness and it's a bit giddying because I feel like I've won the lottery. And I just read something that made me realize that what I've experienced is not trivial:
from an interview with Moshe Feldenkrais talking about ki and the hara with Denis Leri, a longtime aikido teacher and a student of Feldenkrais (slightly edited for clarityy):
""F:...you must know from your practice something, the importance of this, what they call in the language, tanden.
L: Of course, I know. And their description of it, while it may be--
F: My description of it is only in movement, I am not concerned with any of the other things.
L: But does it not come to the same thing?
F: No, it doesn't because, you see, in the one, if you say you've got chi, many people would try to be like you and do like you, and if they fail will say, "Oh, I could never get chi." To get chi, you have to possess moral courage, you have to be connected with the higher spheres of things. Therefore, you find that this is an impediment in the learning. (To a questioner) Have you chi?
L: I could not say that.
F: Oh, therefore, if you can't say it, that's what I'm talking about. You can work 20 years and you don't show it. You're not sure if you have it or you don't. Because if it's a mysterious quantity, then you must deserve it, you must be a part of an elite group, or you must be born in China. How will you get chi if it's a metaphysical thing that nobody knows what it is? Well, it's a quality like psychic healing, if you're a healer, you're a healer. If you don't heal, you are not. Now, chi is the same thing. Either you've got it or you ain't got it. If you've got it, you've got it. If you ain't got it, you ain't got it (Laughter) It's almost like EST.""
End of Segment
But the thing that struck me is that the experienced aikido man after already being a well-known teacher admits that he cannot say that he "has" ki.
Neither could I, eleven days ago, but now it is unshakeable in me because I had it long before I knew what it was. I just didn't realize that it was a permanent part of me that I could observe in action. I have inadvertently developed it somewhat over the years, but I can tell that I'm going to be "developing" it constantly for the rest of my life because it's a beautifully pleasant way to experience things and it takes a lot of mental stress away because that's one of its functions. When I say "developing" it, I mean things like learning to let it take the load it's supposed to take and quit trying to handle them with my mind. I also want to explore its capacity to allow me to interact with groups of people by interacting with their ki through me own ki (say a meeting with several people at work) to reduce my sense of separateness from the group, to make the others feel more included in the group, and to free our mental capacities for a more focused meeting, for instance.
In other words, I sense that the best conditioning of the ki is to use it for the things it's meant to do: perceive and communicate on non-mental levels.
I mentioned earlier that I get some energy from the ki of the world and I got a response from another friend. To be clear, I don't mean any kind of mystical spirit from the world, but things like air, food, drink, friendship, learning and so on, but also things like TV and radio, newspapers, the internet, music, popular culture, the government, wall street, your neighbors, your neighborhood, your work place, your work mates, and then all the old friends you still know from high school or wherever. That's a lot of force coming in and I'm beginning to see how the ki can buffer all that from the mind. Then the ki must purify itself from all that. Apparently, that is one of the functions of the hara: it's the seat of the ki, but it's also the crucible of purification of one's own ki, sort of like a liver or kidney for ki.
So when we know that many major aikido people can't say they "have" ki, I feel very fortunate that I got it even after almost forty years of seeking. But I got it by carefully considering the bones, the muscles, the fascia and how they all work together for internal power. Ki was a missing element, but even after you find it, it's not the only element for IS.
But, dang, I do feel like I've won the lottery.
Best to all.