Krachtige samenwerking in een wereld die veranderd

Bedrijfsworkshop op de Veluwe

Oktober, 2018

Afgelopen week had ik de eer een bedrijfsworkshop te mogen verzorgen voor de Omgevingsdienst OVIJ. Deze Omgevingsdiensten, die de uitvoering en handhaving van de milieuwetgeving als taak hebben, staan door de nieuwe wetgeving voor een enorme verandering. Om deze verandering in goede banen te leiden, werden de ‘Witte Beren’ van de verschillende afdelingen gedurende twee dagen op de Veluwe bij elkaar gebracht. Onder supervisie van Barbara Middelhof van Diep leerden ze ‘out-of-the-box’ te denken. Zij zijn de innovatoren in hun organisatie. Zij moeten de veranderingen in de praktijk gaan brengen, en in de toekomst samenwerken om de nieuwe uitdagingen het hoofd te bieden.

Op uitnodiging van Barbara heb ik een workshop verzorgd onder het thema ‘Krachtige samenwerking in een wereld die veranderd‘. Dit sluit geheel aan op de aikido-beoefening zoals ik die heb gevonden in mijn leraar Miles Kessler The Integral Dojo.

Gedurende een uur hebben we gewerkt aan het zoeken naar een gezamenlijk bewegen, invoelen van de ander, meebewegen, en sensitiviteit ontwikkelen terwijl je in contact bent met ‘de ander’.

Na een start van 5 minuten meditatie op het gras in de herfstzon onder een Veluwse boom, werd door de deelnemers al een enorme rust ervaren. ‘Fijn om even niets te hoeven’, en ‘ik hoorde bladeren ritselen, terwijl ik daar normaal nooit bewust ben’.

Na een uur lichaamswerk was de energie in de groep geheel veranderd. Zo’n simpele oefening als 5 minuten samen stil zijn creĆ«ert al gelijk een band. Eerst oefeningen om te gronden, letterlijk de grond te voelen. Daarna leren mee te bewegen met de ander, via een heel subtiel handcontact. Daarna het maken van contact en dan meebewegen als je onder druk wordt gezet.
Uiteindelijk bewustwording van perspectief. Hoe voelt het als de oefening wordt gedaan vanuit het ‘ik’-perspectief? Of het ‘het’-perspectief? Tenslotte het ‘wij’-perspectief. Door te werken met deze perspectieven ontstaat er een bewustzijn in het contact, en kan het contact zachter worden.

Van een groep die lacherig en oncomfortabel aan het werk ging, werd de energie getransformeerd in een uur tijd naar een groep die vanuit rust en bewustzijn genoot van de groepsdynamiek.

Op deze plek, in de Steeg, waar ik als meer dan 25 jaar kom om tot rust te komen, sloot ik met een gevoel van voldoening deze eerste workshop aan het bedrijfsleven af. Het voelde voor mij heel natuurlijk om mijn aikido-beoefening in te brengen in een groepsproces.

Autonomy and Community

An investigating seminar by Miles Kessler

16 – 18 november 2018, Dortmund.

Again I joined a seminar with Miles Kessler, aikido and meditation teacher. This time in Dortmund, were it was his 8th time he gave a seminar here.

The saturday-event left me with a deep impression. In the first part there was a focus on autonomy. Being autonomous as a person, connected from one’s center to the center of the earth. We did excersices of subtle touching, giving direction. Only to give the receiver a more centered feeling. From there we worked towards yokomen uchi with several techniques, emphasizing the connection between nage and uke. Without connection there is no need for technique. Both nage and uke keep their autonomy, making the martial dance aikido possible.

In the second part, there was a great emphasis on being fully connected, while moving. Small, then spacious again. This moving, with music in the background, is really a martial dance. It feels librating, both as uke and nage. And it revolves in techniques. It is true jiu waza.

After two days of practice with Miles I feel opened up. My senses, my energy, my whole body.

Liberating, life. Aikido is life. Through aikido I feel alive. Thank you Miles. And thank you Sabine Spatz for organizing and Bettina for your hospitality!

Stillness and movement

Or dying gracefully

A weekend seminar with Miles Kessler

This weekend, september 28 – september 30 2018, Miles Kessler of the Integral Dojo, gave a seminar in the dojo of Aikido Maastricht. Training with Miles Kessler is training outside of the mainstream aikido context. Miles, 6th dan aikikai, has integrated his 8 years of Burmese meditation and spiritual path with his aikido. As lineage holder of the Iwama tradition, he has trained intensively with Saito sensei. His teachings are deeply inspiring, as he works on universal principles that fit the human body and mind.

Friday and saturday

This weekend we have been working on stillness and movement. Everything, object, living creature, is moving in essence. This becomes most obvious when we look at living creatures, like us. We move, even when we are sitting in stillness. When in meditation the mind becomes close to stillness, we become aware of our breath, in and out. I sometimes even feel my blood running through my veins. Movement and stillness.

Integrating this in aikido practice is where Miles shows his mastery. A full focus on developing the subtle feeling of connection between uke and nage. Not martial, no leverage. But really connecting, and feeling the movement of your training-partner. This is the aikido my body and mind are longing for. For me this is the true spirit of aikido I have been searching for for 35 years. After two days of working to establish and improve this connection, the energy really starts to flow, and the aikido practice becomes more and more dynamic. Techniques evolving from the emptiness of the stillness. Even the beginner, without aikido-experience, is moving without hesitation.

Sunday: the three primary perspectives

I, we and it. These are three universal perspectives. We began with exercises to become aware of the energy and direction of a very light touch, with a hand, then with the tanto. Next we started to practice from these perspectives. First the I-perspective. In this perspective the other person is there, but you make no connection. No eye-contact. Just avoid the attack, maybe make a technique, as long as I am safe. For me this felt comfortable. This is who I am as a person. Being on myself feels comfortable.

Then the it-perspective. The attacker is a just something that needs to be taken care of. Apply a technique, finish the interaction. Whoah! Explosive energy, throwing the uke in all directions. Uke has to be able to take care of IT-self. Funny, energetic. Not a lot of compassion. This was for me back to my first years of aikido-practice, with friends I trusted, full of energy. But also you could feel the danger of collision, the potential of crossing a line, where uke might be hurt or even damaged.

Lastly the we-perspective. Connect, make eye-contact. Be in movement together. Both need to comply to the ‘we’. This aikido becomes fluent, almost like dancing. Becoming aware of the energy that flows in two directions, and needs to become one energy, one direction. This is beautiful, and difficult. There is always a shift from ‘we’ to ‘it’, when ego takes over to finish. Then start over again. Like the cycle of life. Breath in, breath out. Connect, disconnect, reconnect, disconnect. On and on.

Stages of development

The three perspective exercises felt like three stages of development in aikido. It all started from the it-perspective. Somewhat naive, lots of energy, lots of fun. After that, I began to internalize my practice. Feeling what aikido meant for me, becoming aware of ‘me’ in the conflict. This was an important development, and it accelerated personal growth. The we-perspective is what I am researching these days. How can we become truly one with our opponent, both on the tatami, and in daily life. By acknowledging that we are in conflict, and we do see the other as an opponent, the conflict changes. We find solace, even if only for a moment. Then I feel aikido as life, as part of my life.

Techniques divide, principles unite. By training principles, which are universal, differences in technical level seem to fade. We are all equal on the tatami, all there to evolve our being human. Which makes us better aikidoka.

Training in Maastricht for me is also back to my roots. In this area I was inspired by zen-aikido teacher Ad van Dun, when I was a 15 year old boy in 1983. Now, close to becoming 50, I feel I re-found my path. Only few kilometers from where it once started, in a dojo where Ad van Dun is still present in the form of calligraphy ‘One Heart’. Aikido never left me, and it is more present then it ever was.