Tag Archives: Aikido

Friday the 13th

13 Apr

Another day in Wettenbostel!  The cool not yet spring air of April is invigorating as I find my way back to the little room where lately I have called my home.  I just finished eating a little dinner and enjoying the company of our visiting Canadians.  During dinner we were doused and periodically entertained by the injected energy of our host, Michael.  We are now complete with four residents here at the Seminar Haus with the return of Dan, porch companion, Reiki Master from Oregon and long-time resident here in Wettenbostel.

It is Friday the 13th and I wonder if that accounts for some of the strangeness of the day.  There is a new dynamic and energy here in Wettenbostel with our shifted collection of folks and my hosts returning from their week-long escape to Austria.  I’m noticing new ebbs and flows which sometimes have me feeling a little dizzy and sometimes feeling a little lost or left out in the cold.

Our new visiting Canadians are a young couple who have been traveling around Europe since September of 2011.  They found their way to the Seminar Haus through the on-line web-site helpx.net, a resource for work exchange for travelers.  They arrived at the Seminar Haus in the midst of kitchen chaos during the week-long Aikido workshop.  They seem to be doing a good job so far of riding the Wettenbostel wave… where you never know what will happen next.  Both are friendly, with big hearts and loving kindness.

The sun is starting to set on this Friday the 13th and I have to say I am glad for this day to wean away.  It has been filled with a mixture of emotions that I am ready to tuck into bed into the comfort of a good night sleep.  All is well in the land of Wettenbostel.  Things are shifting on the inside and out.  Somethings are clear.  Some things are uncertain.  And a new cast of characters assembled for now… falling asleep underneath the Wettenbostel moon on this night,  Friday the 13th.

Photo by me, gypsy woman, from the budding gardens of Wettenbostel.

Soft Power

7 Apr

It is a chilly day in Wettenbostel.  The day before Easter.  I woke up this morning to see white flakes flying through the air.  My first thought was… perhaps they are blossoms coming from a tree… it’s Spring, right?  But alas, the weather today has been below freezing and those white flakes were snow.  The day has been a strange culmination of sunny blue cold skies and unexpected flakey white showers.

I recently finished a week-long Aikido workshop here in Wettenbostel.  It was led by Reiki Master and the  Head of Discipline in the Usui Shiki Ryoho tradition, Paul David Mitchell.  I am left in its wake feeling like I just took a magic carpet ride!

This workshop was not your typical Aikido workshop, but a poetic journey of exploring Aikido practices and principles.  Paul calls the workshop ” The Way to Harmony” and we were lead home to ourselves, to each other and to a power greater than ourselves.  Paul has been teaching Aikido workshops in Wettenbostel and other places in the world for over twenty years.

Paul Mitchell is a gentle, thoughtful, attentive, powerful and kind teacher. I was the “new kid on the block” in an assembly of around 16 returning and dedicated students.  I was welcomed into the group with open arms and challenged to be present and rise to the experience.

The workshop began with an introduction to the Aikido concept “one point”.  One point physically is located in the pelvic area.  If you hold your thumb to your belly button and extend your hand to your pinky, it reaches your one point.  Being in “one point” gives one access to a soft gentle power that to me felt like coming home.  The first few times I experienced being in “one point” it almost brought tears to my eyes, being so relaxed and at ease yet being strong and unmovable.  In that space of grace and ease there is an undeniable power that is greater than any physical force, resistance or effort.  Learning to connect to one point for me was like beginning to meet an unmet need.

We were partnered up and began a series of tests to learn and explore being in one point.  We began with holding our bodies in a state of resistance.  Holding tightly, we used force to hold our bodies still and with some effort our partners were not able to move us from our stand.  Then we explored holding our bodies in non-resistance… that is we allowed their hand to move us as we gently fell backwards.  Then, one point.  Standing in a space of non-resistance we focused our attention on our one point.  And when tested… we didn’t move.  But not only did we not move, unlike with physical resistance, our mind-body and spirit were in a space of openness and relaxation. Paul referred to being in one-point as our natural state, which he called mind-body unified.  The creator of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, calls this the perfect state of balance with the spiritual and the physical self.

We were guided to access mind-body unified in other ways as well.  We explored the principle of weight underside. To understand and experience this concept we were asked to stand next to our partners and put our attention on the bottom of our feet and let that feeling of attention flow through our whole body.  When doing this, guess what?… again unmovable.  To test this our partner put their hand on our ankle and tried to lift us.  When in a state of resistance we would eventually go toppling over with some strain.  But with attention to weight underside, again unmovable and ease and grace in the body and mind.

As we continued to explore these concepts in the workshop I began to see that certain things can take you out of the state of mind-body unified.  If I was worried, or thought to much or let me emotions take the lead I was unable to maintain the soft ease of mind-body unified.  I noticed this and practiced returning to the space of mind-body unified in the midst it.  I was coached by Paul to let my emotions go to my one point and with some practice I was able to find my “center” again using these techniques.

To demonstrate these ideas, Paul had us do an exercise where we went to one point and whispered to ourselves… I can’t do it.  And notice the results… which were, of course… not being able to stay in the soft power of one point.  Then we whispered “Maybe I can do it”… and similar results.  And then we said “I can do it”… and with that positive intention there was success.

The workshop invited us to explore our relationships and connection with one another.  With some practice, we progressed to some more challenging exercises.  One of these exercises used wooden swords.  We learned a pattern with the swords, dancing over and around our shoulders, that at first we did separately.  But then, we came together and worked with that pattern in relationship to a partner.    We stood, legs stretched out, connecting first one point for ourselves and then connecting in mind and heart with our partners.  And then we began.  As we did our individual patterns together, our swords connected with our partner intermingling in a beautiful and powerful pattern.

During this exercise, I learned a little bit more about the importance and possibility of trust.  First I had to trust myself… with my own power and my ability to do my part.  Second I had to trust my partner to do their part.  I saw that if I didn’t trust my partner, I would hold back… trying not the “hurt them” which limited the connection and the experience.  But if I trusted myself and let go and trusted my partner, the exercise was a satisfying experience of play and connection.

In the workshop I saw that I am not a victim… I have equal access to the “inalienable right” of soft power of mind-body unified.  I got to experience that even when challenging feelings or emotions came up, there is still the possibility of reconnecting with this strength.

And now, the week  has come to a close.  New faces and connections from the workshop have come and gone.  And time continues here in Wettenbostel.  We have received the gift of a young traveling Canadian couple here to work and visit for a little while.  Their smiles and spirits very welcome here.  My friend Olaf from Hamburg unexpectedly arrived in Wettenbostel as well so on “Easter eve” we have a small community here.

There is an easter bonfire in Wettenbostel tonight.  It is promised to bring out most of the 59 residents of this small farming village.  The cold weather may be a little daunting, but I intend to make my way to the community event.

But for now, I enjoy a little quiet time in the intimacy of my room looking out the window at the expanding woods outside.  Bathing in the aftermath of the Aikido workshop and the experience of my own strength and soft power.

Photo by Michael Hartley from the emerging… Spring?… gardens of Wettenbostel.

Pruning

26 Mar

Well things are definitely changing here in Wettenbostel.  The birds are back and … possibly taking over.  Here it is 8:04pm and the loudest sound I hear is the birds singing.  So sweet… it is almost silly.  We recently had a time change so rather than the early darkness of winter, dark outside by 5pm… the day is now stretched and light still remains in the sky as I am writing.

I had some time on my own today to do a little work.  I am practicing my digging skills, creating an edge around the many garden beds here and giving them some shape.  My host refers to this as an English method of gardening.  Gardening in general is one of the areas where you could say I…have room for growth.  But I am willing to learn and find that I really love being outside and being in the dirt and connected to the plants, creatures and flowers.  During the process of learning and discerning in the garden I find I need to have some patience with myself.

It was late afternoon/early evening when my host arrived to do a little gardening himself.  Master gardener that he is, the garden is truly his universe.  As he was immersed in his fervent gardening, I sheepishly asked… are there any other little projects you might like me to do?  Perhaps something I could do today and continue this week?  “Why yes” he said with an enthusiasm in his body and his eyes that can be… almost daunting.   And we headed towards… the roses.

Now the roses here in Wettenbostel pre-spring don’t look all that rosy just yet.  Mostly they are greenish and brownish looking nubs most distinctly identified by their thorny limbs.  The task of the hour?  Pruning the roses.  A new thing for me, I must admit.

What is most new to me in gardening is being aware of myself and the impact I have on all of the little living creatures in the garden.  One false step and I have knocked out the potential life of some unassuming plant or flower.  In its current state it may look like nothing more than a little stem with a green leaf, but one false move and… gone!  I was cautiously warned by my host once, no twice… to “look out!  look out for that!…”  I empathized with him imagining it seemed as if I was carelessly swinging a bat through his china store.  I did my best to listen and… pay attention.

So once I got clear that I was not stepping on his favorite plant, he showed me a thing or two about pruning roses.  Pruning them, as it turns out, gives the roses strength and helps them grow.  I was to clip the brown or black branches all the way down to their base or where the green or “life” began.  The healthier branches still needed a little trimming for best growth.  So those I cut back to a place where there was a bud already growing to promote the growth of that bud… about a half inch above it.  It took me a few times to get the knack of it.  I took a few rounds with my host to get clear what he wanted while I was pruning.  I received a few more reminders not to trample on his garden.  Yes, I kept forgetting about that.  Pay attention.  But in the end it was… fun.  And, a beginning.  I pruned one bed of many beds in the garden of Wettenbostel.  So more pruning to do!

My host encouraged me to keep the beds clean as I was pruning…. don’t leave the clippings behind but instead toss them into the center of the bed that is the general space for “compost”.  I had to laugh as nearly every time I tossed a branch or clipping towards the center it would get caught or hung up on a limb or tree or something… dangling, taunting me.  But it was… a good effort.

The experience of pruning the roses required that I have a more delicate touch and sensitivity.  At dinner tonight as I began to peel the onions to chop for the meal, I couldn’t help but notice how the soft peelings of the onions skins felt new and delicate in my hands.  A different sensation since pruning the roses.

I thought perhaps we all could use some pruning in our lives.  Some things cut back or cut off to make room for new growth….and sometimes we get some things clipped that perhaps we were attached to but ultimately makes us stronger.

The pruning of the day is done and all that is left is the cool evening air and the light that has now diminished to dark.  There is a beautiful bright crescent moon in the night sky and near-bye what looks like a bright shining planet.  It is stunning.  I imagine tomorrow will be another day in the garden enjoying the newness of the warm sun.  Hanging out with the roses… doing my best not to step on other living creatures…and doing a little pruning.

Being Powerful

6 Mar

Another day in Wettenbostel.  The winter sun is beginning to allow for some warmth and it is a joy to feel Wettenbostel getting closer to the edge of Spring.  Today we saw some geese flying.  Their beautiful “V” shape broke down as their flight pattern shifted into chaotic circles suspended above the fields as if their leader had lost directions or forgotten where they were going.

Today I continued to work a little with my host out in the fields cutting down trees.  At this point the trees have actually already been cut and mostly we are collecting the wood and getting the branches out of the field as the farmers are getting closer with their tractors.  The fragrance in the air lately is less than desirable as the farmers have also begun…fertilizing.

As I work outside with my host, he continues to push me to my “growing edge” in the area of strength.  Not just emotional strength or courage in that way, although he pushes me there too, but physical strength.  Growing up in the suburbs and having lived until Wettenbostel in the city, I do not have must practice or experience with outside physical labor.  Perhaps I was a little spoiled in some ways growing up in the suburbs… not ever really needing to lend a powerful hand outdoors.

Chatting casually the other day while unloading the wood my host and I discussed our upbringing.  His in Cananda, both of his parents professional people who decided to live on a farm.  Inexperienced as they were, it was still part of his culture and world to be in, depend on and rely on the outdoors.  I told him I grew up in the suburbs.  When we wanted firewood we went to the grocery store and bought it!  It would never have occurred to us to go outside and chop down a tree and then cut it up ourselves.  The idea would almost have been funny!

But here I am in northern Germany in the country and fields of Wettenbostel surrounded by forests and homes that rely on firewood to help keep them warm.  So we continue… to collect and chop the wood.  The other day I gave a try at using the axe to chop a piece of wood myself.  Ever the Aikido instructor, my host showed me a method to ground myself, get centered in what he calls “ki” energy, and use the momentum of my body to chop the wood.  This was a very new experience for me… using my body in this way.  The first few tries I laughed as the axe bounced off the wood.  But after a few tries… some success.  The blade sunk a little into the wood and began to split.  That was good enough for me.  I would live to chop another day.

Today while we were unloading the firewood I worked until all that was left were rather large pieces of wood.  I looked at them through my spoiled suburban eyes and thought, I will leave those for him and prepared my mental escape to get away from the work.  Unrelenting as he can be, my host encouraged me that I could actually lift all of those pieces myself.  I just needed to think about things differently.  Don’t use my arms to lift, he said.  Your arms are the weakest part of your body.  But they’re good for holding onto things!… Use your legs he urged and showed me how to roll the large wood to the back of the trailer, crouch down in a lunge and receive the wood with my legs and mostly just use my arms to hold onto the wood.  And you know what, it worked!  I was able to lift and carry all of the large wood left in the trailer.  I noticed it took what in yoga we refer to as core strength… that space that runs through the circle of our middle… that and the strength of my legs.

These experiences bring up for me my own insecurities about being powerful and being a woman.  I notice how I can back away from my own power in the name of being a “woman”.  And not just when lifting logs out the back of a trailer, but in other areas of my life.  I find I am hesitant with power.  Uncertain of its application and my access to it. It is useful for me to be challenged to explore it.

I finished emptying out the trailer as my host shared with me a story of this large Buddha statue he found years ago that was just “meant” to be his.  Beautiful as it was, it was big and heavy! He was able to get it back to his home, at the time in Canada, but did not have the strength to unload it.  And then one day he said, he just “knew” that he had enough “ki” energy to lift it.  So he did.  And he was successful!…

I shared with my host that the other day someone asked how old he was and was surprised when they heard the answer was 65.  They thought he was much younger. My host is not your typical 65-year-old man.  You might not keep up with him if you go out dancing with him and he may possibly be the one to shut down the place.  He maintains a huge garden and during Seminars on the weekends he is cooking up a creative storm in the kitchen.  He commented that with the practice of Aikido and Reiki you can’t quite stop time, but you can access enough ki energy to stay youthful.  I buy it!  For me that also lives somewhere in the space of spirit as I have other “older” friends who also live in the timeless youthful space.

So today, new experiences in being powerful.  And new ideas about the possibility of power.  No matter what your age, your gender and even… if you grew up in the suburbs!

Power

28 Oct

There is a seminar here this weekend.  The first without my loyal porch companion and American, english speaker, Dan.  Dan has been here assisting at the Seminar Haus for about 5 years.  He is the one I could count on to handle things.  To pull the load.  To empty that last load of the dishwasher at the end of the day when I was… tired and just wanted to…go to bed.  And… he would get up at 7:00 in the morning and make breakfast for the guests while I comfortably slept in… did my morning meditation and yoga.  Alas, it seems those days are gone for now in Wettenbostel.  Perhaps it is time for me to grow and explore more of… my power.

Power is a word that I have shied away from, although I can feel it churning through me wanting to move me from the inside out to a new place in life.  Something in me is hesitant around power or wants to explore and have power in a way that is gentle and will not hurt anyone.  I got a little taste of my power last night while preparing the pumpkin soup for the seminar meal.  We use small whole pumpkins in the soup, known here as kürbis.  I grab a knife and sheepishly approach the subject… like a hesitant biology student approaching my first cadaver.  My host eagerly grabs a larger knife and says with enthusiasm, “no you don’t do it like that… you do it like this… Hi-Ay!”  And proceeds to chop it in half… and almost the table… but not really.  So it was my turn.  A little chop… trying not to hurt anyone… trying to be nice… uh… the knife gets stuck in the corbis about mid way through.  “Come on!,”  he says.  “Get centered… focus on one point” (an aikido term for your center… your power)… and I did and then Hi Ya!  Wow!  All the way through with quite a bit extra to spare!

I went to a healing workshop over the weekend in Hamburg.  It was hosted a by a friend, Olaf along with his colleague Laura.  It was their first workshop together.  The emphasis was on getting into your body. That is getting out of your head… being physically present within your body.  I have found over recent years that being in my head is a way that I avoid pain or uncomfortable emotions…. but it also keeps me disconnecting from life and being present.  The theme for the day was “arriving.” During the day long workshop we practiced simple things… like connecting with a partner and standing and sitting on each others feet… helping us to feel and be grounded.  We walked and danced and moved to music.  And we got in groups and took turns caring for one another with message, touch and energy work.

Later in the workshop we came to a point where we were doing a simple trust exercise.  One person is in the middle, like a pendulum, and they let go as all of us encircled around them gently catch them and nudge them in a new direction where they are caught again.  I was the last one to go.  I stood in the middle a little surprised by my hesitancy.  I was told by Laura, Olaf’s colleague, all you have to do is trust.  I wasn’t so sure that I wanted to do that.  I let go a little and they bobbed me gently from side to side.  And then I landed heavily in the space of Laura, one of the facilitators.  She let me land in her and then… she did not move me to a new direction… but held me in her… and she stayed there… and stayed there… and I stayed there.  I felt my own resistance and my arms and hands felt like led, almost unable to move.  I finally pulled away, and she engaged me straight in the eyes as I felt the pain pull and tug within me… wanting to hide yet also wanting to let go.  With compassion she said I would like to offer you a treatment.  I agreed and she gently led me aside for a private energy treatment.  I laid on the floor and she placed her hands in different positions on my body and with some gentle coaching on her part, something in me started to release.  Surrender. Deeps sobs came of my body from someplace deep within me… someplace that I had been hiding and holding on to for so long.  It really took something for me to allow those sobs to come through and after, I was bare… laying there like an exposed wounded child.

What do I do now? I asked her.  She acknowledged, as I felt, that this was just a crack off of a larger iceberg of pain.  Her advice was breathe… in an out and stay connected to my heart.  And when I needed help, find someone who can help me release what I am holding on to.  And then she invited me to come to their next workshop in a few weeks. Wow.  So many feelings coming up.  So intense. I slowly rejoined the group for the end of the workshop as I was met with kind and loving faces… gentle spirits.

The following day I returned to Wettenbostel a little timid from my experience, but grateful for the company of my host as he picked me up in the cold from the bus station.  It is quite something for me to be with those feelings and experiences inside… and yet another thing to allow others to be with me as I am present to them.  But as I see, this road is essential… almost as if there is no other way but, ya know… through.  As my German bicycling friend Jörn says, it is…the next step.

The following day I felt some of the benefits of the workshops.  As we had done work to reconnect us with our body, I felt like I had new legs.  Literally, as if there were a new pair I was trying on for the day.  And although they were a little stiff, I felt strong and useful in them.

And somewhere in all of that experience there is something  new…a new power.  And power that unfolds through allowing and release.  I had a dream the other night.  There was a chinese woman, with a bit of an attitude but who seemed to have a greater wisdom.  In the dream she told me the experience that I am now having is something new… something new is coming into me, something new is unfolding.  It is not the past, it is not the same.  I told her that I am afraid.  She said  “well…then its going to be hard.”

So with that I return to this day, the now in Wettenbostel.  My gratitude.  My safety within.  The freshness of the sunny autumn day surrounded by friendly seminar guests.  The first hints of a bustle in the kitchen before I help prepare tonight’s meal…tomato soup and salad.  No kürbis to chop tonight.  But perhaps somewhere in the chopping and serving and cleaning, in small and gentle ways I will continue to allow, connect and experience… my power.

Wettenbostel

19 Sep

It is a cool Monday afternoon.  Time is moving slow today… some rest and relaxation after the busy weekend.  Autumn is creeping into Wettenbostel as the leaves are changing color and there is a chill in the air.  On occasion during morning walks I can see my breath.  A new experience for me as I spent the past 12 years in the heat of New Orleans.  In many ways it’s a refreshing change.

Wettenbostel, as you may have concluded, is a small town.  It’s not even a town really, it’s a village.   Hamburg is about an hour away by car.  But if you live in Hamburg you have likely never heard of Wettenbostel.  But here it is, tucked in among the potato and sugar beet fields.  Population 57 I think is what I heard.  That’s not including the neighboring sheep, horses, goats and chickens.

The Seminar Haus and Bed and Breakfast where I am visiting is run by a married couple who are both Reiki Masters.  They have a house where they live just up the road.  And here at the seminar house there are three buildings… the Big House, the Dojo and the Little Dojo. Dan, the other American here and myself both stay in the “Big House”.  There are big expansive gardens.  They are not typical German gardens with neat beds all in a row.  They are flourishing and original, just like the gardener.

The Seminar Haus has a flavor and culture of its own nestled in this little world of Wettenbostel.  It has been here for I think 30 years and over the years it has seen creative summer camps, Aikido workshops led by Reiki Master Paul Mitchell as well as visits and workshops led by the Grand Master of Reiki, Phyllis Lei Furumoto.  It is typical on a given weekend to be hosting seminars such as yoga retreats, Gestalt Therapy training, and even drumming circles.  There are many people who feel connected to this place and its extended family is far-reaching.  From the friends who stop by down the road for a glass of red wine to the dozens of Reiki Maters throughout Europe, there are many unexpected faces who in some way call this place home.  For the Americans out there, it’s kind of reminds me of the television show Cheers… with its array of characters… colorful, fun and sometimes unpredictable… just stopping by.

On a typical day, when there is no seminar, some things perhaps are predictable.  You will likely see Dan and lately myself on the porch of the Big House… often with a nose in a book or computer.  And at some point during the day Dan will get the hot tub going… affectionately called by German seminar goers as the “hot pot”… for a relaxing dip in the tub.

And today, well the sun is shining for now and there is an offering of a little blue sky.  Dan as we speak is getting the hot tub ready… preparing wood and starting the fire.  It’s a good day to relax.  Just be as the week will unfold more work to be done.  Just another day in Wettenbostel…

Kermis

24 Aug

What is Kermis you ask?  Well it looks like a Carnival or fair… except it is in the Netherlands and they call it … you guessed it, Kermis!  City blocks filled with carnival rides, games, kids young and old.  I celebrated Kermis with Marijke and her family in a town about an hour and half south of Alkmaar. Kermis is an annual celebration and most towns and cities throughout the Netherlands celebrate it.  It’s a reason for families to get together.  Spend a little time, eat some food…and wander the streets of the Kermis. It reminded me of the carnivals we used to have as kids… our Catholic schools parking lots transformed to a place of spinning metal contraptions, cotton candy and funnel cake.  No funnel cake in Holland, but a very similar sweet fried dough with powdered sugar on it.  I suppose somethings are universal…

Meeting and spending time with Marijke’s family was really great.  Her family was a relaxed and easy group of people who felt like “down to earth dutch”.  Although at times I felt like an alien in the midst of dutch conversations, I was often comforted by a friendly comment, a smile or question in English.  They joked with me and laughed and said I wasn’t missing much in not understanding the conversation!

The Netherlands, as you know, is a really small country.  I was told it takes a maximum of 5 hours to cross by car… and that is from one far most tip to the other.  But Marijke and her family are clear to point out there are still differences amongst the dutch and the different regions of Holland. After driving just an hour and a half south, it was about 5 degrees warmer as there wasn’t the cool breeze creeping in from the North Sea.  And I learned from Marijke’s brother-in-law that the southern most part of Holland has its own dialect.  It is so distinct and different from typical dutch, that those in the North cannot understand it… written or spoken.  Amazing!

So the mission continues, this adventure in Europe.  I have to admit that sometimes it is a bit strange being here.  Sometimes I want to cling to some idea of what  my life was like, should have been like or will be like in the States.  And in the midst of my traveling, I am exploring… am seeking… and wanting ways to be… centered.  In me.  Not thrown off like being on some twisted Kermis ride… Balanced – no matter where I live.  Sometimes I feel like I have this… and… often… I don’t.

Marijke has been taking horse back riding lessons from a woman who lives near Alkmaar who is an expert with horses and a Reiki student of Marijke’s.  They know something about being centered!  The stable is called belckmeerhoeve… don’t know what that means…. and the owner and primary teacher is Marion. Her work with horses is very unique.  Marion is sensitive to and pays attention to the energies of the horses… and works with people in the same way.  Marion says that when riding a horse it is not person sitting on top of horse… but rather the rider and horse connected as one.  It is the practice of the rider to stay connected and centered while working with and connecting with the horse’s energy. This place of centered is called  “one point” or “ki” in the practice of Aikido.  From my years of reading tarot cards it also reminds me of the chariot card… as I learned to interpret it..the powerful woman or man who drives the chariot… being able to stay centered and grounded within their own being while chaos and powerful energies surround them… but staying calm and centered in the midst of it… staying focused and and still being able to direct things…not getting lost in it.

So I am noticing, paying attention to ways and tools that can help keep me stay… centered… and grounded in the here and now…. in Holland which is where I am now… but wherever in the world I am!  One of the challenges I have is “staying in my body”… when I get nervous and sometimes  simply being social and around people… something in me just leaves…hits the road… and physically I am still there but really…I am…not.    Frequently my mind is off running… Ideally, when a person is in “one point” or in their center they are not thrown off  so easily. Jolting outside events or even the perceived threat of one do not have the same impact when you are centered.  So the practice, the exploration for me is… staying centered and grounded… and being engaged in life and traveling in Europe!  Ah, the exploration!

In a talk with Marijke, who in addition to being a Reiki Master is a therapist, she suggested that perhaps it is a thought in my head that is throwing me off my center.  She said likely it happens so quickly that I don’t even notice it, almost unconscious.  She encouraged me to “pay attention” to what I might be saying to myself that is perhaps a precursor to losing that center… that connectedness within me and connection to the people and world around me.

I am really impressed and interested in the work Marion and her team are doing with people and horses.  In addition to teaching riding lessons, she also offers what she calls equine therapy.  As she explained, the energy of the horses is such that it easily connects people with their feelings…  Often as a defense mechanism we (me…) may get lost in our thoughts as a way to avoid simply being with a challenging feeling or emotion.  But working with the horses give direct access to that which must be experienced and expressed to begin to… heal.   Marion says it’s not so easy to keep avoiding things when working with horses in therapy.

And last night… Marijke invited her neighbors over for dinner.  And guess what?  I am doing the cooking.  The is part of the trade that we worked out.  I cook in exchange for staying at her house.  It’s kind of funny for me to be doing the cooking considering the notion and experience I have of myself in the kitchen…(see previous entry on domesticity!).  But often, many times cooking is really…nice.  It feels… well, centering… and grounding…to take my time and chop vegetables and cook food.  Simple food.  And it’s appreciated, which is nice.  And it tastes pretty good!  The little time I spent in Wettensbostel in the kitchen did open up the space for a some fun and creativity…  I can feel a bit of excitement in throwing a few seasonings or ingredients together… sampling how they taste and adjusting as needed.  It actually feels sort of like … freedom.  Who knew I could find …. freedom… in the kitchen…