Moving Together
November 29, 2015

An amazing highlight of this week’s Ki Class, and the heart of aiki, is the somatic experience of moving-together. The simple, yet profound exercises that we practice —some solo, some paired— give everyone a clear ki ga tsuku: the direct experience for themselves, in their bodymind, of the wonder of moving-together.

Almost everything in our lives is done from the inherent stance of an isolated agent acting on other things, a subject dealing with objects. We are wired to be agents manipulating a world of objects. For tens of thousands of years, our survival depended on our being better at this than others. We practice, investigate and work toward being better and more skillful at getting what we need, avoiding what is threatening, and ignoring what is irrelevant.

But there is a fundamental dilemma in this conditioned perspective. The better an agent we are, the more fixed and real our sense of separation becomes. Our subjectivity and separateness has become the core of our self and our culture. With this sense of being a agent separate from objects, comes struggle, dissatisfaction, and suffering; which lead to addiction, crime, corruption, war and climate change. So this delusion of separation is central.

When we relax without going slack, open awareness in the body and extend it outward to our situation, we begin practicing a new way of moving in the world. All the skills we have learned as a separate agent are still there, but effort and separation dissolve. We let go of agentic goal-oriented effort and drop into the ever evolving process of action, the flow of moving-together.

As we practice with others, we can begin to feel something quite phenomenal: a subtle joy arises with moving-together. We let go of controlling, grabbing, and trying to win, yet without becoming slack, weak or passive. This practice is dramatically transforming, and blazingly fun; to experience the strength and power of a unified bodymind moving-together with others, moment by moment, is —if you pay attention— astounding.

For this to be something other than a singular peak experience takes practice. But every time we engage moving-together, the fun grows and the clarity shines brighter. While we cannot grasp and repeat this connection —it can only happen right in the present moment, repeating a memory does not get it— we can drop the habit to control and make a fresh start: relax, open, extend and connect. Every time we do this we reduce the delusion of separation and increase the clarity of interconnectedness. Or as Thich Nhat Hanh called it, interbeing.

An embodied experience of moving-together —in an awareness that is awake enough to recognize what is happening— opens a new path for living. This practice is some of the best of what we can do with life, together. When we act and move from a stable unification, then moment by moment we unmake the confusions of dualistic subjectivity: isolation, greed, fear, aggression, denial and arrogance. And we begin to create a new way of being together where confusion arises and is naturally transformed into wisdom.

May your practice go well.





© Steve Self, 2016, All rights reserved.