Archive of past Breathing Room posts.

Skillful Action Begins with Connection to Center

On the aikido mat I learn that mastery of movement and action begins with connecting to my center.  From my center, I connect to my partner and lead him or her into graceful action.  If I skip the connection part, my action is as effective as vacuuming the carpet with a vacuum cleaner that is not plugged into the electric socket.  I work really hard to drag my partner into action and not much happens!  I realize I talk about connecting to center often in these emails.   It’s a central and overlooked concept in our fast paced world.  We tend to skip over the connection part and move straight to action.  Connection to center is key to skillful communication, listening, and action.
Take a moment now:
Inhale. Feel your belly expand.  Allow your breath to extend your energy up and out, like the branches of a tree.  On your exhale, see that slowly circling ribbon of light on your breath.  See it circle through you and into the earth.  Bring your attention to your center, two inches below your navel.  Inhale and exhale again.  Be aware of your breath expanding your belly.  Notice your connection to your center.  Promise to return to center often throughout your day.

Space—Our ally in creativity

We are made up of 99.9% space and a tiny bit of matter.  In the emptiness of that space is a vibrant quantum force that fuels the creation of particles that make up the on going creation of ourselves in every moment.  Yet, we clutter our existence and our minds with busy schedules, agendas, post it notes, email and a multitude of messages from social media.  We can become convinced that if our agendas aren’t full to overflowing our lives are empty.  Stop the madness!  Return to emptiness—for it is here that we and our future are created.
Take a breath.  Inhale and allow your breath to extend up and out into the spaciousness of the sky.  On your exhale see a slowly circling ribbon of light nourishing the space within you and connecting you to the earth.  Notice the space around you.  Be aware of the space within your cells.  Take a moment to sink into the deep stillness of your being.

180 Degree Vision—Please Try!

My tendency when receiving a punch to the gut is to look down at the fist that is coming towards me.  Holy Moley!   Yet my aikido instructor asks us to practice receiving our adversary’s punch by expanding our gaze to include the outer periphery of our vision.  In doing so I notice my hand knows exactly how to receive the punch.  I tap into my inner knowing and trust.  My future action blends with the energy of the punch to create a fluid movement that takes my adversary gently to the ground.
I learn the value of looking up and out, of expanding my vision to capture as much of the whole space as I can.  What I find is my inner strength and the resources included in the space around me.  I see immediately where my next move will be to bring both my adversary and I to a soft landing.
Please try!
Get comfortable, take a full breath, relax your shoulders and jaw and ask yourself the following questions.  Listen gently (without judgment) to the answers:
As a leader where are you focused on the punch?
What might be available to you by looking up, out and around?