Sunday, April 8, 2012

KI, KOKYU and DEALING

During warm-ups at the beginning of class, my Sensei, Todd Martin, has often equated fuku shiki kokyu or deep breathing with relaxing energy so that it can flow to our hara or center. When I think of this dynamic in relation to what Ann Frederick, Peter A. Levine say in their book “WAKING THE TIGER”[1997 North Atlantic Books], I realize this can be an enormously powerful technique for enabling Vets with CRPTSD to refocus their internally negative energy; anger, fear, shame, etc. into a source of neutral energy focused in their center/abdomen, with out having to identify or focus on that negativity.

I think this last is very important as one of the frequent effects of therapies which cause someone to identify or focus on this negativity, or the cause of the negativity, is to actually bring about a re-experience, along with all the trauma and its subsequent emotional turmoil.

What I do at the very beginning of class is do several deep breaths utilizing the five areas of inhalation. I then repeat this but having everyone picture their body as full of little pockets and tubules of energy, stressing that stored energy is neutral, potential, neither negative or positive until it is used. [My example is if you plug a light into a socket it illuminates, if you stick a knife in you will get zapped.] We then do a full inhalation, extending the arms as high as possible. Then exhaling as slowly as possible relax the muscles, tendons, ligaments, starting with the fingertips, the hands, wrists, forearms, upper arms, shoulders, hair and scalp muscles, the ears and jaw muscles, and so on. As the muscles relax, all those little pockets and tubules relax their energy and allow it to flow downward to be gathered and stored in the abdominal “battery”. If I watch students carefully, I can actually see this process of relaxation move downward.

Then, when we are doing a technique, and someone tenses up, goes off balance, or tries to “muscle” a technique or fight an attack, I can have them pause, relax, and recenter their energy, and they dramatically experience this relaxed, positive energy enabling them to use the technique to gently and safely to control the attack. When I think about what I want the Vets to learn, this way of converting negative, self-destructive PTSD energy in to a constructive force in their lives, this is what I want. I believe that this is what Aikido has given me that helped me deal with who I was, and who I could have become, post-Nam.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

FLOWING ENERGY & SCHEDULING

I’ve been doing classes for three weeks now. There have only been one or two guys attending. The problem seems to be the times. A lot of the guys work and have families so making a 5:00 class is very difficult, 3:30 is impossible for most.

I would like to schedule three classes a week, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, at 6:00. I don’t know if a staff counselor can make those times, but, if I can do a little fund raising; I could pay a stipend for a counselor and an assistant sensei [I have a woman from out dojo with excellent Aikido who would love to do it and this might attract women Vets], get some basic insurance coverage and cover some travel costs, copying and a web site, about $30,000. However, I gotta get off my butt and do it!

The Vet Center wants to stop classes for about a week to see if there is some way around the scheduling. They want to keep the classes going as they see some progress with the guys who do come and want to make it easier for more to attend.

Actually, having only 1 or 2 in class has enabled me to gain clarity on what is needed and how to deliver it better. Stressing breathing, releasing energy [ki] from the whole body moving it to “center” and using it constructively seems to be helping, even after only a few weeks. I emphasize that energy, in and of itself, is neutral, neither positive or negative. One of the consequences of trauma, particularly CRPTSD, is that this energy gets turned against us, negatively. “Releasing” it, and flowing it to center allows it to be used positively. The Vets, and the counselors, seem to like both the imagery [of flowing the energy] and the functionality.

I have to apologize. I’ve just done a mediocre job of condensing one of the most important chapters in the book. I promise to try and explain it better as I go on.