“It was referenced … that Ueshiba said …
… “Aikido is Elbow Power”.“
“As someone once said to me back in my taekwondo days, “The elbow always wins“.”
This article is a short exercise in thinking from a different angle. It may give you another string to your bow.
A little while ago at an aikido class, a visiting sensei told me of the need to control the elbow. I had asked a question in relation to dealing with attackers who were a lot bigger than me. Although I’ve spent many years practising this martial art I’d never heard it explained in quite this way before.
I have found paying attention to this thought
to be very useful.
I got to wondering if there might be wider implications. If controlling the elbow allows you to disarm an attack, what might be learned by looking at it from a life-affirming direction.
During my night walks I started directing attention to my elbows and found it invigorating. There was an increased sense of aliveness in my body and a sense of connection with the edges of my personal space:
“Elbow room …
… Enough space to move around in.
The freedom to do what you want to do“
I felt both lighter & more secure in my ability to protect myself.
“Ēl and ’Ĕlōhîm … mean the supreme and active ‘God’ … the same being as does the name, Yahweh. All three refer to the one supreme god who is the god of Israel, beside whom other gods are supposed to be either non-existent or insignificant”
“ēl was found at the top of a list of gods as the “Ancient of gods” or the “Father of all gods“.“
Bows are a rather important part of archery –
… an arrow can’t go anywhere
The god’s were keen on archery.
“Apollo … is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities … [He] has been variously recognized as a god of light and the sun, truth and prophecy, healing, plague, music, poetry, and more. Apollo … has a twin sister, the chaste huntress Artemis”
“Apollo is …. the god who punishes and destroys … the wicked and overbearing, and as such he is described as the god with bow and arrows”
“Artemis as the sister of Apollo, is a kind of female Apollo … Artemis is like her brother armed with a bow, quiver, and arrows, and sends plague and death among men and animals“
The gods have never been shy about using their bionic weapons upon unarmed slave-humans. For those fearless enough to face the forbidden fruit, their tales uncannily mimic the parent-child story through the ages. Funny how keen we are to bow down to oppressors.
A bow is also the front-most part of a ship – it elbows a path through water for the body of the ship to follow in its wake.
Elbows are the outermost extremity of our body. They are also the sharpest.
Sharp things have a purpose –
they are used to
cut or sever.
“giving someone the elbow … refers to parting ways with someone“
We must have protection in this life.
Far too many of us had our ability to protect ourselves removed in childhood. We were shut down, shut up, closed off, unheard, de-clawed, de-fanged.
Our elbows were weakened
How many people have you seen with …
… their arms (& elbows)
held ‘in’ against their bodies
How can you send your energy out into the world, if you can never draw back your bow?
“More power to your elbow! (British & Australian) … something that you say to praise someone and to say that you hope they continue to have success“
Our arms, & what we do with our arms,
are so much the
making of us.
The power of the elbow may be seen in the word ‘arms‘ –
… arms are used to defend yourself,
and or to control / destroy life.
The ancient Egyptians had a lot of knowledge which wasn’t shared particularly freely with humanity.
Let us do our best
with what’s on offer:
“The Ka, represented by two raised arms, is one of the many spiritual components of gods and humans. The word “Ka” has regularly been translated as “life-force“.”
“The Ka was the Egyptian concept of vital essence, that which distinguishes the difference between a living and a dead person, with death occurring when the ka left the body”
“When the ka acted, all was well, both spiritually and materially … The ka could also be seen as the conscience or guide of each individual, urging kindness, quietude, honor and compassion … The ka is the origin and giver of all the Egyptians saw as desirable, especially eternal life“
When the elbow is bent we call the inner part of the bend …
… the ‘crook
(of the arm)”
Could the crook and the flail
Ok I may have been a bit carried away on the last image, but that elbow extending into the viewers face does bear some attention – there are many things we know, it’s just that we don’t know that we know them.
The insides of the elbow are vulnerable, our blood flows …
… close to the surface there.
In this inner place elbows soften, open & enfold those we love, in hugs. This is the place we pull people in to our hearts.
But we can also elbow people away. These elbows of ours can be like the spines on a porcupine when we need them.
It’s time to reactivate them.
Growth has a twofold requirement.
There’s the new experiences we open to, the changes we make, the opportunities we grasp – so much arm imagery n’est-ce pas?
But there’s also another side we often overlook, or look away from. Often it’s much harder than taking hold of the ‘new’.
It’s the saying ‘no‘ side.
It’s the ‘walking away’ side.
It’s the putting up our defences & taking a stand side.
It’s the ‘elbowing away’ side
On a recent bush walk I noticed a lot of gorse growing & it made me think of the sharpness of the elbow. Gorse must be one of the most self-protected plants on earth. Even when it is dead it retains its sharpness.
When sharp things are used well
they can afford …
… very great protection.
“Edward Bach …
… was a British physician, homeopath, bacteriologist and spiritual writer, best known for developing a range of remedies called the Bach flower remedies, a form of alternative medicine inspired by classical homeopathic traditions“
One of his remedies is Gorse, it is for those who have:
“lost all hope and said …
… I can go no further; you go along, but I shall stay here as I am until death relieves my sufferings” – Dr Edward Bach, 1934
“Gorse …is the remedy for people who have given up …
… belief and hope … If ill, they may think themselves incurable, and that nothing can be done … if we can be persuaded to see things in a different light there is usually a way forward. This is what the Gorse remedy helps to achieve”
“The need for Gorse can creep up slowly on a person …
… It’s easy to just slip into a Gorse state without really thinking about it“
“I have counseled people whose chronic imbalance was mental, emotional, or spiritual”
“The Ka was the Egyptian concept of vital essence … with death occurring when the ka left the body“
A porcupine or hedgehog that could not bristle would have little defence. It’s ‘power’ (ability) to bristle often means it does not need to bristle.
Likewise we may not need to use the spines of our elbows, if we carry ourselves in such a way that states we have them & are not afraid to use them. The power of the elbow is when we are willing & able to stand up for ourselves & say no to that which is injurious to us.
“The individual who takes Gorse usually ceases to look exclusively outward for help and becomes in touch with his own internal resources. He develops a new faith in the future“
Our elbows are located protectively beside …
… our two great defence organs:
“The liver and the spleen are our filtration systems. This system’s main function is to keep poisons from entering the body“
Isn’t this what our elbows do externally –
… they are a brilliant system of defence.
Interestingly, our arms (including elbows of course) also follow alongside the route of the bowel
ELBOW = BOWEL
another great organ that keeps what is good for us
& elbows out the toxic.
It is not only ok, it is necessary to keep making decisions that build the future we are choosing now & to let go of (elbow out) anything that no longer serves us or feeds us. We can be grateful to everything from the past that helped us to get where we are, but we cannot take the past with us.
It’s Living Room only now.
“Today I joined Sinead in her first ever radio broadcast.
We discussed ‘generations of blindness’ including birth trauma and what lies hidden behind the “family unit”.
It was a great show
A different future is very possible.
“Being scared is practice for being scared” ― Simon Holt
Let’s us begin today by digging up a sign & …
… setting it on fire.
How many have travelled that road?
What good did it do them?
You may travel in your life, but life is not, and never has been, a journey. No wonder people get lost when they’re given directions that have no meaning.
We are not travelling any where.
So let us simply play here.
Let’s suggest that life’s both
It’s here because … well it’s here whether you like it or not.
We’re more interested in the
the ‘not here‘ bit
because it’s here that possibilities abound.
At present the ‘not here’ bit is pre sent
because we are not meeting life consciously,
we’re merely …
… re-practising the past.
the not here bit
that could be here …
… wow the possibilities –
if we could make use of
one sacred art …
“Practice makes permanent” ~ Bobby Robson
The following true story is how I learned that life has never been a journey, or a destination:
“The practice hall or “dojo” was in a … hut on the edge of a baseball field … He was Japanese, perhaps fifty, perhaps seventy, there was no way to tell. He wore a white tunic and long black pants or hakama, the garb of an Aikido master.
A half-dozen burly men circled him menacingly. As they began to close in on him, he was absolutely still, calm, poised … with cries that reverberated off the metal walls, they attacked him in unison.
What happened then was remarkable. The master seemed to flow like water into their mass, swirling between them, his black skirt surrounding them. Each time they reached to strike his body, he was not there …
… As a gyroscope spins faster and faster its motion appears still. So it was with the sensei as he met, diverted, and redirected the energy of his attackers. Projecting them one by one by one out of the melee, he seemed to lay each down on the ground protectively.
His actions were so effortless that we knew there was something below the surface which could not be readily seen, something unexplained … After class was over, I approached him rather sheepishly, keeping a respectful distance. When he turned to face me, I felt every molecule of his attention surround me … I had to ask one question. “Excuse me, sensei, but how long did it take you to learn to that?”
… the corners of his mouth lifted ever so slightly before he answered … “I have been practicing rondori for forty years, but I am sorry, I have not learned it yet.
Still, I practice. That’s all there is. Simple. Practice. Like life, yes?” He bowed, turned, and was simply & completely gone.
I want to suggest today that life fully lived comes through ‘practice toward ‘mastery‘.
Mastery is a guiding principle, not a place or a thing or an ‘end product’ (because there is always oceans of room for growth & improvement).
The ‘life is a journey’ meme calls for a nomadic existence –
… you have to be ‘going somewhere’.
It’s funny when you ask a lot of people ‘how they are’, they reply that they are ‘getting there‘ – I’ve never met anyone who knew where they were supposed to be getting to.
When life is a journey you have to be ‘getting ahead‘. If we get any more into our heads we’re going to have to start constructing …
with a life constantly watered with ‘practice towards mastery‘,
you go deeper & deeper into your own potential,
you climb back down into your body
& begin to grow again.
This is how children learn so rapidly – their ‘growth’ is laser-focused on ‘mastery’ of skills & knowledge that those older than them have (thus far) attained.
Masters never achieve mastery,
they are simply consummate practisers.
You and I and so many others, in the West are also consummate practisers. But our practice is damned scary.
Let’s look at what practice is all about:
“practice (v.) … From early 15c. as “to perform repeatedly, to acquire skill“
We need to cosy up to this verb because it’s pure magic:
“practice (n.) … originally especially of medicine, but also alchemy, education”
“initiate (v.) c.1600, “introduce to some practice or system”.“
It is ‘the way’ behind every way of life:
“custom (n.) c.1200, “habitual practice,” … from Latin… “habit, usage, way, practice, tradition, familiarity”.“
The direction of a civilisation is obtained by its practices:
“tradition (n.) late 14c … “delivery, surrender, a handing down,” from traditus … “hand over“.”
“habit (n.) Meaning “customary practice” is early 14c“
Maintain the same ‘practices’ & you keep the same …
… flavour of society -ad nauseum
“maintain (v.) mid-13c., “to practice habitually“.“
Religion is rooted in it – adherents must constantly practice their faith continually:
“Catholicism (n.) “faith and practice of the Catholic church,” 1610s”
“religion (n.) c.1200, … According to Cicero derived from relegere “go through again, read again”
“celebrate (v.) … pp. of celebrare “assemble to honor,” …
… practice often“
Celebrity comes from the word ‘celebrate’.
And you know how important it is for you to attend
that daily …
… mass practice
Our entire education system is based on practice. Approx 13 years of “practice” guarantees that each little sausage turned out of the scholastic-meat-processing plant will fit properly …
… into the societal frying pan
Ever tried ‘linking sausages”?
“train (v.) “instruct, discipline, teach,” 1540s, probably from earlier sense of “draw out and manipulate in order to bring to a desired form“
School consists of years of exercises:
“exercise (n.) mid-14c., “… practice for the sake of training,” … from exercitare … “keep busy, drive on“
Most of our lives are about practice.
Why wouldn’t they be?
Humans are learning creatures. It’s what we do.
Some animals are superb predators, some are skilled at surviving in extreme conditions.
And then they practice what they have learned.
Your life is the shape it is because you are practising again and again what you have learned throughout your life. Mostly what you learned, you learned when you were very young.
Your life is an art form whether you can grasp that or not:
“art (n.) early 13c., “skill as a result of learning or practice“.“
You are highly skilled at holding and maintaining the inner shape that you see as you.
You are highly skilled at holding and maintaining the way of life you have practised for years & years.
I’d like to suggest that if there are parts of our life that we are not happy with, we can begin adopting new practices.
“adopt (v.) …. Sense of … “to embrace, espouse” a practice, method“
I’d like to suggest it is very possible to re-practice ourselves.
“fake it till you make it‘
runs along those lines.
Children of course are consummate pracitisers and if you asked them, they would probably tell you that the above saying was silly because everyone knows that what they mean is that you should play.
They might also say that everyone should know
that play is
the most serious alchemy
in the world.
My one-eyed cat loves to play with a flexible, bite-sized …
… pearl earring. She especially loves when I lift a rug & roll it under. You should see the speed of her paws & claws. It has quite often happened that not long after a ‘play’ session she will return with a poor lifeless creature from the garden. It didn’t take me long to put two & two together.
What we call ‘play’ to all sensible creatures (this includes children, but not adults) is serious, serious practice towards mastery. And because it so totally engages the emotions, it is all the more powerful.
Emotions are to learning what rocket fuel is to … well rockets.
I have been learning to touch type – it has not come fast, but I have persevered. It seems almost in spite of myself, my body has caught on. This is the first article I have ‘touch-typed’. Nothing but practice would have gotten me to where I am now. I still need to keep practising – but where once there was no neural, or physical pathway to touch-typing, now there is.
Do you get it?
Practice is alchemy, magic. It makes something out of nothing.
It creates a door where there wasn’t one.
It builds a bridge where once there was only an abyss.
This is what humans are about – learning & practicing – & the superb feelings that come with improving, building upon & extending our abilities as well as boldly heading into or opening up, all sorts of new territories:
“Many theorists have talked about the need or drive to master events in the environment. In a classic exposition, R.K. White (1959) proposed the concept of competence. He argued that the basic drive for control had been overlooked by learning theorists and psychoanalytic thinkers alike. The need to master could be more pervasive than sex, hunger, and thirst in the lives of animals and men. Play in young children, for example, is motivated not by “biological” drives, but by a competence drive“
There is no end to what you can practice.
I now practice driving my car – I had gone numb because I thought I knew it all.
Practice has nothing to do with that god-awful book-selling phrase:
“Be in the Now” –
children are not ‘being‘ in the ‘now’ –
… they’re ‘eating it up’ and going back for seconds.
They grab hold of it and shake it & shape it, up.
They build it up and tear it down …
… & rebuild it again.
They turn in inside out & upside down.
They use it all up in their striving for competence & mastery …
Like it or not, your life is an art form that you are practising every day.
What are you practising?
“Practice makes permanent” – Bobby Robson
One final thought if you want to practise a new life into existence.
You absolutely, without any doubt whatsoever have to start practising ‘discomfort‘. I’m not talking masochism, I’m talking something infinitely more disgusting – I’m talking “reality’.
You have to practise living in reality again. Living in your body again. You need to get familiar with the world as it is. You do that by allowing the uncomfortable feelings that those things arouse, exist in your body. That’s very hard at first …
… but like everything else it gets easier with practice.
Think of each practice session (of anything) as having the strength & durability of one sheet of tissue paper …
… Left alone it is doomed to an ignoble fate by fire, water, wind or rough hand.
But when you build up layer upon layer you create …
… an incredible strength.
Most probably more to come …
~ ~ ~
Text in this colour from An Unused Intelligence – Andy Bryner & Dawn Markova
Text in this colour from Helplessness – Martin Seligman
What follows is a poem I have cherished since I was a teenager.
To be honest I would rather continue to hug it to myself – no one likes to share something precious when it may be stood on.
But today I finally understood it’s bone-shaking perfection & why it has always meant so much to me.
It is the tale
Not the ‘truth’ we had to learn in school.
Not the ‘truth’ the News spews out.
Not the ‘truth’ that the Truth Movement would have us look for.
Not the ‘truth’ of a thousand philosophers
Not the ‘truth’ of science.
Not the ‘truth’ of religion.
It is the first truth.
It is the why of all the other
that simply take us
The ‘she’ in this poem is the lie we had no choice but to swallow.
Now we do have a choice.
More to come for the bravest of heart.
~ ~ ~
Oh sad wind, add your snow-song to my grief,
and shade the pale sunbeams;
mourn softly in your shroud of solemn clouds
for my dead dreams.
I feel the winter breathing cold and grey,
and glad would I forget;
but the sad ghosts in the graveyard of my mind
She came with April when the primrose spring
wove sunlight in her hair;
her touch was warm and fathomless her eyes
like sky-blue air.
She took my dreams with wreaths of summer flowers
she gathered in her arms;
and bound them with a promise and a kiss
and a twine of charms.
Her songs soft-worded fell like yellow leaves
the trees in autumn weep;
she wrapped my mem’ry in her scarlet dress
to haunt my sleep.
She sighed when the silver river caught the moon
from the bat-winged sky above;
for the witness world had turned away its eyes
for us to love.
‘O wait,’ she sighed. ‘Haste has a wicked fee,
and all things bear a price;
you only offer me your heart, but love
demands your life.’
‘Small cost, my life, if it is spent alone
In a long and empty while.
Yes I will live my life for you, and earn
your captured smile.’
She led me to a chapel robed in night,
a ruin dark within;
and in the door she turned a silent key
to let me in.
She let me in; O had I only known
her grim reality …
could I have slipped the chains of her embrace
She locked me in a jail of dismal walls,
unjudged and yet condemned
to spend my life enslaved among the grief
and groans of men.
Oh had I only known she owned the earth
and in a spell bound me
to join the souls of all the world and cry:
‘O set me free!’
What cruel deception let me see beyond
her beautiful disguise?
black devil forms of her around me danced
in the grey sunrise.
Her changing eyes, her teeth, her hair, her claws,
gleamed with the chill of ice;
‘O Sorrel give me solitude, love asks
too great a price.’
She left me in the white wind whirling snow
and winter’s freezing breath;
and in return for giving her my life
she gave me death.
So sad wind add your snow-song to my grief
for I loved a summer child;
and still my spirit mourns for her and walks
the Wyndcliffe wild.
from The Wyndcliffe by Louise Lawrence.
~ ~ ~
I know the parent issue is extremely scary for many people.
“Why?” – would be a really important question to ask.
I’m doing my best not to frighten away those who’s toes are just dipping into the edges of this lake. I haven’t been struck dead yet for my heresy so maybe it’s not as dangerous as we have been scared into believing. Anyway I intend to go on.
For those who also want to go further I have written a short fairy tale at my ‘Framework of Hearing’ site. I’m not going to push it into anyone’s faces, I’m just leaving a link – tremendous changes have been going on in my life due to this work & I will continue to leave bread-crumbed trails for those who wish to explore it with me – we are going into the cells & bones of change, but it requires making the acquaintance of reality.
It’s here & much sooner than expected.
This podcast continues Sinead & Kyle’s outstanding shows (see previous post) & expands on where my searches & researches have lately been taking me.
I feel lighter, cleaner & freer – as if something I’ve needed to say for a very long time, has been said.
Sinead, I feel like we have changed something & I am deeply grateful.
Or listen to our podcast below:
Link via Sinead for those who need to know that they are not alone in their ‘feeling’
“No one has the vote as to how you should live, except for you. Within the limitations of our temporal world, some choices are well within your means to make. And life, after such choices are made, takes on a unique vitality, creativity, and truthfulness, even though you may be subject to the misunderstanding of others” ~ Robert Fritz