Tuesday, April 28, 2009

DAY 12: Keeping One Point

What do dancers, yogis, Marines and our president have in common? They all know that the way you hold yourself changes things--and not just externally. Sit or stand straight and strong, and you immediately gain power.

Now I've written in all positions, slouching in my favorite chair up with my feet on a hassock and a cat trying to nudge my laptop out of HER space, semi-reclining in a hospital bed to tap out a blog post that wouldn't wait thirty minutes before surgery, or stretching out in a lounge chair on my deck. It's all good.

But I'm more focused, and do my best work when I sit relaxed and straight and "keep one point," as I learned when I studied Aikido. Though a torn meniscus ended my study of the martial art, it still changed my life, and continues to do so every day. (Each morning on arising, I still recite my own adaptation of the Aikido Pledge) and I believe it enhances the quality of my hours.

Like the vow, I go through my own bastardized version of establishing one point every time I prepare to do something important--like my own work:

1. Center on the point in your lower abdomen where you cannot put tension.

2. Lift your sternum and lean slightly forward.

3. Keep your breathing calm and subtle.

4. Accept what comes.

5. Do your best at any time.


  1. Hi Patry,

    So good to find you here. I'm a little late to the party (or, I guess that's the wrong word for a blog called "toil, solitude, and prayer"), but thank you so much for doing this. It's very focusing to read and follow the steps in your entries. I'm reading The Master, by Colm Toibin, about the life of Henry James. It's painful to see how much James gave up (almost any hint of intimacy) to honor his art--his extreme need for privacy, his devotion to the work and the stories and the characters. Still, we're striving for a little more balance here, right? The hard focus, the hard work, but also the noisy neighbors in the other rooms.

    I've got a writing day today, and some big messes to unravel, but I'll try to keep your words in mind as a guide.

  2. As I will tomorrow, Patry. Thanks for this, as always, K.

  3. Oh, Patry, I love that I found this today . . . and of course, I love that you're writing this . . . for yourself and for all of us. Everything you've said so far has rung so true . . . and are all things I know I should be doing, and while many are things I am doing, I just need that extra nudge of discipline.

    I can't wait to see what we each create!

  4. Susan: First of all, I'm so happy you found me here. The James biography sounds particularly interesting. Amazing that he knew so much about life when he denied himself so much of it. It's not the kind of existence I would choose, or one that would even be possible for most of us. (The noisy neighbors are already here; and I wouldn't have it any other way.) But I bet there's a lot we can still learn from James.

    K: How are things going in the storage closet??

    Judy: Thrilled to see you here! Your presence is an "extra nudge" for me, too.

  5. Ah Aikido - i remember taking that in Amherst, was it with you?
    Good Pledge!

  6. R: I took it at UMass, and I can still remember how sore I was after the first class. Not sure if you were there or not, but you might have been.