The International Shiatsu School in Belgium ran its traditional summer courses at Schippersschool on the west-side bank of the River Scheldt in Antwerp.
Five courses ran in parallel with their independent programmes, by sharing common time for morning exercises and meal times. The courses other than Okido Yoga were Shiatsu Level 1, Postgraduate Shiatsu, Way to Health through Macrobiotics, and Tao of Yin & Yang and Oriental Medicine. I took part in Okido Yoga with other teachers: Ingrid, Paul and Wilfried.
Having attended many courses of Okido Yoga before does not cause boredom. Whatever your purpose of attendance is, you are exposed in a new situation of life encounter at each time, with new faces, ever-changing old acquaintances, and a new teaching team. Actually behind all these, there is something unknown and unrefined in oneself that is seeking opportunities to develop under the light of one’s awareness and then wants to make a positive contribution to one’s personality.
Everybody brought his own life background to live this intensive residential training, learning, and sharing week. Thinking about how it would work this time, I was nervous on my first day. In 5 days’ time, I found it had turned out another marvelous, most special course of life encounter. How did it work?
Roughly, I may summerise as usual that there were all good stimulations of natural food, environment and programmes of excellent exercises and treatments. Though, what I want to say here is: I don’t think these are all the reasons. I am now thinking of people’s good intention, which works for these good physical settings and stimulations to function.
By the word ‘people’ here, I include even my 17-year-old son who managed to live alone for 10 days while I was in this teaching trip which continued from Women’s Weekend Seminar in Laren, Holland. He managed not only to feed himself, but also to try hard not to forget watering our garden vegetable every evening. My thoughts are also with my neighbours who kept their eyes on the safety of my son and house, every participant’s neighbours unknown to me, the organizing team of this course and its staff members for their dedicated work. And the very students of the Okido Yoga course, who attended with their good intention, sometimes had to meet physical or emotional bad moments during the week, which is quite natural in this kind of intensive training, and handled these hard waves with good intention for oneself as well as by supportively standing next to other participants who happened to be together, until finally they experienced something more beyond good moments or bad moments, something beyond original expectation. The first comment below uses a phrase of ‘beautiful people’. Likewise, I see ‘beauty’ in people’s good intention.
According to Oki sensei, three keys of yoga practice are: Natural State of Body, Natural State of Mind, and Coordinated Breathing. With the important motto: Force Not, Waste Not, but Continue.
He explained about four essential points to keep a natural state of body, which are: Keep your muscles flexible, Keep your spine stretched, Keep your breath deep, and Keep your blood clean. For our mind-heart, he said: comparing with other animals, only human beings have a good conscience; so-called Buddha nature, or holy nature. This is nature of human being as much as we can acknowledge our spontaneous desires and emotions are natural ones. So, we are to cultivate our own ways to transform desires and emotions to positive ones so that these can be helpful for our development, as he explained this view by his casual words in ‘Last Lectures’.
"An intense and special week with beautiful people. It opened up my heart and mind. This experience will stay for a long time in my heart."
"The Okido Yoga week in Antwerp was my first experience with yoga. Working with the different teachers was a special experience. Ingrid's lessons were physically the hardest because they asked great body and muscle control and we practiced for a long time around the same area in the body. With my stiffness and unrest in body and mind, this was a challenge. Paul and Wilfried's exercises gave me lots of useful tips on a flexible mindset and posture in stress situations. Tomoko’s lessons gave me confidence in my own abilities and accepting my limitations. Through her exercises I could experience the importance of proper posture (balance) and the use of breathing to face my limits. Her supporting explanations and wisdom - three keys, motto in practicing yoga, the choice of yes / no / let me think, balance - loosened a lot in me. I am sure that I will use these principles in my life. I am convinced they will help me. I am therefore very grateful to you all! I will continue practicing Okido Yoga, something I never thought in the beginning of this week. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!"
"I experienced much more than I had expected. I am very happy to have attended the course, and feel grateful to all teachers, other participants and all that worked behind scenes. Something reached my deepest core."
"I have attended Okido Yoga courses before. I thought the atmosphere was familiar. But, as the days progressed, I found this was very different from the past ones as each would be so. Some lessons were very difficult, but I found myself enjoying the challenges, which brought a new discovery in me. It was a wonderful encounter with all that participated. See you again at another time."
There was a visitor to our London class, an old aquantance since the Okido Yoga
Life Encounter 1984, Mishima, Japan. Peter Masters (pictured on right) is the director
of Zen Central, Brisbane, Australia. He leads intensives, retreats, workshops and yoga
teacher training. He also teaches casual classes at Mosman Village Yoga in Sydney.
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