Issue 7, 16
|Teaching Trip to
Holland and Belgium -
My teaching trip started with Long Weekend for
13-16 July in Laren. From my point of view regarding lessons there
wasn’t any particular difference whether a group was women only
or mixed, and I
believe that the other teachers shared my view, except for some of the
treatment sessions. However, it was interesting to hear from a
participant, at the end of the course, that she doubted whether she
shared her feelings and thoughts so easily to new acquaintances if it
a mixed group.
The daily programme ran from
6:30am till 10:30pm with
1 and ½ hour break after lunch, with chanting, correction of
asana, meditation, acupressure, compresses and other treatments,
sharing and out-door exercises, and with carefully selected natural
These varied activities stimulated the participants, most of whom
each other beforehand, first to bring out stress and tiredness from
to journey together in each other’s ‘up and
down’ phases and then to open
up in the group as if towards their best friends. One participant said
had never experienced such deep inner silence before as she did during
in this course.
It was not only the participants who had a
full schedule, but also the four staff members (Mizue, Sara, Valentine
myself) fully rotated in teaching, cooking and managing the
programmes or adapting to changing situations, with sensitive
required for 16 hours a day. Attending other teachers’ lessons
important in order to share a common experience with the participants.
Readers will understand why I counld take only one photograph at the
end of the
The key to working like this is not to do
it with a
duty-mind or tight tension, but to try to consider the whole group and
situation as one’s own matter, which is another practice of
mind wider and deeper regarding what ‘I’ is. So,
‘Well done!’ to Sara and
Valentine, the two teacher trainee apprentices.
Thus spending time communally for 4 days, everybody touched
self-reflection, self-affirmation, and gratefulness to all; a taste of
together with awareness of individual importance; the joy of living.
Laren Dojo is located in the country side in the
Holland and has been guided by Mizue Tamaki since 1986. It is not a big
congress centre with elegant bedrooms or luxurious furniture. Instead,
dining chairs are of a non-uniform design as gifted by different
hand-made cushion covers have been washed many times, now showing
colours and shades, and many such things are prevailing
in the pleasant living room that was previously part of a farm house.
you get engaged into its courses, you will see the practical beauty of
big-barn dojo – the main space for activities- and realise its
well-organized functioning system, which Mizue’s ideas penetrate
in details, in
order to bring the greatest benefits of activities to
‘As we live in a world where there are people who have no shelter
and the earth is filled with pollution, it is our aim to keep the
aspect as simple as possible.’ Laren Dojo is a very unique place
that can offer
Okido Yoga holistic training, and is world-widely attracting students
to study Okido Yoga seriously.
|Belgian Okido Yoga Week
link to Photo Pages
Okido Yoga Week in Belgium was
organized by the
International Shiatsu School, and was held in a boarding school,
by large green spaces, near the River Scheldt (Shelde) in Antwerp. Two
courses ran in parallel with independent programmes, by sharing common
morning exercises and meal times.
From my point of view a lot of effort was
needed in preparing and discussing the outlines and programmes as the
never worked together in a team. And also because, it seemed, a strong
physically dynamic exercises had prevailed there for Okido Yoga but not
gently-deeply-penetrating exercises or the philosophy of Okido Yoga had
introduced in good balance. Although the course ran 15-21 July, I
arrived on Tuesday
the 17th after teaching in Laren. I soon found this
team of staff
(Jan, Iris, Wilfried and myself) was a most comfortable one to work in,
mutual respect and open-mindedness, and the participants welcomed me
the next day, there was a big burst to openness at ball game time after
lunch break. Some participants were natural comedians, but gradually
group atmosphere was escalated and we just couldn’t stop laughing
happened with the balls or people.
On Thursday morning, a couple of challenges called on me.
from two people who had thought the ball game had not been for them and
to attend only their favourite lessons. Attending and experiencing all
without usual judgment is one of the keys of Okido training, but to
possible, the staff has to be very sensitive and practical to respond
problems. The other challenge came in the form of a polite inquiry at
Just before the meals on Wednesday, I had taken the
to introduce Oki-sensei’s ‘Pledge to Absorb
Nutrients’ by asking all
participants to read out its English translation together, which we
in residential courses in Suffolk and Laren. The content of this pledge
only for ‘good appetite’ or ‘thanks to the cook,
farmers and nature’, but also
for calling forth our awareness of and humbleness to the Life-force. We
meet the essence of Okido Yoga in the words of Oki sensei’s
pledges for basic
daily life activities from waking-up to sleeping.
The comments made at the
breakfast table were that some participants, or many, felt resistant to
aloud as a pledge. I had never met this problem before, but the
importance was neither taking form nor following someone else’s
so, we did silent individual awareness for the next meal and took the
on board in the whole group discussion. Many contributed their
after that, there was more development on the subject, which felt
to talk about openly and honestly, whilst respecting different views
Through Thursday and
Friday, the course continued with effective lessons, healthy food,
laughs. The last day had the only fine-weather morning, and so we
walked to the
beach to exercise, walked back, gathered in the dojo and meditated.
everybody, including the staff, wrote reports on their reflection,
and evaluation of the course. After that, we sat in a circle and spoke
our own thoughts in turn.
A participant said: on occasions of partner
exercises, she chose her favourite people in the beginning, but later
to work with whomever, which was a good feeling of liberation from her
judgment; it was a feeling of growing. The person who had earlier
wanted to attend
only her favourite lessons (now) said: she had an incredible week,
supported by genuine-hearted people, in group intimacy as well as
space. Another said that he felt much stronger than before and received
of inspiration about practice in daily life. Another participant said:
past experience he had come to join a very tough physical course but,
meeting the diverse group (male/female, young/old, fit/ill) on the
he had doubted whether he was in the right place, and then journeying
till the end, he realized a different kind of value in working and
with other people.
After everybody finished the evaluation, the participants
took the last opportunity. One person read out his very own
‘Pledge to Absorb
Nutrients’, and the whole group presented a
‘chanting’ book to the staff
members, singing a verse to each individual of us. It was so moving. At
very end, we had a photo taken and had lunch together.
I am very glad and moved with
together, and with much more, fun and warmth. I am going in
another Belgian Okido Yoga Week. And it looks like some people are
again. Looking forward to it!
Belgian Summer School
Summer School, 22-28 July, was held in the same place immediately after
previous trio of courses. The programmes consisted of cooking lessons
on macrobiotics, workshops on various body works, lectures on oriental
arts, lectures on environmental issues, Japanese taiko drumming, Okido
and so on. Without following a specific intensive course, participants
choose lessons or lectures from rich programmes, or to have free time.
that many went to explore the beautiful old town of Antwerp and came
healthy delicious meals. It was an ideal setting for a healthy holiday
who would like to encounter new inspiration.
There was a big celebration
party at the end where Okido Yoga participants also revisited to enjoy
In fact there was another
week, 8-14 July, to make three consecutive summer-school weeks in
total. Ampleness and inclusiveness are the best words to describe
the whole, owing to a basic spirit of the organizing team of the International
School (Mieke, Suzanne, George and Jan). I must also
that Mark Hanna, a top macrobiotic chef, and his kitchen team did
a grand job to cater for the
three entire weeks.
To all I met
in this whole trip
Thank you for a wonderful experience.