Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Integral Transformative Practice Seminar in Brighton

I attended the first ITP (Integral Transformative Practice) workshop held in the UK by ITP teacher Pam Kramer, ITP President. Thanks to Mark, who I know through our blogs, I was invited to join and learn about ITP which is strongly based on aikido as it was developed by aikidoist George Leonard (and Michael Murphy). So I went to Brighton on my name day...*

The first thing I noticed as a good start of the day that I got to Brighton in 20 minutes less than to the university where I go twice a week. Vive la TFL. The weather was typically British but the workshop was an indoor event so nobody had problems with a little rain (and I'm used to it by now, anyway).

We started at 10am with an 'informal check-in' and started doing the various exercises planned for the day. I don't want to go into the details of each of these exercises so I just write a couple of thoughts about the ones that interested me the most.

Firstly, we did the ITP kata which is an appr. 40 minutes long series of centering, balancing, stretching and meditative exercises. Around 80% of what we did were very familiar, I even do many of them in the children's classes (for example, the rowing exercises and the 'water' exercises). It was a good feeling to do something I knew with people I did not know, and at the same time, see that there are small but interesting differences in how these techniques are done in our trainings and at ITP. One of these differences, for example, is how we hold our hands when doing the 'stirring in a big bowl of water' exercise: I simply learned to draw horizontal circles while resting one of my hands on the other (well, kind of...) but we imagined a large spoon in our hands on Saturday and also, that we were stirring water. I liked it very much and will probably change to this method in my classes as children can probably get the exercise more easily.

I also liked the 'soft eye - hard eye' exercises. I have already heard and read (and written a bit) about how and what to look during aikido trainings but the exercises on Saturday helped to understand the importance of this more. Using 'different eyes' while doing taisabaki in pairs was really interesting experience. At one time you see only the face of your partner, then their whole body and then the whole room with others doing the same steps. Definitely something to practice more in aikido trainings: Awareness and connection (two of the letters from the acronym GRACE of ITP).

The third memorable exercise** was the one that tested our ways of communication. Whether you push someone when talking, whether you just surrender or run away from pushy people was tested through a simple moving-pushing exercise. I learned about myself and realized that I'm usually not too pushy but tend to give myself in more easily, possibly too easily. I can now watch myself, change this behaviour if I want to and, next time, test it with the exercise. Liked it.

The fourth one was easy but also a lot to learn from: how to listen and how to be listened to. It's a very good feeling to be completely listened to (be heard), not to be judged or just be able to listen and not interrupt others when they want to tell something and they simply need to be understood and accepted. Good one, too.

There were several other exercises as ITP appetisers but I think the above four are the main ones that I learned the most from.

I also met several interesting people, aikidoka as well as civilians :D which was good.

*My name day also happens to be the International Women's Day as well as the day right after my birthday but I'll rather write about this later, in another blog :). I bought flowers and ice cream to Heni on my way home and she prepared a Japanese dinner by the time I got home. It was definitely a good day :).

**I selected the memorable exercises by sleeping on them, and whatever exercise I was thinking about on Sunday morning got selected for this post.

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