Hara: A Personal Experience.

More on Hara Focusing

In the hara, there is an almost supernatural force.  If one was to watch a Japanese Sumo wrestling contest for instance, it would be observed that the contender with the strongest centre in the hara, would displace his opponent from the ring with hardly any effort at all.  This is ki (Chinese, chi) that is flowing from the hara  and is mysterious and once fully developed,  will eliminate the need for great body strength. 

My Personal Story of Hara

I remember myself attending a weekend dojo in ki-aikido, a martial art that values the spiritual and utilises full use of the hara, called by ki-aikido practitioners, the 'One Point in the Lower Abdomen'.  

A grand ki-aikido master was visiting from Japan, and asked for 3 or 4 of our senseis (teachers) to join him for a demonstration.  Once on the mat, our teachers were instructed to attack the master however they wished.  They all descended on him at once and with a few flicks of his hands and some small steps, they were all laid out flat on their backs, on the mat.  This he demonstrated 2 or 3 times, and it seemed to me that even our senseis were confused as to how this small man could lay them out on the mat so easily.  

I must have been looking suspicious of some sort of trick because the master seemed to look right into me and in his broken English said, “Ah! You don’t believe this. Please come here for a moment.”

I was instructed to sit on the floor in seiza position (see illustration above) in front of him,  a strong sitting position where one sits on one’s lower legs which are bent at the knees and where one is quite anchored to the ground. The next thing I realised was that I was flat on my back, and I had not felt a thing!  He then said he would repeat the move and that I was to pay more attention. He moved towards me and extended his little (pinky) finger and  gently touched me on my shoulder.  I felt nothing but an extremely subtle but irresistible force and again I found myself laying on my back this time with my legs still folded underneath me.  It seemed so very relaxing and yet so powerful.  I was now convinced of the power of the hara, the One Point in the lower abdomen, and the power of ki.  The master roared with laughter, and I couldn't help but laugh with him.  This is something that happens so much in Zen. 

I then returned and sat seiza with the rest of the students and  senseis, and the master talked about ki and reminded us all to practice keeping One Point...  resting the mind in the hara...  practising keeping the mind focused in hara during our day-to-day activities in life.  It wasn’t to be regarded as something we would learn and forget about, but a way of life from which one will learn experientially of the magic and power of ki.  

I have adhered to this process ever since, and whilst I may not be conscious of hara 100% of the time, often when walking or waiting in line for instance, I notice that my mind is focused on my breathing into the hara automatically.  With this 'automatic' awareness, I become aware of how centred I'm feeling and choose to focus more consciously.  But then knowing that my mind will drift again, I am certain that whether I realise it or not, I am now keeping One Point. 

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