Reflections on a Taimyo Class with Master Ito
By David Palmer
August 9, 2011
Once again I was very inspired by Ito’s class last night. Besides the new material (the new embodiment of bamboo and the breathing exercises), I wanted to share some thoughts that came to me in the opening discussion of Taimyo.
My observation has been that there are typically two times in most people’s lives when the Gauguin questions (Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?) naturally arise. If, at one or the other of these moments, the internal structures are put in place to address these questions, then the individual shifts to a higher stage of consciousness that results in a more compassionate worldview towards not only themselves, but also the whole world. The point is not to answer the questions, but rather to create a framework that keeps the questions alive.
The first opportunity occurs sometime during adolescence or young adulthood, when the emotional and economic umbilical cords are broken with the parents. This “rebellious” period is when a person first differentiates himself or herself from that of the parents and family (and perhaps from the surrounding culture and institutions) and begins to find their own way in the world. The obvious question arises, “If I am no longer simply the parrot of my parents (or my religion or my culture), then who am I?”
If the separation does not occur at this point and the “big questions” are not confronted, then these tend to arise a second time in the form of a “midlife crisis.”
This occurs approximately halfway through a person’s adult life when the reality of the limited lifespan looms large and the “what have I really accomplished in my life” question arises. Often, these people look back and realize that much of what surrounds them, their careers, relationships and possessions, is a result of meeting external expectations rather than finding their internal path. Because they never struggled with the big questions of meaning, they feel their lives are now meaningless.
If this moment is embraced then their lives often shift dramatically. If not, well there is always Prozac.
In our discussion of the origins of the Taimyo practice out of the 9/11 tragedy, it occurred to me the whole world is at one of those existential crisis of meaning moments. While the government’s response in 2001–let’s everyone go shopping–was wholly inadequate to the psychological need of the moment, Ito’s response in creating Taimyo was timely and deeply appropriate.
Ito’s class is a structured opportunity to expand our consciousness into the soul of every cell of our bodies so that we can experience and embrace all of the pain and all of the potential that surrounds us without shattering. By allowing us to safely experience the sensation of our “panic” or “rock” modes, we are able to face the fears that underlie these stances and that disconnect us from the fullness of the moment. By contrasting Wakame and Bamboo modes, we can discern when each of these healthier alternative stances is the appropriate response.
In class we are able to truly embody and embrace both the pathological and the healthy options so that we can make truly conscious choices in our lives.
Thanks once again to Ito for his lifelong commitment to exploring structures that support our personal growth and cultural evolution