I had planned to come to the Kangeiko for many months as for me that time of year without it is very strange. This is especially so when I have had to move for work and miss my Shintaido and the friends and community so much (so visitors are always welcome to the many parks of Ipswich).
In the week before, one morning I woke up to a thick frost and defrosted my car, but when I came to drive it again it was beginning to freeze. At the end of my working day leaving the clinic around 5pm it was frozen again, so I realised it must be Kangeiko time! I cannot wait for my Shintaido gatherings that allow me to switch off completely from work and relax with a massage never going a miss!
It takes a lot for me to feel part of a group and relaxed around people in a social situation, but somehow Shintaido and the people related to it rarely seem to fail on this one. I am often nervous beforehand and the quiet one, but I so want to be part of it, around people to develop my skills and self confidence.
Every time we go to Douai Abbey, I long to practice in that big open field and hope to see the red kites fly.
When it comes to an event that involves a night or more away, I wish for the live music and hopefully a guitar.
(Maybe one day I will have some recorded memories to play).
So to the Kangeiko 2015 and our familiar home of The White Cottages at Douai Abbey. That little lounge where we all sit around chatting, drinking tea, having massages and/or listening to music. The kitchen where we all muck in to produce the meals of the day and the dining area where we eat, drink and chat.
I am going to forward track now to Saturday evening and how pleased I was to see Terry had brought his guitar. How I love to curl up in slippers and comfy clothes with friends and hear that instrument being played.
During the evening came the ‘will we or won’t we head outside the next morning’ and the uncertainty of what will be! The Taimyo, Shoko and meditation options are presented forth, but our decisions may be somewhat lead by the elements of nature.
Lying in bed that night I longed and wished to be able to go outside the next day, but in the knowledge of the cold air and likely impending frost along with knowing how cold my fingers and toes get, part of me just wants to stay inside. Yet I wish to see that great expanse of sky and move on that open unrestricted field and hear the crunch of the frost as I step.
The morning dawns and I am snuggled warm in bed, though I know the mattress will make my back ache. In the distance I can hear happy voices and laughter. I peer out the window to see the frozen ground and the rising dawn. Part of me wishes just to stay snuggled up warm, while another is beckined by the outside, fresh morning air and open space, so I am drawn between the two.
As I write this article that I have been meaning to write for some weeks, some of you know have been through somewhat of a rough patch causing big debates, discussions and uncertainties about where my future lies in work and living. Some very special friends I have gained through Shintaido have held me though this and the Shintaido calender pictures brighten my thoughts, while Taimyo (that I have finally learnt) helps to calm my mind.
So returning to that cold Sunday morning in early January, where dressed in thermals we step outside to the open space behind our white cottage for Taimyo or Shoko. Then breakfast beckons along with hot tea. At no other time would I every get up this early!
As breakfast ends the outside dojo is inspected and we await to find where we will practice that morning. Part of me just wants this time to go on forever as I feel so comfy and cared for within this environment and group of people, unlike any other. We head outside to that wide, open space we know so well and as we step onto the grass it crunches beneath our feet with the frost. To begin with time seems to disappear and go far too fast. When stepping I automatically and unconsciously look down rather than far, somehow I am unable to look far. In my mind I am aware this time will end so soon and I will be separated from these people and this atmosphere. Observing and guiding our practice Charles notes my gaze and somehow guides me to look far and in turn with this and the support around me my mood and gaze lift.
Then times seems to slow dramatically as the morning moves on and we are joined by a growing number of footballers. As the cold begins to attack me and my functioning reduces, my finger tips hurt and I long to be in the warm. I am getting closer and closer to saying I am going indoors even though our keiko is far from over and this becomes the total focus of my mind. That is joined by the continuing want to look at my watch making time seem to go even slower. Somehow without me uttering a word Masashi notes my ever lowering energy, how cold I am, my need for heat from the inside out. He guides his sensei team to serve me tea from a flask that is reserved for sensei care. This privileged drink enables me to complete the keiko.
Now I am lost for words, but long for my next keiko…