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When the Cows Come Home
When the Cows Come Home

by Carlos Chancellor

I was sitting on my porch preparing material for the mythology class that I teach each week. Hidden away from the blaring sun I was enjoying the cool breeze when I looked up from my scribblings on the notepad to see five cows lazily wandering into my yard. Simultaneously I experienced two contrary impulses: “Damn, why didn’t I close the gate?” and “Wow… cows, how cool.” The attitudes were a kind of dance between my inner trickster and my crotchety old hermit. My initial instinct was to shoo them away, for their intention was obvious, and I am protective of the few hardy plants that have managed to survive in the sun scorched, wind blasted, concrete-hard soil – though I use that word with some reservation – that constitutes my garden. However, that part of me which enjoys engaging with the ridiculous melted this initial impulse. Few things are as benignly ridiculous and absurd as cows.

I took on a zen attitude of just letting them be, and observing them… even when they started to placidly munch on the few succulents that managed to gain a foothold on this seemingly accursed ground. So be it. They were mostly going for the weeds anyway. As I watched, I was surprised to see how careful they were about stepping around the plants that did not interest them. In fact, they did an excellent job at weeding around my plants. We each got on with our tasks; myself meditating on my lesson, and they ruminating on the gordolobos. The bull, a gorgeous and gentle creature, came right up to my feet, which were propped up on the banister, to have a go at the weeds on the edge of the porch, and for a moment we looked at each other. Then I went back to writing, and he went back to chewing.

Eventually the students arrived. After some surprise and delight at the unexpected guests, and some mentions of totem animals and gods taking on disguises in bestial forms, the class commenced. Outside the studio windows the cows did what cows do. Inside the mythology aficionados did what we do. At one point one heifer wanted to come in and have a go at the potted plants in my studio. At that point I did follow through on the impulse to gently shoo her away. She kindly obliged without too much of a fuss. By the end of class, the cows had gone home or somewhere else anyway. And here I am now with something upon which to ruminate myself.

There are many ways in which I could have handled this situation. I could have prevented them from entering, or chased them off before my students arrived, so as to have avoided an unseemly and uncouth situation. I could have become upset at the fallen heroes among the succulents; I could have interacted with the cows, patted them on their flanks, tried to get a selfie with one. I chose not to do so, not to handle it in any way. I chose to let go. Who can say whether or not it was a wise choice? Wisdom often implies some measure of interference based on a judgment. This just was. That is what occurred.

I have been training in the Japanese traditional martial art of Aikido for twenty years. Of course it has forged and tempered me, and directed the course of my ethos and relation to the world around me. It is a martial art that is firmly rooted in ancestral shinto and zen traditions. It is a martial art that fosters a deep understanding and connection with one’s surroundings, that nurtures a keen sense of intuition; when am I in danger and when am I on the threshold of something new? It is a martial art that allows me to move from my center. And when one is at one’s center, then the world can spin around and it is not so big of a deal.

It is because of this awareness of my surroundings and this stillness in my center that I leave my gate open. This allows for the new and unexpected to flow in without my losing my balance. Even when I do lose my balance, Aikido has taught me how to fall, over and over again, thousands of times over, so that there is no fear anymore of the falling, no fear of losing my balance. I have become an artist at getting back on my feet with grace.

My point is that if I am unaware, then many things will come across as a threat. If I cannot move from my center, then what must I rely upon to support me? If I am afraid of falling, then I become rigid. I will hide behind walls. Andf I keep my gate closed, then I miss out on the truly ridiculous, absurd, nourishing experiences that allows me to get to know myself that much better. It is only in unknown territory where we can ever hope to find ourselves. And when in unknown territory, it is indeed wise to have the tools necessary to negotiate and make the best of the experience.

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Aikido

Tamashī to Kokoro Dojo is a not for profit traditional and dynamic school of Aikikai Aikido for ages 14 and up of all genders in San Miguel de Allende, GTO, Mexico.

Tamashī to Kokoro means "Heart and Soul" and it is in this spirit that we guide our practice. In this dojo we practice with sincerity, ever seeking to conquer our own ego and harmonize with our practice partners.

Aikido is a non-competitive, traditional, Japanese martial art that is deeply rooted in a spiritual samurai tradition.

Aikido offers its practitioners discipline, flexibility, a healthy body and mind, clarity in tense situations, camaraderie, exercise, self-confidence and a path towards self-discovery, while still being an intense and effective form of self-defense. Aikido is perfect for either women or men as it does not rely on physical strength.

For more information, please visit: www.aikidosm.wixsite.com/aiki

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Carlos Chancellor observes and learns from human nature and soul. He facilitates courses, mostly on subjects related to transpersonal psychology, such as dreams and mythology, that offer participants a deeper understanding of themselves and the ways they relate to the world in order to gain greater depth and sincerity in relationships (to oneself, others and one's environment) aimed towards an understanding of profound interconnectedness.

Apart from his formal training in Jungian-Archetypal Psychology, Carlos has incorporated into his psychotherapeutic practice methodologies from various other traditions that he has studied including Phenomenology, Shamanism, Hermeticism, Active Imagination, Traditional Storytelling, Mythology, Mindfulness, Sacred Medicine Ceremonies and the Somatic Arts. Carlos specialized in working with adolescents and themes around despair, as well as incorporating Mythology and stories into a practical methodology for his work. He is currently developing Imaginal Embodiment based techniques for dreamwork and has focused on working with dreams for many years. He is also currently focused on developing workshops, lectures and presentations on healing and nurturing the masculine and feminine energies that form our identities.

In addition, he is a somatic movement therapist and educator who uses deep listening skills and hands-on techniques to teach simple movement sequences to manage stress, relieve pain, breathe more freely, improve flexibility and coordination, and heal on emotional physical, and spiritual levels.

He holds a 2nd degree black belt in Aikido and is the chief instructor at Tamashī to Kokoro Dojo in San Miguel. He started his Aikido training in 1998 in Mexico City and has also trained in Vancouver, Canada under Ishu Ishiyama Shihan and in Montreal under Massimo di Villadorata Shihan.

He is a storyteller. He was an International Baccalaureate English Literature and Theory of Knowledge teacher for many years.

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