Lancashire Yogi has had a lovely time with his Aikido master, Sensei Ariana Masayume. Lancashire Yogi has had some brilliant Aikido teachers. Most notably the extraordinary Sensei Wasyl Kolesnikov in Oldham . However Sensei Ariana Masayume has been a consistent influence throughout Lancashire Yogi’s life. She taught Lancashire Yogi archery, and they have shared haiku across the world. Infact she introduced Lancashire Yogi to the haiku of Basho:
Breaking the silence
Of an ancient pond,
A frog jumped into water-
A deep resonance
Lancashire has a deep affinity with the poetry of Ryokan whose famous haiku is :
The thief left it behind:
at my window.
Made famous by the fabulous Joni Mitchell
Sensei Ariana told Lancashire Yogi an interesting story. She told him that she was in Italy exploring Yantra Yoga and was staying at a farmhouse in Tuscany. They were doing a lot of building work and a new barn was being built for some prize farm animals. The builders were transporting the rock and sand for the building from a nearby quarry. They were using Gianni the donkey to carry the sand from the quarry to the building site. The owner of the farmhouse had gone on holiday, with the express instructions that the job was to be completed on his return. The builders were panicking a bit. Gianni the donkey was working double time and extra ferrying materials and most of the physical building work was nearly complete. The night before the owner was due back, Gianni had managed to fall down the well. Lancashire Yogi thinks that it must have been either a small donkey or a big well. Anyhow the next morning, the builders could hear the donkey braying away, and finally spotted it stuck down the well. They were caught – they needed time to finish the building work, and yet, the donkey needed to be rescued. After some debate, they decided to sacrifice the donkey because it would take too much time and effort to rescue it, and they needed time to complete the work. As they started back on the job, all they could hear was the donkey braying. Their consciences were plaguing them, but then one of them had a bright idea. They would fill the well up with sand and cement, burying the donkey, stopping its pitiful noise and hiding the evidence. Lancashire Yogi stopped Ariana when she got to this part of the story because he was horrified that an animal was about to be killed, but Ariana laughed and told him to stick with the programme. Anyhow, the builders start tipping sand and cement down the well, and the donkey’s braying gets less and more infrequent, until finally it stops. The chief builder congratulates the men and they turn to get on with the building work, but then one of them hears a strange sound, so they look in the well, and see the Donkey – Gianni – staring at them. They are all taken aback by this and a bit confused. Until one of them surmises that every time sand and cement has been tipped over the donkey, he has dodged it, trampled it down hard under his hooves and compacted it. He has done this throughout the efforts of the builders, so that eventually he has managed to rise up the inside of the well, on a platform of compacted sand and cement. Finally, the builders tip more sand down, and watch as Gianni the donkey tramples it down, and rises close to the top of the well. With a light jump, the donkey clambers over the well edge and skitters off into the fields beyond. Relieved the builders get back to work and just about manage to finish the job.
Sensei Ariana Masayume enjoys telling Lancashire Yogi this story. As they pause over a cup of magnolia tea, she laughs, and says luckily the owner didnt know about the trauma that his donkey went through. And the builders finished on time. But, she says, for her the real story is that the donkey taught her how to deal with the rubbish that life throws you. You know, Lancashire Yogi, she says, you would think that the donkey might be seeing that its end was in sight. It was trapped in a well, the builders were going to kill it, and they were trying to bury it alive. However the donkey used the very materials that were being used to bury it alive, to rise to the top of the well and escape.
Lancashire Yogi likes this – he thinks that life may well throw all sorts of difficulties at you as you journey through – but the trick is to turn whatever negativity or difficulties there are into opportunities and solutions.
Sensei Ariana Masayume spent most of her time with Lancashire Yogi reminding him about his Aikido and Ki practices. Aikido means “harmony, energy way” and alot of their practices were about how you use the energy of the moment to bring about harmony. Sensei Ariana doesn’t practice yoga, but she does practice Ki work – and the power of Ki is like the power of prana – and the energy that is generated by yoga practices.
The donkey in the well is a good example of both disciplines in action.