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For the first time in many months I watched the sun rise, quietly listening on to the sleepy noises of the night. In my transition into yoga, I learned to dip my hands into the stillness inside. The calm that resonates in that spiritual pool has eluded me for three years now. Instead of breaking into my usual routine , I sat out on the balcony , wrapped in my blanket and simply listened and absorbed everything around me.
.I think sometimes, we as individuals, and especially as Aikidoka, forget about focus.
You see, I was amazed when I first came to Grand Junction… I was in a place where there were no skyscrapers to overshadow me, no smog clouds to burn my lungs. As time has gone by, being on my own has taken its toll. Stress and illness have brought my spirits down and depression has waited for me to drop back into its vicious cycle. Now, as more issues arise, I found my self to be verging a breakdown. I spent the last many nights restless, upset not knowing why.
Yet I awoke this morning, two hours before my alarm clock was set and crept away from the warm safety of my bed. Looking out the window and past the cars in the parking lot, I saw the first lines of dawn begin to crawl across the Mesa's . I had stared so long at the things around me that I forgot why exactly I was here. Watching the Mesa's warm with morning light, I realized how small and insignificant I am in comparison to those natural landscapes. Cool, comforting calm settled over me.
Aikido is this way for me. I was focusing so hard on trying to learn and perfect everything that I do, that I lost focus of why I practice, why I come in two hours a day, four days a week. I didn't start the path of Aikido to become a perfectionist, I started that path to understand the relationship between conflict and me. I've gotten so much more back then I have ever given. My faith in people has been restored. My faith in myself is coming back. I can look people in the eye and not flinch. Freedom is the word. By narrowing the manner in which I approach things, I narrow the freedom that I am given.
With the loss of my eye glasses, I have come full circle back to the days of squint and trip. For the hour or so before I went to class I meditated, calmed my fears and soothed the worries that festered within. My learning process has always been more "feeling" techniques and studying the response my body must tailor in order to do said techniques. I had to step back and accept that I would have to focus on the movement of my partners.
I didn't close my eyes, but I didn't fight to focus them. I let a "wave" of calm flow down my shoulders relaxing them, then my back, and all the way down to my feet. The moment my partner moved, it was as if a hand reached out and moved my center back , like a gentle breeze. All in just a single moment. Now that I know how , implementing it to be successful will be another chapter to be explored.
All of the sudden I am reminded of a picture I saw Bujin Design selling. "Uneven Odds" By Scott Severance.
Of the three samurai it unclear who has the upper hand, whether Nage is truly inflicting incredible violence upon both ukes. If you look again he is merely reflecting , reflecting their aggression. I have seen this first hand, watching and listening as the Aikidoka at the seminar worked together.
To get technical, on the subject of Ki ( ACK… shit she said it! Bad bad BAD Kate!), which I took up with a few of the ki(wees) society people, I interpret my cycle with Uke, or Nage, (which ever case) in this manner:
If our energy, Ki, Qi, what ever name you have for it, was to be turned into a stream of air, and our bodies to that of a feather, then the relationship between movement and reaction, in my mind, would become clearer. The more forcefully we enter into conflict, into Nage's center, the more that Nage is going to move in turn to mirror us. Intent equals reaction. As Nage, I am faced with the choice of either conflicting with the force which Uke is going to send towards me, or letting that energy contact my center and initiate my movement.
Probably easier said then done, but its come to mind and makes relative sense.
Without the complete need of my eyes, if I listen and feel, I can move with confidence. Tonight was an especially positive night, in comparison to yesterday and the last few classes. I felt things click. I was able to laugh at my self. I did not cry once… Sensei kept on complementing me on how I've been progressing, and he trusts me to work with beginners, even though I am just a beginner my self. I've come a long ways since day one, but I a long ways to go.
Somehow that doesn't bother me.
I know that I will be frustrate, and that I will cry and should probably in the coming sessions. Bokken work is coming up to confront me, and I am wondering how I will move past the fear that almost paralyzes me. I am afraid to work with others when using the Bokken because my sense of distance and depth perception is almost gone. In a sense I am a danger, and it hurts to accept that. Given time and practice that edge will wear off.
For now I can only look back at the Mesa's out side and within my heart. There cannot be success without challenge. I look forward to the challenge that waits for me.