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You will all now hear an admission of a rather unusual bad habit that I have had, and wrestled with, all my life. I am a perpetual motion machine. To be more specific I rock. No I don't mean I'm constantly playing the air guitar and bobbing my head to some unheard music, though it's not far from the truth. What I mean by rocking is that I can't sit in a chair without rocking back and forth in it. I have never liked it but have never been able to control it. As a kid in my teens I always hoped that I would just grow out of it, but I am into my forties now and still rock. All who know me well have seen me rock often and most think nothing of it any more. Those who don't know me must think I'm a little off when first they witness this odd physical tic.
Why am I telling you this? It's because I have noticed that the calmness that I train and strive for in my Aikido training is beginning to calm my habit of rocking. This is only just beginning mind you, but is happening just the same.
Before I started training in Aikido I was totally oblivious to my rocking habit when it started while sitting watching TV, or reading something on the computer at work, until someone made a comment about it. Now as part of my own training out of the dojo I am consciously and constantly trying to find my one point and in turn that relaxes my shoulders first then other parts of my body follow. When this happens that "need" to rock gets washed away. I sit there in my chair reveling in the stillness. In this stillness I find I'm more focused on the movie I'm watching (go figure) or the task I'm performing at the computer.
This 40 year old habit isn't licked yet, but I think I have finally found the key to beating it. For those of you who read my journal regularly you'll know that I have had to all but give up my training due to responsibilities that required my attention at home. So I'm going to turn my Aikido training focus from the physical to the mental study. Not to say that I'm going to stop training in technique, but to turn more to the study of Zazen. I'm doing this because I think that in my Aikido training what has been helping remedy this habit the most is the Ki breathing exercises done in seiza.
Up till now I have only been practicing Ki breathing in seiza maybe once a week. After I practice this form of zazen I feel invigorated yet relaxed. I'm more conscious of my surroundings. But most importantly I feel calm. I can get up after this practice and sit still in a chair for an extended period of time without thinking about it. Trust me after 40 years of not being able to sit still this is a great feat.
To help me develop this practice I picked up a book by ROSHI Philip Kapleau called the "Three
Pillars of Zen", which give great detail on the different practices of zazen. I am finding this book very interesting, but that is for another topic. Till then I'm going to practice sitting still.