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Home > Columns > Lynn Seiser > November, 2004 - Domo
by Lynn Seiser

Domo by Lynn Seiser

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In Aikido, Rei means etiquette. The most common expression is bowing. There is a lot of bowing in Aikido. I hope that means there are many grateful people. In the recovery program, we call it cultivating an attitude of gratitude. This is the idea of being constantly thankful for what one has. Depression is based on being a spectator and viewing the past for what it wasnt or what we didnt have. Fear and anxiety is viewing the future for what we hope doesnt happen. Being present, between past and future, is the only time for clarity and peace. Life is too short and we have worked too hard to get to where we are now to waste the opportunity. Why waste it by focusing on what one doesnt have? Lets appreciate and be thankful for who we are and what we do have.

As we enter the Dojo, we bow to acknowledge and express gratitude for having a place to practice. What an opportunity. The Dojo provides us a safe physical place to study how to deal directly with conflict in a nonviolent way. The Dojo is sacred. Ever notice how a place picks up the energy of the people who are there. Our personal energy, intent, and intensity create the general atmosphere of the Dojo. It is not just for the Sensei to create a safe place and atmosphere for us to train. That opportunity, obligation, responsibility, and privilege lies with each one of us who chose to enter and train. As we step onto the mat, we bow to acknowledge and express our gratitude for a place to train.

We bow to the Shomen and the picture of OSensei to acknowledge and express our gratitude for being given the gift of Aikido. OSensei Morihei Ueshiba saw Aikido as a cure for a sick world. He offered us a means to transform ourselves, and our societies, through the expression of loving protection through an effective and efficient means of self-discipline and self-defense. It is polite to express gratitude when receiving a gift. I also think that as we acknowledge and appreciate our martial heritage, it reminds us of our family and cultural heritage. We owe a lot to our ancestors and what they have passed on to us. Perhaps we need to be conscious that someday, someone will acknowledge and appreciate what we have passed on.

We bow to our Sensei to acknowledge and express our gratitude for the years of training, knowledge, and experience they offer us. We show our gratitude by following their curriculum and what they have to offer us. Teachers are human too. None of them is perfect. In all my years of martial arts training, I have come to appreciate the humanness of most of my teachers. They can only give me what they have. Life just did not give them everything either. While I do hold them to a high level of ethics and morals, I also accept and appreciate the way they handle their imperfections. Their humanness often give me a sense that I can do it too.

We bow to each other on the mat to acknowledge and express our gratitude for all it takes to train together. Someone must freely and voluntarily give up their training time in order to help me improve. Many have to accept, as I have, that in training accidents happen and people get hurt. Its nice to know that, for the most part, these accidents and injuries were not on purpose. This is another example of the imperfections and humanness of life. This is especially true in an environment where we are, by definition, trying to learn something new. I am also always grateful to be with people I do not have to constantly explain my intentions and motives to. I am grateful I am not on this great martial journey all alone. What others have given me in time, support, encouragement, and patience can never be repaid directly, but can be given to everyone I train with in the future. We bow to signal that we are ready to learn and bow again to signal we are done.

To all of us in the United States who are acknowledging and celebrating Thanksgiving Day, be aware of how much we have to be thankful for and may you and yours be safe, healthy, and happy. May all of us realize that it is the appreciation of, and gratitude for, differences as well as sameness, which make our lives and our world interrelated and interdependent. We all will win or we all will lose.

Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. Now, get back to training.

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