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Home > Columns > Lynn Seiser > January, 2005 - Shoshin
by Lynn Seiser

Shoshin by Lynn Seiser

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In many situations, it is better to give than to receive. In training in the martial art, and life, often it is better to receive than to give. Always staying open to learn is humility and Shoshin, beginner's mind. Even at advanced stages, never stop training in the basics with beginner's mind. This is the quickest and surest way to advance.

One of the basic concepts of Aikido is non-resistance. Rather than meet force with force, accept, enter, and blend with intent and movement. Rigidity and resistance, masked as strength, is always the sign of weakness and fear. A closed mind cannot learn. Shoshin, beginner's mind, is receptive and open to learn. To stop learning, focus on what you already know. To keep perpetually learning, focus on the excitement and anticipation of what mysteries you have yet to discover.

One of the most important positions for learning is to be receiving. It may be more important, and speeds your learning process to be a better training partner. While it may appear you are not learning the techniques and concepts of Aikido, you are receiving the lesson of entering and blending, both physically and mentally, and are in a unique position to learn how the techniques and concepts of Aikido feel from directly experiencing them. You are learning the lesson that by giving your body so your training partner can progress, you too are receiving a great deal. Give them the opportunity to give to you by being open and receptive. Learn to both give and receive because they are the necessary reciprocal positions that create an energy flow and overcome dualistic thinking.

Why would you enroll in a class and not listen to the instructor? Many people beginning training think they already know it all. They are not open for constructive, corrective information and assistance. Almost worse yet, is when the advanced students stop learning and start teaching. By modeling, their arrogance and ignorance become part of the lesson and perpetuate a very limiting, damaging pattern and process. Many people, for many different reasons, after training at one school of Aikido, switch schools. This is often unavoidable. The avoidable problem is if they continue to train and practice with the same attitude and technique of the previous school. They are mentally and physically stuck in their old ways and extremely rude and disrespectful to the new school and Sensei. Learn to be open to learn from where you are and who you are with.

Have you ever gone into someone's house and rearranged their furniture because you want their house to be the way you want it to be? I see people at seminars trying to tell others how they do the technique at their school. Instead of being open to learn, they are rude and disrespectful, and only want to teach. To gain a wider perspective, receive the gift of a different way, a different perspective when in their house/dojo, studying their style/culture, from the head of their household/Sensei.

Have you ever given a gift from your heart to someone who criticized, rejected, or just totally ignored it? Giving can really hurt, especially if you do not receive the response you want. The response you receive helps you consider the other person's position. They are simply telling you what they had expected to receive and that what you gave as a gift of advice or instruction did not match. Both individuals are simultaneously giving and receiving. Both can take the opportunity to have hurt feelings or to learn about them selves or the other person. I tend to think it is easier to change myself rather than others, so I often take the feedback and see if I can adjust by matching their receiving and my receiving to match their giving. If others choose not to learn from the situations, that too is their right. You may decide not to give or receive to them again. You may choose not to train with people who always blame you for their lack of progress, learning, or happiness

When I was approached to write columns for AikiWeb, my first thoughts were that after 10 years in Aikido, 37 years in martial arts, and a Ph.D. in psychology, I was not qualified to offer advice or assistance. I may be a Sempai, but I am no Sensei. I am the perpetual student. I would rather train than teach, demonstrate, or write about it. I believe in sharing knowledge and experience, not as right or wrong judgments, not as forced dogma, but a realization that we are not alone on our journey.

When I first started in Aikido, many of my Sempai spent a lot of hours with me so that this rather large, previously trained to hurt people, old man could learn. Every time I offered an attitude of gratitude, they would humbly accept it, and tell me to pass it on as I progressed. I thought that when I got there, wherever there is that says you have something to offer, I would do just that. However, my Sempai kept giving and continued to give. They also continue to receive. I guess there is no there or got it. There is only where you are today on the journey and the process of getting it. As I give to my Kohai, as here in these columns, it is only to acknowledge, honor, and pass on what I have received from others. I humbly hope it is of some small assistance in your training and journey.

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

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