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12-25-2007, 06:38 PM
Holidays can be rough for many people. They group them together too closely. Just the time you get through one, there is another. There is Thanksgiving, Christmas, and then New Years. Good and bad things always seem to come in threes.
Thanksgiving just passed. I know it is an American holiday to be thankful. Sometimes I have trouble buying into the dramatization of the stories behind these events. Did we actually celebrate brotherhood with the native American Indians by eating turkey, hams, stuffing, pumpkin pie and watch a lot of football together or was it a celebration of a victory over them? Whatever the reason we have, it is a good idea to remind people to be thankful. I am always thankful for my friends and family. I do not need a special holiday to do that. Every day is a good time to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. In Aikido, we bow and thank each other all the time. But, do we really mean it or are we just going through the motions? In Aikido, I am most thankful for four worlds. The first is my Tenshinkai Aikido family at the Westminster Aikikai, under Sensei Dang Thong Phong, for starting this incredible journey. The second are my friends at the Roswell Budokan, under Sensei Paul Domanski, for opening their doors to a relocated orphan looking for a place to train. The third are all those people who attend seminars and for a short period of time are my training partners. The fourth world is my Internet Aikido companions, especially Jun here at AikiWeb and Stan Pranin at Aikido Journal, for allowing me to share my thoughts and passion with kindred spirits (whether we agree or not). Thanks to all of you. You have no idea how grateful I am for your compassion and companionship. I am grateful every day for what I have, even if I do not often let people know.
Christmas will soon be here. It is a holiday that has been accepted by the community as a time to be caught up in an over commercialize stampede while trying to remind us of our spiritual heritage and foundation. It is a time to think beyond our own limited learned egos. While others think it all about them, try to remember it is not all about you. The materialistic commercialism is about gift buying. The shopping centers are absolutely crazy. What is the greatest gift you can give anyone? If you said a diamond or a car, please hear the buzzer sounding and try again. The greatest gift we can give is our presence, our attention, our empathy, and our compassion. The greatest gift to give or receive is people themselves. I am reminded of that every day in training when people trust me (the ones with so much history) with the safety of their bodies. I give them mine, along with too much instructive feedback, adolescent chatter, and laughter. At Christmas time, I do not want anything from them, or anyone else who has been an active contributing participant in my life throughout the year. They have already given me so much. That has been their gift to me. I hope that they know it is reciprocated.
New Years is a naturally occurring seasonal transition of the calendar. It is a time to let go of the old and accept the new. It is a time to renew the decisions and directions of our life. Sadly, for most, it is simply another reason to use too much intoxicants and try to forget their lives. I like to take my personal inventory at the New Year. I review the year that has just passed. I write down all the positives (the things that went the way I wanted them to) and the negatives (those that didn't). I put them side-by-side on a sheet of paper so I can see both sides of the year simultaneously, not sequentially. What lessons did I learn and what lessons obviously still need learning? Then I look to the New Year. I have never been very goal directed or motivated. The payoffs never seemed that important to me. The journey, the process, the direction does. So, what type of person do I want to be in the New Year -- an honorable one. I try to stay true to what I know is an honorable person no matter where I am or what I am doing whether inside the dojo, my office, or my home, it is all the same. I look forward to walking in that direction with my family and friends. The direction and who you walk with are important. By this time next year some will be still walking by my side, some will have left, and some new people will have arrived. That is life. Every day is new.
So, from me and mine, to you and yours, have a safe, healthy, and happy Holiday season. I look forward to spending space and time with you as we walk forward in a positive direction.
Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. Now get back to training. KWATZ!
Lynn Seiser (b. 1950 Pontiac, Michigan), Ph.D. has been a perpetual student of martial arts, CQC/H2H, FMA/JKD, and other fighting systems for 40 years. He currently holds the rank of Sandan (3rd degree Black Belt) in Tenshinkai Aikido under Sensei Dang Thong Phong at the Westminster Aikikai Dojo in Souther California. He is the co-author, with Phone Sensei, of Aikido Basics (2003), Advanced Aikido, and Aikido Weapons Techniques (2006) for Tuttle Publishing. His martial arts articles have appeared in Black Belt Magazine, Aikido Today Magazine, and Martial Arts and Combat Sports Magazine. He is the founder of Aiki-Solutions and IdentityTherapy and is an internationally respected psychotherapist in the clinical treatment of offenders and victims of violence, trauma, abuse, and addiction. He currently lives in Marietta, GA and trains at Roswell Budokan.
12-27-2007, 05:40 AM
Thanks for good food for thought, Lynn.
Being loving and compassionate with my family is always good practice. :)
My favorite part of the holiday season is our 108 meditation on New Year's day. Practicing one technique 108 times in silence with friends is a peaceful way to start the new year.
12-05-2009, 02:26 AM
If i may,
Why must one think of one's past one year only?? If one has to reflect, would one not think of the life changing moments?? i have wondered sometimes, if i were to write down my biography, which moments would i include in them?? Its illuminating how the smallest things have had the biggest impacts and it just looks like destiny brought me here. So if one must stay in the present, why look in the past for only a year?
Thank you for your time sensei,
12-05-2009, 12:33 PM
So if one must stay in the present, why look in the past for only a year?
They say if one does not study history and learn from it, we are doomed to repeat it.
IMHO, the past is always with us (unless you are far more advanced than I). It makes us who we are. Lets acknowledge and appreciate the distance we have travel without being stuck in it.
IMHO, the future is also always with us. It is the direction we are heading. A wise man once said to look forward to looking back and seeing what we have learned and how we got there.
IMHO, the present is always with us. It is the only time we can remake our past decisions and aim for new directions. Those little things from the past that got us here today, are here today for the future.
IMHO, to only live in the now, to stay in the present is impossible. As soon as you acknowledge you are anywhere at anytime, the present has already left.
The reflecting is all year round. It is only the writing down that I do once a year.
Thanks for digging up my old thoughts and making the past present again.
12-05-2009, 01:19 PM
I agree we must learn from the past. I agree the moment we acknowledge a point in time, it is already past us. And perhaps writing down for you means a ritual which formally lets go of all the feelings associated with the particular experience (as an analogy, emptying one's cup). But if i may ask, is there a level higher then this? That after every experience in a day, we ponder on it to the best of our ability and express our thanks to it and move ahead. How does one know which direction is one going in if the path we are travelling on is our own and its not a blazed trail? The choices one makes decides the direction of one's life and one does not know where it will take them because the effects of one's decision are always like a butterfly effect. One does not know when or how it will come back. So why even worry?? Why just not follow one's own heart and always strive to do the right thing and be thankful for the courage given to you to be able to do that?
Thank you for your time sensei,
12-05-2009, 03:40 PM
But if i may ask, is there a level higher then this?
How does one know which direction is one going in if the path we are travelling on is our own and its not a blazed trail?
One does not know when or how it will come back. So why even worry??
Why just not follow one's own heart and always strive to do the right thing and be thankful for the courage given to you to be able to do that?
Once "you" have emptied "you cup", drop the "you"
If we plot the past through the present, we can see the direction we are heading. Very few of us (and certainly not me) are off a well worn path.
We don't need to know when and where, only that it does.
The heart is just too often associated with the feelings and not with wisdom or ethics.
Only my simple thoughts on your deep questions.
12-29-2009, 01:31 PM
And simplicity is much more powerful then complexity. Like in aikido, once a person reaches complex forms, they go back again to simplicity, you have reached simplicity after crossing complexity. Although my mind is still a pot of boiling questions, i do thank you for sharing :).
12-29-2009, 07:43 PM
And simplicity is much more powerful then complexity. Like in aikido, once a person reaches complex forms, they go back again to simplicity, you have reached simplicity after crossing complexity.
And hopefully, by tomorrow's simplicity today will appear complex.
I am envious of those who can go straight to simplicity without this detour through the western gate of having to understand first.
Happy Holidays and may everyday be a Holy Day and hold it sacred because it will not come again.
As always, thanks for taking the time to read and respond to my thoughts.
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