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Patches of red, maples, to be sure, first to go over; yellow, orange and rust begin to dot the canopy of green that has, since May, blanketed the Berkshire Hills here in western Mass. Autumn is coming and with just a hint of chill in the air my practice begins to subtly change with the season.
Back in the day seasonal changes affected barely more than my wardrobe. I existed not in tune with the seasons, more like beyond their influence altogether; summer, winter, fall, spring; other than differences in temperature and the form of precipitation I moved thru them as though within a Gardol Shield (for those of you old enough to remember the old Colgate Dental Cream commercial from 1956). As I have aged I have become more aware of the seasons; their differences and similarities have been imprinted in my body to such an extent that I have never felt more acutely alive. The quality of light as it changes throughout the day, the transmission of everyday sounds, the seasonally specific aromas of the world, the touch of a breeze… seem to permeate my being in ways that bring me to an intimate knowledge of just how real the oneness of all things really is.
Fall is the twilight season, a season of softness and blurred edges; early high color giving way to the browns and grays of winter. Fall practice for me begins to evidence itself with the emergence of techniques that emphasize soft blending movements; Ki practice, less evident in the heat of the summer months, reappears with greater regularity. My practice reflects the fact that my body is reacting to the overall sleepiness that is sweeping through the environment; an environment that I am finding myself increasingly integrated with. One of the benefits of my Aikido training has been an increase of my awareness of how I fit into the larger pattern of existence. Exactly how this happens; how the mechanics of throwing, taking ukemi and the practice of Ki development have all combined over the years to effect this transformation remains something to be answered sometime in my future. Then again, maybe not. Perhaps the answer lies in remaining in the question.