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As I was washing the dojo windows today I relished the breeze that cooled my face and the dappled sunlight dancing on the blue cheer floor that covers our dojo floor.
Soon the dojo will be filled with aikidoka rolling, falling, smiling, doing kata with and without weapons.
Rhythmic mat slapping and quiet shuffle of bare feet will again sooth our souls.
All month I have been doing my ki exercises, weapons work and stretching in the peaceful early morning air. Now I am ready for everyone to come back. Aikido is a shared experience. The exchange of energy and roles even us out. The consistent meeting of body and mat beat the truth into us. We leave class clear and refreshed ready to meet the world for another day.
Brrrr and still we had class. Yay. Ron started with some Ki exercises but then he switched to a free form bokken movement for about ten minutes. After that I was really warm. We practiced in a circle because there were only six of us and 4 of the six are over 55. Wow, to put that down on paper sounds old and we are really young.
Ron had us circle up and then demonstrated throwing, using only one arm. We each went through using just the right hand then again with just the left hand. So fun. Then we did some double uge: great fun and a great work out.
When I started teaching I asked the class to get in a circle and then I asked Charlie to come and slap both my cheeks. After a vigorous minute or so he was unable to clap my cheeks so I got in the circle and he was then nage. We went around the circle twice until everyone was winded and happy. It is amazedly hard to slap both cheeks at once and uke trying to slap nage gave nage great energy to work with.
Naming techniques offered us a slower pace to get our wind back and wind down. As usual, the weight of the world sloughed off my back in class. After class Ron and I spent another quiet night of our lives together in peace and warmth.
Class last night was another class on flow. Something is flowing even if it is not me in my life. Maybe today will be different. I turn my boat around again and let the current take me.
Ron started class with an L step with a reverse yokomen...that was a habit harasser. Then he incorporated the move into a ki exercise when we did the same move with no bokken. Uke could fall or not depending if their balance was taken. This was a new height of looking at habitual movement. It provided such an opportunity for mind body awareness.
After doing an exercise with a ball about flow and following, I asked the class to feel the same with uke. For black belts I asked that they not have any idea what they were going to do until it happened and for orange belts I asked that they think of a technique and then let go of the thought and just do it.
As usual aikido class washed away the day and cleansed my body and spirit.
Whenever we say "No, I am right," we stop the flow of communication...when we insist that uke move this way or that way by force uke will resist and get stiff. It becomes a battle of wills and the stronger physical person will win. They will be right.
Aikido is being open to what is and what will be. Uke attacks. I let uke move within the bounds of suggestion and encouragement. By adding my own energy and providing direction the throw is accomplished.
Am I right? Maybe... maybe not...yet it feels so much better than forcing my way on someone else.
A challenge for now, can I be a warrior for compassion and kindness when I feel like the universe conspires to hold me down? I see those thoughts march by and chuckle to myself "Let's pick another story for these feelings."
Let's practice our practice no matter what thoughts and feelings arise from the fecundity of our humanness. Let's reap the rewards of our practice. It is here and now and true.
To claim one's warrior spirit; to be totally present to what is now, is the purpose of aikido training.
Techniques, weapons training, group exercises and meditations are all vehicles to summon and then challenge our warrior spirit.
Challenge yourself to be ever in the now. Watch your thoughts and feelings. Let them pass unfettered by anchoring stories. Let the distractions float into the ether to join the millions of other un-tethered nothings that matter not.
Thursday at 6:30 PM, January 2, 2014 we will have our first class of the new year. So what's new? Nothing and everything.
We have had about 2 weeks off. Just enough to make me antsy...I get a little weird when I don't train. Aikido is a mood stabilizer for me. I can feel like beetle poop when class starts and when it ends I am smiling and happy... relaxed as a new born.
Speaking of newborns, Princess Muffin is no longer that...she is something else. She is still the same yet totally different just as we will be on this new year...new day...new class...new me.
After reading an article in Real Simple magazine about being home alone I reflected on my own fear of being alone in the house. Her fear was that someone was outside the house. My fear is that there is someone in the house with me.
When I was a child my dad would pop out of nowhere raging and hitting. The poor man has been dead for several years now yet my fear lives on.
When Ron is not home at night I hear every noise that I never notice if he is home. I know that my fears are irrational. We live in a rural neighborhood surrounded by woods. It is not a high crime area. For women my age statistically any real danger is from a violent relationship. Not a problem for me…we do give each other bruises sometimes but only on the mat.
So even though I know how to defend myself, my house is safe and I have thought out many strategies I still have illogical fear. She (Real Simple article 2/2013) had a way of dealing with it…just by staying home alone for 3 nights in a row. By the third night she was okay. Maybe I will try it. I used to stay alone when my kids were small …whoops, I guess that is not really alone. I was more vulnerable with small children. I just can't figure it out…so I hold my fears out to the universe in open hands. The winds of time may blow them away.
Aikido is going back to what we knew when we were born before social niceties bred it out of us. When children don't want to be around Grandpa or don't want to kissed by Auntie Lou that should be respected. It could be that Auntie smells bad or it could be that she is really mean and untrustworthy. Or it could be that the child just doesn't want to be hugged by that person on that day.
This Christmas I got to see Aikido at its finest being practiced by my grandson, Tony, age 5, who has been on our mat a bit only to twirl and run and laugh.
First, let me tell that Tony is not shy. When he was 3 he would walk up to anyone and say, "Hi, friend." And he is sometimes not friendly. He has hit other kids when bothered too much and also knows how to use his words to take care of himself.
Tony and family were getting ready to exit after our Christmas gathering. He was giving hugs and kisses to everyone. He came up to my daughter Emily's boyfriend Jay who he does not know every well. Tony was going in for the hug and then realized he was not comfortable with that. You could see the momentary hesitation on his face and in his body language. So Tony gives a huge smile and enters towards Jay and says, "High five." They slapped out and all was well. It was so graceful; Aikido in action with not one bit of training.
Tony's action was totally cool with everyone. Nobody said, "Oh Tony, give Jay a big hug." Tony's response was accepted as normal. What a long way my family has com