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"Scientific cosmology is offering us a new picture of an awesome universe, but science provides no way of personally connecting to it. New scientific ideas as intellectual entertainment are not going to change our point of view. The scientific picture of the universe and the actual experience of it as reality - like mind and heart - each come fully alive in the connection with the other. Cosmic ideas need to be integrated harmoniously into all we know, and that can open us up to the universe. But how in practice is that done? How can we bring our stunted consciousness into harmony with scientific reality? This is the great challenge of our time…" Joel R. Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrams, The View from the Center of the Universe.
How does the study of Aikido, a martial art, relate to my understanding of the universe and my experience of being of the universe? Aikido, in the larger context, larger that is than merely a collection of techniques used to deal with conflict, has provided me with a vehicle for experiencing the connection referred to in the first sentence in the above quote. I can read the science, observe my surroundings with my senses and measuring instruments, devise theories and provide explanations for natural phenomena, in other words feed my mind. Through study and book learning I can intellectually connect to the universe. But this intellectual connection is inadequate to enhance my experience of being of the universe and thus my connection remains incomple
The theme of our spring seminar will be the exploration of correct feeling within the context of Aikido. Correct feeling is the state I experience when my mind and body are coordinated. Correct feeling arises naturally when my mind and body approach unity; when I let go of what was, what may yet be and live in the moment. When I have correct feeling I am in my strongest possible state.
At the seminar we will use a combination of Ki exercises and Aikido techniques to help each other experience and explore correct feeling in our own unique individual ways.
Keep one point.
Keep weight underside.
Maintain correct posture.
Coordinate mind and body.
Have positive mind.
I use these, and other, phrases a lot while in class, never however, in a vacuum. The phrases themselves while appearing instructive in nature do not actually transmit any useful information. What is one point and how I keep it? Keep weight underside of what? How do I feel when my posture is correct? What does it mean to coordinate mind and body? Positive mind, does that mean I have to be happy all the time?
The phrases are introduced in conjunction with Ki development exercises and are used to provide hooks upon which to hang feelings engendered when the exercises are performed correctly. The phrase provides me with a point of reference for recalling a set of feelings associated with the performance of a particular exercise. As I grow and get stronger the need for the words to trigger a physical response in me lessens until I can dispense with the association altogether and simply rely on having correct feeling.
Perform, associate, reinforce and do it again… and again… and again… It's the process that matters, not the individual outcome of any particular iteration.