044) The Human Antenna: Week of July 12, 2009
How many times have you been driving a car and you turn to look at the driver who is driving up beside you and that person turns to face you (or the reverse happening)? There are countless examples that we can come up with that indicate that we are aware of another person’s energy when that person’s intention is directed towards us. People can easily “write this off” to happen-chance, or some other inconsequential reason. We so easily forget to look at our original communication system with the world. All of us, as newborn babies, begin interacting with our world in a purely sensory-motor level. Very few parents will not acknowledge that this “communication” includes a sensitivity to the “energy” given off by a person. Babies are very good indicators of people who have negative energy. They are already responding/reacting to that energy before any physical contact is made. This “communication system” is the same hard-wired system that we can observe in the domesticated animals that are “members” of our family.
How many of us have been told that we need to become “better listeners?” Part of becoming better listeners is not simply focusing solely on the person’s words, but on “body language” and a host of other less obvious aspects of communication (the person’s “vibes”/energy being one of them). The ability to “listen” to early warning signs of potential danger is a very valuable trait that is evolutionary in nature. This fact applies to humans as well as any other species. People are very good at being stubborn, intolerant and a whole host of other attributes associated with not-listening, that lead us merrily down the road to conflicts (on a personal to societal level).
Aikido is the martial art of NOT FIGHTING, BUT LISTENING! The seemingly simple focus of learning to be a highly acute listener allows this art to be transformational experience where we cannot help but to become better people. The better we become at listening to the world around us, the more likely we are to function as more constructive beings. The more likely it is that we can sense problems and intervene before they fully emerge to the point of “no return.” This process of becoming better human antennas is not an all-or-none act, but a progressive, transformational process. The foundation of this process is Shisei. We need to develop a posture that produces as little “body noise”/tension as possible. This posture is more than physical and includes the opening up of our mind-body to fully experiencing the world around us. This taking in of sensations and perceptions occurs at a level that predates and precedes our cognitive abilities to mediate and interpret this input.
This process is a martially-effective way of responding to potential threats. We know this through our experiences that result in such sayings as “if you have to think about it, or react to it, it is too late”, or “if you give away your intentions in your movements, the person will counter the movements.” As we work on becoming better human antennas, we become better able to “read” the intentions and movements of a potential aggressor, allowing us to respond in a safer and more effective manner. The harder aspect of this process is to be able to listen to this information and respond in a manner that does not involve conscious intent. It is genuinely difficult to practice techniques without excessive thinking on how and what we are doing. This is particularly the case when you have not practice a particular technique countless times. The process of repeating a technique countless times involves the transformation of movement to a place where conscious intent is not really utilized. This is akin to not thinking about how we are driving, because we have done so for countless years, so we then become aware of different things, such as a person looking at us. When we are learning techniques, we are spending too much of our energy focusing upon our movements and actions, thereby blocking out our receptivity as human antennas (we are too focused upon internal stimuli). Slowing down our practice speed so that we can be aware of the other person while still being able to retain some awareness of our own movements is a helpful way of integrating the internal and external aspects of our training. The more experienced we become, the more we have to push ourselves to the limits of our abilities to receive, perceive and move properly. This should include faster, more realistic attacks of unknown natures. We need to work up to this integrative ability.
We will spend this week focusing in on the seemingly impossible task of listening while doing and enacting intended movement without intention. We will find that we vacillate back-and-forth; feeling awkward and disconnected, while other times, feeling connected and moving with little intended effort. This week will place us in a position of recognizing the “external” and “internal” aspects of Aikido. The struggle to unify this seemingly polar-opposite perspectives will help us to improve our Aikido. It will not be easy and it will not be accomplished within a week. This is a continual process that we are in as we continue to allow our Aikido to evolve within us.
The truly amazing thing about Aikido training is in it’s ability to transform us into better listeners to the world around us. We cannot help but make the world a better place to live in when we listen and become better connected to our world. This increased awareness allows us to care about ourselves and others in a deeper and more meaningful way. We find ourselves becoming more accepting of differences and more involved in the proactive acts of living lives that have a positive impact upon the world at large. This is a slow, positive change, but one that transforms the concept of budo from the protecting of ourselves and loved ones from a dangerous world, to the creation of a more caring and connected world that we all have a shared responsibility in.
Marc Abrams … [visit site to read more]
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