Re: HOW does aikido change us?
I think aikido is a good methodology or a physical model/allegory for personal change. It has worked for me I suppose. It is difficult for me to say because of all my life's experiences...it is hard to point to which ones came from aikido and which ones did not. I am the sum of my life's experiences.
For my wife, who got started with me in MA years ago and practiced aikido for 5 years...in the end it was Yoga that worked for her, not aikido.
One thing we have discussed is the comparision between yoga, aikido, and other comtemplative practices. What I find different about MA/aikido is that most other comtemplative/philsophical practices are more individual in nature. What I think is key and important about aikido is that it requires you to interact in the practice...which is key to acheiving happines and peace.
That is not to over simplify something like yoga that is somewhat individualistic in nature, because in the ashram environment, you still are part of a community and you must interact with other yogini in order to develop and grow.
I just think aikido is more upfront and primal about the whole interdependence thing.
I also think aikido and MA in general helps us learn more about anger, emotions, and control during stress..Again, other arts like yoga can also do these things.
I guess there is nothing really special about aikido...it all boils down to what works for you and what your goals are.