Changes: Into the second decade
I am now a couple of years into my second decade of Aikido, and I have recently felt insecure because of changes taking place in my practice. So I would appreciate some advice from experienced aikido people, and I ask for it anonymously because I would not like to have all this discussed in our dojo and federation.
First, I will give a short account of how I used to train, to give you an orientation -- probably some of it feels familiar: In the last ten years, aikido has been a dominant part for my life. For a couple of years, it even dominated everything else. I trained up to six times a week in what others consider a "tough style", also in another "style" for some years parallel to that. I went to another city for a longer period of study with a certain teacher, went to lots of seminars, had roles in the local dojo administration, taught kyu grades regularly, and so on. I have worked through some of the often discussed problems and challenges all this brings, and known some of the joy and satisfaction. Over all, Aikido has really touched my life in a very positive way.
More recently however, as I am going through my thirties, things have begun to change. A couple of issues keep me thinking:
- I have lost my enthusiasm for teaching newcomers, and that worries me, because I have always seen my attitude towards them as an indicator of my own conviction, dedication and compassion.
- I have found that, concerning the relations between the mind, the body and spirituality -- one area of inquiry that attracted me to aikido - I now learn a lot more in a much shorter time from seated meditation, psychotherapeutic approaches or body work classes than from aikido. At the same time, I am less and less confident about the self defence aspect of our art.
- In this context, I have become disillusioned (I do note that this assumes an illusion…) about our leading Shihan, because I feel he knows not as much about spirituality and personal maturation as he likes to imply in his presentation of the art. Since his example used to be one important source of motivation for me, something is lacking now.
- Generally speaking, I find a lot of the passion I used to put into aikido training a little neurotic these days. There can be much wisdom in having a sunset beer instead of going to train for the fifth time in a week, cant there?
- Finally, I am losing confidence on the technical side. I find that I would have to do so much more training both in the very martial and the very meditative direction even to start to understand aikido technique in a serious way, that I get a little exasperated when I think of it. Of course this last point is probably banal for anybody who takes aikido seriously. However, my growing feeling that my time on Earth passes more and more quickly makes it a somewhat more pressing issue these days. It sometimes almost feels immodest to wrestle with the art of aikido when I could, let's say, help feed the homeless in order to promote compassion and well-being.
Don't get me wrong -- its still great, I am only writing about the aspects I would like some advice on. I have lots to be grateful about when it comes to aikido, and nothing to regret, and I still consider myself very fortunate. But I do wonder whether all of the above is the beginning of the end, and I should just face up to that, or whether it is the beginning of a new way to practice. Most of all, in order to make it a beginning and not an end, I wonder how to work with it. So I would really appreciate some advice, especially from experienced people who have maybe gone through similar phases in their training.
As I do not know how much of a response this will generate, I give my apologies in advance if I should not be able to answer all of it in detail right away, as training and work tend to keep me very busy. Every answer is appreciated, however, thank you very much!