I once read an article on how aikido philosphy and practice can be used in everyday life. The article really helped my understanding of Aikido a leap forward. It was an article written by Dr. James Loeser entitled "Using Aikido as an Effective Copiong Mechanism". The author is also an Aikidoka and was still in med school at the time it was written, Y 1999, though I saw it from the web just two years ago.
The doctor explained in the ways and thinking of an Aikido practitioner an earlier work of the psychologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' Five Coping Mechanisms. According to Dr. Loeser, he interprets these stages into a typical coping mechanism and explain how Aikido can be used to forgo this method and serves as an effective strategy.
As I read through his work, Kubler-Ross five stages of coping mechanism are identified as 1. denial, 2. anger, 3. bargaining, 4. depression, and 5. acceptance. This pattern is very evident on situations like news of terminal illness, pending death, loss of love ones and the likes. I'd like to explain it on my own understanding. First, people tend to deny the situation or ignore its existence. One good example is a doctor's report that you might live for only another year since the cancer has already gone up your system. The victim might either challenge the findings or just brush off the idea. One just wants to preserve a status quo and preserve his own worldview. But the fact of having an illness or a bad situation angers us. We tend to blame others, the people around us and even ourself. The second stage usually put someone into asking the question "Why did that have to happen?"
Bargaining makes someone asks for any divine intervention or forms of outside help after the fact has sink in that he can not do anything to avert its effect. One might say "Please take away this burden and I'll do anything you wish." A kind of appeal to a higher power which could be a sign of helplessness and desperation.
When nothing is happening according to our liking, the situation leads to depression. The victim usually resort to drinking, disassociating from friends, and other extreme measures. When the smoke clears, and the dust has settled, reality bites. We have nothing else to do but recognize and accept the fact.
This is where Dr. Loeser's adaptation really kicks in. In Aikido, he said, the five stages mentioned above do not necessarily have to come into the picture. "When the trained Aikidoka meets a personal struggle or situational conflict, he jumps directly to acceptance, and, by doing so, he eliminates struggle, resolves the issue spontaneously, receives a revivifying charge of self-existence, and carries on with the positive aspects of our life." Loeser is trying to show the philosophy of Aikido in this regard, harmonious blending of energy.
I say when a trained Aikodoist is attacked, he doesn't deny but accept and reacts right away. Like in the mat, a beginner might need an extra two or three seconds to figure out what technique to execute when attacked by a Shomenuchi.
"The trained Aikidoka is aware of his surroundings at all times, never dumbfounded by unanticipated situations, and while the situation may be completely unfamiliar, the equanimity of the Aikidoka is omnipresent," Loeser explains.
Furthermore, he expounds how an enlightened Aikidoka would behave in such situations. "The trained Aikidoka translates his prudent reaction to an attack and blending into an extension of universal energy to everyday situations, including worldview altering predicaments, such as learning of a debilitation, degenerative illness. By doing so, he responds to the attack on his worldview expediently."
The underlying message of the article helps me cope with everyday stuff. At work, home, personal relationships, I am trying to understand Aikido's real meaning. We all suffer from different factors everyday, everyminute, but learning how to cope with it in the most effective way gives a lot of sense why we train on the mat. Not just for the techniques I can use when confronted in a dark alley but for spiritual (read
ersonal) application in everyday life.