Re: Good distance ?
I just wanted to add another comment that came to me concerning maai, whether outside of inside. There are people who sit in big chairs in huge houses within gated communities who are not harmonious and feel unsafe - in some cases, constantly. And in comes the Prosac.
Which leads me to expand a little more on Mark's idea of harmonious space. We can look at maai as not just a physical distance or space, but also a mental and emotional one. Even a spiritual one. And it's important who and what we allow inside our space. It could be information from the television - which is often a huge source of disempowerment for people. It could be poor-quality foods we introduce into our bodies, which over time create nutritional deficiencies, and a lack of spark and energy. It could be bad ideas and gossip. It could be poor relationships, that once may have been fine, but turned toxic. It could be societal and cultural programming.
Maai, viewed from that broader perspective, actually becomes a larger detector to intuitively clue us into that fact that something's not right. And if we're receptive, we adjust accordingly. That could have you changing hotel rooms, changing lanes, not going into a certain area, finding a new job, a new dojo, getting your car serviced, not buying that property, not entering that business deal. And with it we become more confident that we'll find the right hotel rooms, go into the right areas, find the right work, buy the right property...
A harmonious, prosperous, and abundant life is even promised to us by most of the major religions and many philosophical systems - including aikido. I love what I've heard of some of the central themes in Systema. Yes, it's hardcore Christian. And their approach is that we live in a perfect world, and that we are totally safe from harm. We are protected by God. Does aikido say anything less? I don't think it does.
[Mark, I'd appreciate if you'd add, subtract, or correct anything on what I just wrote concerning Systema.]