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Old 12-13-2012, 11:59 AM   #12
Location: Massachusetts
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 3,199
Re: Healing power of Aikido

You know, healing's a funny thing. In the West, where we've had access to some pretty amazing medical advances for a while now, we generally think of "healing" as fixing the problem. "Healing" an illness means curing it so it goes away and doesn't come back; "healing" an injury means making it all better, as if it had never happened. It's no poor reflection on aikido that it can't "heal" any ailment in that sense: not the common cold, not a broken leg, not cancer.

So that's what you've got if, for you, "heal" is a transitive verb and "healing" is a simple process with a beginning and an end and that's it. Under that definition, so many things can never "heal"; "healing" is never complete. But I don't think it's humpty-dumptying to use the word in a different way. Once I was asked what I wished for someone very dear to me who was an alcoholic. What came out of my mouth, unexpectedly, was: "I hope that she receives whatever healing she's ready to accept." Oh, how wisdom comes to us sometimes when we least expect it! No doubt this person had wished deeply for her addiction to be "healed", for it to lift and depart and leave her in peace. But that would never ever happen. The various ways that she could be "healed" were all less comprehensive, and none of them were permanent or free of trouble or cost. But they were ways of healing, of becoming better, stronger, healthier, less troubled, more sane. Just, not everything. My hope for my dear one was that she could some day become able to receive what healing there was, in whatever form it came.

No, aikido doesn't heal. It can be part of healing, though. It's part of life. An aikido dojo is a place where you struggle with yourself and your limitations. The limitation of an injury, a disability, an incurable disease, it's just another limitation. Aikido training is a process through which you can understand and accept your condition. When you train, you must make your peace with this every single day. And day by day, you can learn that we do aikido within the bodies we have, here, now, in this moment which is neither yesterday nor tomorrow. You understand that today does not determine tomorrow. You understand that sheer force of will doesn't change things in the physical world; then you understand that the realities of the physical world don't preclude peace, not on the worst day.

You show up. You get on the mat. You do your best, and some days you may struggle not to cry, but over time you can learn to discard some of the pain that you inflict on yourself -- to cut yourself a break. You can be amazed at the patience and grace and humanity of your practice partners, who feel your struggle. You learn the fatuousness of marketing phrases like "pain is weakness leaving the body" and the futility of doing anything despite the pain. You get beyond "despite" and on to "with". You learn to train (and so to live) with your limp, your asthma, your disability, your illess -- with your self.

You learn to receive what healing is there for you, and you become healed.
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