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Patience
Patience
by Lynn Seiser
09-22-2009
Patience

Breathe in; know what you want.
Breathe out; slowly walk in that direction enjoying the scenery and the companionship.
Patience.

"We want the world and we want it now!" (Jim Morrison, Doors)

There is so much power in the word "now". We are told it's all about the present tense, the here and now. This moment is all we have because the past is gone and the future is not yet here. Seize the moment. Fast food, fast cars, and faster computers. Buy now and pay later. Up to date but out of breath and patience.

Most people I know would love to get a black belt in any martial art. They want the end result. They just don't want to spend the time and expend the energy to train. They go to McDojos where every few months, whether they have attended or not, they get tested, pass, and receive a promotion of a new color belt. They sign up for the black-belt package to ensure they will receive their just rewards without ever having to actually do anything. They are entitled. They want and they want it now. Which often explains why they don't have it and probably never will.

Most people want the world to be different (or at least they want it the way they want it). They just don't want to have to do anything to make it that way. They don't have self-discipline or the patience to let things happen. They try to make it happen and make it happen now.

Where did we get this idea that we can want what we want and we are entitled to it now without any investment or participation, let alone responsibility and accountability?

Not everything is about you or can be achieved or obtained now. Sorry.

I have talked a lot in past columns about realizing it is not all about you, which is disappointing at first but a real relief later. Later, now there is a concept worth considering. Perhaps the results of my current efforts will be rewarded later. Perhaps we need to see past the now into a bigger picture.

As a psychotherapist I am all too familiar with how often the internal dialogue is all about me and all about now. Most of the people I work with have a high degree of dissatisfaction, anxiety, and depression. A lot like most of us. It would appear that the contagious thought virus of media and consumerism has made them financially rich and us emotionally and financially poor.

So what does this have to do with Aikido?

As you know, Aikido is not an easy art to learn. It takes patience. Patience is enjoying the now because it's moving us in the direction of what we want. Patience, like so many things, is not very common but fortunately is a learnable skill. Since developing it assists training, I thought I would offer some suggestions.

Whether we know it or not, time is not only externally measured by the clock. Internally we have our own representation of it. Ask yourself the following questions: When I think of the past, do I put it to my right, middle, left, up, down, front or back? When I think of the present, do I put it to my right, middle, left, up, down, front or back? When I think of the future, do I put it to my right, middle, left, up, down, front or back? Now connect the dots and you see they form a visual time line of past, present, and future. It will actually work more efficiently and effectively if you orient your time line for left (past) to right (future) slightly in front of you.

If you are impatient, you may have a very small time line, or everything is collapsed in the same place, the present, the now. Overwhelming isn't it? (BTW, anxiety is often taking our negative future fantasies and placing them into the now like they are already happening while depression is taking our negative past memories and placing them into the now as if they are still happening and will continue to happen in the future.)

The best way I know to create impatience and frustration is to take a picture of what you want and place it in front of you. Now take a picture of where you really are today and place it in front of you. Now try to make your reality into your fantasy and have it happen before you tie your belt and bow in. The discrepancy between where I want to be and where I am can be the cause of my impatience and frustration. I am simply not there, yet.

Yet is a great auditory tag in speech. It is not that you will never have those belts and skills. It is just that you do not have them yet. If you truly want them, you can probably get them, just not today. Not yet.

So, how does one create patience?

One way is the take that image of the goal (the belt or the skill) and place it further down the time line into the future. While time management will often show that a task will take as much time as you allot for it, I tend to like some cushion and realistic expectations to my planning.

With my past performance to my left, my present straight in front of me, and my future to my right, I just might be able to make a realistic action plan on how to get from A to B, or the present to the future. (Sorry, we really cannot do anything about the past.)

With my direction and course of action set, I can settle into just everyday training. Every session will give you more and more patience as you make more and more progress towards your goal. After awhile, you may forget your goal and just enjoy the training. The funny thing is that you may just find that with patience and discipline you will have been so caught up in the journey that you obtained and surpassed your goal.

The fastest way to progress is slowly. The best way to make time go by quickly is to be mindful of what you are doing. With each class, bow in and say to yourself that you have not gotten there yet, but you are making progress in that direction and that is good enough. Bow out and say that was fun and look forward to coming back again.

Breathe in; know what you want.
Breathe out; slowly walk in that direction enjoying the scenery and the companionship.
Patience.

Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. Now get back to training. KWATZ!
Lynn Seiser (b. 1950 Pontiac, Michigan), Ph.D. has been a perpetual student of martial arts, CQC/H2H, FMA/JKD, and other fighting systems for 40 years. He currently holds the rank of Sandan (3rd degree Black Belt) in Tenshinkai Aikido under Sensei Dang Thong Phong at the Westminster Aikikai Dojo in Southern California. He is the co-author, with Phong Sensei, of Aikido Basics (2003), Advanced Aikido (2006), and Aikido Weapons Techniques (2006) for Tuttle Publishing. His martial art articles have appeared in Black Belt Magazine, Aikido Today Magazine, and Martial Arts and Combat Sports Magazine. He is the founder of Aiki-Solutions and IdentityTherapy and is an internationally respected psychotherapist in the clinical treatment of offenders and victims of violence, trauma, abuse, and addiction. He currently lives in Marietta, GA and trains at Roswell Budokan.
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Old 09-22-2009, 01:55 PM   #2
aikishihan
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Re: Patience

Wonderful and thought provoking introduction to a key component of what I refer to as the Aiki Principles of Aikido.

The Japanese words of "nintai" and "gaman" include "patience" in their list of definitions, which also includes "perseverence, endurance, forbearance and self control". Yet, for us Westerners, our actual experiences with these concepts have far greater meaning, and thus, the crux of our challenge in dealing with them.

In your admirable work with people, troubled by the state of being impatient and out of balance, you have ample opportunities to apply your understanding of Aiki principles to positive results.

I learned some time ago, that most people tend to listen to a favorite radio station in common, WIIFM. What's In It For Me, lets us appreciate that people will always have their own wants and needs as being paramount. Perhaps we can work on expanding the definition of "value" in their choices, by demonstrating how the use of Aiki Principles can result in having more "in it for them".

Patience is kinda like waiting for something positive or good to happen. Tolerance, perhaps, is more like waiting for something negative to stop or go away. By themselves, little can be reasonably expected. Together, with a practiced plan of action, and a rejuvenated will to actually take charge of each situation, one can achieve success, similar to the tangible benefits and earned confidence we obtain when we train diligently on and off the mat.

Patience, then, may simply be a matter of remaining still, preparing for the right moment to act. It can be the state of being ready to be pre-emptive or even pro-active in dealing with potential problems, especially before they can prove to be dangerous.

I look forward to even more insight into how to read the motives, and the self image and self awareness issues encountered by us all.

In Oneness,
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Old 09-22-2009, 02:13 PM   #3
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Re: Patience

I enjoyed that, Dr. Seiser. Doumo arigatou. I haven't seen a KWATZ! in a long time, and I opened my eyes wide when I saw it, just like I always used to.

Drew
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Old 09-22-2009, 02:57 PM   #4
SeiserL
 
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Re: Patience

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
Patience, then, may simply be a matter of remaining still, preparing for the right moment to act. It can be the state of being ready to be pre-emptive or even pro-active in dealing with potential problems, especially before they can prove to be dangerous.
Osu Sensei,

Thank you for reading and your kind words. I miss our conversations. I am pleased they have renewed here.

I like that, prepared stillness. Perhaps simply waiting and aware.

Rei. Domo.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 09-22-2009, 03:00 PM   #5
SeiserL
 
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Re: Patience

Quote:
Drew Gardner wrote: View Post
I haven't seen a KWATZ! in a long time, and I opened my eyes wide when I saw it,
Osu,
In the old days they used the shout to interrupt the internal cognitive absorption and bring it to external here and now awareness. To simply see that is in front of us.

I usually just use it to try and stay awake.

Rei, Domo.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 09-22-2009, 04:06 PM   #6
Mark Freeman
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Re: Patience

Excellent article Lynn, thanks.

I'd like to briefly relate a young man's 'Kwatz' moment. He was participating in some group work that I was doing a while back. When he arrived on the first day, he was barely able to communicate with the group, he was bound up in anxiety, low confidence and self esteem.
After years of bouncing around mental health agencies, with little progress and no meaningful work to do, he had a dim view of his future prospects. During the afternoon of the first day, I was talking about anxiety using words similar to those you wrote above. More exactly, I rattled out a phrase that must have been the 'kwatz' moment for him I said "anxiety is just us hallucinating future failure and experiencing it today" He asked me to repeat the phrase, which I did, I noticed him sit back and shake his head. He didn't say much for the rest of the day, but when he left I heard him repeating it to himself as he walked out.
He returned the following day and to my and the rest of the groups surprise, he started to engage with us all in a way that we hadn't seen on day one. He made excellent progress from then on and with help from others that I work with, we managed to get him work, which as far as I am aware he is still in today. His mum came in after day two and asked "What have you done to my son? I haven't seen him like this for years, I've got my son back, thank you" I did tell her that it wasn't me, the credit wasn't mine, it was his, he just had a moment of deep insight triggered by a phrase.
My guess is that in that moment he realised that the control of his situation was his to exercise, which in turn transformed his view of himself.

We must pay attention to the present, we never know quite when the priceless gold nugget will pass in front of us in the stream. If we have our eyes fixed upstream for what is coming, we may miss the true gems right here right now

regards,

Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 09-22-2009, 04:36 PM   #7
SeiserL
 
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Re: Patience

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote: View Post
More exactly, I rattled out a phrase that must have been the 'kwatz' moment for him I said "anxiety is just us hallucinating future failure and experiencing it today"
Osu,
Exactly. My compliments.
Most of us don't know that we create our own stress, anxiety, depression, and impatience. I guess if we create it, we can choose to create something else. As your young man did.
That's the challenge.
Thanks for reading, responding, and sharing.
Rei. Domo.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 09-23-2009, 05:54 AM   #8
David Warden
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Re: Patience

As one who lets stress, anxiety and errors from the past plague my present and therefore affect my future, the article gives me some interesting material to explore, thank you. It certainly has made me think about my process of goal setting. Mmm, much to ponder.
Best Regards
David
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Old 09-23-2009, 08:31 AM   #9
SeiserL
 
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Re: Patience

Quote:
David Warden wrote: View Post
It certainly has made me think about my process of goal setting.
Osu,

Thank you for taking the time to read, respond, and offer some kind words.

IMHO, many of us are plagued with too many thoughts, others with too few, and some others I think with just the right amount but all headed in the wrong direction. There are very few who have their thoughts and direction all aimed congruently position. I once kidded that the "one point" was having everything pointing in the same direction; body, mind and spirit.

I gained more patience when I left being so goal directed and became more direction oriented. Its not whether I have met a certain goal, but is my daily discipline still headed in a positive direction. If yes, I continue. If no, I re-commit.

Again, thanks for reading and responding.

Rei. Domo.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 09-23-2009, 08:52 AM   #10
Susan Dalton
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Re: Patience

I enjoyed reading this column, Lynn. Not so long ago we had a student who came about once every other week for a couple of months. After he quit, he ran into another student and said he had joined another dojo where he could get a black belt quicker and open his own school sooner. I laughed until I remembered that probably my patience looks to my shihan like this student's looks to me.
Susan
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Old 09-23-2009, 05:03 PM   #11
SeiserL
 
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Re: Patience

Quote:
Susan Dalton wrote: View Post
I laughed until I remembered that probably my patience looks to my shihan like this student's looks to me.
Osu Susan,

Yes agreed. I know how my almost 15 years must look to my Sensei with his over 50 years of training. He probably sighs, shakes his head, and hopes I'll get it someday. But not today.

Patience is about progress and perspective (or just enjoying the activity). Its not about how soon but about how good.

Thanks for reading and responding.

Rei. Domo.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 11-26-2009, 05:27 PM   #12
piyush.kumar
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Re: Patience

If i may ask a question Sensei seiser,
If there such a notion as over-training??
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Old 11-27-2009, 09:18 AM   #13
SeiserL
 
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Re: Patience

Quote:
Piyush Kumar wrote: View Post
If there such a notion as over-training??
Osu,

IMHO, yes.

Over training occurs when you are putting more into it and getting less our of it.

Its a Goldilocks thing. Too much, too little, awe just right. Find the optimal balance in life is important.

It also isn't how much you train, but how well you train when you do.

Make sense? Thoughts?

Thanks for asking.

Rei, Domo.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 11-27-2009, 10:28 AM   #14
piyush.kumar
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Re: Patience

Hai,
I have just started to push the amount of time i spend actually training by myself (i.e. just doing basic cuts and aiki-taisos). Just wondering when i should draw the line and stop. I do know to make sure i must have balance in my student life and not train 24 hours . Like you mentioned, its a long road and one must have patience to walk one step at a time. But no matter, i must be overthinking it. I'll find out what the limit is i guess when the right time comes, just have to keep my eyes open.
I do thank you for the time Sensei seiser,
Piyush
P.S This is one of those times for me when one starts thinking too much Patience is a beautiful thing.
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Old 11-28-2009, 12:59 PM   #15
SeiserL
 
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Re: Patience

Quote:
Piyush Kumar wrote: View Post
Patience is a beautiful thing.
and rare.

Until again,
Lynn

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 11-30-2009, 11:32 AM   #16
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Patience

I am going to play "devil's advocate" here. While I agree that patience is required in ones practice since there is simply no fast way to get really good at this art of ours, it must be balanced with what I will call the "thirst for knowing".

I have noticed over the years I have spent around my own teacher and various other teachers who function at a very high level that many people fall into the "habit" of not getting it. Class after class, seminar after seminar, for years and years they train with these teachers and get no closer to understanding what they are doing than they had been a decade earlier.

I have noticed that many people actually hide behind this "habit" of not understanding because it is safe and requires no fundamental changes in how they relate to others, no reassessment in who they think they are, all of which real progress would require. People are generally afraid of change. They are especially afraid of changing themselves.

I taught a seminar during which I worked with a student of a number of years on a particular aspect of a technique. I gave him very detailed explanation of what to do, walked him through it step by step, and he did it. He then looked at me with a completely puzzled look on his face. He should have had an "ah ha" moment... but instead he was holding onto his "habit" of not getting it.

I see many, many practitioners of the art who simply buy into the idea that they won't ever be as good as their teacher, that's it's therefore ok not to worry about not being that good, and therefore they don't actually need to try. This attitude extends even to people who have taken on the role of teacher to others.

So people tell themselves that if they are just "patient" it will come eventually. Well, it won't. You have to be "hungry", you have to want it. You may know that it won't come "now" as Seiser Sensei talked about, but the difference between "now", days from "now", years from "now", and "never" is how much you want it and how hard you are willing to work.

Patience in your training is only a virtue as a balance for your drive to "get it". Your desire for mastery is what compels you to train. Often, the frustration of wanting it "now" when it can't actually be had "now" causes people to quit. That is because they did not have the counter balancing trait of patience. Patience keeps you in it for the long run.

But if "patience" is not balanced with that sense of "hunger", the drive towards mastery, then it can simply be the excuse for not getting it. "now" becomes "tomorrow" or the "next day". Eventually, it becomes "never". And you have become the limiting factor in your own training because you were content with not getting it today. You tell yourself that there will always be another class, another seminar, another chance with that teacher. Well, it's not necessarily true. The uchi deshi are passing away, we will not see their like again unless someone is "impatient". Why assume someone else will do it? Why not you?

Somehow or other, I have gotten to almost sixty. I have little time left and an ever increasing sense of what I want to know. I have little sympathy for "patience". I am "impatient". Time is running out. One of these days there will be no more tomorrows for me to "get it". I have only a limited time left for me to help my students "get it". So I am "impatient" and I think that is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact I think it is crucial for my continued efforts at mastering this wonderful art, at least at some level I would find acceptable in my own mind. And what that level is seems to be constantly changing.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 12-01-2009, 10:06 AM   #17
SeiserL
 
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Re: Patience

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
I am going to play "devil's advocate" here. While I agree that patience is required in ones practice since there is simply no fast way to get really good at this art of ours, it must be balanced with what I will call the "thirst for knowing".
Osu Sensei,

You are always welcomed to play "devil's advocate" with me anytime. In fact, its already been to long.

Total agreement with not hiding behind "patience" and self-limiting beliefs. These are truly our obstacles that in overcoming teach us some of our most important lessons in life.

That is why I advocate the tag line "yet". I just haven't gotten it "yet", but I will. Maybe not this lifetime or the next, but if I keep going, I will eventually get it. But having traveled further down the path, I will see further and continue the journey. It isn't a destination, its the path itself.

The "thirst" for me is more like breathing itself. While I can be very happy and content with where I am, I know there is more and I am more than curious. I am compelled to go after it.

Patience and thirst are not mutually exclusive. Together they are the basis of maintaining a direction through daily discipline.

At almost 60 myself, I am not inpatient because that makes me try too hard (motivated my negative self assessment and criticism) and I get it even less. Like anything fine, I enjoying sipping my thirst slowly and sharing it with friends.

Thank you Sensei for your always welcomed and insightful thoughts.

I know you get my way a few times a year. Perhaps next year we will share space, time, and yet another sip from the cup of knowing together.

Rei, Domo.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 12-01-2009, 10:28 AM   #18
Abasan
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Re: Patience

In another Dave Lowry moment for me...

I'm reminded of when he spoke about him being stuck on a move in one of his often practised kata. One that had him jump 360 degrees that will always make him look like a clown instead of a swan (if memory serves, since I've long lost that book!). He had this going for several months until one fine day his sensei told him to adjust his weight just so, and launch from his leg just so. All of a sudden, everything became a perfect story book ending.

Incensed that his sensei kept such a simple secret from him, making him waste months of his time he asked the question, why? The sensei answered back, would you have understood my explanation 6 months ago?

And there was it... the aha moment. Came about when it was suppose to come about. No doubt, a caring sensei who knew just the time to reveal something else you didn't know about the art you're doing. It takes a special individual to know that time and another special individual to get to that moment. Unfortunately, I doubt that such a system could work with dojo's that run the gamut unlike the one to one relationship that Lowry had with his sensei.

Nice post incidently.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 12-02-2009, 04:29 AM   #19
SeiserL
 
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Re: Patience

Quote:
Ahmad Abas wrote: View Post
And there was it... the aha moment. Came about when it was suppose to come about.
Osu,

Yes agreed Ahmad.

As Admir Sensei would say, its all hidden in plain sight.

It is up to us individually to keep training with patience, discipline, and passion until we see what has always been there.

Thanks for reading and responding.

Rei, Domo.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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