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Old 05-07-2011, 10:30 PM   #1
RonRagusa
Location: Massachusetts
Join Date: Jan 2003
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One Hundred and Ninety-four

My mind/body coordination in the context of Aikido is revealing itself to be both increasingly complex and subtle as I delve deeper into my study. I was taught that my mind leads my body. Seems simple enough on the surface, my mind says "go there" and my body goes there. No problem, my mind leads my body.

There is a problem though. As soon as I enter into an interaction with my partner my mind ceases to issue orders. There is no "go there" or "do this" or "watch out for that" or "ah ha, yokomen, how about executing a shihonage?" or anything else. My conscious mind simply goes silent. The everyday mind/body duality vanishes and my coordinated mind/body meets and interacts with my partner according to the dictates of the situation. When my mind and body are coordinated there's no need for conscious thought before action; it's as though my consciousness becomes distributed throughout my body at a cellular level, like the group mind of the Borg from Star Trek only limited to just me. My body simultaneously initiates movement as it reacts to the movement of my partner without any conscious guidance or directives. The short version of this state is called correct feeling.

How I go about coordinating mind and body has to do with the differing natures of both. My physical body is always in the moment, at now. My awareness of the state and location of my body is always slightly behind the actuality of both due to the time required for the processing of sensory input. My mind therefore must always slightly lag my body when it comes to their relationships to now. To coordinate mind and body it is necessary for my consciousness to approach now as closely as possible and shrink the lag between sensory input and action. Training, therefore, is a process of honing my skill at approaching now. Coordinating mind and body when seen this way isn't an either you have it or you don't proposition. It becomes obvious that there are degrees of mind/body coordination and that the degree of coordination is dependent upon the speed which I am able to process sensory input. That speed is, in turn, a function of how close to now my consciousness is able to get. The closer my consciousness approaches now, the more I contract my conscious frame of reference and consequently the greater my awareness grows. As my frame of reference contracts I am subjected to less information requiring processing; and since my awareness has been magnified, this information is processed more quickly. Aikido study provides me with a complete syllabus for the development of correct feeling within the context of a martial art. Ki exercises, technique and their corresponding intellectual underpinnings are all designed to integrate mind and body and focus my intent on the goal of correct feeling.

Correct feeling is a state of being. To attain correct feeling and strengthen it has become the core of my practice.

(Original blog post may be found here.)
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Old 05-08-2011, 01:54 PM   #2
Mark Freeman
Dojo: Dartington
Location: Devon
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,219
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Re: One Hundred and Ninety-four

Hi Ron,

what a good post, thanks.

After years of ki development exercises and dynamic movement exercises (aikido), I think I have arrived at a similar point on my journey to you. I agree correct feeling is a state of being, no tension in mind or body, no collapse either.

I am not entirely sure yet what I or you would make of the fact that some fairly recent scientific evidence shows, that when we make a decision to move to do something, the actual decision to move is made approximately .25 of a second before our conscious mind (thinks it has) made/makes the decision. In fact all it (the conscious mind) does is rationalise and justify why it is doing something. So we are acting at a 'sub' level even if we think we are not.

I think what the scientists are showing is that you are pretty spot on in your own personal discovery. If you shut the conscious mind up and let the rest of the mind body act spontaneously in the moment, then this is the best way to 'be'. Mushin is integral to the martial arts, the scientists are slowly catching up with just how and why.

Anyway, all the best, your posts get me thinking.

regards

Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 05-08-2011, 06:05 PM   #3
graham christian
Dojo: golden center aikido-highgate
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Re: One Hundred and Ninety-four

Hi Ron. I like this post as it reminds me of my past training and where I developed some of my views.

My old teacher was dedicated to Toheis way of Aikido yet at the same time he was more 'zen' and strict and a disciplinarian. Yet it was there that I learned about spirit/mind/body co-ordination or unification as he put it.

He was very short with words when in teacher mode and woul correct us in the following way:

When some technique or move wasn't working he would simply observe and point out either 'That's you' 'That's your mind' or 'That's your body' In other words he would get us to continually differenciate without explanation. I remember part of me would agree but part would contest what he said but of course each time I got through the barrier would discover he was right.

Thus in life now I can check myself for spirit mind body co-ordination by asking three questions so to speak. Do I want to do it? Does my mind want to do it? Does my body want to do it?
This is a good excercise just to discover which part of me is resisting.

The fascinating thing about Aikido for me is that it has paths of movement etc. that when found the spirit, mind and body automatically unify as one and act accordingly.

Thanks for the post.G.
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Old 05-08-2011, 07:48 PM   #4
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: One Hundred and Ninety-four

Graham...if your find your body doesn't want to do it...what do you do about it?
Mary
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Old 05-08-2011, 09:25 PM   #5
RonRagusa
Location: Massachusetts
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Re: One Hundred and Ninety-four

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote: View Post
I am not entirely sure yet what I or you would make of the fact that some fairly recent scientific evidence shows, that when we make a decision to move to do something, the actual decision to move is made approximately .25 of a second before our conscious mind (thinks it has) made/makes the decision. In fact all it (the conscious mind) does is rationalise and justify why it is doing something. So we are acting at a 'sub' level even if we think we are not.
Hi Mark -

That's an interesting observation that I was not aware of. I'm thinking that the actual decision to move is arrived at physically, which means it occurs in "real time" and that .25 of a second represents the distance in time the conscious mind is from the moment (now). I'd like to know how the experiment was designed. Do you have any info?

Best,

Ron

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Old 05-09-2011, 03:39 AM   #6
graham christian
Dojo: golden center aikido-highgate
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Re: One Hundred and Ninety-four

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
Graham...if your find your body doesn't want to do it...what do you do about it?
Mary
HI Mary.
It depends what the problem is. I communicate with it to find out. When I say communicate I mean listen to it so to speak, give it full attention for if it has a problem it soon tells you it's only our own dismissiveness that makes it protest.

For instance if I've been working and got so into it that time has flown by and suddenly or even gradually I feel not so comfortable or something is bugging me then I stop. I check. I find I hadn't realized so much time had passed and the body's feeling a lack of energy. Aha, I havn't eaten since breakfast and it's now seven in the evening.

It could be it just needs a five minute rest to recouperate etc.

Sometimes it could be telling me it needs some extra nutrition as it's feeling rundown. When women are pregnant they sometimes get cravings for certain foods which is another example of the body asking for certain nutrients.

Of course if you are doing a discipline of some kind then you override and review later but still you acknowledge it and carry on rather than just dismiss it.

These are some of the things I do anyway.

Regards.G.

Last edited by graham christian : 05-09-2011 at 03:41 AM. Reason: missed words
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Old 05-09-2011, 06:57 AM   #7
Mark Freeman
Dojo: Dartington
Location: Devon
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,219
United Kingdom
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Re: One Hundred and Ninety-four

Quote:
Ron Ragusa wrote: View Post
Hi Mark -

That's an interesting observation that I was not aware of. I'm thinking that the actual decision to move is arrived at physically, which means it occurs in "real time" and that .25 of a second represents the distance in time the conscious mind is from the moment (now). I'd like to know how the experiment was designed. Do you have any info?

Best,

Ron
Hi Ron,

I will try to get some more detail from my rather switched on student who mentioned it. I do remember a documentry from a while ago which essentially said the same thing.

I personally think it fits in well with what you are saying, and that aikido practice moves us closer to a mind/body unity of movement rather than think then do.

My off the top of the head thinking is that when aiki is present tori and nage are one not two, the mind/body of tori is directing the dynamics of the movement, as this is being done on the level of sub conscious, it means that the nages conscious mind is being 'left behind' in the whole encounter - I can personally attest to thinking 'how the hell did that happen?' as I pick myself up off of the mat after my teacher has thrown me with seemingly no effort but loads of power.

regards,

Mark

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