Breathe in, conflict
Breathe out, contemplation
I once heard that if we face and accept our demons they all become angels.
If there is anything I am sure of is that the world is full of confusion, conflict, and chaos. I am also sure that we need to seriously concentrate on these problems and contemplate mutually beneficial solutions that have some hope of working. It is only than that we will have the type of clarity needed to walk calmly forward with courage, conviction, and compassion.
In counseling I often ask people how they create the confusion, conflict, and chaos in their lives. They call it depression, anxiety, or anger. They usually tell me that they do not create it. When I ask who does, they often say they don't know who creates it, it's just there and they want it to stop. I then suggest we find that person and get them to stop. We are almost always successful.
I know who creates the problems in my life, I do. I used to wish I could blame other people for the state of my life. But no matter who I blamed or how I got my problems, there they were and I was left alone to solve them. I used to focus on the problem. Later I realized that the only reason I had a problem was because I kept trying solutions that did not work, never did work, and had no hope of ever working. So I became pretty solution focused and oriented. Then I realized that if I didn't create the problem to begin with I wouldn't have to look for solutions at all.
While confusion, conflict, and chaos may be just a statement of fact and of everyday life, perhaps we can find how we create it and stop doing that. When I am in most conflict with others is when I am in most conflict with myself. Conflict usually just means two or more different perspectives on the same situation. Conflict means a lack of congruence.
conflict: (1) to strike, (2) to battle, (3) competitive or opposing actions of incompatibles and contradictions, (3) mental struggle over incongruities, (4) the opposition of persons or forces that give rise to dramatic action
In training, on the mat, in the dojo, there are many sources of conflict or incongruence. The first may be between what our teacher is showing us and what we are doing. They don't match, and won't match initially as long as you're learning something new. Perhaps we create the conflict by not accepting our position in the context of learning and training. And the conflict actually inhibits or prevents us from learning. Calming and clearing the mind, accepting the context and concentrate on the content of the technical skill of the technique and its conceptual application may helps us find that clarity even sooner.
Another source of conflict in training, on the mat, in the dojo, is seeing our training partner as an adversary, an enemy, or an obstacle. This perception makes the training opportunity and experience one of, in my opinion, conflict. Perhaps you believe that your training partner is not cooperating with you in this exercise. Perhaps you feel competitive. Perhaps they remind you of some ne in your outside-the-dojo life (yes, we all have one) that you do not get along with. To find congruence, perhaps first we need to change our perception and be thankful that our training partner is lending us their body to learn. Perhaps we can find congruence, by entering, connecting with our training partner so that our movements become one.
Breathe in and find the courage to confront and challenge the confusion, conflict, and chaos created by others and ourselves.
contemplation: (1) concentration on spiritual things as a form of private devotion, (2) a state on mystical awareness, (3) an act of considering with attention and intention, (4) the act of regarding steadily
Of course the biggest (if not the only) source of conflict in training, on the mat, in the dojo is the incongruence between our body and our mind. I once heard that stress is created when the body is sweating bullets but the mind is shooting blanks. Another definition (also printed on a coffee cup) is that stress is when the mind tries to talk the body out of kicking the living daylights out of someone who really deserves it. The mind and the body are in opposition to each other. They are incongruent. (I could so write a whole other column/article/chapter/book on just the incongruencies in our thinking -- but that will have to wait for now.) There may also be incongruence in the body with different parts pointing in different directions. I once made a comment that perhaps moving from your "one point" could also mean everything pointing in one direction. When the intent of a calm but focused mind is aimed in the same direction of an intense well-disciplined and skilled body, the outcome is often inevitable.
Breathe out and find the courage to stay concentrated (focused) on the confusion, conflict, and chaos with a contemplative mind to see through then and their base cause.
clarity: (1) the quality or state of being clear, (2) to be free of pollution or cloudiness, (3) to give insight, (4) to make intelligible, (5) enlighten
In counseling, many couples are in conflict because what they want doesn't exactly match for each other. One person may have in their mind what they want in the relationship and look at what they have, and it's incongruent. Their partner may not have the same internal idea or goal and may be just fine with the current situation and not really understand what the problem is. If one party wins and the other side loses, they both lose. Therefore, to resolve the conflict, we must go beyond compromise and gain clarity into how the situation was created, accept it as different perceptions and perspective, and find a way to clearly meet the needs and desires of all involved.
Breathe in and out, find the courage and clarity necessary to live a calm life of compassion.
To solve the conflicts if our lives (and perhaps the world), perhaps we need to contemplate and gain clarity and congruence with our own conceptual demons that we create within our minds and hearts. From that place we can reach out to others.
Breathe in, confusion, conflict, and chaos
Breathe out, concentration and contemplation
Calm courage, clarity, and compassion
Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. Now get back to training. KWATZ!
(I was asked to write this article after finally stepping-up and taking a physical promotional test that brought all my demons off the shelf to be dealt with once again.)
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 over 40 years. He currently holds the rank of Yondan (4th degree black belt) from Sensei Andrew Sato of the Aikido World Alliance and Sandan (3rd degree Black Belt) from Sensei Dang Thong Phong of the International Tenshinkai Aikido Federation. He is the co-author of three books on Aikido (with Phong Sensei) and 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, victims, and families of violence, trauma, abuse, and addiction. He is a professor of clinical and forensic psychology with an expertise in family violence and treatment. He currently lives in Marietta, GA and trains and teaches at Kyushinkan Dojo, Roswell Budokan.