Breathe in, obstacles
Breath out, opportunity
I once heard that minds, hearts, and arms work best like a parachute: when they are open.
"O" is a great letter. So many great words we use everyday start with the letter "O". In addition, as an exclamation it changes with our tone of voice (especially in combination with other words -- let your imagination go wild) expressing so many different thoughts and feelings.
Obstacle: (1) hindrance, (2) something in the way, (3) hurdle, (4) problems, difficulty, complication, (5) obstruction, impediment, barrier, blockage
Somebody once said that experience is what you get when you do not get what you really want. Some of us have a great deal of experience.
It never occurred to me that life would not have obstacles. In fact, I did not know there were obstacles until later in life. I looked back and realized that not everyone took the hard road and the long way. I just thought this is how life was.
Obstacles come in many forms and go by many names. We need to recognize them for what they are and deal with them.
We often think of an obstacle as an opponent who wants the opposite of what we want and opposes our forward momentum and path. It is implied, that obstacles, must be overcome or they stop us where we are.
On the other hand, perhaps we need to respect an obstacle as feedback. We may need to assess if we are going in the right direction or doing the right thing. We may need to realize that it is our own opinions and options that are the obstacles. Most obstacles are internal opposition to external reality. When the internal map does not match the external reality, we often try to change reality. Perhaps life would be easier if we changed the internal map and navigated around, not through, every obstacle in our path.
The dojo is a great place to train this observational and assessment skill. I was recently at a seminar and worked with a gentleman who wanted the techniques to work, but on some level really did not believe they were possible. I had trouble at first because I thought his disbelief would stop my training. Together we shared an obstacle that may quite possibly only be overcome through working together.
Life is like that too. Most of my obstacles in life, which only I can correct, are in the context of my most intimate and vulnerable relationships. The place that brings up my deepest fears also brings up the deepest opportunity for healing.
Opportunity: (1) advantageous chance, occasion, opening, break, or prospect to do something, (2) favorable conditions, circumstances, or situation
I suppose that every second of every minute of every day is an opportunity. The question may be, an opportunity for what?
While we cannot know or plan for every obstacle thrown in our path, we can plan on needing and having those skills to cope, manage, or overcome them. Resilience is a belief in capabilities and skills. It is about problem-solving and conflict-resolution attitudes and abilities. So how do we get ourselves to obtain these observational, orientation/assessment, decision-making, action skills?
In the dojo, we first learn to move correctly with the correct response to the correct attack. They say in training that first we learn the form, then variations of the form, and then how to move beyond the form. Before we have the opportunity to express the art, at first we have the opportunity to learn the craft.
In life, the opportunity is to overcome the obstacles of fear and to express love. The opportunity to face our inner demons/fears comes up the closer we connect. This is a journey of more mental and emotional distance than physical proximity. This is a journey of discovery, disclosure, and decisions. Do we continue to act out of our own predetermined fears? Do we confront the obstacles as opportunities to live cautiously, but courageously, and walk towards love?
Perhaps our biggest obstacle is closing ourselves in to old options and opinions. Perhaps our biggest opportunity is to be open to new thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Openness: (1) not closed, locked, or muted (2) allowing access to inside, (3) not sealed, (4) apart or wide, (5) unfolded, (6) frank and honest, (7) public, (8) receptive, (9) vulnerable, (10) not enclosed, (11) not covered, (12) available to do business, (13) freely accessible, (14) vacant, (15) not predetermined or decided, (16) alert, (17) with no restrictions, (18) generous, (19) free from hazards, (20) available without limitations, or (21) currently active
Can you hold more water with your hand open or shut?
When we are closed and locked into old ways of thinking, feeling, and acting, we are only facilitating and perpetuating the past. They say if you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten. In program, we say that insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly expecting a new result. It never happens. If we always relate what we are learning to something we already know, we will never truly learn anything new.
In the dojo, we have the opportunity to open up to new ways of relating in a conflict situation. Instead of the traditional fight, flight, or freeze response to our startle reflex, we have the opportunity of learn to relax and flow with it. Perhaps that is what makes Aikido different. Rather than separate into a competitive adversarial relationship, we have the opportunity to open up, relax, connect, and work cooperatively with each other.
In life, we have the same opportunity. We can stay closed to each other out of old fears or we can learn to open up to experience and express our acceptance and appreciation of each other.
They say a miracle is just a change in perception. Life has conflicts and suffering. At first, they only appear as obstacle. To see through them is to reframe and transform them into opportunities. These opportunities give us the possibilities, not guarantees, of a life based on courage, honesty, and openness.
Breathe in, obstacles
Breath out, opportunity
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 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.