Breathe in, Hello
Breathe out, Good-Bye
Today we train
Sigmund Freud, the father of talk therapy (psychoanalysis), said that the first half of treatment was learning to say hello and the second half was learning to say good-bye.
Hello: (1) word used as greeting, (2) word to attract attention, (3) word to express surprise, (4) a superficial acknowledgement
In the dojo, we do a lot of bowing. We bow when we enter the building, when we enter the mat, when we start class, and when we start training. We bow all the time. Bowing is a greeting, a way to say hello, and to make contact. For some that greeting has deep religious or spiritual meaning while for others it is nothing more than a superficial acknowledgement. Bowing is a sign of respect and humility that can acknowledge the beginning of something. Our eyes (metsuke) and minds (zanshin) make contact and our centers (hara) connect (musubi) as we enter (Irimi) and blend (awase) into one fluid motion.
In life, one of the hardest tasks is to say "Hello" to each other. We avoid eye contact as we bury ourselves deeper in our narcissistic self-referenced spectator society. We often forget to introduce ourselves to each other and just move forward into whatever task is at hand. This leaves us as companions in that task but we are not even acquaintances since we probably have not even exchanged names and superficial greetings. It is amazing what simply making eye contact and asking someone about their day can do. We all fight the existential angst of feeling we are all alone in the world when all we have to do to change from a fear-based avoidance to a love-based greeting; a simply smile or nod and "hello
Good-Bye: (1) farewell, (2) the act of leaving, (3) a send-off, (4) separation, departure, parting, (5) going away from
In the dojo, we bow to each other when we finish working with each other. We bow to the front to thank O'Sensei Ueshiba for creating Aikido and to our instructor (Sensei) for teaching us. We bow as we leave the mat and leave the building. We acknowledge that our time together is over. We practice by entering and blending, then taking of balance, then throwing or taking them to the ground. Then and only then, should we let go physically and mentally and move on to the next person or the next lesson. We may not always complete our movement and let go (say good-bye) far too soon or we may be so focused that we forget to pay attention to anything else and hang on too long. We have to learn when to connect and when to disconnect and move on.
In life, we often avoid saying "Good-Bye" at all costs. We hang on to relationships long after they have become toxic and destructive. Once started, we think that letting-go is a sign of weakness not wisdom, seeing premature quitting as the problem not the solution. Just like saying "hello" at the right time can bring us closer, we also have to know when to let go and say "good-bye". Perhaps what makes life and love so precious (not fragile) is that it is that temporary opportunity between the "hello" and the "good-bye" that makes all the difference? I have heard that birth and death are inevitable opposites and that life is what we do with the space and time in between.
Train: (1) linked railroad cars, (2) a long moving line, (3) the trailing part of a gown, (4) a sequence of events, (5) mechanical series, (6) a line of gunpowder, (7) to learn or teach skills, (8) preparation, (9) to make grow, (10) to aim, (11) to make something better
In the dojo, we train. The dojo is a safe and sacred space to come together and face each other and ourselves. While the body moves in martial discipline the mind and heart are being tempered and forged into calm awareness that is beyond the fear we came in with. It is a temporary, all too brief, opportunity to share space and time, to learn to trust and be trusted with the welfare of each other. There is an intimacy in training that is honest and genuine. We train together to be better martial artists and better people.
In life, today (here and now), we (not I) come together. What we make of our brief encounter is up to us. Many ask what is the purpose in life and what is the meaning of life. All the masters and mystics tend to agree; it is to learn how to breathe in and out, to say "hello" and to say "good-bye" to let love in and to let love out. Every time we come together, we have the opportunity to train, to get better at this simple and sacred ritual.
Breathe in, Hello
Breathe out, Good-Bye
Today we train
Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing this 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 Dang Thong Phong of the International Tenshinkai Aikido Federation and Sensei Andrew Sato of the Aikido World Alliance. 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.