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Finding Expression
Finding Expression
by Lynn Seiser
10-23-2008
Finding Expression

Breathe in, breathe out.

Breathe in and learn the craft.

Breathe out and express yourself.

Relax and breathe.

Everyone wants to express themself. The question is do you have something to express? Most of us think we do have something to express only to be told by other people "no that's not it". So how do we find our expression?

self: having a single quality or characteristic throughout, sameness, an individual's identity (noun) based on what they identified with (verb)

The first task, the most elusive one, is to find this "self". There are a lot of different theories and models to the search, this journey. Some believe that the "self" is already there, always has been and always will be. It is the soul, spirit, or higher self. Then there is the idea that the "self" is our learned ego identity that we unconsciously formulate from identifying with and trying to fit into our families and society. Others believe there is no real "self" just a useful (or not so useful) mental construct that has no physical validity since it cannot be found when you actually begin looking for it. I have often recommended to people that to find out who you are, stop being who you already know you aren't. This takes some courageous introspection. It takes courage to admit we don't know who we are and look through the illusion to find the truth. Once the truth is seen, it takes courage to act and live congruently on it. This is the work, the discipline.

Sequentially, it is often wiser to attempt to find out who one is first before trying to express what we think we have to say. Many people try to write a book before they learn to spell and craft sentences. Many people try to become rock stars and express their songs before they learn to play an instrument or sing. Many people try to express their Aikido before they know what Aikido is. The discipline is to first learn the craft, before you try to express the art.

I have been most fortunate to train in the martial arts for over 40 years. I have trained with the good, the bad, and the truly ugly. It took a while to know the difference. Of the truly great, they each expressed their art differently, yet held each other's expression in high esteem. Some taught about exact technical proficiency and perfectionism, others through conceptual application. All led by example with an open heart and mind because they were still learning too. In each seminar or training session they would share "their" way, without putting down other's way, or stating that "their's" was the "only" way. The hours and years of training were obvious in the ease and confidence by which they moved. They wanted you to get their "it", whatever "it" was, and knowing they could not describe "it" or give "it" to you, only let you learn by feeling and self-exploration. Exploration leads to discovery, discovery leads to expression and further exploration. As a hobbyist, I know I don't have "it", but I am walking in that direction and enjoy training with people I know do.

express: to delineate or depict, to convey a true impression, to make known

After many years of studying other's craft, certain ways of expressing myself naturally come forth. On a good day, it's expressed in a smile (and yes, at this point, any day of training is a good day). On a bad day, it's expressed through sore knees and a stiff back. It's all Aikido. It's all my Aikido. It's all my Aikido on that specific day. Things change, and so does the expression of me doing my Aikido. My Aikido looks different than others (though certainly similar to those generous patient compassionate teachers who taught me the craft).

There is an old saying that wherever you go, there you are. In a projective or holographic paradigm, any part represents and provides a portal to the whole. And gestalt would say that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. So, if we are having a bad day, and expressing it throughout Aikido, we could quite possibly hurt each other. If we are distracted and express it through our Aikido, we could quite possibly hurt each other too. We bring our selves and our lives into the Dojo and onto the mat whether we know or want to or not. There we are, expressing ourselves.

A communication theory would say that you cannot not communicate. Even no communication communicates something (good news for some and bad for others, based on their fantasies and expectations). If you believe yourself to be a victim, you will hold back and not commit your center to your practice. If you are afraid of losing, you will over commit your center and turn everything into a competition or power struggle. But there you are, expressing yourself. Your beliefs and judgments show in everything you do. You cannot not express yourself.

Breathe in, breathe out.

Breathe in and learn the craft.

Breathe out and express yourself.

Relax and breathe.

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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