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Receiving and Giving Gifts
Receiving and Giving Gifts
by Lynn Seiser
12-23-2010
Receiving and Giving Gifts

Breathe in, receive
Breathe out, give
Gifts

‘Tis the season of gifts. It is time to figure out what people want or need, where you can find it, can you afford it, and how to avoid the most crowds. Like so many things in life, it's a lot more complicated than it looks.

When I first saw Aikido, it looked easy. Everyone moved with grace and coordination. I was sure I could see exactly what was going on. I now know that I was interpreting my perception of something I knew nothing about.

I found in gift buying that I was doing the same thing. I really wanted to buy gifts for people that they would appreciate. I haven't always been good at it. In fact, I think I come from a very long line of very bad gift buyers. I finally figured it out that I was buying gifts for people based on what I wanted to receive. I gave what I wanted to receive even if it was rather inappropriate, unacceptable, and unappreciated by the person I was giving it to. This certainly created some rather awkward moments and some rather funny looks. BTW, I finally figured out that if I paid attention to them I just might find out what they like and want.

I see this in couples counseling all the time. One person is being very giving, but they are not giving what the other person wants. They might not even have a clue what the other person really wants. In communication I call this the input and output channels. If the output channel of one person matches the input channel of the other, the communication is clear and complete. So is the gift giving and receiving. If the output channel of one person does not match the input channel of the other, the communication can be confusing at best or totally lost. Ditto with the gift idea. I have seen a person express their love to someone who truly doesn't believe they do love them. The gift of love was given but never received.

The most important gift we can give is of ourselves. The most important gift we can receive is of another person. The most important process is to drop our individual duality and distinction and become one with each other. In couples counseling I listen for the "we" more than the "I" and "you".

So why do I mention this in an Aikido column? In Aikido practice we give ourselves over to the loving protection of all we train with. It is our training partner's (as well as ours) responsibility to take care of us. They, in turn, give themselves over to our loving protection. To be able to practice another day, "we" must take care of each other. To take good care of each other, we must communicate.

This is where we must pay close mindful attention. On the one hand to really help my training partner's practice with some sense of reality, I must attack them with honest intent and energy. Otherwise, they will develop a false sense of mastery. We have not helped them, but have hurt them. On the other hand, if I give too honestly of my intent and energy, I may hurt them in practice. While it is certainly not uncommon for the right hand not to know what the left hand is doing, perhaps we can open some lines of communication and give the gift that our training partner needs. Perhaps we can ask them (and then listen for the answer) to help us find just the right amount of intent and energy to give. Besides the gift of ourselves, we give the gift of actually paying attention and responding appropriately to another human being. This is truly a gift worth giving.

In practicing I must be open to the honest intent and energy of another human being is giving me. I must receive and accept (possibly even appreciate) what they offer me. I have seen high level yudansha complain because the beginner did not attack correctly. Yet the beginner is giving the best they can, but did the receiver receive what was offered? A beginner cannot give more than their level of ability, but a higher belt should certainly be able to accept and work with whatever is offered. We must find just the right amount of our own intent and energy to blend with theirs and complete our technique without harming them. They give us the gift of trust and we give them the gift of protection.

The gift of good communication is a two-way street, a conversation, and a dialogue. We give in loving kindness and protection and we receive in loving kindness and protection on and off the mat.

In meta-physics (only meaning beyond the physical) they suggest that whatever you want to receive you first must be willing to give away freely with no strings attached. You give not because you will receive, you simply give because it's the right thing to do.

While this is the season of giving and receiving gifts, most importantly it is the season (as everyday is) of giving and receiving the gift of love. Give freely.

Breathe in, receive
Breathe out, give
Gifts

From me and mine, to you and yours, have a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season.

I hope we find ourselves sharing the gift of space and time on the mat in the New Year.

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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Old 12-23-2010, 11:27 PM   #2
crbateman
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Re: Receiving and Giving Gifts

Sage advice, Lynn-san, and timely, too...

I'll probably be getting a few lumps of coal this year, but it's unseasonably cold here right now, so I intend to put them to good use...
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Old 12-24-2010, 02:07 AM   #3
carina reinhardt
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Re: Receiving and Giving Gifts

Great post Lynn. Thank you and Merry Christmas and a Year 2011 full of health.
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Old 12-24-2010, 06:08 AM   #4
SeiserL
 
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Re: Receiving and Giving Gifts

Quote:
Clark Bateman wrote: View Post
I'll probably be getting a few lumps of coal this year, but it's unseasonably cold here right now, so I intend to put them to good use...
My friend,

The way you step up, you deserve gold.

Happy Holiday!

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 12-24-2010, 06:09 AM   #5
SeiserL
 
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Re: Receiving and Giving Gifts

Quote:
Carina Reinhardt wrote: View Post
Merry Christmas and a Year 2011 full of health.
Thank you.

That is my goal in 2011, full health.

Happy Holiday.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 12-30-2010, 04:18 PM   #6
aikishihan
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Re: Receiving and Giving Gifts

Greetings Lynn,

Henceforth, I am Francis, and you are Lynn.

Love your angst, originality and your courageous willingness to step into unchartered regions and waters. Probably what makes you effective as a therapist, and invaluable as an Aiki resource and instructor.

Permit me to seek clarification of your statement “The most important gift we can give is of ourselves. The most important gift we can receive is of another person.”.

Is it really possible, feasible or even recommended to be so casually trusting by exposing one’s essence and vulnerability so unconditionally to another fallible human being? I would cringe if someone offered “of themselves” to me without any condition, agreement or understanding of necessary boundaries or conditions to such a gift. The responsibility to my mind would be massive and crushing. Rather, may we substitute the word “from” in the place of “of”, thereby reserving the right to retain certain characteristics or essential features of ourselves that would prove too fragile outside of our control. Perhaps then, throughout the course of the relationship, we can determine which parts to share, to relinquish, and to exchange reasonably, safely, and with full mutual benefit and proper regard for each other.

Training with eyes, ears and spirit wide open and aware means to not haphazardly expose ourselves to needless risk without reward or benefit. The unwritten agreement that knowing and mindful training partners forge for their practice includes a full appreciation, regard and respect for the potential rewards and consequences from honest exchange during such training. Not taking anything for granted is understood by experienced practitioners of any art form, and is a symbol of the high regard each of us should retain and expect for and from ourselves.

The old school tradition of carefully and fully vetting any potential newcomer to training underlay the commitment to fully examine the credential, bona fides and the personal character references from established masters of the time. Trust was never automatic, and the societal standards of integrity were continually challenged, and strict rules of conduct and etiquette always applied. Even this was no guarantee, but it did keep the standards high.

For those who choose to instruct, either formally or informally, it is probably better to encourage rather than to demand, to be empathetic rather than remaining aloof, and to continually guide our charges safely and resolutely towards gaining the experience of proper training and development.

After all, as experienced veterans, we have all been there, and done that.

In oneness

Last edited by aikishihan : 12-30-2010 at 04:22 PM.
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Old 12-31-2010, 06:29 AM   #7
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Re: Receiving and Giving Gifts

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
Permit me to seek clarification of your statement "The most important gift we can give is of ourselves. The most important gift we can receive is of another person.".

Is it really possible, feasible or even recommended to be so casually trusting by exposing one's essence and vulnerability so unconditionally to another fallible human being? I would cringe if someone offered "of themselves" to me without any condition, agreement or understanding of necessary boundaries or conditions to such a gift. The responsibility to my mind would be massive and crushing. Rather, may we substitute the word "from" in the place of "of", thereby reserving the right to retain certain characteristics or essential features of ourselves that would prove too fragile outside of our control. Perhaps then, throughout the course of the relationship, we can determine which parts to share, to relinquish, and to exchange reasonably, safely, and with full mutual benefit and proper regard for each other.
Osu,

Yes totally agree.

While I do hold that giving of yourself is the highest regard and receiving of another is the highest honor, it is something that is cautiously (in my cae blantant paranoia) earned through (as you say) awareness.

I do believe in accepting people for who they are. If people are gossips, I can accept they will gossip about me. If they betray people, I can accept that they will betray me. Its a statement of who they are. Which means they only qualify for the level of giving as they earn. If people hurt their uke in training, I can assume and accept they may hurt me. There have been people I didn not want to work out with in the mat because I did not trust them as good people. Because Of that lack of trust (which later was proven correct), I was and awful training partner (too resisting as uke and too agressive as tori/nage). Likewise, if they treat others with care and respect, I can assume and accept that they may treat me in like manner. Because how we are is a statement of who we are.

In self-defense I always teach situational and threat awareness. Based on noticeable behavior, many people are not worthy of trust while others are. Sublte (and obvious) awareness and sensitivity allows us to sense and know who others are and what they intend to do. It allows us to respond (not just react) with the appropirate response to the appropriate stimulus.

The bottom line of the Serenity Prayer is "And the wisdom to know the difference." Awareness and discernment are very valuable and learnable skills.

The closer you are to "me" the more gift I give and receive. There are very (very) few people that close.

Thank you for reading and your always thought provoking response.

Rei, Domo.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 01-01-2011, 02:45 PM   #8
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Re: Receiving and Giving Gifts

The golden rule states "do onto others as you would have them do onto you:...I heard once "do unto others what is loving to them." What makes me feel loved may feel like nothing to someone else. To be loving I want to show my love in a way that my loved ones interpret love.
In Aikido, each uke is a gift...nothing more or less...my training helps me accept them just as they are at that moment ...to be awake, to feel, to see, to connect, to truly pay attention is love.
Thanks for a thought provoking column and Happy New Year!
Mary
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Old 01-01-2011, 05:04 PM   #9
SeiserL
 
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Re: Receiving and Giving Gifts

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
I heard once "do unto others what is loving to them."
And what is loving is to accept whatever gift is offered.
Happy New Year to you too.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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