Breathe in, transitions
Breathe out, transformation
Life is filled with the normal and natural, constant and continual process of change and transition. It is the basis of development and evolution. Perhaps that change should be generative and transformative.
Trans: (1) to move to the other side, (2) across, beyond, or through
Trance: (1) a focus or limit of awareness or attention, (2) to pass away or suspension, (3) a state of profound abstraction and absorption
As a hypnotist, I tend to see everything as a trance state. There is the trance state we are in and there is the trance state that we are moving toward. If we only change the outside external environmental situation, we may have made a trance-sition but we have not made a trance-formation. Perhaps when we make both physical trance-sition and a mental trance-formation, we will find trance-quility. At least until our next opportunity to change.
The question may not just be what do we have to do to let every transition transform us into tranquility but rather how do we stop ourselves from using each transition to transform our usual state of confusion, chaos, and conflict into a tranquil state of acceptance, appreciation, empathy, compassion, and love.
Transient: (1) passing, (2) to move across or through, (3) temporary
Transitions: (1) a process of change, (2) a music passage, (3) change of key, (4) linking word or phrase, (5) change between phases, (6) change in atomic nucleus, (7) modification, (8) alteration, (9) switch, (10) move, (11) shift, (12) conversion, (13) evolution
Everything is temporary. While many people go through transitions, very few are changed by them. We tend to find security in believing in a stable static state.
In the dojo, we often think of it as a scared place to practice and train. It is supposed to be a safe place to make mistakes and learn from them. If we never make mistakes, we are never learning anything new. In the dojo we have physical trans-action and mental trance-action. If we keep ourselves dis-connected, we get neither of these because there is no means through which to trans-mit or trance-mit any communication or information. In Aikido, we must enter (irimi) and connect (musubi) bring our training partner (uke) into our field of influence. This can be a very intimate opportunity and experience to learn how we physically move with other people and how our mental focus can create and cultivate the necessary closeness (miia) or make our movement difficult through distance.
In life, many boys become adults but maintain the self-referencing ego-centric thinking of an adolescent and never really become men. Many girls become adults and remain with childish thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and never really become women. Many people meet, date, have sex, get married, and start a family never really becoming a couple. In counseling and therapy, I often hear people only talk of the "I" and never the "we". We have learned to be afraid of each other and keep our distance preventing any real closeness or intimacy. Who we are stays the same while everything else changes. We try to solve problems with the same thinking that we created them with. We change the content, but never the process or who we are.
Perhaps transformation is not just transitioning from a prior position but actually transforming ourselves and transcending limiting beliefs, associations, and identifications.
Transformation: (1) implies a major change in composition and structure, (2) to change characteristics or conditions, (3) metamorphoses, (4) a major change in the deeper form, nature, or functioning, (5) a major change in the deeper structure and meaning, (6) to replace, convert
Transcend: (1) to climb, (2) to rise above and go beyond limit, (3) to triumph over a previous limit or restrictive aspect -- overcome, (4) transcendental -- an unknowable and inexpressible universal ultimate reality
In the dojo, we can make the transition from a bashing art to a bashing art without changing. We can transition from a grappling art to a grabbling art. We can transition from folk-dancing to folk-dancing. We can transition without transforming. Perhaps the transformations come when we have to change not just how we move, but how we think. While a block is a lock, is a hit, is a throw, the mindset of each if different. If we think and practice our art as offensive or defensive the intent and intensity is different. If we think and practice our art as hard or soft art the intent and intensity is different. If we think and practice our art as an external or internal the intent and intensity is different. If we practice a "do" for personal development or a "jutsu" for fighting skills the intent and intensity is different. To be good at one does not mean we will be good at others. Each takes their own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. If we relate everything new into a mindset or frame of reference to what we think we already know, we may never learn anything new. We cannot transcend or move beyond prior learning and training without transforming our mindset into something new.
In life, we all experience the chronological transitions of physical aging. Many people may be developmental stuck in a prior stage or age and not fully make it to where they are. There are many adults who are mentally and emotional stuck in adolescence or childhood. Whenever they are confronted in life by confusion, chaos, or conflict they regress to these levels of thinking, feeling, and behaving. For adults to be adults, they must transcend the prior states and transform themselves into the new one. Of course, this does mean accepting and appreciating the responsibility and accountability for becoming a participating and contributing member of a family and society. While we do not leave our individual learned ego identification behind when we become a couple, we do have to transcend the earlier boundaries to include another person and transform our "I" into a "we". We keep expanding to be more and more inclusive of our family, our community, our nation, our world, and our universe. We are no longer passive spectators of victims of external forces but are now active participants and co-creators of our mutually shared reality.
Perhaps trans-formation is trans-cending an earlier formation structures. Perhaps trans-formation is seeing through the trans-parency of prior held beliefs and identifications.
Tranquility: (1) free from agitation of mind and spirit, (2) self-assurance, (3) free from disturbance or turmoil, (4) unvarying, (5) calm, (6) relieved of tension and anxiety
It is often interesting to me that we describe something positive in terms of the absence of negatives. Mystics would often try to explain the transcendent by repeatedly saying it is not this and it is not that. A Zen master may consistently reject a student's interpretation of a Koan (question) until the question itself is dropped and they stay in present awareness and reality.
In the dojo, we often feel high levels of anxiety and even fear when we first enter and train. This may be our normal state in life. They say wherever we go, there we are. A dojo is a place to train not just in the fighting arts against others but our own fighting of ourselves and our self-limiting thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The dojo is a place to learn to relax the body and calm the mind. I often remind people that learning to meditate (to calm the mind) when everything is the way you want it to be and conducive to that purpose is a great skill. However, learning to have the same relaxed body and calm mind while someone is actively engaged in destroying it provides the opportunity for us to transform and transcend our fears and ourselves.
In life, an intimate loving relationship is the dojo or context for that transcendent transformation. While love heals, love brings up all the wounds that need healing. It takes compassion for our loved ones and courage within ourselves to let go of old fears and ego states and to find tranquility with people instead of the need to be alone. I often tell clients in counseling that fear, anxiety, and depression are created by internal negative fantasies. We can choose to stay with our old established fears or we can transcend them, letting love transform us, and accept tranquility. The choice is ours.
Breath in, trance-sitions
Breathe out, trance-formation and trance-cendence
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 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.