Breathe in, yearning
Breathe out, yielding
I often tell people you only need to know three things. Actually, you only need to know two things. The first thing you need to know is what you truly want. The second thing you need to know is what you have to do to get what you truly want. The third thing is to get up every day and do it.
Yearning: (1) to have a strong desire, (2) to feel tenderness or compassion, (3) to be moved or attracted, (4) to long persistently, (5) to have an earnest wish to own or enjoy, (6) covet
In the dojo, we sometimes talk about the intention of a movement. What are you trying to accomplish? What is the principle and strategy behind the technical tactic you are practicing? If Aikido is body and mind unified and focused, then they both must be going in the same direction with the same intention. But why are we on the mat to begin with? What brings us or motivates us to train in such an esoteric martial art? What are we yearning for? What has the real world outside the dojo made us see or taught us about who we are? Are we trying to get fit, to fit in, or to overcome fears? We want something out of the training and unless we are clear about what that is, our training will be misdirected. To yearn for something is to have a deep desire for something. What do you yearn for in your Aikido practice?
In life, it is not different. Many people know what they don't want and are so focused on what they don't want that it is exactly what they bring into their lives. Often in counseling I hear individuals, couples, and families complain about what they don't want from each other. They seldom make a direct statement or ask a direct question to request what they truly do want. We may be so focused on the problem that we forget to even look for a solution. We may be so focused on the solution that we have no idea what our lives would be like without a problem. I tend to ask what people yearn for, what their desire, and their passion in life and in love are. Many of us have been told and taught that we cannot have what we really want or that somehow we do not deserve it. It's a whole different focus to look towards what you yearn for.
Yielding: (1) to give forth or produce by a natural process in return for cultivation, (2) a return on investment, (3) reward, (4) to give or render as fitting, rightfully owned, (5) soft and bending, (6) compliant, (7) producing
In program we often say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. Yet wisdom would say that if you always do what you have always done then you will always get what you have always gotten. If you want something different in your life, you may just have to think, feel, and do something different to get it.
In the dojo, one of the first things we confront is our habitual way of being in the world. I often talk about the startle response in this regard. Many people think of the startle response as having two options; fight (moving towards) or flight (moving away from). Yet, most people just freeze (don't move at all). In many martial arts we learn to move from freeze or flight into fight mode. In Aikido, we learn to flow or yield with the attack rather than react to or resist it. Because the response we want is different, often the training is different as well. Rather than the hardness of muscles and fear/anger of the mind, we use softness of intent and compassion of the heart. Rather than forcing more, we minimize and yield to doing less. I often say that in Aikido, I first yield to my opponent and then they yield to me, and we both wonder why anyone fell down.
In life, it is no different. We tend to try to force the world (especially our significant others) to be the way we want them to be, rather than to yield, accept, and appreciate them for who they are. Many relationships are born out of the same fear and anger that our fights are. We say we want love, but we tend to choose sparring partners and perpetuate communication patterns that only mimic and perpetuate the exact problems we are trying to resolve. In counseling I have heard many people trying to get their own way without any concern for the other person's desires (or yearnings). Then they seem surprised when that other person is not happy and perhaps not even present anymore. Somehow we think of yielding to the other person as resentful compliance and compromise rather than a show of true clarity, compassion, and courage. After all, people do not stay with you because of how much you love them, but for how much they love you. If what we yearn for is love, perhaps we need to yield to that love as more important than our learned ego of ignorance, illusion, and independence. We can have love or we can have fear/anger, but we cannot have both. Either we yield the details so everyone wins, or yield our efforts so everyone wins. Without yield, there is no winning, there is no love. As Terry Dobson might say, give in to get what you want
Besides yielding as a means to enter any endeavor and blend with any obstacle, our efforts can yield an end result. Do your efforts yield what you yearn for?
You: (1) a pronoun that references one's self or another, (2) the person being addressed, (3) person or people unspecified, (4) those being referred to, (5) the personality of the person addressed, (6) same as yourself, (7) the self, I
In the dojo, you have to be there. You have to be present. Okay, you don't have to be present. Accidents often happen for no other reason than you sent your body to show up, but you didn't come with it. You may be at home or at the office or someplace on the road in between. To make any activity (like Aikido training) into a generative and transformative art, we must realize that while we are training the body we are also training the self, the you that you think you are. What you yearn for is the you that you used to be will become the you that you yearn to be. Many of us have been taught to discipline the mind and body as if you are separate from them and we usually discipline this rather harshly with hate or anger, not love. To change the self, the self must be present and integrated into the discipline and training. Hard training only makes for a hard body, a hard mind, and a hard unyielding self. You are how you train. O'Sensei suggested that Aikido could be the Budo of love. We train not to hurt anyone (including yourself) on the mat, but to face a conflict situation with clarity, compassion, and courage.
Inn life, it is no different. We have become a world of spectator selves watching our bodies just go through the motions. We are both the observer and the object of our observation. We are self-conscious instead of other-conscious. You are sitting there watching you go through the motions of life and love, but not really living it. Isn't that what we all really yearn for, to live a life of love? Perhaps we have to redefine the you that you think you are to yield and let love in. You cannot force someone to love you or force yourself to love someone, but you can yield to love and let someone love you and let yourself love someone. Love is a "let". You are a "let". You don't have to do anything to be loved and to be loving. Love is natural. You have to do something not to be loved and to be loving. You can choose to yield to love. You can have what you have always yearned for.
Breathe in, yearning
Breathe out, yielding
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.