Breathe in, the new
Breathe out, the old
I am not big on making New Year resolutions. Usually they are the same things we say every year that we want to happen in our lives but are not really committed to the daily discipline of making them happen and maintaining them. They are not really resolutions, but repetitions of wishful thinking. At best, we work towards them for a few days and then feel bad for not continuing the effort. If the way we tried to reach our goals last year did not work, perhaps the same strategy will not work this year either.
New: (1) recently made, (2) first hand, (3) replacing existing one, (4) recently discovered, (5) with recently acquired status, (6) previously unfamiliar, (7) unused to something, (8) changed, (9) revived or different
In the dojo, it is always fun when we think we are learning something new. Yet actually, we are more often just comfortable staying in the comfort zone of what we think we already know (and think we do well). We can often tell when we are learning something new because we are confused in our mind, awkward in our body, and upset in our emotions. We often talk about the importance beginner's mind (staying open to new ideas) because it is so hard to learn what you think you already know. It is very humbling too. It takes a lot of ego strength purposely to keep consciously and voluntarily venturing into something new. Seeking out the new takes courage. Something new may only be a deep understanding of what we are already doing or a shift in subtle energy, intent or awareness.
In life, we are often creatures of habit. We repeat what others model for us and what we unconsciously emotionally identify with. We are a lot like our parents who are a lot like our grandparents. While we want to think we are unique and special, often we do not even know who we really are. Are we someone new or just an extended perpetuation of what is old? Monty Python had a comic skit/phrase of "and now for something completely different
" and while the audience watched for something new, the actors just returned to the same old skit. To be new everyday would mean we would have to stay mindful of this pull towards historical patterns and embrace the experience of what is not-me (yet).
Old: (1) having lived long, (2) originating years ago, (3) senior, (4) wise, (5) existing for a specific time, (6) ancient, (7) former, (8) familiar, (9) existing or used over time, (10) earlier, (11) used for emphasis, (12) expressing familiarity, (13) annoyingly familiar, (14) eroded, (15) slower moving
It is said that if you want something new to come into your life, you will have to let go of something old.
In the dojo, we acquire skills through the repetition of patterns or kata/waza. What was once new becomes old and ingrained in the way we think, feel, and move. It is only with mindful reflection and contemplation that we see how far we have come (and how far we have yet to go). We often think of refinement and forging as the processing of polishing a new blade or cleaning dust from an old mirror. Many find deeper meaning and security in the old ways and traditions. We develop our craft as martial practitioners until we spontaneously express our new perspective and art. Many seek to define their narcissistic newness by denial of their heritage and lineage only to be lost.
In life, we also find safety and security in the illusion that things do not change, that they stay stable and the same. We find a thread of similarity and familiarity in our history, projected through the present into the future, and believe this learned ego identity to be who we are. We often believe that the grass is greener in newness only to find that the greenness is in watering and tending to old ways. We cannot grow strong by forgetting our roots, only by accepting, embracing, and appreciating them. We tend to treat the newness of life the same way we treat the oldness (because that is who we are). What is new will become old. We are often missing the opportunity to change our perspective and perception to nurture the old is such a way that it always stays new.
Resolution: (1) to solve again or to repeat a solution, (2) process of re-solving, (3) decision, promise, pledge, oath, vow, (4) determination, purpose, and perseverance, (5) expression of collective opinion, decree, motion, or ruling, (6) quality of detail in image, (7) separation into constituent parts, (8) subsiding of symptoms, (9) harmonic progress, (10) final note, (11) part of narrative when conflict is re-solved
There are no such things as problems. There are only solutions that do not work. If the solution worked, there would be no problem to re-solve. Perhaps we need to look to our re-solution strategies to see how we actually only cultivate, facilitate, and perpetuate the problems we think we are trying to re-solve.
In the dojo, we say we are trying to learn how to re-solve violence and conflict when we may just be perpetuating it. To look for re-solution implies the problem still exists and needs to be solved yet again. One of the aspects that brought me to Aikido is that the philosophy of peace is congruent with the training practice and application. While there is a place for ending violence with violence, it is more of the same and historically does not provide a long-term solution (since we keep having to fight and go to war again and again). The idea of entering, connecting, blending, redirecting, and ending a conflict without adding to the damage and violence was/is very appealing. What is required is to not just physically move differently, but to actually think/believe and feel differently. Perhaps before we can solve external problems we need to make internal corrections and re-solutions.
In life, if we always do what we have always done, we will always get what we always gotten. If we want something different in our lives and our world, perhaps we need to think, feel, and act differently. In program, it is said that insanity is doing the same thing but expecting a different result. As a social norm, we do tend to favor the quick-fix of the symptoms rather than actually finding a long-term solution to the problem. We often try to find re-solution and closure by making everything be the way we think it should be instead of accepting that things are the way they are (and we can work from there). Often we feel helpless to re-solve things in the way we want, because we just cannot. Then, the only solution is to stop seeing the situation/condition as a problem that need solving (and re-solving) and accept life the way it is (with all its imperfections and mysteries).
They say we never step in the same stream twice because as the water flows everything becomes new. They also say to not push the river because it flows by itself. The old will naturally transform in its time and the new will take its place. Perhaps there is nothing we need to do about that. Perhaps there is no-thing to re-solve.
Breathe in, the new
Breathe out, the old
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.