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Old 07-13-2003, 12:10 AM   #1
PhilJ
 
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Role of emotions

I'm curious about what others think regarding the role of emotions in relation to aikido. Not just training, but the concept as a whole.

Often enough I hear or read analogies of aikido to the rest of the universe. Maybe I'm being a bit too literal, yet good ol' mother earth doesn't care too much what I'm doing (no Gaia arguments please)

Still, as humans, we have emotions that often dictate what we do. How do you folks think this applies to our/your goals in aikido?

*Phil

Phillip Johnson
Enso Aikido Dojo, Burnsville, MN
An Aikido Bukou Dojo
http://www.aikidobukou.com
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Old 07-13-2003, 03:05 AM   #2
MikeE
 
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What a brilliant question!

My thoughts on this are directed in the line of control.

Before we can ever hope to gain some modicum of direction over someone else, we need to be in control of ourselves. Emotion can help or hinder this goal.

Add in the fact that we need to inherently respect and guide uke's and our energy...it can seem an insurmountable task.

I really think that in many ways emotion guides us even though we don't, or try to think, that we are above it. Only when we are aware of it (like most things) can we have a chance of controlling it.

Just my thoughts.....

Mike Ellefson
Midwest Center
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Old 07-13-2003, 10:24 AM   #3
Mel Barker
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Mike,

Excellent ideas!

Do you have any ideas as to how we can train our awareness to acheive this control over our emotions?

Thanks,

Mel Barker
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Old 07-13-2003, 01:15 PM   #4
Scott Sweetland
 
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In my opinion emotions are a survival mechanism. When a positive event occurs my body makes me feel good about it so I know to keep doing that sort of thing. When bad happens I feel bad so I know there is danger I need to avoid or fight against. The best way to "control" that is to remove the "me" from the picture.

Try an experiment where you for 1 week remove all personal pronouns from your thoughts and speech. Instead of I or me say "one would think so and so" or "a person might feel such and such" You will find that once you no longer see events as happening TO YOU, and instead see yourself as one small part of the universe wherein many events are occurring, you will react far less emotionally.

There is an old buddhist belief that when you attack a man you project a "murderous aura" so to speak. The person being attacked responds to this by either projecting his own murderous aura in return, or an aura of fear, this allows the conflict to occur. If the person being attacked projects no aura at all the attackers own aura will be reflected back at him and he will be unable to proceed with the attack. I can't say I understand this fully, but I do think Aikido works along similar lines. "Hard style" martial arts teach to fight fire with fire, "soft styles" teach to fight fire with water. Aikido teaches us not to fight the fire at all, but to instead become a vacuum, a place where fire simply can't exist.

So I don't think it's about "control" so much as it's about "being". Be where YOU should be, both physically and emotionally, and your attacker will fall into place. As O Sensei said "The essence of training is to bring your opponent completely into your sphere. Then you can stand just where you like"
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Old 07-13-2003, 01:35 PM   #5
ewodaj
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Thumbs down

I believe aikido teaches you how to control your emotions...
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Old 07-13-2003, 01:42 PM   #6
opherdonchin
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In seidokan, we worked a lot with the issue of the emotional messges we send to our uke and the affects they have. It's very interesting, I find, to simply notice the difference between how a tecnique feels when you are smiling and how it feels when you aren't. Even if the smiling is largely mechanical, I experience a strong effect. The more you learn to make that smiling real, rather than mechanical, the more powerful your technique becomes, I'm told. I had a teacher whose stance and bearing were so fundamentally friendly, a real effort of will was required to make an honest attack against him.

At ASU, we play more with different emotions, with some teachers focusing more on projecting determination or focused intent (which can be quite initimidating) and others working with the projection of warmth and invitation. It's been interesting to me to explore the options, gaining more 'control,' if you like. Still, sometimes I think the real wisdom is not in gaining control and choices and that you are better off simply developing a habit of friendliness and warmth.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 07-13-2003, 02:21 PM   #7
SeiserL
 
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IMHO, thoughts direct emotions. In other words, where ever the heads goes the body tends to follow.

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 07-14-2003, 07:59 AM   #8
Ghost Fox
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IMHO - It seems that thoughts and emotions are largely independent of each other. From an evolutionary and developmental standpoint, it seems that emotional reaction to our enviornment came first (i.e Survial Mechanism) and then thoughts were lavered over the emotional system.

By using our thoughts to direct our breathing, and relax our tension points we bring our emotions into harmony with the rest of our beings. To directly control our emotions with thought would be difficult.

Emotions seem to be an energy source that we can harvest to our needs (e.g. Aikido). The problem arises at harvesting the emotive energy without being caught in the web of attachement.

Blah blah blah

Peace and Blessings
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Old 07-14-2003, 09:25 AM   #9
Dave Miller
 
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Quote:
Damion Lost (Ghost Fox) wrote:
IMHO - It seems that thoughts and emotions are largely independent of each other. From an evolutionary and developmental standpoint, it seems that emotional reaction to our enviornment came first (i.e Survial Mechanism) and then thoughts were lavered over the emotional system.

By using our thoughts to direct our breathing, and relax our tension points we bring our emotions into harmony with the rest of our beings. To directly control our emotions with thought would be difficult.

Emotions seem to be an energy source that we can harvest to our needs (e.g. Aikido). The problem arises at harvesting the emotive energy without being caught in the web of attachement.

Blah blah blah

Peace and Blessings
I always love it when non-biologists try and talk about the evolutionary development of stuff.


DAVE

If you're working too hard, you're doing it wrong.
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Old 07-14-2003, 09:50 AM   #10
Qatana
 
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Dave he did say In His Opinion.

We Are allowed to express our opinions on this forum...

Q
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"It is not wise to be incautious when confronting a little smiling bald man"'- Rule #1
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Old 07-14-2003, 09:57 AM   #11
Dave Miller
 
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Quote:
Jo Adell (Qatana) wrote:
Dave he did say In His Opinion.

We Are allowed to express our opinions on this forum...
If he's allowed to say his opinion, am I not allowed to say mine?


DAVE

If you're working too hard, you're doing it wrong.
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Old 07-14-2003, 11:07 AM   #12
Qatana
 
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Dave i am also afflicted with the disease of sarcasm. I am doing my damndest to not use it in any forum i participate in, and am also doing my damndest to use aiki principles here.This is my personal practice, i have no wish to enforce it on you ao anyone else, but i am as capable as several of the rest of the highly opinionated to express my disagreement in a supercilious, patronising way. And i am also very well aware how people react to being put down in such a way.

So my point is not the opinion, but how it is expressed.On the mat a conflict may be resolved rather than won or lost.This is what i am personally exploring in my Aikido practic- learning how to prove my point without resorting to verbal abuse. It is difficult.it is also very rewarding...

Q
http://www.aikidopetaluma.com/
www.knot-working.com

"It is not wise to be incautious when confronting a little smiling bald man"'- Rule #1
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Old 07-14-2003, 11:50 AM   #13
PhilJ
 
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All comments are welcome in this thread, I'm enjoying what I see so far.

So it seems we're not saying "Get rid of the emotions". How do you control them then? Count to 10 when you're angry? "Come back to earth" after being excessively happy? What techniques or practices do you use?

*Phil

Phillip Johnson
Enso Aikido Dojo, Burnsville, MN
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Old 07-14-2003, 12:03 PM   #14
akiy
 
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Here's something that the late George Simcox sensei wrote back in January, 1999:
Quote:
George Simcox wrote:
One day I asked a student how he was doing. He replied, "Not so well, I still get angry". I responded that getting angry wasn't the problem - anger is a natural reaction - it is holding onto the anger that is the problem. Many folks not only get angry or experience fear but choose to hold onto that emotion to the detriment of effective response. Our training in relaxation and calmness should help us to shed the negative elements of these emotions and get on with business. I word it this way because this applies to daily living as well as MA. Some where there may be a state of perfection toward what every you see as the end point of life, but until then we learn what we can, train how we can and do the best we can at any particular time, and then review what we did, train to do better, and grow. We are a "work in process" until we die. Let us make the best of it, what ever our training approach..

George Simcox
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Old 07-14-2003, 03:03 PM   #15
Janet Rosen
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I don't see emotions as something to be "controlled" but as something to be recognised, aknowledged, and not ruled by.

Aikido, like anything else in life (especially anything interactive) can certainly be a tool for working on issues related to one's emotions, since it often brings up strong positive/negative emotions on the mat.

I tend to agree with Lynn, though, that preceding an emotion usually is an actual thought, a statement we tell ourselves about how the world works, and that in turn has one person react to a given stimulus with anger and another with humor and another with a shrug.

Janet Rosen
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Old 07-14-2003, 07:48 PM   #16
DaveForis
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I have to disagree with Lynn and with Damien.

Thoughts don't come first, and thoughts and emotions are not independent. The emotion comes first, then the thoughts jump right on the bandwagon and start justifying the emotions. Have you ever spent an entire day stewing over something stupid and trivial? How about spending your day in a dreamy state after falling in love? After the emotion happens, the mind just naturally latches on, because minds do that. They hate to be empty. That's why Buddhists, especially Zen Buddhists, train their minds to be silent all the time. It keeps you relaxed and spiritually centered. (Still working on it myself. :\) When there's no mental chatter, emotions, even strong ones, can come and pass. If you try to fight your emotions (No! I can't be angry right now! It's not appropriate!) then your emotions just fight back. As long as you're fighting to control yourself, you're creating more negative emotions... There's a LOT of parallel with Aikido... which just feeds the negative emotion you're feeling. So. Just realize that you ARE angry, or hateful, or jealous, or malicious. State it as a fact. Realize that you don't need your mind to elaborate it any more than that. (In other words "Keep It Simple, Stupid." ) Then you can let the emotion go and although you don't control it, it doesn't control _you_.

As for exercises to control the emotions...

There is a way. You just have to teach yourself to think nothing but positive. NOTE! THINK positive. First step is getting the mind to let go, as described above and breaking the cycle of negativity. It also helps to immeditaely feel forgiveness (A.K.A. loving acceptance) for yourself for having experienced the emotion you don't want. Then there are meditation exercises you can do that help you actually internalize positive emotions so that they become your natural state of being. Not your natural reaction, but your natural "baseline" emotional state. You know those people who are always cheerful? Aren't they harder to anger? Well, all you have to do is learn how to be like that.

For the technique, go to www.hoshinjutsu.com and go right to the products page. You need to either get Glenn Morris' book, Path Notes, which has the meditation written out, or get the CDs, "The Basics I" which has the exercise as a guided meditation (which I find more useful as you don't have to memorize it first. Just follow directions.) I'm not trying to sell this stuff. I just don't want to put up his meditation on a BBS for everyone to see, even if I do think it's something everyone should learn. I respect his work a LOT, and his meditation stuff is good for anyone--particularly martial artists. The exercise is called The Secret Smile and is a slightly reworked version of a Kung Fu/Chi Gung meditation called the Inner Smile.

So there's yer answer to "How do you control emotions?"

Again, I don't mean to be a salesman, but I don't feel good about giving out someone else's work. If you're interested and want to know a little more before you look into actually buying anything (I know the feeling) feel free to email me at daveforis@hotmail.com

If I actually find it or something like it on the Net under free domain, I'll be sure to post.

As for using emotion in techniques... Well, that's something everyone has to play with, isn't it? I've noticed that uncontrolled emotions DO equal uncontrolled techniques, but I don't have sufficient enough control yet to go out and toy with my own emotions on the mat. on a side note, I personally can't help but think that when you do the two steps above and you can control your emotions (most notably being able to bring up specific emotions at will, something only actors usually do) and then you use that to always be in a POSITIVE mindset whenever you train, you teach your body and mind to respond, even just a little, with that emotion if someone attacks you off the matt. (It's called classical conditioning) But that's the slightly different topic of learning theory and Why You Should Always Keep Your Dojo a Happy Place.

Behind every flaw in technique is a flaw in the mind or spirit
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Old 07-14-2003, 07:53 PM   #17
DaveForis
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Quote:
Scott Sweetland wrote:
Try an experiment where you for 1 week remove all personal pronouns from your thoughts and speech. Instead of I or me say "one would think so and so" or "a person might feel such and such" You will find that once you no longer see events as happening TO YOU, and instead see yourself as one small part of the universe wherein many events are occurring, you will react far less emotionally.
This is great!!! This will have to be tried.

Behind every flaw in technique is a flaw in the mind or spirit
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Old 07-15-2003, 07:55 AM   #18
jxa127
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Hi all,

In my experience, emotions just happen, but I can choose how to deal with them -- and that's all that really counts. If I am angry, I can choose to lash out, smolder, let it go, or find some reasonably productive way to deal with the conflict or problem making me angry.

My choices affect my actions, not my emotions. That's not a philosophical statement, just fact. I don't think people do something (or refrain from doing something) without making a conscious choice. Emotions influence those choices, of course, but the choice remains.

Aikido provides me with tools -- additional choices really -- to use when dealing with my emotions. For example, sometimes people do things that hurt me. Emotionally I feel hurt and angry and even attacked. In aikido, when attacked, I acknowledge the connection in intention between uke and nage, and make a physical connection. Blend while getting off line of the attack. I'll try to do the same thing in a non-physical confrontation with someone I care about.

If my wife is mad at me, instead of getting defensive and fighting back right away, I'll acknowledge our connection, try to get off line, and blend. Practically speaking, this is often as simple as saying, "I realize you're upset, and I understand why. Please try to see things from my point of view." This often leads to my actually seeing things from her point of view a bit better.

This is much better than saying, "I can't believe how freaking wrong you are!" That's not going to lead to resolution any time soon.

Strangely, in an actual physical confrontation where I had to use my aikido, I felt no emotion at all until after things had calmed down.

Regards,

-Drew

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-Drew Ames
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Old 07-15-2003, 08:21 AM   #19
opherdonchin
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Quote:
I don't think people do something (or refrain from doing something) without making a conscious choice.
Actually, it turns out that people do and refrain from doing many things without conscious choice or awareness.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 07-15-2003, 11:10 AM   #20
jxa127
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Quote:
Opher Donchin (opherdonchin) wrote:
Actually, it turns out that people do and refrain from doing many things without conscious choice or awareness.
Without awareness, yes, but the choices are always there, and people choose among them. The key is being aware of the choices one has.

I may have phrased things poorly, but in my experience, even when acting on impulse, there is still a part of me that is self-aware enough to recognize that I'm acting on impulse. With that recognition, I can choose to not act on impulse, or cease the behavior that I've started.

I think that any action (or non-action) requires a choice to do that action (or not act). One may not make those choices with deliberate thought, or sometimes any thought at all, but the choice is made.

One of the things that I've experienced with aikido is learning that I have more choices in a conflict than I knew before I started aikido.

But, Opher, you're just responding to a part of my post. Do you have any other thoughts?

Regards,

-Drew

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