One Step: A New World, New Possibilities
In the Aikido world, taking just one step can dramatically change the situation and predicament that you were just in. Taking one step in martial arts can be the difference between getting pinned and submitting to an attack or finding freedom in one’s body-mind system to counter the attack with an effective technique that takes the attacker off balance. Something as simple as taking a step can be overlooked in one’s spiritual practice, life, and on the martial arts mat. Yet, we quickly find that some of the small, subtle things in life are the mighty, powerful things that have the largest impact.
Taking a step in Aikido: opens you to the repositioning of one’s body such that new angles and openings are available that weren’t there before. Recently, we have been working with kaeshi waza (a reversed technique), where the initial attacker becomes the attacked due to receiver of the attack (nage) having reversed the technique onto the attacker (uke). It can all sound a bit confusing, but essentially the practice of any technique offers us the opportunity to explore openings and spaces of freedom that our mind has us believe is impossible. When we operate from that sense-feeling space of awareness we discover the limited perceptions of mind and learn to dive deeper into the natural intelligence of the body-mind system. This intelligence that lets the mind become aware of our access to freedom in every moment, even if someone is applying a shoulder pin or joint lock on us.
It can be as subtle as shifting one’s center of gravity to another foot in order to find a spatial opening that allows us to enter with a technique or counter move. It can also be as simple as relinquishing tension in our shoulders, arms, and elbows, which resets the body-mind system back to neutral allowing us to start afresh and anew vs. continuing to try and force something to happen only to expend too much energy and over exert ourselves where we end up lacking the acumen to properly address the situation at hand due to mental and physical exhaustion and fatigue.
How is this sometimes an honest reality in our day-to-day lives? We have our goals and schedules to accomplish and in the process of the doing, struggle and stress begins to occur and our initial thought may be to berate ourselves for being ‘lazy’ (self-judgment) or whatever the self-criticism we infect ourselves with and then with the force of will we trudge forward disregarding the important messages we are getting from our mind-body system. If we stop to take a moment to assess the situation, we give ourselves the opportunity to relieve our own suffering through a possible different approach. I’ve encountered individuals in Aikido where they feel that if they can do the technique ‘fast’ enough then it will get them to the end result better and quicker. This is a false belief if one has not polished and refined their technique in a slower format where one looks at the various openings and vulnerable points that are being bypassed. This becomes especially true when you are working with a senior student due to their sensitivity and attunement to body-mind movements such that they will stop you and jam you up right in the middle of your technique, demonstrating the ineffectiveness of how you were trying to apply the technique on them. Therefore, faster is not always better. Just like when we think we’re getting so much accomplished through our multi-tasking behaviors that only results in shoddy, half-completed projects or tasks that has never gotten 100% of our time, focus, and attention.
I’ve come to learn that when we apply ourselves impeccably to a task or technique things line up correctly so what happens next lands perfectly in its rightful place. [Read more…]
Taking a step on our Spiritual Path: most of the time comes from having suffered long enough that we are finally sick and tired of being sick and tired. Pain and suffering are great catalysts for positive spiritual growth and change. Pain and suffering allows an individual to finally be willing to open to something more than what they already know, what one has already tried over and over again, only to get the same results with no significant transformation. So when we are ready to pull ourselves out of the misery and suffering (Yes, unfortunately and fortunately it’s up to us) we can begin by taking one step. By taking a step, like in Aikido we reorient ourselves to a different point of reference, a different perspective that essentially can allow us to make a significant change. A change that comes from having changed our perception and awareness, this is the essential meaning of Power. Once we’ve taken a step and begin to see with new perspective what we have been trying to do, it enables us to see new possibilities and opportunities available to us that we didn’t see before. We enter into a new world, where we discover new rules and principles that are there to support us in making those changes happen. It’s similar to when we travel internationally to a different country; everything that we once knew becomes vastly different, sometimes in a jarring, unsettling way, and sometimes in a delightful, and wondrous way. The same thing occurs when we take a step outside of our norm, outside of our comfort zone.
On the spiritual path, taking a step can look like beginning a seated meditation practice, having never meditated before. Other times, taking a step can mean increasing one’s seated meditation time and/or having greater consistency around one’s seated meditation practice. These are just some ideas, and the possibilities are endless to what you may feel inclined or inspired to do with developing your spiritual practice. The most important thing to recognize is taking that one step and continuing the process such that one step becomes a thousand and we’ve gone further than we have ever thought we could go. It’s mind-boggling what we as humans are able to accomplish through taking one step.
Consider what step you will take today, this month, and for the upcoming New Year. If you feel like the next step you would like to take is to deepen your sitting practice, save the date for the Begin Again Retreat in March 21-24, 2019. *Registration opens January 2, 2019.
Also, on Jan 6 at 11am (PST), 2pm (EST) I will be giving a *free workshop in American Buddhism on "How Connection, Love, and Opening Are Used To Be More Effective in Martial Arts and in Life." Call in details: (712) 432-0075, code 452990#.
Wishing you and your loved ones a joyous holiday season that celebrates all the beauty and goodness that is in our lives.
With Light, Love & Healing,
p.s. If you are looking for a gift for your teenager, see the new book my friend has published! The Awkward Years: 64 Tips for Surviving High School it's a #1 New Release on Amazon!
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