Read about how we can better appreciate, empathize with, and respect diverse people, energies, and opinions that we come in contact with on a daily basis.
My Aikido teacher Koichi Tohei sensei used to say that in a healthy person flow of their "ki" (the energy inherent throughout Universe) is like outpouring of an underground spring sitting at bottom of a deep lake. The spring feeds water to lake, much like we can feed universe healing energy. The spring feeds lake a constant flow of water without ever being diminished, and this outpouring of water is not impeded by weight and pressure of lake bearing down upon it. When ki flows it follows path of least resistance. This is a path of great power. As human beings we are designed to feed energy to universe, by following a path of least resistance. This feeding of "our" energy is what helps us to also maintain our own personal health and well being. We receive by giving, because our ki belongs to Universe, and not to any one individual.
In this article I want to talk about how we can better appreciate, empathize with, and respect diverse people, energies, and opinions that we come in contact with on a daily basis. I hope to give some small insight into how we can begin to understand paradox of One common energy source feeding all of diversity and difference that we see around us. In Aikido we practice what I guess could be called a "physical" discipline to accomplish this. We PRACTICE appreciation, empathy, and respect, in regard to our partner, with hope that some day in future our practice will transform into an embodied reality. We practice breathing exercises and meditation, and in course of these experiences we have a sense of being one with universe.
In Aikido, as new students we first learn how to balance our physical structure and relax body's musculature. It is this balance and release of excess muscular tension that allows weight of body's trunk to come to a natural resting place in our lower abdomen, in general area of our reproductive organs. This area in our lower abdomen is what Tohei sensei calls "the one point" and he exhorts his students to maintain feeling of body's weight resting naturally in this area. By maintaining physical balance and relaxation we release excess physical tension, calm thinking mind, and sense a common bond with all of life. At such times we naturally generate a copious flow of ki, and exude a healing presence to those around us. Previously I said that ki is life force that animates all living beings and that all living beings share and utilize SAME energy source, same ki, same spirit. In Aikido we call this shared universal spirit "reiseishin." When we balance and relax body, unify our thoughts and actions, and calm our thinking mind, we manifest an outpouring of "Reseishin" in same manner that a mother holding her newborn baby exudes and expresses love, protection, and compassion. When we experience flow of "reiseishin" we naturally appreciate, empathize with, and respect all of life.
For me personally, what is important to say in regard to sensing flow of "reiseishin" is that experience is not generated by activity of thinking mind. Our sense of unity with all of life comes about when we "do only what is necessary, and nothing more or less." It is this "doing less" that leads to greater power and a greater sense of connection to life. We gain paradoxical experience of calmness and action being two sides of same coin. One being mirror image of other. Great calmness leads to great action, like a hurricane radiating out from its calm "eye." Great action leads to great calmness, as when a strongly thrown top rights itself and calmly spins round its center.
When you balance and relax your body, unify your thoughts and actions, and calm your thinking mind, you move from an experience of duality to an experience of commonality. At such times you understand experientially what is paradoxical to thinking mind - That so much difference comes from One source.
You breathe deeply and sense simultaneous inflow and outflow of ki. You breathe deeply and feel a "heavy-lightness" in body. You breathe deeply and sense "immovable-movement" of your spirit.
When you sense and move with energy that is manifesting throughout universe you find that you have a greater ability to live a life that is healthy and fulfilling, a greater sense of valuing and protecting all of life. When you learn to instinctively move with others rather than attempting to oppose them, you quickly come to a sense of intuitively understanding your counterpart's thoughts and actions, and you increase likelihood of your being able to gently lead your counterpart in new directions in future. This is certainly a timely topic given current conditions in world today. Aikido is a martial art that wages peace. We have no attack form in Aikido, even though Aikido is very much an effective form of self-defense. As I said previously, in Aikido we cultivate an experience that leads us to believe that all living beings utilize and share a common energy source (ki) that helps to run and maintain our environment as well as our individual human systems. We believe that since we all share a common energy source, that in some important way we are all truly members of same family, and that we share our lives with all of nature. We do not have an attack form in Aikido, because attacking another human being would be like attacking a family member that you love. One of main ideas of Aikido is to find a way to honor and protect your own being, your own opinions, your own right to life, while CONCURRENTLY honoring and protecting same in your opponent. Not at all a simple task, but one well worth trying to embody.