Sunday, October 15, 2006

spirit of aikido

In yesterday's aikido class, there were just five students. No matter that there are just five or fifteen students, Sensei seems to be as enthusiastic as ever. He is simply so passionate about this art! I've never experienced that he is in town and yet asks anyone else to hold a session. He smiles while executing techniques, he puts us at ease when we are being his opponent. He is far from the most perfect trainer / master. But he is so authentic and real. He puts in all that he has in every class. Every class he brings his teacher O-Sensei's picture and places it carefully on a stand from the gym. I remember him telling me when I was new and I asked him what should I address him as? And he said "oh, call me by my first name!" He is one of the coolest guys I've ever known. I have tremendous respect and affection for my teacher.

Sometimes after class some student asks Sensei a question. And we all sit around him and Sensei talks. These talks include stories of his masters, his beliefs and his learnings. I listen to Sensei with rapt attention, sometimes even without battling an eyelid. Yesterday was one such day. B asked Sensei about Khokidoze (I've still not figured how these Japanese words are pronounced). And in his explanations, Sensei said something wonderful which I understand and interpret in this manner -

"when we come to the class to practice, we try and empty our mind of all thoughts. The moment we step on the mat, we leave all our fears, insecurities, dissapointments, frustrations, successes, failures, highs and lows outside. We walk in with an empty mind. We have no preconceived notions. Every single class, no matter what be our rank, we still hold a begniner's mind. That is perhaps the only way to learn and grow. Today when I call upon any of you to be the Uke (the defendent) to execute a technique to the class, I ask you to grab myself and I can feel the tension in your hands. You guys hold me so tight that it feels like you'd gladly crush me to the last drop of my blood. But aikido (and for that matter life) works, when you are relaxed. Because that is when you are in tune with yourself. When you are relaxed, you are not at the mercy of your attacker. When you stand stiff refusing to budge, if your opponent is really strong, you might end up with broken bones. But if you are relaxed, you'd let him throw you. You'll take a fall. There is no shame in falling. And is it really a fall, for that matter? When you stand stiff, you just have your two legs balancing you. When you take a fall, when you let go and fall into the arms of earth. Now you are not alone anymore. You have the entire earth with you. It is you and earth against me. And I dont think, no matter how hard I've trained, I can beat you to that!"

The same principles, perhaps applies in life also. Having a kidney disease is not a failure. Having no prince charming to wake you up with a kiss in the morning does not mean that you are incomplete. Having no great job does not mean that life is not working. Having a hard time, does not mean that one must be unhappy.

Like Sensei said yesterday, "So what if you are good at aikido? So what if you are not! It dosen't matter. Perhaps it matters only to the ego. But it does not matter to the real and authentic self. You could spend years trying to master a technique and yet do it all wrong. And you could get it on day One and brag about it. It does not matter either ways. If anything matters, it is are you having fun doing it? Is this process enjoyable to you? Are you passionate about it? Do you wonder about the mystery and magic in it and are you mystified in the millions of possibilities aikido or life can offer you? If yes, then you've already mastered the art. If not, it matters not what Dan (rank) you are, you're wasting your time."

It is the process that matters. Not the outcome. The outcome or the endpoint I crave for so desperately, is in fact 'not there'. It is an illusion. There is no end. One universe expands into another and another and is ever expanding, over boundless milky ways. If only I can learn to fully appreciate and enjoy the process and not worry or brood about the outcome...perhaps I'll be really living...I'll be really alive and happenning! Just being alive is the biggest miracle and wonder of all. I should not need anything else to sustain myself.

Perhaps it is in that spirit that, no matter that I am the weakest student in my class, I still land up there for every session. No matter I'm still struggling after six months to still get my rolls right and that I've already broken my finger and toe bones, I'm still excited to fall. I never miss a single class. Whether I have my periods, or a fever or I've skipped dialysis or that I've to travel for one hour to reach my class, I'm still there on the mat ready for my experience of the day. I'm ready to give life a chance. I'm ready to take a chance and follow my heart. I'm ready for the experience...pure, innocent, mindblowing experiences...inspite and despite of everything else!


Blogger brad said...

Be passionate in the experience of the now.


Easier said than done.

Aikido is very Zen.

10:40 AM  
Blogger CeeCi said...

I often tell my students when teaching them a new skill, it isn't the product that brings joy, it's the process.

This was a wonderful post, Anu. I'm going to read it again.

**Big Hugs**
♥ CeeCi

5:27 PM  
Blogger anu said...

LOL! Right said, Brad :)Aikido is very zen like - true.

Thank you Ceeci, I have merely written these words here. They fell like precious stones from my dear Sensei's mouth. I merely picked them up and placed them here. :)

7:55 PM  
Blogger NYC TAXI SHOTS said...

a post with a picture i love pictures and you to anu

1:11 AM  
Blogger e.e. said...

The most amazing post, esp. after our discussion.
I am in awe of the wisdom of Anu.
I am going to read this over and over again as well!

6:33 PM  
Blogger anu said...

Thank you J :) You are very kind toward me.

I'm very inspired by your posts and your spirit too. I check every morning for any updates dear e.e ;)

10:53 AM  
Blogger WDKY said...

I love this post, Anu, and I think you're right to draw the parallels with life that you do. Sometimes it's hard to remember the simple things, and to avoid getting caught up in all that frenetic competitiveness that surrounds us every day. I regard my life as a journey, but one for which I don't know the final destination... it's all the more exciting for that, though.

1:36 AM  
Blogger anu said...

Hello sweetheart :)

Perhaps there is nothing more to it than just sitting back and trying to relish every bit of it, when we can with what we have.

I love your perspective and I know you actually live it too. So that makes you so very interesting ;)

10:12 AM  
Blogger Caterpillar said...

Anu, I seriously love reading what you write more than you could know. You are a blessing to me, reminding me of things in such a way, or explaining and highlighting things so perfectly, so poetically, so that it really, really resonates and sticks in my head. You really have a gift, and ARE a gift to my life.

I'm going to keep this post and read it over so many times. It's absolutely overflowing with wisdom and important lessons to learn, know and remember.

There are two Aikido studios that I sometimes pass and always wonderful thoughts of you enter my mind!!! Your Sensei sounds so amazing and full of wisdom and peace! Thank you SO much for sharing this!!!

Big big hugs and flutters of silvery butterfly wings to you!!!!!!!!!!!

12:04 PM  
Blogger anu said...

Thank you sweetie. Your appreciations and compliments make me grin ear to ear. :)

I'm learning from you as well. For everytime you notice something in me, you help me to notice it myself.

Thank you so much my wonderful beautiful playful Queen butterfly with bright silvery wings ;)

8:02 PM  
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