And why seest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye;
and seest not the beam that is in thy own eye?
Or how sayest thou to thy brother:
Let me cast the mote out of thy eye;
and behold a beam is in thy own eye?
Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thy own eye,
and then shalt thou see to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
Matthew 7. 3-5, Douay Rheims translation
We are all very eager to point out others flaws, and aikidokas are no exception. I try my best to always write about my own keiko, and not deviate and write about how other people trains and criticise them. This is not always so easy.
I recently started writing a post, but halfway through I realized that I was not really writing about my own keiko any more. I ended up taking out some frustration, both from life and some training situations and writing things my ego decided to write. I discovered that most of the post became a negatively directed critic of other ways to practice, other ways to live life, other ways to think of right and wrong, so I abandoned my post.
The most scary part of this is that if I had not had any help, I would probably not have noticed this. At the same time as I was writing my own post I read two articles doing exactly this. They started out with an interesting theme, but somewhere along the way the focus changed from discussing a fascinating problem to criticising others for their way. I could see it because I was reading it, not writing it. I was in fact doing the very same thing and were able to avoid it only because I saw those two articles at precisely that time.
I realized then that many of my posts have partly the same ingredients. This is my ego interfering with my study, pushing me to express my meaning to others, blinding me so I forget my main focus of this blog. I write to organise my thoughts. I write to increase my awareness about my feelings during keiko and also in other situations in life. I do not wish to suggest to others how they should train or live. I do not like being told what to do. The stronger people suggest something the stronger I will resist it. People throwing me lightly and comfortably will find me easy to throw while people trying ot force me will find me not so eager to move. For me this is the same in life and in the keiko. Naturally I try not to interfere with other people’s freedom, as I value it a lot myself.
We see the mistakes of others, but not our own. This is human nature I think. However, regardless of how negatively it might seem there are positive things about this nature as well, because it does not only go for talking, blogging and facebook posts. It also goes for the bodily interaction in aikido. The partner can feel what is not right inside our body. We need our partners because they are different from us. As I have mentioned before, I have blocks in my shoulders, and other parts of my body, which are preventing my development (I am not alone about having blocks, but it has become a priority in my life to solve them). I think this is partly a consequence of the thin system of communication in my body. For a long time I have been working on solving these blocks, but I can’t feel them when I am alone. The partner do not have to tell me about them because their body will.
We are holding hands and doing a movement together and while their body have the freedom to make a certain move, my body will resist. An interesting observation for me is that when my body stops and I don’t know where to go it is hard not to start talking. I am stuck in the movement, so my ego wants me to express myself in a way I still can. I find it a very valuable exercise to shut up and give my partner time to solve the problem. Together we can try to melt this resistance. I can’t do it alone. I need another person’s body to study this. My partner helps me and I help him/her. By doing keiko together we are in a way mutually healing each other.
The body and the mind are connected. I believe that if there is a block in the body, it exists also in the mind. We have to remove it in both places to get rid of our problem. If we would remove the problem in one place only and leave the other, the problem would quickly return and we would be back where we started.
When we are working on these things in the dojo, I believe that we are working on ourselves in a way that is beneficial for both ourselves and the world around us. A block in the body might correspond to a trauma in our mind preventing us from “performing” in life as we otherwise could. This could affect how happy we feel, how we interact with people around us and how we deal with conflicts. I believe it affects everything.
In my opinion the keiko is never too easy. Even if we are working together with our partner at the best of our level it is close to impossible to have a completely free movement. There are stops everywhere. We do not need to resist each other in order to get a challenge. I think it is more than challenging enough to be able to follow.
The feeling that I am searching for is not something I will achieve in any foreseeable future, but I feel that I am on my way there. I can do in a more and more soft way with more and more partners. As we are more and more capable to follow we have an increased freedom and awareness in our body, which helps us find freedom in ourselves when the partner is unfree. At first we can only do it with one person maybe. However, if we continue our study we will go deeper into the feelings, we can feel safe and help each other out. Then comes a day when we can do it with more people.
We are healing each other. My partner will help me pull my log out of my eye, and I can hopefully help them with theirs. Together we will find a way to enrich our lives and make a better world.
Enjoy your keiko! Aiki make people happy!