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Named must your fear be before you banish it can

Yoda – Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back

Looking back at my development in 2014 three singular experiences comes to my mind: My first encounter with Seigo Okamoto sensei in May, the seminar with Seishiro Endo sensei in July, and finally the seminar with Franck Noël sensei in October. All three times something was shaken loose and I came to some very painful and personal realizations about myself. All three were connected to the same trauma. The two first were consequences caused by the one I realized last.

I say that it was shaken loose. That is how it feels. All these three have a very high level, and every time they touch they go deep inide me (to throw me). Deeper than my other partners. They could reach further, and something “constipated” in there came loose, moved and drifted into my awareness. It was the physical training itself that cured me. Along with a lot of other things happening in my life during this year and the years before. Most of all, the daily practice in Stockholm with Jorma Lyly.

I have partly known this all my life, but I never accepted it. No matter how natural it is I had decided that this was not going to stop me, so I went on determined not to let it affect me. I was so determined in fact that I blocked myself from seeing the truth. The truth about the blocks in my shoulders and in my hip, the darks spaces inside of me.

Seminar with Franck Noël in Prague in October 2014. Photo byJan Mareš.

Seminar with Franck Noël in Prague in October 2014. Photo by Jan Mareš.

It is so very simple: I was bullied. I was never physically hurt from it. All the punches and kicks I ever received was no more than what we do in the training all the time, but the malicious, evil intention became stuck in my body and in my mind. My left shoulder, right right hip and so on were targeted physically. No physical harm was done, but the hate from the devils doing it got packed in there.

From the kindergarden and through elementary school I never fit in with the other kids. I had nobody on my side, half my world as my enemies and the rest as passive bystanders. I always had to watch out. Not that there would be any way to avoid it though. The sentence was already decided and the punishment was carried out every day, verbally, physically and psychologically.

Now, two decades later, no matter how determined I was that they would never stop me, inside, they did in reality, in a way, destroy me. I built a fortress around myself, never truly letting anybody in, never letting down the guard. I had been burnt before by false friends. Friendship took me years to learn after I escaped from my little hell.

The realization happened a day in October, right after two weekends in a row with Franck Noël, on a crowded metro, on the way to lunch practice. It was like a nuke going off inside me. I was furious. I have probably not been so angry my whole life. I just accepted what had happened, and that these people really did fuck up my whole life. All the work I have done, all the money I have spent was to try to heal the hurt they caused.

However, that anger was not new, It had been there for about twenty years. Old hate towards them, towards the whole human race, towards myself for being so weak as to let it happen. It was eating at me in the dark, where I could not see what was happening. Maybe more correct would be to say that I refused to see, because that meant that they had affected me, and that would mean that they had won. And it was no way in hell that those assholes were going to break me.

Now I have had two months to work on my thoughts around this, so my feelings has calmed down, my rage has been silenced, my hate is finally truly gone. Well, maybe not completely, but I am getting there.

Seminar with Franck Noël in Prague in October 2014. Photo byJan Mareš.

Seminar with Franck Noël in Prague in October 2014. Photo by Jan Mareš.

Still, my fear has been identified, I have found the cause, but it is not yet named. When people manipulate my left shoulder, in some positions it retracts, like a scared animal. It is a part of my body, but I do not control it. This is old fear that has been there for so long. I do not know what specifically I am afraid will happen when my arm reaches those positions.

The spot in my left shoulder where they hit me tenses up and I feel the deep fear. I know by now that I am not afraid that something physical will happen to me. I just feel extremely uncomfortable with my arm being in those positions, with somebody else gently moving it around there (the more gentle the more scary it is). It is like light coming into a dark place, and when it is lit up I feel scared, really scared. I still do not know what specifically I fear will happen. Actually, one thing I fear is that my friend who is doing it, will stop doing it and just leave. No matter how scary it is, exploring it feels lovely beyond description.

For a long time I have been studying fear in my practice. However, this is the deepest fear I have ever encountered. It has been there for such a long time and I am not even sure what I am scared of. Still, I am determined to get to the bottom of it so I continue to enter the dark spaces with my partners and to explore what is in there. Healing myself, and hopefully contributing positively to my partner’s life as well. Aiki is my food. I can’t really go a day without it. The hunger I feel when there is no practice is a nightmare. The lights go out and there are darkness. I need the light to survive.

The physical improvement in my practice after realizing this is that my awareness has increased. It happened instantly. I still remember the first session after each of the three incidents. I can’t solve the problem in my shoulder, but I feel every little detail about where it is and how it feels. I grab my friends whenever I can to work on this. It is deeply important for me. It feeds me. Doing tai no tenkan in the practice, waiting for busses or trains. In the car going on aiki road trips, at the gas station, in the pub or in the café, wherever we are, sitting or standing, there is always room for some keiko.

From the 50th anniversary party of Stockholm Aikikai. Some post session keiko with Hans. Photo by Bratislav Stankovic.

From the 50th anniversary party of Stockholm Aikikai. Some post session keiko with Hans. Photo by Bratislav Stankovic.

I am always writing at the end of my posts that aiki make people happy. That is what it feels like for me. I know that it also goes for most of my partners. I can really feel that they are getting more happy. It is solving a problem which makes us unhappy, it feels great and we become joyful and feel good. I do not know if it works like that for everybody though. Maybe some people don’t have any problems which needs aiki.

Enjoy your keiko! I do not know how it is for normal, healthy people, but for me it is the meaning of life. It makes me happy.

Hugs to you all!