Monday, December 07, 2009

Aikido as a De-stresser

Today, dealing with day to day situations and yet enjoying a reservoir of inner peace is challenging enough. Life has built up a frenetic pace, especially in the metro cities. Throw in drugs, terrorism, porn, communal and religious politics - we have a Pandora's box open.

Chasing as we are our dream of material super wealth, when mishap strikes, we are like deer caught in headlights: ill equipped to deal with life's exigencies. Forget about the external issues, how do we handle issues within our families and in our relationships ? The age old tit-for-tat rule reigns even now, and well wishers who come in to resolve disputes end up aggravating them.

We need to equip ourselves to have a balanced perspective on life. We need a poise to be able to deal with life's challenges. Why?

We have to eat for ourselves, breath for ourselves, and pretty much everything else. Why not think for ourselves as well ? Nobody else can do that for us. If they did, even if with the best of intentions, it would be from a skewed view of situations. Only you have the true picture of your life.

Let us see how Aikido's(a Japanese martial art) philosophy can help us in our challenging issues.

Aikido's basic philosophy is non-resistance. It is not just non-resistance: neutralization is a more accurate description. While Christ exhorts us to turn the other cheek to an attacker, Aikido advises to turn your cheek before being hit. in other words, it entails us to maintain a constant alertness.

Aikido does not aim at vanquishing and destroying an opponent. It aims at tuning in to the attacker's energy so that we can harmonize and neutralize it. For this reason there are no attacks practised in Aikido, except for training. Also, fending off an attack, an aikidoka does not look at how it turns out- it is just a deflection of energy of the attack- executed smoothly.

This is in contrast to conventional martial arts where participants aim for a decisive win. The word Aikido in Japanese means the way of Universal Harmony. It was founded by a Japanese martial artist, Ueshiba Morihei. He underwent prolonged training in Jujitsu and Judo before he developed his own unique art, Aikido.

Apart from the physical art, the principles of Aikido can be applied to day to day life situations as well. An excellent example is given by Terry Dobson.

It is about an incident that happened to Dobson while he was learning Aikido in Japan. You can see the essence of Aikido in real life. Please see Terry Dobson for the full story.

This incident demonstrates the secret of how Aikido can help us defuse tensions in real life situations: refuse to yield or fight against the anger in the other person. Instead we neutralize the energy by harmonizing.

In simple words, on a physical level: move in the same direction as the offending energy-push when you are pulled, pull when you are pushed.

Aikido practice has meditation as an important part of it. It is through meditation that one can achieve the thought free state, a prerequisite for seeing things as they are. Through meditation and Aikido practice, practitioners achieve such feats as having irresistible power in hands such that they cannot be stopped etc.

As there is no winning and losing in Aikido, it does not have tournaments either. Perhaps you can say a practitioner loses when he becomes angry.

Suppressing anger is not the way to resolve it. When we maintain a non-critical, non-judgmental awareness of the thoughts and emotions arising in us, they automatically quiet down. The peace that you experience forms an aura around you and transfers to others.
Note: This article was posted on on Dec 8, 2009. Link: Here
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