Saturday, May 1, 2010

AIKIDO AS MEDITATION

5/1/10 NOTE: I keep thinking about the concept and action of relaxing as it is used in Aikido. I find it the same type of relaxation I have been told I should seek when meditating. When we meditate, we are attempting [non-attempting?] to “let go” of our physical and mental tensions, internal disruptions and distractions. This is usually done by relaxing our entire being [including the effort to relax our entire being!], often by focusing on something such as a tone or our breath, to the exclusion of everything else. Unfortunately, I can not sit quietly for any length of time, for physical reasons as well as serious lack of the sort of self discipline needed. Five minutes of “stillness” and I become a total mental and physical twitch. Like asking a two year old to sit quietly.

But there are two rivers of meditation;
Soto, the calm, placid river which gets its strength from its depth and undercurrents,
Renzai, the active, dashing river which gets its strength from its coursing down a mountain side.

I practice Aikido as a form of active meditation. Often, I will use a technique as the thing to focus on. Ideally, once I have the moves of a technique [waza] and with much practice, I will focus on my breathing and my own center, comfortable in knowing that proper technique will enable partner to “throw them self”.
The thing I am trying to internalize now, is taking that relaxed, centered self off the mat and moving through the day with a “Taoist mind”. I sometimes manage this, particularly when driving or doing some routine work, but damn, it is hard to try, with out trying.

3 comments:

pete said...

aikido is supposed to be a moving meditation. you are on the right road ahead of a few of us. trauma brings us to a place where we seek the realm of calm sooner because it is more urgent to us. take care ginny breeland

Feeby Spirit said...

Good post with good points. I used to actively meditate once a day and I'm a writer so I spend a lot of time sitting still and internalizing... but about a year ago my mind decided it was safe enough to release everything it was holding back to protect me and I was diagnosed with PTSD.

That first year was hard. I couldn't understand why I couldn't sit still anymore. I'd get anxious and the more I sat or tried to find peace in the stillness in my mind the crazier I felt until it eventually made things worse.

Now I've mostly made peace with what the PTSD does with my perceptions but I still need to find calmness and meditate. About four months ago the idea to take up martial arts of some sort came to me because my brother took it up to help combat ADHD and I was already interested in taking up something like Tai Chi because I'm a Taoist by nature and it's always intrigued me.

Unfortunately no Tai Chi by me... so I started reading up about all kinds of other MA until I found something similar: aikido.

I know I'm rambling but I have a point, I too have discovered the solace I might find from my PTSD in Aikido and it makes me so happy to see I'm not the only one. I haven't started yet because I have to wait till the new semester at the college where it's offered but I'm very excited. To find balance again and find a place within myself where the chaos can be channeled. :) Thank you for your post.

Anna said...

Thanks to you all for sharing so candidly.

I am a psychiatric nurse practitioner working with veterans with PTSD for the VA in Long Beach, CA. I am looking into what it might take to develop a formal treatment program for PTSD using Aikido.

I am convinced that since PTSD is so felt in the body, that Aikido can help because it teaches the body that when there is conflict, there need not be a winner or loser; that there are more choices than to victimize or be a victim.

These ideas are beyond the capability of the brain's alarm system, which is the root of the problem in PTSD, but they are not beyond the thinking parts of the brain, which are engaged when one reaches for mental stillness.

I am hoping that Aikido can be used for many veterans to retrain the brain to let the thinking part be the master, and let the alarm system just be the good and faithful watchdog it is designed to be.

I would be very grateful to anyone who has insights or suggestions for me as I begin such a long process of program development, (likely 5+ years from now).
Please send your suggestions/ideas to me and anna.davis@va.gov.

Thanks so much!

Namaste'
Anna Davis