Moving Zen in Life

There was a time in my life when I worked with aggressive people. These were patients in need of mental support – all medically seeking medical intervention. I was on the other side of their quest for help. Often, these same people would attack the very healthcare providers they had sought help from. It was an interruption in these patients' intent – very commonplace.

The trick was to find a way to do what needed to be done to help these very ill people while respecting their need for waning independence, all while protecting oneself and one's coworkers. Very tricky! An amazing thing happened, arising from the constant assault on healthcare workers from these mentally imbalanced patients. We were introduced to Aikido.

The name Aikido means 'the way of harmony of ki' in Japanese and Chinese tradition. A better explanation is:

"Life is constituted by ki (in the sense of breath and energy), a force that manifests in respiration and that can be felt circulating within the body."

From this...we were trained in a very powerful martial art: Aikido.

Created from his philosophy, Aikido takes the premise found in martial arts with the caveat that one utilizes the energy of the assailant in a manner that protects both the defender and the attacker.

This thought has influenced my life for decades. How does one face an assault without receiving injury or causing injury in return? The answer lies is redirecting energy.

This Japanese martial art, developed by master Mohirei Ueshiba earlier this century makes heavy use of the concept of ki. Aikido is one of the more spiritual martial arts and has been considered as 'moving zen'."

The very approach has some Aikido masters at odds as to how this can be accomplished. However, the concept of thought remains the same.

Some believe that the physical entity Ki simply does not exist. Instead, the spirit, the intention, the bio-physico-psychological coordination through relaxation and awareness are concepts being used in the teaching.

I believe the key word in the above quote is: intention.

Our intention toward others, ourselves, the planet, the cosmic universe will direct our ability to remain "safe" – even in crisis. Our emotional state and view of our state is solid, founded in Ki when our intention is grounded in love and peace.

This does not mean we take a "hit" emotionally, as it were. In fact, the very opposite is true. In Aikido, we protect ourselves while protecting our assailant from harm as well. We do this by redirecting the energy. Consider events in your life, particularly those that seem overwhelming and difficult. You can either fight, take the "hit", or run away in most cases. Aikido thought suggests you re-direct – something taught in Yoga. An example would be taking a difficult yoga pose. You feel the struggle to maintain the pose, experiencing some discomfort in the process. Your choice is to fight, take the pain, quit...or...surrender. Yogis teach the concept of surrender by utilizing the breath and redirecting your energy. When this happens, you are able to observe without judgement, eliminate the notice of discomfort, and generally benefit from the pose, although difficult. The transformation in working through yoga with this energy-redirection teaches one of the principles of Aikido.

Understanding these concepts takes time and practice. My suggestion is to notice situations that seem emotionally difficult and look for ways to redirect your energy – your intent. Meditate on peace and in finding Ki in difficulties. Take an Aikido class to learn the skills. Practice surrender in Yoga to experience the concept. These are valuable life skills that are meant to bless us all.

Namaste ~ Marti

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