speak your truth

Speak your truth peacefully.  This is a great aim of Aikido in communication.  When faced with someone who is speaking what you deem to be nonsense, it’s easy to do one of two things which are totally opposite of each other, neither of which is effective or healthy.

Option A is that we get upset and attack them, thus stirring them up and breaking down communication further.  We say things we don’t mean to say and have to go back later to do damage control if it’s a friend or loved one.   If not, we have an enemy out there wounded by our words.

In so doing this, we feel like we’re standing up for ourselves, and winning the argument, but in reality we’re reacting in accordance to them, therefore putting them in charge of the outcome.

This reaction is usually followed by remorse and guilt which is then oppressed.  When oppressed, it usually sprouts up in later interactions with people (or ourselves) and comes up more violently.  It then becomes a habit and a belief, and is then just the way we deal with things in life.

Option B is performed by the passive types, and in this scenario we feel it’s best to just not say anything in fear of option A occurring.

This is usually followed by driving home later in the day wishing we had “stood up for ourselves”.  We beat ourselves up over it.  We see ourselves as weak and this is usually oppressed, sprouting up later and becoming a belief, soon becoming the way we live our lives (see option A).  Although this reaction seems totally opposite than option A, it is the same in that it is a reaction.   This reaction, too is doing the same thing which is putting them in charge of the outcome.  They have shut you up.

All is not lost though, as there is a third option which is the “aiki” way of dealing with someone giving you resistance.   Let that person talk and really study them.  Give them 100% of your attention and try to see their point of view no matter how difficult that may be.  Just because you see their point of view doesn’t mean you have to accept it as yours.  Relax your shoulders and the muscles in your face.  Focus on your breathing and control it taking long slow breaths from your abdomen, in through the nose and out through the mouth.  Find your physical center and focus on that point which is about 2 inches above your navel.  Breathe into and out of that point.  Lighten your gaze.  When you feel the most natural opening, coming from center, speak your truth peacefully, but fully.  This comes out in the essence or character of your words.  It carries forth in your intonation and body language.  It may be best to not go in direct opposition to what they say, but instead to take what they’ve said completely out of the equation and speak your truth, in a comfortable and inviting way, and usually with a smile.  Not a condescending smile, but a sincere smile.

If you do this, and they still take offense, it’s totally their deal.  In most cases, after they think about it and cool down, they’ll at least respect you for the way you handled yourself.  You’ll be able to sleep better because you’ve taken control of your presence which is all you have control over anyway.  You spoke your truth powerfully, not forcefully.  You came from a place of, “this is what I believe regardless of what anyone else thinks” not, “you’re full of s**t”.  Which one seems like the most fulfilling mindset?

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be the flow

I think an important and helpful thing to do at times, especially when we’re really training a lot, is to stop where you are and think of O’Sensei.  Take a look at some of his pictures, read some of his doka, watch some of his films, whatever you can do to take a glimpse of what he was trying to do with this wonderful art.  It’s really easy, especially these days in our UFC-infused society, to go a different direction.  Not necessarily the wrong direction if that’s what you’re trying to do, but Aikido is Aikido.

The main focus of our training, according to the founder, is self-mastery.  He also said to not worry about watching his technique, but to listen to what he said.  (see “training with the master”) Aikido is a wonderful self-defense mechanism, but it is also very easy to get too engulfed in the mindset of worrying if your technique will “work on the street” or not.  “Am I taking uke’s balance?” “Am I leading uke correctly?”  “Can Uke hit me from here?”  “Is this yonkyo really putting the pain on?”.  These are common concerns with ours that we can easily get way too caught up in.  We totally leave our own center and start worrying about….them.  Stop.  Come back to center.  You are the center.  Don’t go with the flow because if you think this way, you’re separating yourself from the flow.  Be the flow.  Bring them to your center.  You are here and alive and aware right now.  If you get fear out of the way and BE in your body, your beingness isn’t going to allow you to get hit and knows just what to do for the best outcome…you’d be amazed.  It sounds impossible, but it’s fun to shoot for.

When you see O’Sensei or read his writings, you realize he never got outside of himself.  You’ll never see a picture of him with a strained expression throwing someone hard.  You’ll never witness him “trying to take balance”.  He’s always relaxed, stable, and looks like the center of a top with uke flying around him.  In still photographs, he’s never blurred like he’s moving fast.  His grip looks solid but not hard.  This is the “aikiness” that he has blessed us with and we need to embrace it to truly reap the benefits of this art.  If that’s not what you want, it’s not what you want.  There’s other great martial arts out there that show you how to disarm a guy and break his face in a matter of seconds.  Just remember… Aikido is Aikido, and if we want to regain purpose and intention in our training, it’s helpful to recognize the founder of the art and see where he was coming from.

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