Heart Opening Moments

BLOG of a Spiritual Stripper

Just Be Yourself

“Just be yourself. Everything else will happen naturally.” – Jacques Payet Shihan, 7th dan, Yoshikan Aikido

blossom effortless being

The foot of the trees are tied to earth. For I have blossomed so much, I am the envy of the gardens. - Rumi

This was one of the lessons from my week-long training with Payet Shihan. When I started training in aikido back in 2008, I couldn’t understand the miracle behind effortless power. There was something fake about aikido that my mind could not grasp. Small framed woman taking down a two hundred pound drunker in the Japanese Riot Police seemed far-fetched for me. I used to believe results can only be achieved through endless hard work and the man with stronger muscles will win the fight – until I experienced the touch of Jacques Payet.

He walks with an effortless strength that is paradoxical to the mind. He contains an unshakable core, soft demeanor, and tireless expansion of ki. He embodies aikido.

I walked with a stiffness in my neck and shoulders. I hold an uncertainty in my core, protective hardness in my demeanor, and uncontrollable expansion and contraction of ki. I embodied fear yearning for grace.

When Payet Shihan adjusted my basic aikido stance I felt a sense of natural freedom. As he asked for my upper body to relax and helped me to push my feet to take a stronger root into the earth, I felt an effortless balance in my body that is naturally strong. No matter how hard someone pushed me I did not need to resist. I was me and the push helped me to root stronger into the ground. No matter how hard someone pushed I did not loose my balance. I was me and the push helped me to define who I really am. The freedom of being naturally arises without consciously driving towards a specific way of being – it is natural, all encompassing, and all accepting. I was able to sense the teaching of ancient spiritual text of “let go, let god” in my body. And it was pure bliss.

As I spoke to Payet Shihan later during the week, he helped me uncover the cause to my recent personal difficulties as well. It seemed the cultural tendency of adjusting to someone else’s needs has been strongly engrained in my psyche. I would often let go of myself to make someone else more comfortable. I would stay in the background and force myself to be passive because I believe it is better for a woman to appear weaker. I have even gone as far as modeling after individuals I find embodying particular qualities so I can aim to cultivate these qualities in myself – even when it became unnatural for who I am. Often in aikido training, a student will imitate sensei to learn a movement too precisely in the mechanical form but in the end it was unnaturally for his own body. According to Payet Shihan, aikido training is the training to be natural. Natural for you is not always natural for me. It is about being perfectly balanced for the individual. Too much imitation can be dangerous. If we only focus on the blossom and forget to tend to the roots, a flower cannot share it’s true beauty. In my experience, only when I have a strong connection to God (being perfectly grounded in who I am), naturally I know exactly what to do and perviously seemingly impossible results blossomed miraculously. It is the classic process of “Being, Doing, Having”. Sometimes we can get so focused on the results of “Having” then we loose our connection to our core as we reach for an external goal. The key is being grounded, being balanced, and being natural.

As I embark on this journey into aikido, I am in deep appreciation of the inner beauty of nature. Everything about aikido contains an intrinsic grace that is effortless and non-pretentious. Everything about spiritual freedom is being natural.

Below is a video of Payet Shihan helping me falling into grace.

February 27, 2012 - Posted by | Aikido Wisdom, Inner Growth, Self Realization | , , , , , , , , ,


  1. What I’ve found interesting is that imitation can be useful… to a point. Beyond that point, I assess the outcomes of this imitation, figure out what parts work for me, discard the rest… and move on to my next obsession. This is mostly the case with ideologies. Whether it was my early experiment in a very strict form of Christianity (this is the first place I really recognized the value of this technique), my Randian Objectivist period, my complete adoption of the economic and political ideals of Henry George or, later, those of Murray Rothbard, I spend a period accepting and emulating a system of thought completely. (During this period, I can be quite annoying.)

    This is necessary, in my opinion, because I don’t believe myself capable of evaluating an entire system from a distance. It must be experienced to be known. But ultimately, bits and pieces of each one end up becoming a part of my cumulative synthesis.

    I suppose a physical equivalent would be if I were to learn a particular technique in a “rote” fashion, just go get it down and see what it feels like… then to decide for myself if the way I am doing it actually meets the goals it is supposed to meet. And then, alter it.

    Comment by Daryl Sawyer | February 27, 2012 | Reply

  2. Funny coincidence, we both had dojo/association trainings this past weekend. I also see you had the limelight for a while. I’d like to say I had my own, though perhaps not as glamourous. Happy trainings!

    Comment by Drew | February 29, 2012 | Reply

  3. Good luck Flo!

    Comment by Frank Seidl | February 28, 2016 | Reply

  4. I secahred a bunch of sites and this was the best.

    Comment by Etta | May 16, 2017 | Reply

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