Heart Opening Moments

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Aikido Life

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Typical training day to explore freestyle movements at the Dojo of the Four Winds in Encinitas

It was raining, traffic was light, and the lights by the on-ramp of the freeway had been turned off after the heavy morning commute. I was driving behind a fancy sports car heading down the on-ramp and suddenly the car stops right by the traffic light in front of me leaving me no time to break. Trying to break yet sliding on fresh rain, unable to stop in time, I swerved to the right lane and quickly passed by. No red traffic light, yet the car decided to stop. Somehow my base model CRV got out of the way effortlessly, and to my surprise I was completely calm.

My training partner always shared with me that aikido should translate into all aspects of our lives, and I agree. At the time he and I had been training for several months getting ready for our 3rd degree black belt test. We trained extensively in freestyle with three attackers, and were learning that part of being effective is the concept of evasion. I was getting better at sliding by an attacker without an active confrontation. In our training this allowed time to face the next attacker and the one after that. I never thought much of it during training. Most of the time training was training and I was just trying to survive. Only in hindsight was I able to see that my training in aikido saved me from countless near accidents on the road.

Several years ago I spent five and a half weeks in Japan visiting family and training in aikido. After a whole day of training, I would ride my bike back to the apartment late at night feeling completely exhausted and unable to think straight. The side streets merging onto the main road were small and dim. The last night during my stay, friends took me out to celebrate with traditional sushi and lots of beer. As I got on my bike to head back, it was already past midnight. There was almost no traffic on the road and I was riding along the main road submerged in my own thinking. Suddenly a dark transport truck came out of the perpendicular dark alley cutting directly in front of my path. My eyes glazed and my body moved on its own. The next thing I knew I took a quick right angle turn and was traveling parallel side-by-side right next to the truck – my body touching its dusty driver side door. I told sensei what happened the next day and he laughed, “YES! That is aikido! Good Pivot!”

In the first instance the evasion training in freestyle helped me to escape a collision in the fresh rain. In the second instance the pivoting technique we use often helped me to avoid getting hit by a truck. And this natural harmony was happening more and more in my life where conflicts used to occur. I thought perhaps I was just lucky, but on later reflection I was able to see how aikido training of the body/mind/energy has made me more effective in navigating in life without “collisions”. Most other martial arts I’ve experienced or seen embraced “collisions” as a way to win or dominate in any given situation. Instead, aikido asks practitioners to re-wire our thinking from fight-or-flight to harmonious interactions in any confrontation. With so many of our teen students getting ready to drive, I can’t help but smile to myself that aikido training is producing better drivers on the road. In a small way perhaps we are making a difference.

 

February 8, 2019 Posted by | Aikido Wisdom, Inner Growth, Self Realization | , , , , | Leave a comment

Smile, Greet Chaos

Order in Chaos

Forces of nature took wind, rain, disorganized pine needles into a beautiful orderly piece of art. Organized Chaos, copyright 2011

True perfection seems imperfect,
yet it is perfectly itself.
True fullness seems empty,
yet it is fully present.

True straightness seems crooked.
True wisdom seems foolish.
True art seems artless.

The Master allows things to happen.
She shapes events as they come.
She steps out-of-the-way
and lets the Tao speak for itself.

– Tao Te Ching ch.45

This verse came at the perfect time when my world came crashing down with so much chaos and so many uncertainties. The engineer in me felt so overwhelmed and unable to plan everything to meet the next challenge.

“Let go and let God,” I thought. I have witnessed miracles happen in the past and it can surely happen again. Just like the Tao Te Ching verse, I can shape events as they come instead of planning how to counter every possibility in advance. I can step out-of-the-way and allow God/Tao to do its work. Time after time I have witnessed chaos turning into order. This time I must step out-of-the-way for God to enter. I must have faith and trust things will work out for the best.

Alright. All that sounds too good to be true and I’m personally sick of hearing all the new age spirituality mumble jumbles. Another part of me wondered if I just wait for God and what if God didn’t even get my message asking for help? How can I sit here mediate and wait for God when my car is totaled, my body is in pain and my finance decided to take a vacation?

Could there be a middle way? That is exactly what I had to do. After been suddenly rear-ended at a traffic light two weeks ago, I rested to gain strength and clarity before moving into action again. 1) Instead of hoping the insurance company will give me a decent settlement for my car, I did a few hours of research myself to find the acceptable price range; 2) used my facebook network to find the right healthcare for my physical pain; 3) talked to friends about their experience in such accidents and collected DOs and DON’Ts; 4) kept on my eyes open for the next car of interest while allowing my dreams to guide me to a specific model; 5) researched on consumer reports, local listings to find cars within my need; 6) mediated and listened to my body and got various medical treatments from chiropractic work to somatic trauma work; 7) I reassigned clients with other service providers so everyone will be taken care of when I’m out; etc.

Once I did all the work I know I could do, the rest was up to God. The results were astonishing. 1) The insurance appraisal for my car came back to be more than I had expected; 2) I found my chiropractor, acupuncturist and somatic trauma healer all from my network on facebook; 3) I decided to take my physical pain seriously due to various recommendations of friends who still suffer in physical pain from such an accident; 4) found the Honda dealer while remembering a dream of sitting in a new Honda and finding comfort; 5) determined the new and old Honda CR-V, Subaru Outback were my top choices; 6) I work through a lot of physical pain and can move my neck again while release locked emotional trauma associated with the accident and now I’m eased myself back into aikido training; 7) my clients are taking care of and two of them even came to the house to visit me. Finally just over the weekend when I didn’t know where to get the money to purchase the new Honda CR-V I really want, my dad called and offered to help me out with the payment. The dealer called me as soon as I hang up the phone with my dad and we settled on a purchasing price lower than Costco auto quotes. By Monday afternoon, I was able to sit in my new car freshly off the shipping truck and  now all I have to do is wait for the paperwork to be completed by early next week. The best part is I have met the most sincere insurance agent and car sales woman in the history of mankind. This painful experience did not break my spirit but instead made me stronger and more compassionate.

I’m still amazed how so much chaos can be dumped on someone through unexpected circumstances. It is even more amazing how much power we have to transform chaos into order, elevate pain into enlightenment. We do not have to be enslaved by our circumstances, we can smile, greet chaos and shape events the best we can. The secret is to listen, then act, and allow. “The Master allows things to happen. She shapes events as they come. She steps out-of-the-way and lets the Tao speak for itself.” Yes, indeed. Now onto the next challenge.

April 7, 2011 Posted by | Chinese, Emotional Freedom, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments