Taking Aikido with Us

I love going to the dojo. It’s a centered, focused, bullshit-free experience. The etiquette, aesthetic, and whole feel of of the place make being there a real pleasure. The people are friendly, supportive, committed, and working toward shared goals. There is structure, but there is constant discovery and newness, too. At the end of a trying day it’s wonderful to walk through that door, take a deep breath, and put everything else aside for a while. I love being there, and I miss it when I can’t go and train.

The obvious solution is to go and train more. And that’s not a bad idea. But it’s not possible to train all the time. There are also family, work, home, animals, community, and other interests. Oh yeah, and sleep.

More important, the point of training is not to escape from the world, it’s to make the world a better place. I’ve been thinking lately about what I can take from Aikido training and apply to other areas of life.

I’m not talking about what people typically mean by “off-the-mat Aikido,” which is more (as I understand it) about using Aikido principles to resolve conflicts in other areas of life. Blending with someone’s point of view in a business meeting, for example.

I’m thinking more of what it is about training that makes that such a compelling and rewarding experience. What works – practically, logistically, spiritually, personally – about doing Aikido that makes being at the dojo such a joy? What practices can be applied to work? To horsemanship and riding? To relationships and community? Even to daily chores? Everything from the mundane, like doing stretching exercises before engaging in strenuous activities like riding, to the bigger pictures, like creating and nurturing a sense of community.

I’ll be posting some thoughts on this from time to time, and would love to hear yours, too.