Enjoying the first beautiful, quiet morning of a 4-day holiday weekend. No classes for a few days, but the two last night were so rich it may take 4 days for everything to sink in. The first offered a powerful new perspective on familiar techniques, and the second taught calm focus under pressure. I am so lucky to have such amazing teachers.

I’ve been much more relaxed, and really enjoying training, having discovered and let go of my energy on testing. Last night when Sensei was walking around watching our practice I was still trying to get it right, of course. But instead of worrying that he’d notice my mistakes when I made them, I was hoping that he would. He did, of course, and provided very useful feedback and clarification. So grateful for amazing teachers, and for being able to take responsibility for my own attitude about learning.

And now, a few days with my sweetie pie, family, and friends, puttering in the yard, time with the critters, and riding Rainy for the first time since starting Aikido.

Looking Back on 16 Days

Well, this post is a bit late, I meant to have it up on Sunday, but Monday will have to do.

If you’ve been reading regularly, you know that I just completed my own personal sort of 16-day Aikido Intensive. I was on my own for 16 days, so free to ignore the niceties of civilized life. Like sitting down to meals. Or having conversations. I took the opportunity to do as much Aikido as possible, to see what that would be like.

It was a sort of vacation for me – not from work (there was plenty of work done), but a vacation from normal daily life. It was a personal challenge. Could I do that many classes? Could I keep myself healthy and sound? It was a trial run, and practice, for a 4-day seminar I’ll be doing in January. It was a great opportunity, to do such a variety of classes, and gain so much experience in such a short time. It was a learning experience, in which I discovered a lot about myself. It was hard. And it was a tremendous amount of fun.

Committing to being in classes every evening meant leaving work an hour early every day. That meant getting in an hour early (and I am not a morning person). It meant kicking butt during the time I had available. And I did it. The work got done, and done well.

I learned that sleep, and days off to rest and reflect, are critical, as is eating well, both for physical endurance and healing, and for being able to mentally absorb what I was learning. I need time for lessons to sink in – time to think about what I’ve learned.

Like any adventure, I’m glad I did it, I’m glad it’s over, and I’ll miss it. Tonight will be the first night since the 5th that I could go to class, but won’t. I’ll be tending to my horse’s injured hoof, having dinner with my husband, maybe doing a bit of reading, and getting a good night’s sleep. But I’ll also be very aware of what I’m missing, and feeling a little sad about that.

Would I do it again? Not next week, no. Exactly the same way? No. But would I do it again? Hell yes.

Create each day anew by clothing yourself with heaven and earth, bathing yourself with wisdom and love, and placing yourself in the heart of Mother Nature. Your body and mind will be gladdened, depression and heartache will dissipate, and you will be filled with gratitude.

Morihei Ueshiba (O Sensei), from The Art of Peace, translated and edited by John Stevens

[A month ago I would’ve thought of this as some lovely idealistic vision, but it’s becoming my real daily experience.]

There’s been a discussion on AikiWeb lately, “Aikido Changed My Life!" about the ways one has been changed by Aikido.

I have been practicing Aikido for only a little over 6 months. Even in that short time I have had many experiences of not recognizing myself, more so in the past few weeks.

The changes I can explain are changes I have intentionally made – better fitness, weight loss, a more disciplined approach to some things at work and home. (I shared some of these in a post before my first exam ”Reflections at the First Milestone“, and will share more recent ones another time.) In making these changes my practice of Aikido is a piton* in the rock face – a source of support and safety that enables me to climb higher.

But there are many changes I cannot explain. I’m happier, more settled, less cynical, more focused. I’m more aware of the emotions of people around me, more willing to be open and vulnerable with people, filled with gratitude, deeply touched by kindness. I’ve grown, and watched others grow. Things that were hard are easy. I never expected this.

This path is taking me through some unfamiliar but breathtaking territory.

*Pitons ("PEE-tahn”) are those metal pins that mountain climbers pound into cracks and then hook onto to keep them from falling to their deaths if they slip.