Soft eyes, quiet mind.
Notice thoughts and let them go.
There! Feel it and move.

Great seminar today, about getting off balance, returning to center, discovering what’s possible now, and acting on that. How wonderfully appropriate (and enjoyable). I’m left with noticing when I’m thinking, planning, and trying to direct, rather than just seeing what’s in front of me, and doing what’s available.

Before I got horses, I got chickens as “practice livestock,” to see if I was up for the whole feeding-and-cleaning-every-day-and-night thing. I made some mistakes, and learned a lot. After a year, and still enthusiastic, I tore out trees, got the yard graded, put in a barn and fencing, and dove into horse ownership better prepared for having had that experience with the chickens.

In addition to being fun and worthwhile on its own merits, this two-week period of training at every opportunity (now at only day 5 of 16) serves a similar purpose. This time it’s to help me be more prepared for the Aikido Bridge seminar in January. And true to form I’ve made some mistakes and am learning a lot. A few lessons so far:

  • Do not take on any other projects. Like grocery shopping, laundry, or cooking food. Get that stuff out of the way well beforehand.
  • Do not make commitments that keep you up into the wee hours. Aikido on 4 hours’ sleep and 10 cups of coffee is way less fun that you might imagine.
  • Get plenty of sleep for at least the week before. Going into a more-intense-than-usual training period coming off a week of sleep deprivation is stupid.
  • Don’t plan anything at all in the evenings. Feed the critters, take a hot bath, go to bed with ice packs on anything ouchy.
  • Eat as well as possible. Living on snacks (healthy ones though they may be) is not a good strategy for having lots of energy and endurance.
  • Warm up and stretch in the mornings. Being tight and achy before class usually leads to guarded rolls and falls, which leads to more tightness and discomfort.
  • Remember what trigger points are, and how to use them.
  • Do not try to sneak in a few hours of extra work “in your spare time.” There isn’t any.

I’m sure there are more, but I’m too tired to think of them. Time for some stretching, a hot bath, and, well, 6 hours sleep. Sigh.

Discovering Connection

I suppose it’s true that in any pursuit, the more you learn, the more you realize how little you know.

At a few points thus far in my short Aikido journey I’ve had glimpses what might lie along the road ahead. Vague outlines of the tops of distant mountains. A barely perceptible pre-dawn glow from a city beyond the forest. Is that the wind, or the roar of a far-off river?

I had one of those glimpses recently, when Sensei demonstrated in a simple technique the difference that connection makes. No connection. Connection. Twenty seconds out of a ninety-minute class, and the impact was profound. More about that, please!

From this shore I’ve seen a bird fly in from another land, away over the horizon. Next Sunday we row out to begin exploring it. I can’t wait.