By Lynn Seiser



Awareness of What MakesA Spiritual Experience
I don't always want to go. In fact, sometimes it takes a lot of effort to go early in the morning. I know I'll feel better if I go, after I go, but, I don't always want to. It's too early. It's too cold. I'm too old for this kind of stuff. I could get hurt. Yet, I'm going to go. I always do. It's a spiritual experience.

I study Aikido, a Japanese style of martial arts based on blending with an opponent, turning his energy against himself and controlling him through throws, takedowns and joint locks. I have been in martial arts a long time. These styles let me hit or kick back. But not in Aikido. It is a way of peace. It is considered a spiritual art and I know why. It's a spiritual art because it takes discipline, patience and humility.

Discipline comes from the word disciple; it means to follow. The dictionary defines it as training that develops self-control and efficiency. Usually for someone to be self-disciplined they were originally disciplined by someone else first. That is the usual way of learning, from the outside first, then from the inside. Discipline means to keep practicing until the movement becomes natural. This is not easy.

There are no secrets or shortcuts; there is only practice and more practice. By making one's self repeat a task many times we learn to focus on mind and body. We learn to talk ourselves into what must be done. Whether we want to or not doesn't even enter the picture. We follow the teacher's example. There is a right way and a wrong way. The right way works. The wrong way doesn't. Discipline in life is knowing what the right thing is and doing it, no matter what. Be aware, the right thing is not always the popular thing, but it is always the right thing.

Patience is needed to learn any new skill. We often resist change and tend to return to old habits and patterns of moving and behaving. It takes time to incorporate new changes in our lives. Patience is defined as the quality of remaining calm and enduring pain, troubles, delays and confusion. Patience is only a matter of time.

When I show up for my morning Aikido practice I know that at least I am there. Over time, if I keep showing up, the techniques will become easier and easier for me. My endurance will improve. My ability to blend with my opponent's energy becomes smoother. Aikido is one of the hardest martial arts to learn because it usually takes more time to learn than other styles. Perhaps it takes longer because we develop new ways of looking at and responding to being attacked. We do not meet force with force. Though it is a form of martial arts and leads to great qualities as a warrior, Aikido is a way of peace. Peace takes patience. What a better life and world we would have if we stayed aware that change takes time and learned to be more patient with ourselves and others.

Humility is the state or quality of accepting one's own shortcomings. It is to be modest about one's standing or position. I am always impressed by people who know all the answers when I never received a list of all the questions. I have always sought out teachers more skilled then myself, because they could teach me. Before I could open to learn, I first had to empty. This was simply done by humiliating me with my limited skills.

My Sensei (teacher) has no problem blending with my attack, throwing me to the mats and pinning me with two fingers. This is very humbling. And humility is what I need. Humility helps me to be aware of the limits of what I know and realize there is much more to learn. This is a valuable lesson in life.

Yes, it's early morning and I don't want to get up. I don't want to take falls against a cold mat. I don't want to sweat for an hour and a half. I'm too old for this stuff. Yet, there I stand. It's a spiritual experience. It teaches me discipline, patience and humility. For that I am grateful and will keep showing up and staying aware of the lessons.

Thank you for the opportunity to be of service and for sharing the journey.

Lynn Seiser Ph.D. is an internationally respected psychotherapist, consultant, speaker and writer in recovery counseling for offender and victims of violence, trauma and abuse. He is well known for his work in "holistic" recovery from addictions and his emphasis on "healthy" relationships. To discuss the benefits of his services, to make a referral, or to schedule an appointment please contact him at 550 Pacific Coast Hwy. Suite 203 Seal Beach, CA 90740-6601 USA. (562)799-1371 FAX (562) 596-1892 E-mail: .

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