Autumn has been winding down with a clutch of warm, sunny days that beg for long walks and bonfires. Most of the leaves have been stripped off the trees, and those that remain flutter like Tibetan prayers rags, the trees stark against a porcelain blue sky, bare branches forming a kamae to the heavens. Time seems suspended with a promise that winter will never come, and we believe it, even though we know it’s not true.

Life is full of things that we believe that are not true. Some, like the hope that winter will be delayed indefinitely are relatively harmless and are easily let go of with a sigh and a smile. Others, like the belief that the pain of the loss of a loved one will never end, or the anguish we feel when we believe we can’t change, even when we know we have to, are harder to let go of.

Aikido gives us many tools to gather the spiritual ‘oomph’ we need to let go of our illusions and continue to move forward into a life free of fear and doubt. Let me give you an example:

Let’s say, like me, you’re making a lifestyle change like quitting smoking. You may face many moments of doubt that sap your belief in a positive outcome. Keep your bokken handy, and when that feeling arises, slash it to smithereens with a few dozen shomen cuts.

Can’t swing your bokken around at work? Practice shin ko kyu, or any breathing exercise, until the anxiety has been dispersed. 

Need to ‘change state’? Tori fune undo, or rowing exercise, will help you move out of a wishy-washy space and hone your resolve anew.

And last but not least - go to class as much as you can…