Life is full of surprises, and a doosey landed on my plate the other day: I was tapped to train up for a nidan test in April. Yes, that’s right, two months from now!
After my first reaction of “Yikes!”, I realized that I had asked for it (having set the goal of testing for nidan sometime this year, thinking that towards the end of the year was reasonable), and so I have the choice of accepting that this is the universe’s way of giving me what I asked for.
That being the case, it follows that I also have the choices of trusting the universe in providing the right experience at the right time, trusting Sensei’sjudgment, and trusting that I can rise to the challenge.
In other words, perhaps ’surprises’, for me, are merely opportunities for practicing trust…
May your life be full of ’surprises’ too…
I was over at Aiki-Doh!-ka’s place the other day to practice aikido with him. When I arrived, he led me down to the basement - he has a few discarded tatami that he has scavenged and calls the room his dojo. After we changed into our dogis and stretched out a bit, he suggested that we begin with kihon dosa, and walked over to the stereo to put on a CD.
“We’ll try something new,” he announced.
In a few moments the familiar strains of the “Blue Danube Waltz” flooded the room and he began to do shumatsa dosa ichi in - well, in waltz time.
After standing agog for a few moments, I decided to give it a try, praying that my wife wouldn’t find out - she’s been trying to get me to take ballroom dancing for years.
Darned if it didn’t help - and it was fun, too!
A-D kept changing the music for each different exercise:
“Ode to Joy” for tai no henko ichi and ni, “Dance of the Hours” (”Hello mudder, hello fadder. Here I am in Camp Granada” kept running through my mind!) for elbow power No. 1 and 2, and - well, you get the idea.
Then he put on “Pennies From Heaven” and we did a few sit-down breakfalls. I started to get a bit irritated when he kept telling me to relax and be “light as a penny”, but it passed.
Finally, he put on “Carmina Burana” and declared “Now we practicejyu waza!”
Oh well - at least he didn’t make me wear one of those Viking helmets…
We practiced one of my favourite things in aikido today - katate mochi renzoku (one wrist grasp, 180 degree pivot, with partner). We spent about 15 - 20 minutes doing this, back and forth, over and over, and I found myself falling into a meditative state.
This happened partly because of the repetition and simplicity of the exercise, and partly because I found a focus for my attention that allowed most of my mind chatter to fall away (I had a good partner, too!). Sensei had made us mindful of keeping our lead hand in our centre as we pivoted, and as time passed I began to feel that my hand was actually cradling something very precious.
After a time, I realized what it was:
The precious jewel of my partner’s spirit as she poured her energy and attention into the exercise…
This is but one reason why I love aikido…