Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Return to center

It's amazing how we can go through life, accomplishing so much, filling our lives, doing more, and even more, and even more. It's amazing how from the outside our lives can appear so complete, so right, so perfect. Yes, I am talking about my life. But yes, I am also asking you to ponder your life. Gandhi said "your life is your story."

Is your life, in all aspects (mind, body, spirit and heart) all you want it to be?

For me, I'm realizing i've been feeling a little off center. I'm also realizing the importance of remaining centered with a loving heart as I continue my work in animal rescue/animal welfare. There's an incredibly rewarding and heart-warming side to the work we do. There are also harsh realities, politics, and conflicts that can be distracting and disheartening. About fifteen years ago when I lived in St. Louis, Missouri I started taking aikido classes. I loved the holistic approach and the teaching of aikido not as a martial art, but as a way of life. This morning I find myself needing to find a way back to center. This morning I am considering returning to the path of Aikido. Aikido is a Budo (a martial art) created by Morihei Ueshiba. The following is from the Aikido of Minnesota website.

A pure budo comes with the unification of technique, body and heart. The budo, which will manifest itself, does not depend upon the technique, but rather upon the heart of the practitioner. The aim of Aikido is a kindness of heart expressed through this spirit of budo.

Here are some thoughts on the spirit of Aikido from the Aikido of Minnesota website:

Aiki is love.

Budo is the path of the warrior. Combined with the spirit of heaven and earth in your heart, you can fulfill your life's destiny with unconditional love for everything.

Aiki seeks to skillfully strike down the ego and inherent insincerity in battling an enemy. Aiki is the path of forgiveness and enlightenment. The martial techniques provide discipline for the journey of uniting the spirit and the body through channeling the laws of heaven.

The goal of Aikido training is not perfection of a step or skill, but rather improving one's character according to the rules of nature. One becomes "resilient" inside yet this strength is expressed softly. Movements found in nature are efficient, rational, and soft, while the center is immovable, firm, and stable. This principal of a firm center is universally consistent -- and must be true for each person. The culmination of Aikido is expressed by aligning one's center with the center expressed throughout nature.

At the heart of Aikido is the Eastern concept of Ki --the universal creative principle. Aikido seeks to unite this universal Ki with the Ki (life force or breath) found within each person. Literally, Aikido translates as "the way of harmony with Ki".

There are many paths that can lead us to our center. There are many paths that can help ground us. It's different for each and every one of us. I'm not exactly sure which one I will take. I begin today by simply noticing that my roots need watering. If my life is my story, there is work I must to do to nurture ... mind, body, spirit, heart. All are essential.

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