Showing posts from February, 2016

Catching "Correct Feeling"

In Kokikai Aikido practice, we're continually trying to catch what Maruyama Sensei calls correct feeling. This feeling combines stillness and readiness; awareness of everything around us and intense focus; strength and deep relaxation.

That paradoxical nature of correct feeling is one of the things that fascinates me most about aikido. I try to catch that feeling when I play music, especially when I improvise. I've spoken to people who engage in other practices, from writing poetry to playing basketball, who completely get this idea.

In one technique we practice, kokyudosa, catching correct feeling is essential. In kokyudosa, two students sit facing each other on their knees. Each extends their arms. Uke (attacker) holds nage's (defender's) wrists. Nage uses correct feeling to push uke backward. Kokyudosa, done correctly, is mind bending. A very small person can toss a big body builder. But if you don't have correct feeling, your uke is like a 4 ton truck: impossib…

Mastery Doesn't Bring Happiness

I once saw a dancer stand on a chair, and reach down and touch the floor with her legs straight. I really, really wanted to be able to do that.

After years of yoga, I now can do that - as long as it's a low chair. It's nice to be able to do. It's good to know I'm flexible. But it hasn't made me any happier.

I try to remind myself that becoming better at something is not going to lead automatically to being happier. After all, every time I get better, I'll just want to try something even harder. (Or - depressingly - as I get older, I'll be striving to do the things I could do just a few years ago.)

I'm not sure where happiness comes from. I know it's a lot harder for some people than others. But I try to remember to find it where I can: in human contact, friendship and love, in the sights and sounds of the world around me, and in appreciating the good things about myself.  Such as, I guess, the fact that I can do a forward bend.