Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Four Basic Principles for Living

The four basic principles of Kokikai Aikido are:

These principles underlie every part of the practice of this wonderful art of self-defense. They are also fantastic principles for living everyday life. I tell new students at Rutgers that if they only take one class they can get enduring benefit if they keep these principles in mind.

Here's one way I put them into practice. There are times when I get agitated, angry, or can't stop thinking about something (even though I would like to). First step is to notice that I am agitated, angry, or etc. Then I pick one of the principles and focus on it.

It's amazing how even the "physical" principles, like keeping good posture, or physically relaxing my body, can affect your state of mind.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Hunger is the Best Sauce

Lately I've been trying to balance my desire to improve as a musician with being mindful and appreciating my current level of ability. It's human nature to want more. It's hard to step off the treadmill of responsibility and self-deprecation and practice to pause and appreciate the music I'm making right now.

This reminds me of how I relate to hunger. My Aikido Sensei likes to say, “Hunger is the best sauce." When I'm hungry and begin to eat, the food tastes so good! There's nothing like that first bite! After that, though, I keep eating without engaging with the taste of the food. I just think, "More," usually without realizing that the food has stopped tasting the same.

Nothing changed about the food. My body's just suggesting that I don't need any more. If I would only listen instead of always thinking ahead.

Maybe you think this metaphor's a bit of a stretch. But I think trying to be satisfied with where you're at as an artist is definitely as elusive as mindfully tasting every bite of my food...