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Meditation / Mindfulness (2)

What is the end result of a person who has been practicing meditation or mindfulness for a long time? What does that look like? How is that desirable or applicable to martial arts?

The Quiet Mind

A common image of someone who has done meditation for a long time is someone who is not perturbed by anything. They remain mellow and kind even when there is distraction or adversity. 

One helpful "device" I have used is to imagine, what does an intermediate person look like? What does a "sort of" advanced person look like? Furthermore, one thing my teacher said to me was, "Isn't the whole point of all this (practicing a 'budo') to cultivate a quiet mind? You observe your mind. You quiet it. It gets perturbed. And you return to quiet mind more and more quickly." So a goal or image that is more practicable than the ideal is, develop the skill of returning to a quiet mind. This return becomes more and more quick. And losing the quiet mind becomes more and more infrequent. Central to this skill is the capacity to observe oneself. 

In aikido, we practice with cooperative partners. We know a lot about what is about to happen - the prescribed beginning and subsequent responses to our paired forms ('kata'). Even then, there is so much variation between partners and from moment to moment. A beginner in aikido likely has their plate full with learning the forms and trying to make it "work" with the variety of partners. An intermediate person often gains confidence in their knowledge of the forms and faces the pitfall of complacency - of doing the familiar without noticing the differences and subtleties.

 

From the earliest stages, it is highly advisable to start observing oneself. How much tension one has in their body and mind. How flustered or calm one is moment to moment, during movement with the partner. How much physical strength one is using. The techniques, the ritual - everything one does in the dojo may ultimately be simply opportunities to practice developing a quiet mind. 

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