This lesson comes from my aikido practice but it is true for many things in life. So, when I am practicing a technique in aikido against a person who is using some resistance, if I am not correctly aligned, responding to their action will be difficult and require me to use strength. It is one of the advantages of being a female aikidoka. Males, being generally stronger, can often use strength to get techniques to work, and consequently not take advantage of the full magic of the practice.
One of my favourite experiences during training is when I am struggling to do a technique, and then the tiniest, subtle adjustment can shift things from feeling really hard, to completely effortless. This is the magic of aikido. This can also be true for life — which I’m in the process of making happen. There are a lot more variables in life, but the principle is the same. I’ll let you know when I get there :).
ai — harmony
ki — spirit
do — way/path
The way of harmony with spirit. The way of effortless action. I believe this experience of the ‘sweet spot’ demonstrates the essence of aikido.
In 2014 I was early in my journey of setting up a business, but I was struggling. I came across a free ebook that described the nine personality types of the Enneagram in terms of being a business person. I printed off the ebook and started reading through the descriptions starting with ‘type 1′. When I got to ‘type 5’ — the investigator — I was blown away. I read about aspects of myself that i had felt were what was wrong with me — the things I’d felt ashamed of, like holding back, being a loner, endlessly studying and searching .. and realised I wasn’t alone — that there were huge numbers of people who thought and felt like I did.
This was the start of a deep journey in which I learnt about all of the types and for the first time I started to understand people. As I lay in bed at night, thinking about all these types, and piecing together a lifetime of interactions and confusion, I felt like my life was a massive puzzle that was falling into place.
One of the biggest gifts of learning about the Enneagram was that, in understanding myself and others more clearly, I could feel love and appreciation for what each person, including myself, was experiencing.
What followed was a journey back to the world, as I had removed myself from the world and ‘society’ to an extreme degree.
The best way to learn about the Enneagram is, much like I did, to read the descriptions of each of the types and to see what resonates.
The Enneagram describes a path of spiritual evolution.
In the past year I have started to learn a completely different way of understanding the Enneagram that precedes the personality structure approach. This is Fourth Way teachings and the Enneagram describes a process of evolution which I am beginning to study as ‘an objective way of awakening’.
This ancient symbol has a lot of depth and is something I expect I will be studying my whole life.
Anyway, this is a very simple (overly simple) introduction. I LOVE the Enneagram and I recommend it as a powerful tool for self awareness and guidance.
I used to be really rigid when it came to decisions. I valued reliability and liked to see myself as reliable. When i made a decision I would stick with it, regardless of the pain or the clear signs to stop or change direction.
In some ways this served me. I stuck with things until I learnt the lesson, allowing me to experience completion. But mostly it served to keep me stuck. It also contributed to a fear of commitment and a difficulty with making decisions.
I’ve learnt over the past couple of years in particular, and particularly thanks to two of my teachers, that not only is changing my mind okay, it can in fact be admirable. We risk being judged, feeling stupid, wasting time or money, disappointing other people, and taking responsibility for our life when we make a decision and change our mind.
Changing our mind means feeling into what is right for us, and adjusting accordingly. My tenacity and unwillingness to let go of an idea / decision in the past was because I was living mostly in my head. My decisions were generally a response to thinking and not feeling. I didn’t even know HOW to feel for most of my life. Bringing consciousness to my feelings is something I now practice every day. It is an important part of my process of awakening.
What about you? What is something you have ‘decided’ to do (or not do). Can you entertain the opposite? And when you make a decision, how much do your feelings play a part?
Let me know.
At the start of this year I set myself a challenge to get me up and running. I committed to ‘A lesson a day’ (though I didn’t set for how long) and for the first two months I did just that. But then I got a new job and other parts of my life needed attention so I let myself off the hook, and have been doing them sporadically now.
One thing I was happy to discover through this practice is that I have enough lessons to last a lifetime .. particularly considering I continue to learn every day.
I’ve been writing my lessons on the Medium platform which I love for the ease of both writing and publishing and subsequent editing. But in the meantime my blog has been languishing and my friends who want to hear what I have to say get locked out from my account after a while unless they sign up.
So it’s time for me to start sharing my lessons here on my blog (as well as Medium).
I’ll start with Lesson #1.