At his dojo, George Leonard would sometimes have his students practice a certain aikido technique. Then, he would have them meditate for a few minutes. Next, he would have them repeat the same technique as part of their meditation.
The difference between the technique done before the meditation and after the meditation was readily apparent: the students movements were more natural, more flowing, less forced.
This week, we are looking at some of the key takeaways from George’s book The Way of Aikido and how we can utilize and benefit from these practices even if we never take up the martial arts.
Yesterday, we explored the power of meditation or mindfulness. One of the benefits of meditation is thought and action become one. The meditative state is even more important in jiyu-waza (freestyle) and randori (multiple attack), says George. In these advanced practices, one must be relaxed, grounded, centered, and energized in the present moment. Rational thought (“Since the attacker is aiming a punch at my chin, I’ll step aside, blend and bring his arm down”) would be ruinous.(what does this mean? why ruinous?)
“I have enjoyed rare moments in jiyu-waza or randori during which,” George writes, “I find myself in a place of utter clarity and calm, where it is always here, it is always now, and there is only harmony.”
We often think of meditation or mindfulness as something we do by sitting still. But we can bring this mindset and practice to other parts of our life as well, including walking, getting dressed, and bathing – essentially any repetitive task.
George shares washing dishes in a meditative state brings buoyancy and calm. He states: “Rather than feeling rushed, anxious to get the job over with, settle into the task of dishwashing as if it were a meditation.” George suggests we check our posture. Relax our entire body. Let our belly expand with each breath. Do not hurry. Be aware of and appreciate every motion. Stay in the present moment.”
Pursuing this type of mindfulness practice has powerful benefits. George writes: “During that magic interval, I’ve lived neither in the future nor in the past, but rather at the mysterious point of repose that exists in an entirely different realm: the eternal present.”
According to an old Taoist saying:
“Meditation in action is
A hundred times
No, a thousand times
No, a million times greater
Than meditation in stillness”
Reflection: What has been my experience with mindfulness and meditation?
Action: Experiment with an activity that lends itself to meditation in action.