We practice Aikido to create a better world. No matter how long we’ve been training, Life is calling for us right now to step more deeply into presence, groundedness, serenity, decisiveness, and compassion. Our personal spheres need to be extra big—and filled with ki! Here are some things we can do with our attention and our bodies* to continue to cultivate all of this.
- Life is offering us the biggest collective ki test of our lives. Welcome its steady pressure. Take what you feel into your center and channel it down into the ground. Extend your center out into the universe. Feel how much you can actually hold. Feel your network of fellow aikidoka holding it with you.
- Widen your focus outward from self-preservation to the good of the community and the world. Prioritize based on the good of all. Take opportunities to be kind, to support another, to offer what you can from a safe physical distance.
- Notice the space that Life has opened up for us in the form of all we suddenly cannot do. Feel the pause that invites us to take. Blend with the stillness. Be aware of ways you try to fill it with the automatic busyness your body may be used to. As with on-the-mat technique, actively counter those urges. Relax your shoulders. Wiggle tension out of your body. Take deep, grounding breaths. Reach instead of push. Melt instead of pull. Pause. Move slowly. Starfish!
- Bring extra awareness to your connection to the ground. Anxiety takes us into our heads; we can counter this by taking our attention in the opposite direction. Go barefoot, feeling each point of contact between your foot and the floor or the ground. Open the soles of your feet to release tension into the earth and take up nourishing energy from below. Blend with gravity.
- Your home is now your sacred training space. Bow in and out of it. Keep it clean, spacious, harmonious.
- Stay accustomed to sitting in seiza. Meditate or work in seiza for a little while every day.
- Keep the ritual of practice in your body by doing the warmup sequence (as much of it as you can remember) each day. Take the time to do it fully, with a period of meditation before and after.
- If you’re hunkering with someone who doesn’t do Aikido, teach them the basics you know— hamni, seiza, ki tests, slow and gentle attacks, two-step, rowing exercise, etc. Transmission does wonderful things for our practice, and you’ll be gifting the world with your very own beginner Aikidoka.
- If you’re hunkering with a fellow Aikidoka, hopefully you’re already practicing together.
- Grass is a lovely substitute for mats. You can practice falling, rolling, kiai, weapons, and generally taking up space. Trees make wonderful kokyu dosa partners.
- Do solo weapons practice. If you don’t have a jo or bokken at home, get creative. Broomsticks, wooden spoons, sticks all work fine. Avoid live blades.
- Study your vocabulary. Read aikido books. Watch videos. The instructors have lists and recommendations if you need them.
- Let go of perfectionism. We’re all beginners at pandemics, and it’s going to take some trial and error to figure out how to navigate this new way of living. With the support of our dojo and other communities, we’ll make our way forward with exquisitely imperfect grace.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you have ideas, please email me or add them in comments. Check back frequently for more guidance and resources.
*With medical care being the precious commodity it currently is, please err well on the side of safety and not overextending.