Posted by: yoko | September 30, 2005

Learning to Be Still

I’ve developed a bad habit that my aikido instructor calls “happy feet.” It’s akin to how boxers will dance around, anticipating a punch. Particularly in freestyle practice, when ukes (attackers) will do any attack from any side, I inadvertently do little skips to anticipate which side I will need to throw the attacker.

Last night, I was practicing shomenuchi kokyuunage, in which the uke does a karate-chop attack to the head, and the nage (thrower) responds by blending with the downward motion of the attack and then sending the attacker forward in a big fall. One of the senior members came to my side as I was throwing and whispered “don’t wind up.” Apparently, I had added a preliminary movement with my arms, rather than blocking, then blending with the attack.

It’s purely from nervous energy that I do this. I should strive to make deliberate, sweeping movements with confidence, and it will happen in time. I very much admire the more senior black belts, who have developed such fluidity in their practice. Where the younger advanced members use speed to their advantage, the older ones use more focused energy. I suspect that the injuries I sustained this past summer serve as an acute reminder that the lesson I need to learn is to focus, and to adapt to throwing and being thrown from places that are uncomfortable to me, if that’s what it takes to be fluid.

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Lately, I’ve found myself feeling antsy in preparation for Lipby’s move. At home, I do little, petty things, like closing half-open drawers and straightening slightly crooked books. My mind goes through weird, circular arguments, and I’ve begun to have those anxiety dreams where I’m looking for something that I can’t seem to find. Nervous energy, again.

Two nights ago, while I was preparing lesson plans for my music students, I had decided that I would teach breathing techniques for the next class. I practiced the techniques for deep breathing, and to my surprise, I felt calm and clear from doing them. One of my teachers once told me, when I got nervous, “don’t forget to breathe.” I had said as much to one of my students. I should heed my own advice.

As I make more room for Lipby, both in my apartment and in my heart, I know that I will need to keep in mind that it will be uncomfortable for me at first, having lived alone for so long and being unused to sharing space. But in time, we both will blend and move forward, and that is a sweeping movement that will be the biggest lesson of all for me.

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Responses

  1. “At home, I do little, petty things, like closing half-open drawers and straightening slightly crooked books. My mind goes through weird, circular arguments, and I’ve begun to have those anxiety dreams where I’m looking for something that I can’t seem to find.”

    I’m like that all the time! I close those half-open drawers and straighten those books even though the drawers are already closed and the books are already straight.

    I can’t even imagine being able to stand sharing my space with anyone, so I don’t have much to say on the subject… except that if you’re going to do it, I think you’ve picked the right guy to do it with!

  2. Truth to tell, I get tired of doing those little things. Best just to let it go.

    Yep, Lipby’s a good guy.

  3. Beautiful Entry Yoko. The way you described the deliberate, sweeping and confident movements of Aikido, I could just see Nicky’s fluid and powerful motions. I remember shomenuchi kokyuunage! (shokudata) Tonikaku,
    I have found that sharing space is actually quite easy. Well, maybe this isn’t fair since Mr. Bear is such an exceptional man (and I am sure Lipby is too!) Basically, we just blend. It all works out really nicely. I was nervous at first too… (Mr. Bear moved in with me before we were married – into my house of 700 sq. feet!) Tonalizations with students are crucial. First. I imagine that is the same as the breathing exercises – we do bowing exercises in the air. And motion and breath combine to make life (sound). Now I need to go do lesson plans. Be well.

  4. ‘Happy feet’ could include not testing untill Winter Camp don’t you think? You’re more than ready.

  5. What a lovely post. I’m excited for you, for this new way of living you are preparing for.

  6. I’m just now catching up on your life; didn’t have network access at home for a month or so. I’m so happy for you and Lipby! It seems to me an exciting and beautiful moment, when the exacting importance of the edges of yourself and space start to fade, as the other person becomes so comfortable and natural to you that they no longer count as outside world… still a huge challenge of course, but a beautiful and worthwhile one.


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