I was talking to my training partner the other day and the discussion led to “being in the moment”. I added that training in Aikido is about being here (at the dojo) now. Thinking back to that conversation, I reflected on the topic. What exactly does “being in the moment” mean?
Being in the moment is a state of conscientiousness that is free of stress. When we are in this state you are more creative, our thought processes are more active and we respond to challenges rather then react to them.
To get to this state, there are two core elements you need, awareness and response. My dad always told me, “You must always be aware of what is going on around us.(awareness)” This is a valuable lesson I learned growing up, but what my dad didn’t tell me was the second part of this lesson is the importance of processing what is going on around us (response).
Awareness and response go hand-in-hand. Once an Aikidoka keys into this awareness, they are in a powerful state. They reclaim their attention and can now direct it in purely constructive and creative ways. Awareness is but the first step because we can only control those things that we are aware of.
Part two of being in the moment is response. One of my favorite quotes comes from Zig Zigler, motivational speaker and author, “to respond is positive, to react is negative”. At first read you would think, “what is he saying”? Respond and react are the same things, right? Well, let’s look at this closely.
When we react, we are coming from a place of limitation. This limitation is the result of direct experiences that have caused us to narrow our ability to see a situation for what it really is. These direct experiences causes us to think we know what something is about and what it means to us (good/bad/indifferent), and then when we come upon that situation again we react with a pre-established, pre-defined action.
Reacting to a situation takes us out of the moment, there is no processing performed. We are not responding to the situation. We lose the first part of “being in the moment”, awareness. In our Aikido training, being aware and responding is important. We say we react to an attack, but in reality we are training to respond to the attack. We are being in the moment, in a state of awareness. This is most evident in randori training. Attacks come in all forms with no predefined order and our responses (techniques) are also not pre-established or scripted.
As we continue our Aikido development, let us stay aware of our surroundings and respond, not react, to the situations. Let us “Be in the Moment.”
Rey N. Robles
Southern Maryland Aikido Center