Patience


Patience

by Lynn Seiser

The article below does not necessary reflect the point of view on Aikido of our club Aikikai Gent. However, we think these articles provide really ‘food’ for deeper thought on Aikido and it’s value.
This article appeared on the forums of aikiweb

Breathe in; know what you want.
Breathe out; slowly walk in that direction enjoying the scenery and the companionship.
Patience.

“We want the world and we want it … now! (Jim Morrison, Doors)

There is so much power in the word “now”. We are told it’s all about the present tense, the here and now. This moment is all we have because the past is gone and the future is not yet here. Seize the moment. Fast food, fast cars, and faster computers. Buy now and pay later. Up to date but out of breath and patience.

Most people I know would love to get a black belt in any martial art. They want the end result. They just don’t want to spend the time and expend the energy to train. They go to McDojos where every few months, whether they have attended or not, they get tested, pass, and receive a promotion of a new color belt. They sign up for the black-belt package to ensure they will receive their just rewards without ever having to actually do anything. They are entitled. They want and they want it now. Which often explains why they don’t have it and probably never will.

Most people want the world to be different (or at least they want it the way they want it). They just don’t want to have to do anything to make it that way. They don’t have self-discipline or the patience to let things happen. They try to make it happen and make it happen now.

Where did we get this idea that we can want what we want and we are entitled to it now without any investment or participation, let alone responsibility and accountability?

Not everything is about you or can be achieved or obtained now. Sorry.

I have talked a lot in past columns about realizing it is not all about you, which is disappointing at first but a real relief later. Later, now there is a concept worth considering. Perhaps the results of my current efforts will be rewarded later. Perhaps we need to see past the now into a bigger picture.

As a psychotherapist I am all too familiar with how often the internal dialogue is all about me and all about now. Most of the people I work with have a high degree of dissatisfaction, anxiety, and depression. A lot like most of us. It would appear that the contagious thought virus of media and consumerism has made them financially rich and us emotionally and financially poor.

So what does this have to do with Aikido?

As you know, Aikido is not an easy art to learn. It takes patience. Patience is enjoying the now because it’s moving us in the direction of what we want. Patience, like so many things, is not very common but fortunately is a learnable skill. Since developing it assists training, I thought I would offer some suggestions.

Whether we know it or not, time is not only externally measured by the clock. Internally we have our own representation of it. Ask yourself the following questions: When I think of the past, do I put it to my right, middle, left, up, down, front or back? When I think of the present, do I put it to my right, middle, left, up, down, front or back? When I think of the future, do I put it to my right, middle, left, up, down, front or back? Now connect the dots and you see they form a visual time line of past, present, and future. It will actually work more efficiently and effectively if you orient your time line for left (past) to right (future) slightly in front of you.

If you are impatient, you may have a very small time line, or everything is collapsed in the same place, the present, the now. Overwhelming isn’t it? (BTW, anxiety is often taking our negative future fantasies and placing them into the now like they are already happening while depression is taking our negative past memories and placing them into the now as if they are still happening and will continue to happen in the future.)

The best way I know to create impatience and frustration is to take a picture of what you want and place it in front of you. Now take a picture of where you really are today and place it in front of you. Now try to make your reality into your fantasy and have it happen before you tie your belt and bow in. The discrepancy between where I want to be and where I am can be the cause of my impatience and frustration. I am simply not there, yet.

Yet is a great auditory tag in speech. It is not that you will never have those belts and skills. It is just that you do not have them yet. If you truly want them, you can probably get them, just not today. Not yet.

So, how does one create patience?

One way is the take that image of the goal (the belt or the skill) and place it further down the time line into the future. While time management will often show that a task will take as much time as you allot for it, I tend to like some cushion and realistic expectations to my planning.

With my past performance to my left, my present straight in front of me, and my future to my right, I just might be able to make a realistic action plan on how to get from A to B, or the present to the future. (Sorry, we really cannot do anything about the past.)

With my direction and course of action set, I can settle into just everyday training. Every session will give you more and more patience as you make more and more progress towards your goal. After awhile, you may forget your goal and just enjoy the training. The funny thing is that you may just find that with patience and discipline you will have been so caught up in the journey that you obtained and surpassed your goal.

The fastest way to progress is slowly. The best way to make time go by quickly is to be mindful of what you are doing. With each class, bow in and say to yourself that you have not gotten there yet, but you are making progress in that direction and that is good enough. Bow out and say that was fun and look forward to coming back again.

Breathe in; know what you want.
Breathe out; slowly walk in that direction enjoying the scenery and the companionship.
Patience.

Ledyard :

You are always welcomed to play “devil’s advocate” with me anytime. In fact, its already been to long.

Total agreement with not hiding behind “patience” and self-limiting beliefs. These are truly our obstacles that in overcoming teach us some of our most important lessons in life.

That is why I advocate the tag line “yet”. I just haven’t gotten it “yet”, but I will. Maybe not this lifetime or the next, but if I keep going, I will eventually get it. But having traveled further down the path, I will see further and continue the journey. It isn’t a destination, its the path itself.

The “thirst” for me is more like breathing itself. While I can be very happy and content with where I am, I know there is more and I am more than curious. I am compelled to go after it.

Patience and thirst are not mutually exclusive. Together they are the basis of maintaining a direction through daily discipline.

At almost 60 myself, I am not inpatient because that makes me try too hard (motivated my negative self assessment and criticism) and I get it even less. Like anything fine, I enjoying sipping my thirst slowly and sharing it with friends
I am going to play “devil’s advocate” here. While I agree that patience is required in ones practice since there is simply no fast way to get really good at this art of ours, it must be balanced with what I will call the “thirst for knowing”.

I have noticed over the years I have spent around my own teacher and various other teachers who function at a very high level that many people fall into the “habit” of not getting it. Class after class, seminar after seminar, for years and years they train with these teachers and get no closer to understanding what they are doing than they had been a decade earlier.

I have noticed that many people actually hide behind this “habit” of not understanding because it is safe and requires no fundamental changes in how they relate to others, no reassessment in who they think they are, all of which real progress would require. People are generally afraid of change. They are especially afraid of changing themselves.

I taught a seminar during which I worked with a student of a number of years on a particular aspect of a technique. I gave him very detailed explanation of what to do, walked him through it step by step, and he did it. He then looked at me with a completely puzzled look on his face. He should have had an “ah ha” moment… but instead he was holding onto his “habit” of not getting it.

I see many, many practitioners of the art who simply buy into the idea that they won’t ever be as good as their teacher, that’s it’s therefore ok not to worry about not being that good, and therefore they don’t actually need to try. This attitude extends even to people who have taken on the role of teacher to others.

So people tell themselves that if they are just “patient” it will come eventually. Well, it won’t. You have to be “hungry”, you have to want it. You may know that it won’t come “now” as Seiser Sensei talked about, but the difference between “now”, days from “now”, years from “now”, and “never” is how much you want it and how hard you are willing to work.

Patience in your training is only a virtue as a balance for your drive to “get it”. Your desire for mastery is what compels you to train. Often, the frustration of wanting it “now” when it can’t actually be had “now” causes people to quit. That is because they did not have the counter balancing trait of patience. Patience keeps you in it for the long run.

But if “patience” is not balanced with that sense of “hunger”, the drive towards mastery, then it can simply be the excuse for not getting it. “now” becomes “tomorrow” or the “next day”. Eventually, it becomes “never”. And you have become the limiting factor in your own training because you were content with not getting it today. You tell yourself that there will always be another class, another seminar, another chance with that teacher. Well, it’s not necessarily true. The uchi deshi are passing away, we will not see their like again unless someone is “impatient”. Why assume someone else will do it? Why not you?

Somehow or other, I have gotten to almost sixty. I have little time left and an ever increasing sense of what I want to know. I have little sympathy for “patience”. I am “impatient”. Time is running out. One of these days there will be no more tomorrows for me to “get it”. I have only a limited time left for me to help my students “get it”. So I am “impatient” and I think that is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact I think it is crucial for my continued efforts at mastering this wonderful art, at least at some level I would find acceptable in my own mind. And what that level is seems to be constantly changing.

Seiser: