Spiritual Practices

Early this year, I introduced students to a way of practicing their suburi that incorporated kotodama and a specific controlled form of breathing.

One of the senior students suggested the exercise become part of our everyday curriculum.

It will not.

The point of the practice was to provide an insight into their normal training that they may not otherwise have had. To this end we will perhaps repeat the exercise from time to time, but it will not become part of our regular training routine.

Over the years I have been asked, on more than one occasion, variations of the question:

Given the stated purpose of Aiki Ten Shin Sho Kai as a vehicle for self-transformation, why do we not have overt spiritual practices as part of our curriculum and general classes?

This is a bit like asking a Buddhist monk or a Shinto priest why they do not have more overtly spiritual practices in their daily lives.

We do not have the more traditionally recognised approaches to spirituality because we do not need them, the art is in and of itself, a spiritual practice.

To introduce such things as formal meditation, or lectures on spiritual matters would detract from the art and run the risk of separating it out into a purely physical practice in the minds of the students. For spiritual work we do this; for physical work we do this.

They are not separate.

Correct breathing, relaxation, stilling of the mind, centeredness, interconnection with all things and non-duality. These are all part and parcel of the physical techniques of Aiki Ten Shin Sho Kai. One cannot master the techniques without them.

Why do some students never realize this?

It could be that they simply do not pay attention in class. It is true, I did once notice a student who did not seem to be fully focused and listening.

Another simple reason is that like any system, you receive back based on what you put in. If you decide to take up any practice, spiritual or otherwise, but only ever do it at most, once a week, sometimes as little as once a month, then you are unlikely to notice any benefits.

Daily practice is required.

Daily practice with correct focus and approach.

Daily practice over an extended period of time.

So, why do we not have overt spiritual practices as part of our curriculum and general classes?

We do. We call it martial arts training. Please practice daily.

Kai Cho

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