Why do people practice Aikido? What's in it for me?
When we reach Shodan (1st Black Belt) in Aikido Kokikai®, we all submit essays on what our practice means to us. It is a great way to reflect on our own motivations and goals. We are encouraged to share them with each other. Here is an excerpt from one person's essay. It covers a subject that thoroughly resonates with me and I bet for most people. Enjoy:
"A few months after starting my new job I was sent to a conference in Boston. My
assignment was to report on the conference at our next department meeting. I would have to
stand in front of 60 people. I couldn't do it! For as long as I can remember I had been scared to
speak or stand in front of people. My fear had been debilitating. I missed or avoided many
opportunities in my life because of it. All I could think about was how could I get out of it? I did
manage to avoid the presentation by not showing up for work. I felt awful and it would only get worse.
A week later Judy Warner Sensei informed me I would soon be testing for 6th kyu. My
stomach sank. My head was spinning. I couldn't sleep. How could I get out of this? I would have
to quit aikido but I couldn't, I wouldn't, I'd come to love it. Then it hit me if I wanted to
continue with aikido and my new job I would have to do something about this fear. I looked for
and found mentors to help me. They taught me ways to deal with my fears. I had "butterflies" on the night of my 6th kyu test but I didn't run away.
After the test when I sat back with the rest of the students I looked up and framed perfectly in one windowpane above the shomen was the full moon in a still blue sky. It was lovely. I wanted to cry out of joy not stress. It was the perfect finish! I'll always use that image to remember the day I took my 6th kyu test and had no fear. I wanted this feeling forever. This was my sixth kyu dream!
A month later at work I was again asked to give a department presentation. This time I had to introduce my team to the department, giving a brief summary of who we were and what we did for the company. Before I panicked I remembered my 6th kyu test. I went to work the day of the presentation, stood in front of 60 people and gave my presentation! Since then my team members at work always "volunteer" me to handle our presentations and I'm more than happy to do them!"
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