Posted on Mar 12th, 2006

I learn Aikido – a Japanese martial art. I didn’t start training so that I could fight anybody, because I have no need or desire to fight. I started training because of the connection between body and mind.

Soon after I started training in Aikido I discovered a fascinating truth: Aikido is life. What happens in the dojo (that’s what the training area is called), also happens in life. That is what I would like to share with you in this article.

During an Aikido lesson, the sensei (teacher) demonstrates an exercise or technique with one of the students. After this demonstration, all the students pair-up and practice the technique they just saw.

By practicing Aikido I learn how to accept, to connect with others, to follow. I learn harmony and intimacy. I learn many other important concepts, but one of them is the most relevant when discussing the connection between Aikido and stress: I learn to look for the place or the way which allows me to perform the exercise easily and effortlessly.

Most of us, both in Aikido and in life, tend to use force instead of looking for the easy way to do whatever it is we’re doing. We tend to walk into walls instead of finding a way around them.

In both Aikido and life, once I remind myself that there is always a way AROUND difficulties, and once I look for that way, I find that I can move forward easily and effortlessly.

Effort and difficulty are the building blocks of stress. Effort and difficulty consist of walking head-first into a wall, of resisting things, of fighting. Looking for that place or way where there is no resistance, no wall, is what enables you to move forward smoothly and effortlessly.

No difficulty, no stress. Life is good.

Now you may be thinking: “Oh, that’s quite easy to say, but other people are more than me – they have more money, more power, a better education. They are stronger.”

Let’s go back to Aikido to see what can be done. In Aikido practice, ironically it’s those who are stronger who have the hardest time learning. Why? Because they rely upon their physical strength.

Those who are smaller, like me – a woman, 5 feet 4 inches tall – cannot rely upon their physical strength to perform an exercise. When they try, they soon discover that it just doesn’t work. My partner will almost always be bigger and stronger than me.

I learned fast enough that in order to succeed, I must find a way to do the exercise without force. I realized that I have to use softness. The softer, less stiff I am in Aikido, the easier it becomes for me.

It works the same way in life.

All you have to do is choose to be more accepting, softer, to let harmony in. Look for the way that doesn’t involve conflict. There is always such a way.

Once you’ve realized that, a huge amount of stress leaves your life, and joy enters in its stead.

Copyright 2006 Dvora Ifat and Shunit Ben-Tzvi

Dvora Ifat and Shunit Ben-Tzvi are co-authors of "No Stress! How to Save Tons of Money on Shrinks and Doctors - Just by Reducing Stress!", a web authority on stress management and relief. http://www.nostressebook.com

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