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Ueshiba Aikido e-Reflections
ISSN 1712-2341
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May 27, 2009

"Listen with your eyes, ears, and heart."

Rafael Oei Sensei

Of course you can't listen with your eyes, but I sometimes joke around with the younger students, indicating my eyes when I ask them to listen.  They laugh and correct me.  If you think about it, though, I do mean what I say and show.  You see, when you are listening, you are not talking but silently observing.  And learning to listen with your heart cuts through all the noise.

Toddlers and babies do this instinctively; learning through example, imitation, and experience; what they see, hear, touch, taste, and smell.  Young parents are sometimes unaware of this and are not mindful of their behaviour, what they do, and what they say in front of the child.  When mixed messages are sent (do as I say, and not as I do), the child ends up confused, developing behaviour and an attitude that may or may not be socially acceptable later in life.  Do a thing often enough, it becomes a habit.  Try encouraging discipline, respect, sincerity, honour, and humility.

Traditional martial arts training is through quiet observation, imitation, and repetitive practice, without questioning.  Even as a basic military instructor, I would never ask my recruits to do something I wouldn't.  It is more than just a philosophy for me, it is part of my life, and very real.

In the Dojo, it is the same.  If Sensei does not do it, how can the student?  This includes not adding extra punches and kicks to the technique if that is not required during practice.  It may result in an unnecessary accidental injury.  An apology later would be too late.

From a practical standpoint, while practising techniques, I remind students to focus, observe, and listen to the person about to attack.  If done well, you will be able to feel your partner's breathing and the moment just before your partner attacks.

One way to practice listening in daily life is to stop whatever you are doing and give the person talking to you your undivided attention, no matter how busy or how important the task you are doing is at that moment.  Make eye contact and actually listen to what is being shared.  Not only will it increase your capacity to focus, it will make the other person feel valued and respected.

Learn to listen with your entire being.  Be still and quiet.  Listen to yourself, your breathing and the things happening around you.  You will be amazed at how your awareness will shift.  The universe may just open up to you.

See you in the Dojo.

In peace and harmony,
Rafael Oei Sensei.
(© Copyright May 2009: Rafael Oei)

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