Paying Attention and Listening

It was Sakura
Season in Japan this past month. Just a few minute walk from the Tokyo HQ
Office is a popular spot called “Chidorigafuchi” for viewing beautiful cherry
blossoms in bloom. This year, I was able to take some time to enjoy a short
walk along “Chidorigafuchi”.

When I
happened to look down from the cherry blossoms and looked at the faces of
people around, I found a variety of expressions on their faces.

During this
time, there was a young couple who seemed to be having an argument. It seemed
like they were quarreling because the young man showed up slightly late. The
young lady seemed very upset and was persistently questioning the young guy
over the reason for him being late. The young guy, seeing how upset the young
lady looked, seemed unable to say anything.

The weather
was warm and sunny but it seemed there was a cold and unusual atmosphere
surrounding the couple having an argument.

Watching them
brought back memories of me when I was much younger.

The basic element
of communication is to understand the other person or partner. If we put ourselves and our needs first,
trying to understand the other person will be almost impossible.
is particularly difficult if we have already formed our own opinions in our
mind. Instead, we want to listen carefully and try to understand while waiting for
the person we are communicating with to finish talking.

When I was
much younger, I also made the same mistake of not listening countless of times,
causing me to have conflicts with other people.

The same
applies to practicing Aikido techniques with a partner.

If we make
ourselves and trying to throw our partner the first priority, we will never be
able to understand and lead our partner.

By already
deciding in our mind the “correct way” of moving and doing an Aikido technique,
we will not be able to feel, understand and lead, which in turn makes us
“clash” with our partner instead.

When I was
having conflicts while communicating with people, the same result happened with
my Aikido training while practicing with my partners.

“In order to
be able to really grasp and fully understand something, we must first put it
into practice through our daily lives.” This was an advice that was always
repeated by Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei.

After having
realized that I had this habit, I tried to correct it by not deciding
beforehand and forming opinions each time I listened to someone speak, until
this became a new habit. Of course, this was easier said than done.
 It takes consistently
repeating and practicing daily to accomplish this. I was able to cultivate this
new habit and sure enough, this helped change and correct the way I practiced
Aikido techniques.

By being calm
and keeping one point, Ki naturally flows between my partner and me, thus,
making it possible for me to understand my partner. 

Let us go
back to the young couple who were having an argument while viewing cherry

The young lady who was very upset was finally able to calm
down and realize that her partner was holding something in his hand. It turned
out that he was late because he was buying a present for their anniversary.

“By listening attentively we are able to change our lives
with just one story.”

I made my way back slowly enjoying the Cherry Blossoms.