On a cool and damp May day the young students of Roshinkan Dojo applied their ki to the planting of a vegetable garden at a house for veterans undergoing treatment at the local VA hospital.
The week preceding the great planting affair we spoke with our students about the connection between Aikido and gardening. How earth, water, and sun blend to grow the seed into a life giving plant. How the plant contributes to the ever flowing breath of life exchanging co2 for oxygen. How a plant is centered, rooted deep in the ground while extending for the warmth of the sun, all the time remaining relaxed to bend with the wind and keeping its weight underside so as not to topple over. How we must care for our plants just as we must care for our training partner if they, we, are to grow.
Yes to truly understand Aikido we must in some way touch the very nature of our being. Feel the universal ki that flows throughout the natural world. Get our hands dirty with earth, taste the freshness of a cool mountain stream, feel the ocean’s breath on our cheek.
I lived for a while in the big city. After a couple of years I felt out of touch. Something was amiss. I came to the realisation that for those two years I had not walked barefoot in grass. I had not layed down on the earth and looked to the skies. For those two years I had walked only on concrete and asphalt. Never seen the sky that was not cluttered with the skyscrapers that surrounded me. The air I was breathing was conditioned by hvac systems. I needed to get out.
Regaining my health and sanity came with spending time in the mountains and ocean front, laying in a meadow of grass and flowers, walking on grassy slopes and sandy beaches, feeling the ocean breeze on my face along with the stinging of rain. Refreshed and recharged I returned to a feeling of connection. Even more so now that I realised what it meant to not have this.
Not long after I lived on a sailboat for a few years. Never before had my senses been so alive. My life and the survival of my boat were contingent upon my awareness of the winds, currents, tides, water, and earth that were always a part of my consciousness. I began to feel the universal ki running through my life.
It is important that we do not separate ourselves from the earth we live on. My brother is found of saying that we are “just critters on this planet”. Insulating ourselves from the universe is a path to disaster. Take your shoes off and bury your toes in grass and earth. Get your fingers dirty in the soil, feel the rain and wind on your cheek. Plant a garden and rejoice in caring for the plants that feed us.James Landry Dojo Cho Roshinkan Dojo