The Technique of Meditation

I have seen the “action-oriented” folks shun meditation–shikantaza, or “just sitting”–even among those who like to think of Aikido as “meditation in motion.” That is too bad. It is sad to see a martial artist who discounts one the most important techniques available…

We spend so much time in Aikidio, like in other arts, practicing and perfecting forms–the named techniques. These techniques are not fundamentally natural responses to our circumstances until they are fully integrated, ultimately ceasing to be techniques at all–at least in the “I’m doing ikkyo / I’m practicing ikkyo / I’m trying to make ikkyo work”-sense. Until then, practice is a great effort of doing.

How is simply being still any different? Have you tried it?

Over years of practicing the basic ikkyo–well after we are effective with it–do we not continue to gain more and more subtle insight into the technique? Increased sensitivity and finesse? Do we think that meditation would be different?

Beginners often mistake meditation for “doing nothing” whereas the practice of the martial art to them is “doing something.” It takes understanding a bit beyond this explanation to realize fully that the two are both still “doing” and that the noticing itself is a reflection of the effort itself. In this context, when we say something is “effortless,” we do not necessarily mean without force or without encountering resistance; it does not mean you will not sweat or feel pain. Instead, once comfortably integrated, you are not swayed by those things–you can do what needs to be done effortlessly–without internal resistance or distraction.  When the effort is gone, so is the doing.

There is were mastery lies.

In a sense, we are all slaves to our circumstances. When our bodies need oxygen, we inhale; when saturated with carbon dioxide, we exhale. When we’re punched in the nose, it hurts. When we’re tripped, we fall. What we can do though, even if only in limited ways, is to reconfigure our conditioned, habitual responses to our circumstances in a way of our own choosing. The martial practice itself is such an effort, conditioning different physical responses to different stimuli, expanding our capacity to operate under stress and duress. However, have you considered the added technique of not responding at all? Have you considered how much effort it takes to not respond if you’ve not fully integrated it as an option?

Meditation practice is multifaceted and integral to our practice at Sword Mountain. Our Aikido classes already incorporate meditation as part of the martial training. For the non-martially inclined and for those who see the value in the extra practice, we will soon be offering a combination of morning and evening meditation sessions to open and close our days. If interested in joining us, please contact us with your needs and watch this site for schedule updates.

By Joe

Puzzle Wrestler & Mountain Herder. Math & Computer Nerd since the 80s. Longtime linux (current debian, ubuntu, raspian, centos, gentoo), currently fighting feebsd. Over-complicates networks for fun, occasionally secures them for profit. Develops own tools & services (cli, web services, and lately some android). Degrees in Math, Belts in Aikido. Zen, Motorcycle, Ham Radio, Homebrew (Ale, not Radio), Coffee & Tea, some Mandolin & Fiddle, MDA Advocacy (son with Duchenne), …


  1. While not exactly "meditation", I think standing stake practice, zhan zhuang, is essential to excelling at an "internal" martial art.

    If you can't stand still well, your chances of moving well are quite lessened.

  2. I have always used mindfulness to become part of
    the moment of doing something and fully engaging.
    For instance, when drinking tea or coffee, fully
    become aware of all aspects of the preparation,
    pouring, and drinking without thinking of
    something else. Just be present, its a great
    exercise and then return to the breath when

  3. Rick- I've not heard of "zhan zhuang"–had to look it up. Very cool… Thanks as always for commenting.

    Paul- That's fine–and it's a respectable exercise–but can you demonstrate that you understand what is behind it? "Being in the moment / the now" is a highly marketable pablum these days–and I see from your link that you sell it. Still, I won't discount it off-hand–just show me.

    Indulging the senses in an experience or losing oneself in the thought surrounding the experience–two common misinterpretations–are opportunities for realization, but they are not realization itself. What is?

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