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 Pixie's Blog 
Tuesday, October 06 2009
Reader's Topic

Will you blog about being curious about and stepping in to what we're afraid of and how that's better than trying to avoid it? I've been working on an Aikido move called irimi which is literally "stepping into" an attack, and then seeing things from the attacker's perspective. I'd like to hear your thoughts!


Stepping into Fear

Michele and I discussed this briefly last night because it's such an interesting concept. Through her work with the Core Protocols and in Bootcamps, Michele has devised a number of strategies to step into an attack during a Bootcamp.  As we were discussing the issue of fear, we talked about the difference between fear generated by a verbal attack and fear related to physical safety.  First we will discuss fear related to our physical safety.

Our physical bodies are designed with a wonderful survival mechanism known as the sympathetic nervous system.  When we feel threatened the sympathetic nervous system kicks into action without our voluntary thought.  Our eyes dilate to allow in more light.  Our airways dilate to allow more oxygen to flow.  Our heart rate increases.  Physical systems that we don't need like our digestive system shut down to allow blood & oxygen to flow to our muscles.  Adrenaline floods our system.  Our physiology becomes poised and ready to either fight or take flight.

In this case your body, mind, and spirit must be in sync to "step into the attack."  Logically your mind says, "I've read the manual, listened to the instructor, and practiced the moves."  Then when the time comes, still you hesitate.  You feel fear.  The mind says, "Step into the attack" and your body says, "Are you crazy?!  We're going to get hurt!"  Your body balks even though your mind says "go!"
 
In the case of physical fear it's a leap from fear to curiosity.  It is through the discipline of mind and spirit through training and practice that an athlete or a warrior overcomes fear.  For the athlete it means victory.  For the warrior, it can mean the difference between life and death.  During the battle there is no thought or feeling there is only a state similar to the state of "flow."

Avoiding That Which We Fear

Energetically/spiritually there is no avoiding that which we fear.  The more we fear something, the more we bring it right to our doorstep to teach us whatever lessons in courage, and faith that we need to learn.  It is only through faith that we have courage in the face of fear.  If we didn't have fear, we would need no courage, no faith.  Can you acknowledge and embrace the ultimate utility of fear?

Strategies

Here are some strategies to help you step into the attack:

  • Ask that the fear be removed.
  • Breathe & center, quieting the mind.
  • Practice & train.  Practice & train.
  • Reframe your belief.  In Aikido (from what I understand) you will be stepping into the attack to not only see things from the attackers perspective and defend yourself but to also protect the attacker from harm.
Personal Experience

My personal experience with a disconnect between my mind and body has been with the recent ACL reconstruction on my left knee.  After weeks of physical therapy, I can do many normal things easily like walking and stairs. I trust that I can walk.  The disconnect comes when my body feels so good that it says, "Let's run across the parking lot."  My head says, "Let's not."  Or when my head says, "Let's run down the hallway," and my body says, "Not yet."  Rather than criticizing myself, I remind myself that is the purpose of physical therapy.

For the most part, I have been avoiding situations that will hurt my knee.  My fear came to my doorstep the other day when I was outside weeding the garden.  I stepped onto a large flat rock and slipped.  My head said, "Your knee is going to give out!  You're crashing!"  My knee held steady; it said, "No, trust me. I'm fine."

Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/takemusuaikido/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0" target="_blank">" target="_blank">Takemusu on Flickr.com.

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PIXIE STEVENSON, LMP 
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