June 6, 2019

The meaning of mind body coordination

by Gerald Lopez

The MindBody Connection

The historical development of society has resulted in two profound forms of disconnection - a separation between ourselves and our world, and a separation between our mind and our body. These have had far-reaching psychological and societal effects.

Self/World Disconnection

Whereas in traditional societies, people feel a total oneness with the world around them, and have an unshakeable belief in the divinity of all things, our modern society prides itself in a strong sense of individuality separate from others and from the cosmos around us. In other words, the shift from a religious to a secular world experience has greatly impacted on our sense of connection in general.

While travelling in Kerala, India, in 2012, a lady said to me, "Do you know why there are so many depressed people in the West? It's because they have no religion." Kerala has been a hub of the world's major religions for 2000 years.

One of aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba's epiphanies was an experience of a complete sense of oneness with universal energy, which he claimed was totally peaceful and loving, and enabled him to tap into enormous reserves of power. From being a martial man seeking to fight with others, he became an advocate of aikido as a way to attain peace, calling it the Art of Peace.

The divine is not something high above us. It is in heaven, it is in earth, it is inside us.

- Morihei Ueshiba

Mind/Body Disconnection

The historical development of the rational mind appears to have also created a disconnect between mind and body. This means we believe mind and body are separate, and we experience that separateness as a feeling of being disconnected from our body and how it works, feeling uncoordinated and unstable, feeling anxious and depressed, and being excessively vulnerable to malaise and disease.

We also came to the belief that illness can be treated by solely addressing the physical body, emphasising chemical and mechanical interventions for disease (Engel, 1977). It is only in the last 30-40 years that the medical system has acknowledged the role of psychological and social factors in maintaining health and treating disease.

Reconnection

In order to achieve our full potential as human beings, reconnection and reintegration needs to take place. In MindBody Aikido we explore reintegration through mind and body coordination exercises and moves, techniques and mental attitudes, in response to simulated conflict situations. This simulation can consist of a person holding the practitioner, or physically "attacking" them in various ways.

The practitioner practises dealing with the physical conflict using simple methods of coordinating mind and body. Through constant practice, the mindbody coordination becomes a positively felt experience and then a habitual response.

The practice of mindbody coordination is an exhilarating experience, as the practitioner starts tapping into previously-unknown sources of power, self-control, and self-esteem.

"The palm of one hand cannot make a sound but when two palms are brought together, there is the sound of the clap. It is only when both mind and body are working smoothly together that they can manifest their function....Many of us use mind and body separately or at cross purposes, cancelling out each other."

- Tohei, 1961

References

Engel, G. (1977). The need for a new medical model: A challenge for biomedicine. Science, 196:4286

Tohei, K. (1961). Aikido: The co-ordination of mind and body for self-defense. London, United Kingdom: Souvenir Press.


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