The Practice of Peace

**Today my dojo is participating in our town’s annual Peace Fair. I decided to repost this blog about the practice of peace in honor of the event and in the ideal of peace.**

“The choice between love and fear is made every moment in our hearts and minds. That is where the peace process begins. Without peace within, peace in the world is an empty wish.” -Paul Ferrini

O'Sensei exudes peace, and yet maintains a martial presence.
O’Sensei exudes peace, and yet maintains a martial presence.

This quote is so very Aikido. The “choice” between love and fear—that is what Aikido is all about, especially if you think of fear as arising out of hate or anger. Every moment in Aikido is about choice—will I choose to diffuse the conflict with Aiki or will I react with violence? According to O’Sensei, choosing peace (Aiki) is choosing the path that is in harmony with the universe. When someone attacks us (and this can be physical or verbal or emotional) that person is out of sync with the universe; he or she is off balance. How then, are we going to deal with this person? With peace or with violence? If we are in balance and in harmony with the universe, then we should be able to act with peace, and diffuse the conflict without violence. If we are not in balance with the universe, at peace “within”, then it can be very difficult for us to react peacefully. We meet that conflict with our own conflicted heart and mind. The conflict then escalates.

This is why peace has to come from within.

This is why I practice Aikido.

I put myself in stressful situations where someone “attacks” me. I have to learn to deal with this conflict in an Aiki way, in a peaceful way. It’s one thing to talk about being “peaceful” and that we should love everyone. It’s quite another to live it when someone is trying to hit you over the head with a heavy wooden sword! Although our practices are done in a safe environment, very often our bodies are tricked into believing that the danger is real and reacting that way. I’ve been on the mat knowing that my partners are not trying to kill me or harm me, and yet every part of my body is screaming to either run away or kill this person! I must PRACTICE the peaceful solution. I can’t just talk about it. I’m working to train myself to remain calm and react with a peaceful heart, a heart that wants to handle the situation with the least amount of harm to everyone involved.

It can be a difficult road to follow. There are days when what I’d really like to do is just hit someone. And the thing is, I would never have known that some days I react to aggression with equal violence, if I had never stepped on to that Aikido mat.

What about you? Do you practice peace? If so, what form does it take?

2 thoughts on “The Practice of Peace”

  1. What a great post! I totally let other people’s unbalance effect me, of course I live with abused and neglected children and am empathic (just enough to make life difficult not enough to be fun at parties).
    Right now I am trying to make sure I eat well, exercise daily, and get enough sleep. Once I have that foundation in place then maybe I can work towards practicing peace. 🙂

    1. kimberlysbarton

      Thanks! Yes, you definitely live in a stressful situation. Practicing peace must be difficult. You’re doing important work!

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