by Richard Mann
In most of my articles, I pay reference to my hope that you never have to use your Aikido to defend yourself or someone you love outside the dojo, but as described in my [previous article on Ukemi] there are some things that I believe anyone can take away from the practice of Aikido that will enrich their lives.
Another such thing is Mushin (no mind). This article is not really about what this is or how to achieve it, for this [read more here]. What you'll find here is my opinion of Mushin, which is in summary, very positive.
After 20+ years of practising Mushin, this misunderstood application of mind over matter has served me in my life well outside of Aikido on countless occasions.
Finding one's centre in training is something that life can benefit from and through Mushin, one can deal with stress, worry, sleep and pain. Sometimes described as a 'place' to take your mind, where no thought exists, the sensation of Mushin will come more easily, the more you practice it. I often refer to achieving Mushin in such a way, i.e. 'finding that place in your mind'. But really, like most things (unbendable arm, immovable object, etc.) it's a feeling or sensation. By reaching Mushin often, the sensation it creates become more and more familiar and eventually, you can seek out this sensation on-demand and maintain it throughout your troubles, strife and of course, Keiko.
Only recently, I went through appendicitis and this was one of many occasions in my life when the ability to escape the pain of my body through Mushin has been welcomed like a warm and reassuring blanket. I consider there to be many levels of Mushin, but I imagine this is merely a limitation of my own ability to achieve it, but the first for me is the physical, pain. Attaining this has served me well throughout my life, allowing me to acknowledge and put aside pain. This has a habit of opening other doors, such as emotion, but this is dealt with just the same, 'acknowledge and put aside'.
For Keiko, this allows enhanced focus and reduces preconceptions, which are things that anyone can learn to benefit from in their daily life, work and hobbies.
Mushin is a state of mind that can, and if you let it, will benefit your entire life. Embrace it and if you don't understand it, just talk to your sensei, because while it is not common to do so, they will be happy to lead you in deeper Mushin if you want it (which if you have ever had appendicitis, you will perhaps agree, you do).