Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Finding my way back to myself through aikido

I think aikido is a bit sneaky.
Week after week I turn up, practising the movements and my ukemi. And on the face of it, it's about training the body, but somewhere along the way my mind is being influenced in a positive way too.

By turns, my training can be frustrating, enlightening, fun and challenging. Now and then I have tantalising glimpses of the amazing and effortless power I'm capable of. Over the years, I've discovered that nothing else seems to come close to guiding me back to my true self. Running and meditation help, but there's something about aikido that encourages me to let go of the everyday chatter and less than helpful internal dialogue, and helps balance my perception of the world.

So, what is is about aikido that helps?
There are lots of principles I considered, but for me personally it's the combination of being focused and moving in a positive way. To fully engage in class, I can't be feeling sorry for myself or worrying about something as I'm too busy. I can't feel like a victim if I'm moving in a committed way as it seems that the two can't exist in the same space.

I set myself high standards generally, and can sometimes get easily frustrated and feel stuck with the amount of progress I am making. When I allow my body to get on with what it knows, the movement flows and my moving muscles help free up my mind. I come away from practise feeling strong, balanced and fully more 'me' than when I stepped on the mat.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Minimalism and Filofaxes: part 1

Photo courtesy of Hilde SkjĂžlberg

The lovely Jane got in contact with me the other day to ask me this question:
'Out of ALL the voices who speak of collecting Filofaxes, you're the only one so far who has said you only want to own what you use. 
Have you always been a minimalist, or are you just trying to simplify your life?
I'm trying to simplify my life and I know I spend WAY too much time drooling over Filofaxes.
Sure would appreciate your thoughts!'
Thank you for getting in contact, Jane, and I'd love to answer that question as it's a subject I've been meaning to write more about! 

I think my minimalist tendencies come from when I was growing up, as our household was kinda cluttered and I kept my bedroom tidy as my own little bit of control. Even as a child, I was never very good at collecting things. I collected seashells for a while and had a couple of favourites on my window sill, and the rest was stored under my bed. One day it seemed silly to have the rest hidden away, so I had a go at displaying them and quickly realised that it became too cluttered and busy for me. All of a sudden I couldn't cope with owning them all, kept the few favourites and gave the rest away. I tried one further collection of animal figurines from when we visited the local zoological park, and again once my little gathering reached a certain number, I felt crazy and gave most of them away again. 

It seems that I have some kind of internal gauge that periodically goes, "Aaarghh, too much stuff, must get rid of it!". And when I come back empty-handed from donating items to our local charity shop, I feel a sense of peace and contentedness. Before I lived with my husband, I had a room in a shared house and I loved having all my possessions in the same space. One night, we were curled up on my bed watching a DVD and he asked, "What are you doing?" I didn't really understand what he was getting at and asked him. "You're scanning your possessions and plotting what you can get rid of, aren't you?" was his reply. I admit that I was, and I sometimes have to take a step back to make sure I don't get rid of things I might miss. 

I love Filofaxes, but I don't want to own too many. It seems with some trial and error that two is my Goldilocks number. I've tried just one personal sized binder, but have come to the conclusion that I just can't fit everything in. My personal binder functions as my external brain, with an A5 for extra space for planning and projects. I recently thought I could cope with owning one further personal for when I fancied a change to swap into. I really should've known better as it didn't last very long and I've now sold the extra one. Both personals were models that I adore, but I knew one had to go. I enjoy looking at other people's fabulous collections, but for me personally I'm very content with the two I currently own.    

I like the William Morris quote 'have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful'. For me, it helps to explain why I use a Filofax as they're both useful and beautiful. I want to love what possessions I do have and use them. 
So, my short answer is, "Yes, I'm a bit of a minimalist and I'm trying to simplify my life too". 

Wednesday, 9 October 2013