I have been an Aikido student and practitioner since 1974. I’ve always believed in the rightness of robustly defending our boundaries with non-violent self-defense methods. However when I was preparing to be initiated as a medicine man, the Spirit instruction I was given was to give up the war vibration. I learned that this was more than just renouncing sorcery or physical violence, which I don’t believe in anyway. It is a total renunciation of an orientation toward vengeance—giving up focusing on retribution and instead asking inside, “what needs healing here?”
This is a hard lesson for me. I was bullied a lot as a child in school. I can see now that that engendered rage in me and led me to the martial arts to learn to be really strong. I deeply believe in not acting out physically against others. But I find many people around me that make me so angry and disgusted: abusers, pillagers of the earth, bigots, egomaniacs and greedy insensitive people. There’s a long list. I searched my soul. Then I went back and re-read what Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido said, “when someone attacks me, they break the harmony of the universe. It is not my job to vanquish them and fell the opponent. It is my job to reunite the world family.” I really got what he was saying. I missed the full meaning of it long ago. It’s about where my focus is. To focus on healing, not judging, while still keeping protective boundaries around my community and myself.
I made the vow to renounce the war vibration but then came the hard part of putting it into practice daily. It’s about my spirit. I have to put to use all my skills to keep mastering anger and keep listening to Spirit in my life.
As I deepen my listening skills, listening with my heart and not just my ears, listening to what is not being said as well as what is, I can perceive more. I see the wounds in me and other men more clearly and poignantly. I see our communities struggling with fear, polarization, posing scapegoats, judging whole ethnic groups, out of fear. I see the painful losses of people unemployed, losing their homes and careers, losing their dreams, wandering without much hope or a sense of purpose. I see people re-enacting the suffering they experienced as children on others. I see whole countries choosing hate as a unifying force. I can’t fix those big things, but I can keep grounding myself, shifting away from hate, focusing on what needs healing in me and in my community. That anchors me and gives me purpose and meaning each day. I can keep singing and playing music and filling myself with good things, to stay “emotionally hydrated.” When I feel rage I can make a choice to pray, to meditate, to shift focus to a good memory to let the wave of feelings pass and to ask “what needs healing here?” I’ll have more to say on some of these subjects in a future post, including a discussion of the difference between the war vibration and boundary-keeping, which is essential.
© Jerry Allen 2016
About the author – Jerry Allen
I hold a masters in public health education from UC Berkeley and a masters in counseling psychology from California Institute of Integral Studies. I’ve been a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist since 1991, and am certified in Somatic Experiencing. I began my medicine man training in my first vision quest in 1973. I was initiated as a medicine man under the training and supervision of Theresa Dintino. I studied Aikido for 30 years and received 3 black belts. I live and practice in Oregon and Sebastopol, and enjoy playing music, tending our apple orchard, and spending time with my two wonderful children.
Jerry Allen, LMFT, SEP, MPH, Anishinaabe Mashkikiiwinini (Medicine Man)
Gratitude Way Medicine Man Counseling and Coaching – email@example.com