Relaxation through Centering
Grace and poise are maintained by moving with the natural flow of energy, in much the same way that a spinning top maintains its position and balance by constant spiral motion on the axis of its’ one point. The faster a top spins, the more balanced and motionless it appears to be. Conversely, an off-balance person is like a record with an off-center hole, awkward and becoming more and more unbalanced, the more it moves.
A centered person possesses the stability of the universe. The universe is dynamic, continuously moving and spiraling. Anything on the edge, moves quickly and easily. An uncentered attack would naturally spin off of such a stable revolving mass. Thus, maintaining one’s center and perfecting the natural motion of the spiral are central to aikido. As attacks could come at any time, an aikidoist practices maintaining his/her center and moving naturally whether walking, sitting, eating, speaking or practicing.
To remain centered, one must not become upset by external stimuli such as loud sounds, motions or other distractions, nor by internal stimuli such as pain or passing thoughts. Remaining relaxed and calm at all times not only allows more natural and safe responses to conflict (be it a sword blade coming at one’s head or a verbal attack of an irate co-worker/family member), but also allows one to better appreciate his/her surroundings, leading to peace inside as well as outside.