Zen Buddhism and Aikido

zen meditation man“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few” Shunryu Suzuki (Zen Roshi, author of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind)

Your True Nature is Waiting. 

Zen is the school of Buddhism that emphasizes the attainment of enlightenment through the practice of meditation.  Zen can be approximately translated as “absorbtion” or “meditative state.” The practice of Zen is a means of getting beyond the thinking mind and discovering our true nature, or “Higher Self.” This is the essence of who we are below the surface of all the people, situations and things in our life.

As a practitioner of Zen (as well as the Japanese Martial Art of Aikido — more on that below), Michael Jason Sherman has infused some of the basic principles of Zen practice into the programs offered by The Solo Travel Solution. In this way, students and clients who follow our system will experience a glorious taste of their Higher Selves, awakening to a sense of inner truth that will liberate their lives and help them to master seemingly impossible scenarios in relationships.

One needn’t be a devoted practitioner of Zen Buddhism to experience these insights.  However an understanding of some of the key concepts may help you understand why The Solo Travel Solution leads to such profound and permanent results for people.

An individual Solo Travel Journey does not necessarily involve the practice of meditation. However, the setting off into motion in another land is akin to entering a private container of time and space, offering parallel meanings to the experience of meditation. Woman in position of the making lotusA Solo Travel Journey is a mediation of motion, leading to a sudden sense of awareness that one could not attain in daily life at home.

The idea of “satori” or a sudden awakening is a key concept in Zen. While a significant and deeply spiritual experience of satori may occur in those who practice Zen meditation for many years, a kind of temporary, life changing satori can fall upon people through the experience of travel. This is especially true with solo travel, where we throw ourselves into a new situation having left everything in our lives behind.

The search for this experiential modality of enlightenment was key in the philosophy of the “Beat Generation” authors and artists (such as Jack Kerouac, the author of the classic On The Road). The quest for sudden enlightenment, and the wisdom and ecstasy it brings, was the thirst behind the Beats in America during the 50’s and 60’s. It is this thirst that Michael Jason Sherman is hoping to stir in people who are seeking a sense of profound change, hungering for spiritual answers to master the dilemmas in their lives.

One of the key practices that a student of Zen will engage in is that of Koan study. A Koan is a story, puzzle or riddle that has no logical answer. Examples of Koans are, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” or “If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?”

The illogical nature of the Koan is designed to move the thinking mind beyond its normal means, thus awakening the spirit within. The spirit has a logic of its own, and the Koan brings this spirit forth. One is assigned a Koan, meditating on it sometimes for months or even years, demonstrating an understanding of it to one’s Roshi, or wise teacher.

Similarly, students of the Solo Travel Solution will design (with support and training) an “Unanswerable Question.” This Question is something of a personal mantra that invites an awakening of the Higher Self, thus helping the student tozen rocks ripples graduate into the next level of their lives. The Question is considered “Unanswerable” because it invites a spiritual solution to the difficult problems and dilemmas that have confounded the student in the current reality  they face in their daily life.

The Question takes root in one’s subconscious mind, diminishing the power of the Lower Self. The Question creates a ripple effect of positive change in one’s life like a pebble dropping in a pond.

After the student discovers their Unanswerable Question, they are then ready to let the Question lead them on a journey. More on this in The Hero’s Journey section.

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Aikido is a modern miracle, deeply influenced by the principles of Zen. Aikido can be translated as “Harmony with the way of the Universe.” It is a physical practice of self-defense that involves yielding to the energy and momentum of a partner in order to develop personal mastery over one’s self.

Having trained with one of the world’s most significant Aikido master’s (Kashawaya Sensei, the Chief Instructor of Ki Society USA), Michael has infused some of the key elements of Aikido into the philosophy of The Solo Travel Solution.

aikido throwAikido is considered by some to be Zen in motion, and this mentality is key for a successful trip by those following the system of The Solo Travel Solution. By awakening to the unique sense of momentum that comes through Solo Travel, significant meanings arrive to our consciousness, allowing for powerful breakthroughs.

The concepts of Aikido are steeped in partner work. In this way, the philosophy of Aikido lends itself as the perfect philosophical extension of Imago Relationship Theory. By experiencing the sense of immediate enlightenment that comes through motion, one will naturally gain an understanding of the potential for harmony that exists in partnership.

Ironically, it sometimes requires us to leave everything behind before we understand what it takes to bring a partnership into harmony. Sometimes that means greater acceptance. Sometimes that means significant change. And sometimes that means leaving the partnership for good. Regardless, the harmony always exists, and can be profoundly discovered through motion. This is why we send people on Solo Travel Journeys.

* daibutsu

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