What did I learn while I was away?
Well, the power of conscious choosing, as I posted about here. And that was a pretty important concept. But, fortunately, there is more.
1) The Power of Schedule: This is something that our Soke pointed out to us. During our time there - however long it might have been - we kept to a strict schedule. We rose at 0400, trained from 0500-0700, ate breakfast at 0700, trained from 0900-1200, ate lunch at 1200, trained from 1400-1630/1700, showered at 1630/1700, ate dinner at 1800, and were typically in bed by 2000.
The upshot of all of this? We had a schedule that we did not have to think about. We knew where we needed to be and what we needed to be doing and thus were free from the tyranny of wondering "what should I do next", allowing us to focus on the reason we were there. Schedules, I learned, can be very feeing.
2) The Power of Others: Practicing in my small dojo in the middle of the country (well, lower middle really) one tends to feel that we are an island. How refreshing to meet individuals from many different countries and realize that I am not just practicing a 427 year old art, I am doing it in the midst of a family all over the world of like minded individuals. Family, I learned, can be very empowering.
3) The Power of Flow: When we do kata or waza, they are in forms that are separate - but in training, we began to link them together, moving from one to the next. All of a sudden, one finds flow - and flow makes sense of things that are individually separated. Things come together and one learns how to transition from one cut or block to the next smoothly - and eventually, without thinking about it. Flow, I learned, can allow a series of separated actions to make sense.
4) The Power of Being Away: Being outside of one's country - and especially conscious removed from media - one comes to understand that 95% of the things that dominate the news cycle in one's home country is seldom as important to the rest of the world as it seems at home - for perspective, the US population is approximately 4% of the world's 7 billion. Most things that we are told we should care about are simply not as important out there in the rest of the world. Being away, I learned, gives one a greater perspective on one's own home.
It was a meaningful trip and I got much of what I hoped out of it beyond technique and correction. I am looking forward to returning again.