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.