Awareness Disillusion, and Success
Awareness heals, but it isn’t always pleasant. On the contrary, the growth of awareness can feel like a disillusioning process. During my first few months of Aikido training I became quite disillusioned. The flowing martial art of Aikido requires relaxation-in-movement even while under attack. In the face of this demand for relaxation, I began to notice a great deal of tension in my shoulders. At first I thought that Aikido was “making me” tense, but I gradually realized that I was only becoming aware, for the first time, of tension I had always carried.
Freshmen on the Stanford gymnastics team going through this process of insight, awareness, and disillusion, would sometimes feel frustrated and tell me, their coach, how they “used to be better in high school” and how they were “going downhill.”
This concerned me until I saw films of them from the year before, and it was obvious that they had improved radically. They had simply raised their standards and were more aware of errors than they were the previous year.
One sure sign of growing awareness is that you feel as if you are worse.” Awareness in sport, in relationships, in any learning often entails a momentary drop in self-esteem, a dent in our self-image. Because of built-in defense mechanisms, therefore, most of us have a tendency to resist awareness