Why It Matters – My thoughts about Kagami Baraki

What makes a person take time away from his/her regular life, change into Japanese clothing to go engage physically with others, falling down and getting up over and over for 27 years?  It’s a good question.  Many of us with the Indianapolis Aikikai have been doing this for 27+ years and longer.

January is the time of year to think about that…It’s Kagami Baraki!

Kagami Baraki means the ‘opening of the mirror’ and is a Japanese New Year ritual.  In the dojo it has specific significance.  It is a time of recommitting (or committing if you are new) to your practice.   The ceremony consists of unveiling and polishing a small mirror which is followed by partaking in both sake and mochi along with fun practice lead by all of our teachers.

Mirror – symbolizes clarity or the ability to see things as they are

Sake symbolizes the spirit you bring to practice.

Mochi symbolizes the stickiness of your commitment.

What makes someone stick to practice?  Why do you practice?  If you’ve been in my classes I often ask that question.  Some people want to learn some form of self-defense, others exercise and flexibility, still others make it a spiritual practice.   Why do you practice or want to practice?    Having an answer to that question is crucial for the ‘stickiness’.   The reason you practice may also change over time.

I practice because for me it is the study of how I engage in relationships.  I notice how I engage on the mat reflects how engage with others outside the dojo.    Am I willing to stay centered and move into something scary?  Do I stop and hesitate?   Am I trying to force an outcome?  What can I do to transform resistance?  What gets in the way of momentum?  How well do I stay engaged and pay attention?  And, mostly how centered – calm but engaged – can I stay through all of it?

Aikido practice is a rich experience and a way of life for me.  What about you?

Hope to see you on Friday, January 26th at 7 PM!

Doumo arigatou gozaimasu,

Sensei Karen

PS For those interested in the mythological origins of Kagami Baraki, here is the story.

During Kagami Biraki, we celebrate new beginnings. We remember the Shinto myth of how the kami of merriment, Ameno-Uzume, used a bronze mirror to lure Amaterasu, the goddess of the sun, out from her cave to restore sunlight to the earth. When Amaterasu peeked outside from her long stay in the dark, a ray of light called “dawn” escaped, and the goddess was dazzled by her own reflection in the mirror.