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  • Writer's pictureAnn O'Brien

Aikido, Depth and Happiness

Updated: Apr 19

I took Aikido briefly in college, and then again in grad school, which led me to train 4 years at the renowned Boulder Aikikai. As a young person with much to learn, I decided (incorrectly) that Aikido did not have enough feminine energy. I quit and studied African dance, yoga and other practices in this arena. I became a mother with an almost-entirely online business. Days went by in a blur and like many new mothers, I yearned for more. Here, Aikido started to trickle back into my consciousness...


From the moment I started, Aikido touched me deeply— so much so that I cried when I quit for the first time, as my college boyfriend looked at me like I was nuts. The philosophy was with me from the moment I experienced it. By 2017, I resumed Aikido and promised myself I would never quit. I figured I had about 40 more years to do it.


Beyond my personal goals of fitness, empowerment and community— I was noticing a trend in the world that illuminated the value of Aikido. Our relationships had become increasingly virtual. Local businesses, where you'd walk in and know everyone, were closing or getting bought out by big companies. By then, even if the same people showed up, they were all on their phones and no longer looking at each other.


Around this time, I saw people online acting like gurus because they had taken a 6-week course and had a lot of followers. Having been on a spiritual path since my teenage years, this made me recoil. I didn't want any part in it. At the same time, I didn't have my own teacher or community. I realized that Aikido offered the depth I was seeking, and vowed to go back.


Now in 2024, this disconnected, virtual world of instant gratification I noticed in 2017 is only increasing. Studies have shown that instant gratification does not make us happy; in fact, it contributes to more emotional dis-regulation and all that goes with that.


Aikido is a slow path, and I like it that way. That means it never gets boring and we never stop learning. The depth of relationships we build, training in community over the years, is also a documented trait of happier people.


How would be live differently if we couldn't just "swipe right" or "swipe left" and discard someone? What if no one could be thrown away? What if we knew lots of people who'd have our backs and support us for years to come, through both our challenges and our triumphs?


A key teaching in Aikido is to protect both partner and yourself. Coupled with re-directing partner when they are off-balance, this is a setup for success.


I am honored to be sharing Aikido at a time it's so needed. I know it's not for everyone, yet each of us who says "yes" creates more value for those around us. And as we go out and live in the world, we radiate Aikido and all it gives us.


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