This is my 13 year practising Aikido. Long enough that I cannot imagine my life w/o it. As many of you will likely affirm in yourselves, I start to get cranky when I can't go to class. My body begins to ache in ways it does not normally. Not just for the fun physical activity, but the closeness and touch that comes along with it. We practise a very intimate art, yet it feels so safe and pure in our dojo spaces that I miss it deeply when I have lengths of time off the mat.
I also see a great importance in having time off the mat, that I did not understand much until this year. It is the moment I return. that my be-ing knows I have come home.
But back to my original thought.... the absence of aikido in those times. More and more aikido has become internalised for me through training. Aikido is generally a shared activity and in its most joyous expression is a whole dojo full! Nothing beats a rambunctious class! but because of being an adventurer. I want to visit other places that take me away from regular practise for varying lengths of time. How not to lose my connection to my beloved art and minimise the absence of shared practise?
Well thankfully I took to heart many years ago what Mary and Ron Sensei told me. Do your ki exercises, everyday. Work with a weapon regularly, and of course "shadow practise". (doesn't hurt to do a few rolls either!) I am also grateful for the sister practise I have with t'ai chi/qigong. All the principles are nearly identical, so I find that the solo practise of t'ai chi qigong (empty handed or w/ sword) helps a lot. Keeps in body memory my connection to my centre.
A bit more than a month seems like a long time, but as I wrote, I know when I have returned home when I step back onto the mat.