A way to harmony? Yes, precisely. Aikido means "the way to harmony". It feels a bit over the top, doesn't it? Well, it is really a way to harmony for me.
I didn't see it this way from the start. I started Aikido as a teenager. Back then, what I liked about it was the idea that it was not about who's the strongest or who can punch the hardest. I liked the idea that a small female teenager could defend against a large, muscly attacker. I liked the idea that we use the opponent's energy to our advantage. At that stage, Aikido helped me with self-confidence and awareness, especially in situations like when I had to walk alone at night.
I resumed Aikido about 8 years ago, after a long break during my studies, when I focused more on contemporary dance, starting my professional life, getting married and having children. You know, life.
Today, the Aikido principle that I like most, and that helps me across my life, is the "body and mind coordination". This principle tells you that you can't do a technique properly if your mind is not coordinated with your movements. In practice, this really means that you should control your natural instincts of fear, of using muscles to push back when you're pushed etc... Try it! Ask someone to hold your wrist. If the person pushes it, what do you do? You push back! Why? Natural instinct. And what happens then? You get two forces pushing against each other, and the strongest "wins". Whereas if you pull instead, the other person gets out of balance and falls. The strongest "looses". The harder they push, the easiest it is. But for this to succeed, you need to inhibit your natural instincts. You need to move forward rather than backwards when you're being punched. You need to relax your body to get away from being strangled. You need to breathe and calm down when being put under stress.
The beauty of this principle goes way beyond the training on the mat and the potential self-defense in the real world. It helps immensely in every difficult situation in life, every conflict, every moment of stress. It teaches you how to calm down your brain and turn your natural reactions of defensive stress into constructive reactions that solves much more. It makes you always move forward! And this is what brings so much harmony.