Aikido is about energy – about “ki”. There is nothing magical about ki. It is just the energy we put into our lives. Aikido is, more specifically, about manipulating energy. We learn to constantly generate ki, and push it out to the world. We need to practice doing this.
It is so easy in both aikido and in real life to suck in energy instead, to generate “negative” energy. We feel lazy, or disgruntled, or angry, and we not only feel “negative”, but we are infectious, we make those around us feel the same way.
It is as easy to be positive, to generate good feelings, to make those around us feel better about life. And which sort of person would you rather be around?
Aikido is, among other things, a way to practice exuding positive energy. I do not stress the spiritual side of aikido much in the dojo. That is largely because talking about it has little effect. We can talk about it until we are blue in the face, but what really matters is how we act. We can not do aikido (or anything else) effectively with a negative attitude. If we are practicing doing aikido in the right way, we are practicing exuding positive energy. This is one reason I almost always leave class feeling better than when I arrive.
In aikido, we practice extension. If you don’t extend both your arms and your spirit, your aikido will not work well. We practice generating momentum and passing it to uke. We are attacked, sometimes quite fiercely, and we have to maintain our posture, our extension, and our spirit. Otherwise, we will not successfully defend ourselves on the mat.
In real life, we are often challenged. We may be challenged mentally, physically, or spiritually. Maybe all three. Maybe just one or two. By practicing self defence on the mat, we are learning how to deal with threat, so that if we are threatened in the real world we are better able to deal with it.