One of the biggest misnomers about self defense training is that it’s only about dangerous situations. You’re preparing for the moment when someone jumps out at you in a dark parking lot and tries to assault you. You’re getting ready for someone to break into your house with a gun and attempt to rob you. You’re training just in case someone attempts to carjack you or steal your wallet or whatever it might be.
The truth is, self defense can’t be separated from everyday life if it’s going to be effective. It’s not that we want to live in constant fear, on edge every waking moment in case we need to defend ourselves from an outside force. That kind of tension is actually detrimental to self protection. Besides that, it’s on the whole unhealthy to stay on edge.
To increase overall safety, we want that training to be able to take over should the time come for self defense. Before we even get to that, we want to be aware of our surroundings so that we avoid potentially dangerous situations altogether.
Start your day with intention
The best way to ensure that you are fully prepared for whatever potential problem might come your way is to live in the moment that you’re in. Being present in the here and now, right where you are is the most important thing you can do to bolster your personal safety.
Starting your day with intention might sound like a small thing, but it’s important for the self defense mindset. If you consistently start your day with focusing your mind on your awareness and your surroundings, you’ll grow your ability to respond effectively and stay safe. Control of your environment starts and ends with control of yourself.
One of the great things about this kind of practice is that you have a wide latitude in what you decide is most important for a given day. Your intention doesn’t have to be centered on self defense, but rather it should be centered on keeping your mind alert and aware. This serves you not only in terms of personal safety, but also in terms of personal growth. It’s a fuel that feeds the fire of your life in all areas.
Keep your intentions broad and easy to remember. The idea is that you are in control of your life, just as you want to be in control of any unexpected situation. What does an intention look like?
Here are some suggestions.
- I will control the things I can control.
- I open myself to the world around me.
- I will face today’s challenges with conviction and a calm mind.
- I intend to bring focus into my life.
- I accept my strength and capability.
- I intend to respond to the wholeness of my surroundings.
Notice that these are not at all along the lines of “I’ll beat up anybody who tries to come at me.” Self defense is at its best when we flow with the world around us. We are always prepared, but we are not at all raring to go. If you’re ready for a fight, then at some point a fight is going to come find you. This practice has everything to do with making your whole life better, and boosting your ability to defend yourself is part of that.
Any kind of intention that adds to your ability to respond quickly to your surroundings and to be aware of the world around you is the right kind of intention. Make it your own, choosing intentions that resonate with you. That’s the best way to make them effective.
Now that you know what intentions can look like, let’s talk about how you can integrate them into your life. Here are some guidelines.
- Start your day by setting a clear intention. Do it as soon as you wake up.
- Keep a list of intentions that you can choose from each day. You can repeat the same intention over many days, come back to an intention you had previously, whatever works for you.
- Write your intention somewhere that you’ll be reminded of throughout the day. This might be on your phone, on your planner, or on a note on your desk.
This doesn’t mean that your intention will be the only thing that you think about all day, but the hope is that your intention will become a touchstone that you come back to again and again.
Integrating your self defense
Integrating self defense into everyday life is centered on consistent training and situational awareness. Consistent training allows you to internalize the movements in your body, and then framing your thoughts to allow your body to react in the ways that you’ve taught it to.
What we’re really talking about here is mindset, and changing your mindset requires discipline. Bad things happen to good people, but they happen less often when we are centered in the real world instead of being constantly distracted by intrusive obstacles. Often, we live our lives in the mode of being tuned out. Think about those times when you’re driving your car down a familiar road or walking down a familiar path. Your brain starts to wind away towards other things, pulling your attention away from the world that’s immediately around you.
The goal with intention is to bring your awareness back to what’s going on in front of and around you. Think defensive driving. With defensive driving, you’re still able to enjoy the sights that you drive by, to have a conversation with the other people in the car, or to listen to the radio. You’re also keyed into the other cars on the street and the people moving in the space you’re driving through.
It takes practice to shift your mind in this way - it won’t just magically happen. Both your ability to identify potential danger and your ability to respond to threats are boosted when you start your day off in the right way. Look to live with intention from the moment you wake up, and you’ll be able to take more responsibility for your own security.
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