Thursday, May 16, 2013

Fighting for Your Life

Much better than humans fighting, right?
Last Saturday, a friend took me to my very first self-defense class. Going into it, I was definitely excited to learn some new skills to use if I ever found myself in a precarious situation in a dark alley. But I had no idea what an impact the class would have on me. See, it wasn't just any old self-defense routine. It was based on the art of Guided Chaos.

The idea with Guided Chaos is that in real life-or-death situations, there aren't systematic moves that will save you every time. The fighting is chaotic and messy, and you have to adapt to what's happening—split second by split second.

What struck me the most about the class (other than my immensely uncoordinated limbs) was how the four main principles of it can be applied to any situation in life (which can also be chaotic, if you haven't noticed...).
  1. Balance: One must maintain his or her balance—with a low center of gravity and flat feet—so as not to get knocked over.
  2. Sensitivity: Being acutely aware of sights, sounds, and touch enables you to react more effectively.
  3. Looseness: Staying loose in your body can put you at an advantage. A floppy arm can easily fling back up and hit an attacker in the face without much effort. Rigidity actually gives the other guy an edge—he can manipulate or knock you over more easily .
  4. Body Unity: Coordinating arms and legs/hands and feet allows you to stay in perpetual motion and retain your balance better.
Aren't these the same abilities we need to master to keep it together in times of stress or unexpected change?

When life gets crazy and chaotic and we have no idea what's going to come at us next, isn't it critical to work on keeping our balance? Using our senses to react appropriately? Staying relaxed and going with the flow? And unifying with our bodies (not our heads) to be fully tuned in to our intuition?

The entire time I was in the class, I was thinking, "WOW. I need to use this stuff when the Universe throws termite infestation punches and family illness kicks at me." Imagine how much more effective I would be at defending myself if I could stay balanced, tuned in, loose, and unified. I think I'd do a much better job of saving my sanity.

And, if necessary, I might even be able to save my purse from a thief.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Key Ingredient in Finding New Friends, Lovers, and Jeans

Trying on clothing in a fitting room is an exercise in vulnerability.

You head in to that poorly lit little stall with a pile of jeans in your hand and a heap of uncertainty in your head, and then you strip down to nothing and stand in the reflection of your own judgment. If it's Nordstrom, there's a mirror behind you, illuminating every dimple and vein on your backside. Funny how the lights always seem to shine brighter on those spots.

You slither into the denim, unsure of whether it will mold perfectly to your curves or gape and pucker in all the wrong places. You try on one pair, two, three—finally on the fourth, you stop and stare. You like what you see. You like how you feel. It's you but maybe even better.

And you never would have figured this out if you'd only grabbed one pair from the rack. Or if you'd made a purchase without trying them on first.

The act of letting go of your defenses—stripping down to your natural self—has served you.

The fitting room isn't the only place this tactic works.

A friend and I were talking recently about how it can be difficult to make new friends when you're an adult. It can be scary to ask another ladykid if she wants to come over for a playdate. She might get one look at your collection of owl salt and pepper shakers and deem you a huge dork. Or you could open up to her about your irrational fear of the earth losing its gravitational pull and she might decide you're crazy.

She might reject you.

And wouldn't that be a good thing?

Just like the jeans, we want our friends and lovers and jobs to fit just right. We want them to hug us where it's needed. We don't want them to pull away in the spots they should be close or cling too tightly when we need breathing room.

But like the jeans, the only way to discover whether they're the right fit is to let down your guard and be vulnerable. 

And if they're the wrong size, that's okay. It doesn't mean you've failed. It just means it wasn't the right fit.

You just keep trying on others until you find the ones you want to keep.