Thursday, October 12, 2017

Women's Health: Emotional and Physical Self Defense, Part 1: Empowering Yourself

The first thing I want to say is how tragic I find it that this is an issue, that self defense is a special part of keeping a woman healthy and alive. This is a whole other topic for another day (or week, or month) though.

A few years ago I took a Women's Self Defence class through my work. It was pretty great, and I felt like I picked it all up fairly easily, although I often tried to rely strictly on my physical strength instead of leveraging momentum and the proper angles...pretty typical for me.
Anyway. The class took place over several weekends and was taught by one of our security guards and his wife. They had been certified to instruct the course and were amazing.

He started things off by talking about the value of women. He talked about how many women play major roles in their household financials, and other "smart work" that the world has deemed women unworthy of doing. He mentioned that women were the organizers, and the doers. Without women the world would not be able to function because the men would never be able to pick up all the pieces.
Not a direct quote.
I was like, "H@** yeah!"

We started getting into the program and went around to explain why we were taking the course. There had been a lot of creepy men hanging around my place of work and I had to close each night, so that was why I was there. I listened in complete shock while the majority of the women explained about some form of abuse or attack that had taken place in their lives. Many of the attacks had been years and years ago, and they had just developed the courage to learn how to defend themselves.
Throughout the course many of these same women would ask questions regarding the welfare of their attacker. No joke. Things like, "Well, what I should I do if he gets knocked out?" "What if his head is bleeding? Do I need to wait with him?"
I was utterly dumbfounded. I kept thinking, "His big plan is to kidnap, rape, and murder you. If you are fortunate enough to knock him out his wellbeing should be at the very bottom of your list!"

I began to develop a deeper understanding of these women when it came to the actual physical practice. Just to give you some perspective. Our security guard and instructor is around 6'4" and properly weighs in at around 250 lbs. He is a big guy, a former police officer, and death row prison guard. He was also clad head to toe in one of these red padded foam suits.
We were not going to hurt him.

When it came time for some of us to practice the physical skills of kneeing, kicking, and even head butting, some of the women would break down, they simply could not do it. They would begin to cry as they raised their arm to strike him.

  They simply did not value themselves enough to believe that they were worth defending. 

I realized throughout the training that a large part of  why women become victims of physical abuse and assault is because we have been victims of some form of emotional abuse or assault our entire lives. 

This looks very different for each person, and I will not try to understand or explain every journey. My hope in the post is to help you gain an awareness, and empower you to make change! 

There is a system in place.

In the US it is set up to remind us that women are still basically viewed as "less than" any man regardless of education, employment, literacy, you name it. The penis is the most powerful status symbol this world has to offer, and if you were not lucky enough to be born with one..well you're stuck serving those who were. 

Women are reminded of this daily both through subtleties and boldness. Think of Bill Clinton ( a smooth talking womanizer) and Donald Trump (a loud, outspoken, misogynist) Both have sent us the message time and again. "I use women for what I need then move on." "Women are not valuable enough to be put into health care plans, women are not valuable enough to be emotionally and physically loyal to." "They are only as valuable as my current selfish indulgences allow them to be." 

Ladies, this is coming at us from all angles! No wonder we are tired and stressed out all the time!  I want to tell you, that despite all of this we bring an incredible value to the world! I want you to know that YOU bring an incredible value to the world.  

Our value lies not in our sacred ability to create life, but in our willingness to do it after centuries of oppression and abuse. Our value lies not in our ability to keep track of everybody's schedule and remember our mother in law's birthday, but in our willingness to drive our son to activities when there is no equivalent offering for our daughter. Our value is our ability to create something incredible for our daughter, and our willingness to share it with our neighbor's daughter or son. 

We have learned to be everything for everybody, and basically nothing for ourselves. 

Don't get me wrong. Serving others and creating with, and for, our families (friends, and coworkers) are beautiful and often fulfilling processes. The difference is the way in which it is done. 
If it is expected that the woman will handle the majority of the housework, the rearing of the children, and organization + execution of most tasks, at home and in the workplace, the process is no longer fulfilling. When it is approached from this angle (from either men or women) it changes from service and care to compulsion.  

How do we make change happen? I strongly believe that change is made one small step at a time. I hope, that by reading this, you have felt something, or maybe noticed something you had not before. I hope that you will feel inspired to make a change in your own life. Even something as small as waking up each morning and reminding yourself that you have value! I love the mantra:

My greatness is immeasuable
 Look in the the mirror and say outloud, "My greatness is immeasurable!" Not only are you capable of doing hard things, you are worthy of the kind of tender love and care that you show to the world. 

Below is a short meditation you can practice to help you begin on this journey.

Begin in a comfortable seated position. If you are in a chair press both feet flat on the floor, if you are sitting on the floor try to plant your sit bones into the mat or bolster that you are on. 

Begin by breathing in and out through the nose and draw your focus to your breath. If you feel comfortable, gently relax your eyes to closed. Continue to concentrate on your breath and begin to become aware of the many sensations it causes in your body. Can you feel the way air fills your lungs? Are your chest or shoulders rising and falling with each breath? What else can you notice? 
Take a moment and really experience a few breaths. 

Plant your feet or sit bones firmly into the ground. Can you feel the solid, steady, hand of our mother earth? Allow that strength to rise up through your body. Feel it entering in through your feet or sit bones. Feel it coursing through your legs and working it's way up to your center. Pause for a moment on your solar plexus, the powerhouse of the body. Feel it's warm golden glow. It is the strength of the universe shining through you. Focus on this light and allow it to continue upward through your body wrapping itself around you in a warm and comforting embrace. Hold onto that light and comfort and remind yourself that you are not only, worthy of the light of the universe, but you are also the source of light in the universe. This light has always been, and will always be, inside of you. 

Slowly begin to bring your inner eye back into focus and bring awareness back to the breath of your body. Watch as the light of the universe slowly begins to draw back into your core until it is a small glowing light. 

Even though this light cannot always be seen it is always inside of you. You may call upon this light for strength and courage. It is always here for you. 

When you are ready repeat out loud the mantra, "My Greatness is Immeasurable" three times.

In Part Two we will talk about physical safety.

Peace found Here 

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