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Natural Awakenings Fairfield Cty/Housatonic Valley, CT

Honoring Your Self: The Heart and Soul of Holistic Self Defense

Nov 03, 2014 05:50PM ● By Nina Antolino

Many of us settle for far less in our lives than we are capable of achieving. We spend years pursuing other people’s dreams rather than boldly and courageously reaching for our own. We seek approval and validation from the world outside rather than tuning into our own hearts, our own sense of confidence, our full potential. We not only lose our way, we lose our sense of self.

The heart of empowerment is your ability, through self-awareness, to discover your deepest heart’s desire, inner voice and truth. It is to harness the passion in your heart and the power of your mind to take action. Empowerment means allowing no one—not even your own self-sabotaging thoughts—to pull you away from your vision of what you most wish to create for your life. Empowerment is moving away from perceiving ourselves as a victim of the circumstances we may find ourselves in and stepping fully into victorious self-responsibility and freedom.

But without proper boundaries - our ability to say “no” kindly but firmly—we fall “victim” to our to-do lists, to demands around us, and our need to please others. These often bully us away from our center and own inner voice. We disconnect from our hearts and our minds fill with chatter. We believe busyness is strength; the more we do, the more valuable we think we are. The truth is, the more driven we are, the less energy we really have. Without balance, we fail to create the space we need to pursue our passions and live up to our full creative potential.  

Honoring yourself is the heart of holistic self-defense. It requires the ability to create healthy boundaries and find balance. We need both our yin and yang energies and becoming adept at balancing means giving with receiving, knowing when to act and when to find stillness. It is in finding stillness, in being calm, that we connect to our aliveness, our freedom and our power.  

When we think of self-defense, our mind automatically conjures up the thought of fighting, attacking back, expressing our inner rage, becoming hyper-vigilant, and protecting ourselves from potentially threatening situations. Holistic self-defense occurs well before any physical altercation or violence can take place. It occurs in the stillness, the space in which we can begin to see things clearly, so we can act with discernment. 

Many self-defense classes focus solely on the very physical aspect of defending oneself from attack. This is reactive and reflexive. This is what you do in a fight or flight situation, that moment when you feel you have to fight to survive. 

There is a place where it intersects with holistic. 

Although learning physical tactics are part of the approach in holistic self-defense, it is through mindful physical movements that you will see what cannot be seen and understand that which is beyond words. It is only through dedicated training that one will truly gain understanding of the peaceful nature embedded within the martial arts piece of this work.

Holistic self-defense is a union of martial arts and yogic philosophy. Part of the Tae Kwon Do oath is, “…to be a champion of freedom and justice and to build a more peaceful world.” In yogic philosophy, this is called “ahimsa,” which translates to non-harming/non-violence. This doesn’t only refer to violent actions, but also refraining from violent language and criticism not only toward others but also toward yourself. Peace begins within. As you learn and use these foundational skills, you may begin to find yourself in fewer conflicts in all areas of life.  

Holistic self-defense is about extreme self-care and honoring ourselves. It is about freeing ourselves from violence. The first step is to create a foundation that fosters self-awareness, self-trust, balance, clear boundary setting, non-defensiveness/non-violence (toward self and others), empowerment, and also by developing the safety strategies and physical skills necessary to be prepared to face any conflict.   

Once you have developed these skills, you will shore up inner resources and hopefully never have to use physical force to protect yourself. In essence you will learn to steer clear of situations which violence is likely. We learn self-empowerment; how to stand up and honor ourselves so we can appropriately handle exploitive, hostile, abusive people that may be encountered in any aspect of life. Eventually, with practice, it is possible to identify and transform the beliefs and actions that may draw those ugly situations in to begin with. 

For more information, visit Led by Dr. Douglas DeMassa and Nina Antolino, RYT, RMT, MBA, a holistic self-defense program will be held on Mondays beginning November 10 from 7-9 pm in Norwalk. A free intro session will take place on November 3 from 7-9 pm.

Seven Key Elements of Holistic Self-Defense:

• Cultivating mindfulness/awareness (know your surroundings)

• Trusting yourself/your intuition

• Restoring balance (relieving stress, yin/yang, self-care) 

• Setting clear boundaries (the art of saying “no”) 

• Non-violence/non-defensiveness (toward self and others in word and deed)

• Empowerment (visualizing the outcome you want, personal power, taking action)

• Physical techniques and safety tactics strategies

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