Florida, habits, kung fu, martial arts, safety, self defense, Tallahassee, Uncategorized, wellness

Acclimation’s Impact on Our Ability to be Situationally Aware

photo of pathway surrounded by fir trees
Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

Acclimation, the process or result of becoming accustomed to a new climate or to new conditions, can be a result of a conscious effort to adjust… or a subtle, unconscious act that we become aware of after the processed customization is complete.  For example, have you ever taken a walk someplace new, beautiful, and pleasant, and thought to yourself, “I should do this again.”? I know, after moving to Tallahassee, Florida, that I experienced this joy many times. (The parks and trails here are great, not to mention the nearby beaches.) The first time you go, you’re aware of so many things: the wind blowing through the trees, the mixture of soil, sand, tree roots, leaves and other vegetation that makes up the trail or path that you’re walking, the water in the lake that you’re fishing, the look of enjoyment that others are having too, the birds singing, the children’s laughter, the smell of the salt water or vegetation around you, . . . Then, after several trips out you become more selective. Perhaps you do not mean to, but you do. You sense select viewpoints of interest in time and space; for example, you see the lake and hear the birds but view less in others’ perception of the environment or fail to smell the nearby acacia, gardenia, and other vegetation. It’s not like you set out to ignore those things. It just happened. And maybe you don’t immediately become aware that you’re doing it. Ever been there? I have.

We maintain situational awareness by being perceptive, or mindful, of the things and events around us. This requires our employing all of senses: seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, and smelling. When we let our guard down, we lose time and space; we fail to relate to all our surroundings; and things lost to our perception can invade our space, potentially harming our-selves.

green and brown leaf with water droplets
Photo by Michael on Pexels.com

In the example that I gave you above, the person going for that tenth or eleventh walk, losing sight, sound, or sense of portions of their environment, can find themselves vulnerable to outside threats. That sense of complacency that they’re experiencing takes the place of their sense of surroundings.

How we choose to acclimate to an environment (whether we’re talking about a regular work routine or leisurely activity) should be a choice based on our willingness to mindfully respond to the life about us (in the moment, as some like to say). And while that is often easier said than done (esp. after a long, hard lived ten or twelve hours at work), we must never lose sight of the need to be mindful. . .  Failure to do so leaves us vulnerable. . . To help you with this, I want to share something with you that one of my early teachers challenged me to do:

We were walking out of a grocery store one day, when he asked me: “Did you see that?”

In my childish state (I was about fifteen or sixteen at the time), I said what many teenagers did back then: “What?”  (Easily replaced with the response: “Huh?” (laughing here))

black traffic light
Photo by Davis Sanchez on Pexels.com

My teacher never clarified what he saw, he, simply, pointed out that I was unaware and could have been harmed by my blindness. He said, “Whenever you feel like you’re satisfied or bored, be like that streetlight, become a yellow-light. Never say I am so safe, so okay that I can be a green light when in public – I can just come and go as I please with no consequence. Yield and observe your surroundings. If you do not see harm, you never become the red light, warning and responding to real threats to yourself. If you do, you become the red light.”

This advice is something that I have followed for a long, long time and has afforded me the mindful life that I’ve needed to stay safe, enjoy the world around me, and share it with those I can. In Wing Chun it is called Nim Lik (without a very good English translation, it means “mind force” or the power of the highly focused mind) and is practiced in everything from our forms, to flow drills, to chi sau and so many other things. It is something each practitioner takes into their everyday life and applies toward self-defense in all aspects of living. It’s not supernatural, hocus-pocus. It is just being mindful in each moment of our lives, which is a form of self-defense and an enriching way to live. There’s no one philosophy or religion that it embraces. It’s you. Plain and simple. A wholeness of you that is living and experiencing life.

Empower yourself to life!™

©2020 Yost Wing Chun Academy. All Rights Reserved.

If you have a question or subject you’d like to see me address on my blog page, or if you have an interest in learning self-defense in or around Tallahassee, Florida, write to me at sifuyost@gmail.com.

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