My partner’s mom passed away two weeks ago at the age of 88. Val was, in many ways, an uncomplicated woman. Her favorite advice to me, her children, co-workers — anybody who would listen, really – was, simply, “Be happy!”
Gloria has a favorite story about her mom. It took place only a year or two ago, when Val was already in her mid-80s. An aggressive pitbull wandering her suburban neighborhood rushed into Val’s yard and attacked her little Cairn terrier, (Diddo, who was 12 years old at the time, weighs about 20 pounds, and is blind.) The pitbull took the defenseless little dog in its mouth and began shaking him. Gloria’s sister, who had just been walking Diddo, let go the leash and began screaming for help.
Now, picture what happened next:
Suddenly, Gloria’s 86-yr.-old mother bursts through the front door, strides assertively into the fracas, and – with no hesitation — “bonks” the pitbull squarely on its head with her fist! The pitbull immediately drops Diddo, and runs off. Val scoops up her beloved pet, turns, and walks calmly back into the house.
I love this story, too. Val acted without thought. Somehow, she knew the perfect response to the situation, applied just enough force to achieve her desired outcome, and that was that. A “mother’s instinct”? acting from zen “no mind” or intuition? channeling her inner goddess…? How would you describe what just happened? In yoga nidra practice, we say that, when we are connected with our True Nature, we always (and automatically) know the perfect response to every situation we encounter in our lifetime. There’s a kind of surrender that happens within the thinking mind, and we act from a place of profound knowing.
A Time to Defend…?
Very recently, I was reading a HippoPress article about a local martial arts master. Peter Freeman, who now lives in Weare, New Hampshire, grew up in some very tough neighborhoods in Boston’s South end. He tells the interviewer that, over the course of his early years, he had been shot, stabbed, and whipped with a metal chain by various attackers … He also witnessed people robbed and killed in front of his own eyes. Not the kinds of things most of us experienced in our formative years.…
What struck me about this story was that it seemed Peter had, as a response to the toxic start to his life, dedicated himself to helping others. Rather than becoming an aggressively violent person, himself … or a victim, he shows people how to defend themselves from physical harm. Furthermore, he teaches in such a way that they come to experience a sense of their own wholeness. When I read his website, and listened to the recorded testimonials there, I got a sense of a man teaching “holistic martial arts.” (When I recently met him in person, Peter told me his wife also describes his work this way.)
The key to moving out of any dangerous situation successfully, Peter teaches his students, is to be calm and present. “If you have to think of what to do in the heat of the moment,” he says, “then, you are probably in trouble.” He talks of not responding to situations in rote, pre-programmed ways, but, instead, allowing for creativity to guide us in the moment. His jujitsu style of martial arts is really about flowing with energy – not pushing or striking against it.
To me, that is the very same philosophy that underlies our yoga and yoga nidra practices. The more I have communicated with Peter, the more deep parallels I see between our work and approach. It’s been a delightful surprise.
Free Self-Defense Workshop
It felt like a natural “perfect response” to this situation, therefore, to invite Peter to present a workshop at the Yoga Center – to which he has graciously and generously agreed!
I invite you to join me:
Saturday evening, February 19 (7:00-9:00 p.m) at The Yoga Center
and experience Peter’s offerings for yourself. Admission is free, and he and I both anticipate this will be lots of fun. Peter’s workshops are always experiential – i.e., hands-on. Among other things, he will guide us in learning how to quickly “read people and situations” (by sensing their energy), as well as teach some self defense strategies and maneuvers. One of his priorities is safety, and he promises no one will get hurt. He also says he always tries to teach with humor, so I’d guess it is probably safe to park your Darth Vader intensity at the door Another aspect to his teaching I like is that he welcomes questions, of any kind… the more challenging, the better!
I hope you will consider joining us… Please email me or call me at (603) 226-0680 to register.
(For more information about Peter’s teaching, you can visit his website.)
Peace and joy,