Posts Tagged ‘Mental Health’

Yes, it’s another Pokémon related post. (It’s not likely to be the last.)

Pikachu’s electrifying personality (source)

I have always had an unusually rational and explainable confidence (though it’s origin remains unknown): Just DO things. Now, I am not saying it came from Pokémon, but, I am not saying it did’t come from Pokémon. One thing is for sure; I have always stood out as someone a little different. Maybe it’s a bad case of cognitive dissonance or maybe it was my love for Pokémon. Who knows?!

One thing for sure though, having confidence in oneself, who you are and your abilities, can go a long way in life. It’s not for the benefit of other people, it’s for ourselves, and how we view ourselves internally.

In Pokémon, protaginist “Ash Ketchum” has an unusual characteristic; he never forces, or even encourages, his pokémon to evolve into their higher forms. In the most famous example, his pikachu was offered the chance to evolve into a Raichu early on, using an item called a “Thunder Stone.” Most trainers would jump at the chance, because isn’t the more evolved form stronger and, therefore, better? Well, Ash and, more importantly, Pikachu did not think so. (It should be considered, though, that this may have been a marketing-based plot decision, as Raichu isn’t as “cute” as Pikachu and might have hurt the series’ brand, considering Pikachu was, and still is, the face of the series.)

For whatever reason, Pikachu decided he did not want to change for the sake of others; he was comfortable with who he was. Later in the series it was the same case for Ash’s Bulbasaur. It was captured by other Bulbasaurs and taken to the secretive “evolution ceremony.” Ash’s Bulbasaur decided, despite all his peers evolving, not to evolve again; he, like Pikachu, was comfortable with who he was. As it turns out, they both developed into stronger versions of themselves internally, becoming strong leaders in their own rights, despite not evolving into more powerful creatures.

While at the time I did not think much of it, hindsight often allows us to see where we might have learned lessons that were not directly taught to us. In today’s world there is increased pressure to conform to the narrative of society or our peers. Similarly, society told Ash to evolve Pikachu and peers told Bulbasaur to evolve. In both cases they were confident and comfortable with who they were, which afforded them the self-assured mindset to become the best versions of themselves whether or not they later choose to evolve.

While you should always be the best version of yourself, that does not always mean the version other people want you to be. This DOES NOT mean you don’t ever have to change! It just means that how you view yourself is one of the most important aspects of personal happiness (or personal destruction): it will inform your confidence (or contribute to a lack thereof) and inspire (or deter) your ability to be comfortable with yourself, and therefore your ability to experience strong growth.

So long as who you choose to be, and how you see yourself, is not destructive, dangerous, or extremely disruptive to the health, safety, and well-being of others, then you should be who you want to be and you should let yourself be happy with it.

Of course, if you are not happy with what you see in the mirror, or in your thoughts and actions, then you always have the power to change into what you want. In other words, you can choose to “evolve,” as is common when most pokémon are ready to change; either because they want to for personal reasons, because they have decided it would be in the best interest of their team’s success. Regardless of the motivation, the change is a choice to take action.

So, whether you want to be something else, or you want to be what you are, if you view yourself in a positive light you will have a much fuller, happier life.

What are you waiting for? Channel the confidence of Pikachu today, and be the best version of yourself that you can; so that you too can electrify the world around you.

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This is the third part in a series titled Self-Defence is Not Just Physical.

Many interconnected factors contribute to a mental health breakdown. Defend yourself by taking action!

Out of all the topics covered in this series, this is the one I have the most formal education in. While my experience isn’t enough for me to claim to be an “expert,” it does provide me with insight on the topic of mental health. What I can say for certain is that in the area of mental health there is often a lot of “noise;” there are good studies and there are bad studies, and then there is everything in between.

One thing I learned early in the Psychology field is that, what is considered acceptable in a study isn’t necessarily appropriate to apply directly to the general population or to inform understandings across multiple cultures. I also learned that there are massive divides running through the world of psychology, as various schools of thought and areas of focus often do not get a long.

“…[T]here are also deep uncertainties in the field itself. Psychiatrists have no blood tests or brain scans to diagnose mental disorders. They have to make judgments, based on interviews and checklists of symptoms.” (Benedict Carey, “What’s Wrong With a Child? Psychiatrists Often Disagree,” The Washington Post, Nov. 11, 2006)

Ultimately, Psychology, while it is considered the science of the mind and behaviour, is not an exact science. The often referenced checklists of symptoms are typically based on the information provided in the much debated Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)

More often than not, these complications make finding good advice for mental health difficult, especially if you are in the “thick brown soup” (so called by Safi Bahcall on the Tim Ferris Show) that can be a mental health episode.

So let’s forget any formal training or education I’ve have had, but rather focus on the fact that I have personally dealt with mental health issues; in the form of Clinical Depression, from both nature (family genetics) and nurture (learned behaviors and crappy adolescence) components. Of which I feel I have mostly cured myself, with little help or support from the few close people I had in my life (which makes it even harder). So trust me when I say I understand, even if you get the impression that I am insensitive to your mental health plight.

Throughout my life I have also had friends and acquaintances who have experienced various states of a variety of mental health issues, such as Severe Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Manic and Clinical Depression, PTSD, and much more. I have been exposed to such individuals simply by virtue of not living a sheltered life, and by recognizing that, perhaps, the saying “birds of a feather flock together” has some truth to it. For those who had both decent genetics and stable upbringings with good role models, in my experience, these people often struggle to deal with those who have mental health issues; often due to prevalent social stigma causing those with mental health issues to perhaps be naturally drawn (pushed?) to each other. This, of course, results in a history of rather interesting, albeit difficult, personal relations.

Merely two paragraphs ago I mentioned that I often come off as insensitive to those who have mental health issues, but, really it’s about my understanding of a simple fact:

If you, with all of the mental burdens you are feeling, want to get better, there is only one person who can truly help you get better…

You!

It’s a harsh reality to accept, especially if you are struggling. Medication (which I took for a few years and it did help me) or counselling (which I also dabbled with) will do nothing for you if you don’t do the work to change how you think and how you live your life. (Outside intervention may even be re-enforcing the way you think and feel.)

Much like addicts, the story we like to tell ourselves is that no one understands. Even when we meet other people with similar problems, if not identical, we still like to say things like; “But you don’t really understand,” “My situation is worse,” “You can change, I can’t.” A topic by the way recently discussed by Doctor Drew on the Podcast The Fighter and the Kid, so don’t just take it from me, take it from an addictions expert.

While, yes, there are extreme cases, most of the time you are no different than that other person experiencing the same thing. The cause or specifics may be different, but the feeling is the same. There is a reason after all, those people experiencing the same mental health problems often have very similar brain scans. Because, fundamentally, in your brain it’s the same problem.

This means that once you can get over yourself, and realize you want to get better, you are likely already halfway down the path to a happier life. The next step is getting off the couch and doing something about it.

Medication

I figured starting here is a good place since its probably one of the more controversial topics. Generally I operate on the “bell curve” model for most things. Some people who have mental health issues serious enough to need help may need to be on medication indefinitely, lets say 5-10%, some people may never need medication, lets also say 5-10% and then everyone else falls into some kind of spectrum (dependent on many factors).

Let’s start with something very important first. For most people, the first thing you do in a mental health episode/crisis is to contact a doctor, whether they be a General Practitioner (GP) or a walk-in clinic. Therefore, it is likely that the first person you will interact with only understands mental health in a general sense. Furthermore, they may not be able to consider the larger context of your life or specifics of your particular situation.

In general most GP’s and the like only have one tool: Medication. In my opinion, pills are often over-prescribed and should rarely be the first course of action. It is, however, the easy route, even though it is really not the best place to start. A reminder though; some people do require medication, even if its only for a short time. But, in general, long term use is not advised in most cases (again, in my opinion).

The reason I say this is a simple one: Sometimes the factors causing a mental illness or episode are very much environmental factors, such as a horrible job, terrible home life, a death in the family, or lack of social skills. Doctors rarely have the time to truly dive into your life to figure out if it’s a non-biological factor that is causing your distress. You may not even know! People like to lie to themselves about the situation they are in, and it can take weeks or months for people to open up and be honest.

Questions you should ask yourself are; “Can a find a different job,” “am I able to change my living conditions,” or “is there a family history of this issue” (even an undiagnosed one). This should always be the place to start.

Often this means deep and difficult discussions with yourself, which may result in requiring serious, and also difficult, life changes. This is why medication is often the route people take. Because it’s easier.

For the record, I was on Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) for about two years, and for me it was a great help because I finally started to understand what people were talking about when they said “just be happy.” My mind literally had no frame of reference, internally, for this notion, and I simply couldn’t understand. This is why, in my case, where there is clearly a family history, it was hard for me. Being on medication really helped me gain the basic framework from which to start building the internal/external skills to cope and change how my mind worked. But I knew being on SSRIs long term wasn’t great, as they do have drawbacks; I was lucky they only made me feel fatigued and robotic. Weirdly enough, the latter helped me socially, as I was “more likable” because I was less emotional or reactive. People liked the toned down version, but for me it really wasn’t a long term option, so I slowly weened myself off SSRIs after about 2 years (which was it’s own struggle).

Anyway, it can’t be overstated that a doctor whose first response is to give medication, without proper follow ups and a significant look into your life and context, in my opinion, should not be a doctor anymore; they are just being lazy and dishonest. For me, the decision to go on medication was only after I had done everything else (from therapy to moving to another country). Even then, it was only after a serious manic depressive episode that it occur to me that there was actually something seriously wrong.

So, should you go on medication? Which type should you go on if you do? For how long? Should you go on something meant for short term relief or a long term regime?

These are all good questions that really need to be deeply considered, with yourself, your doctor, and any consulting mental health professionals you have access to.

I generally believe that if you have not done anything to improve your situation, then you should try other strategies first. If after several life adjustments things still haven’t changed, then medication, even for a short time to get you moving, may simply be what your brain needed to rest and heal.

A word of warning: To my knowledge they don’t really have a good way of knowing which medication and at what dose to give to start people on. It’s often guesswork based on feedback from the patient. The thing is most people give very dishonest feed back, for whatever reason. I remember going on one type of SSRI at 5mg, nothing changed. Then 10. Nothing changed. My doctor said “let’s do 20mg and if it doesn’t work we will try a different type.” I casually asked the pharmacist how to know if it works. They said “If it’s working you will know.” The pharmacist was correct! For me, that particular brand, at 20mg, was like a ray of sunshine in the darkness. It immediately kicked in. Later, when I was going off the meds, I was only on 10mg, and eventually none. If you are honest, you will know if it is working or not. Do not just say it is if there is no real change.

Therapy

This may be a better place to start once you have identified that there is an issue. Here’s the thing, therapy, if not covered by medical insurance, can be very expensive indeed. One thing that drives me nuts is when mental health professionals try to tell a person who is broke and already struggling that they can find a way to afford counselling sessions, at $100 dollars an hour, at least once a week, because “it’s worth it.” While it may very well be, it might also be more of a financial burden than the individual can handle.

The other thing is, just like doctors or any other professional, there is a reason there is always a “best in the field.” Many therapists, whether they are a psychiatrist, private therapist, or public therapist, will be better at their job than others. This means that the chances of finding someone who is effective, who you connect with, and who you can afford, is very difficult.

However, especially if you don’t have a support network, someone is better than no one. What I will say is, don’t just stick with the first person who could see you. If you don’t click, you don’t click.

I would also caution that, in most cases, if you have to see them for more than 6 months or a year, other than maintenance checkups, they may just be taking your money. A decent therapist can often give you want you need in far less sessions than you think. That is, of course, if they are decent and they are not trying to take advantage of you.

For some, several sessions may be required at regular intervals at the beginning to assess and build a framework, others may only need one. It really depends.

I would like to stand up for therapists, though, and say that, often the reason things haven’t gotten better for a person regularly seeing a therapist is that the person is using the therapist as a crutch and hasn’t actually done anything to improve their life outside of therapy.

Remember, the responsibility for getting better is on you, not the therapist. They can only guide and advise, they are not supposed to tell you what to do. Which means that if they keep saying the same thing to you for years, the fault is on you. I know, people don’t like to take responsibility, even in normal times let alone mental health situations, but, sorry, it’s the truth

There is a reason, after all, that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), still tends to be the most effective type of therapy for treating a variety of mental health issues. As the onus is on you to do the work, on a consistent, daily basis, and re-shape how you think about the world and yourself.

So, pick your therapist wisely, and remember that you need to want to get better, no matter who you talk to.

Support Network

They say having a strong support network helps. That is, if you have one. Some people are lucky enough to have a strong group of supportive friends they built from high-school, or have strong family support on all levels. Though to be honest, if you have severe mental health problems there’s a good chance you did not have a very strong support network from the start. If you do, than that’s awesome, you have a leg up and I am very happy for you.

In my case though, I had few, very consistent, people in my life who did offer support. The reality is for me, they did not have the skills, knowledge, or time to really help me in a more meaningful way. I suspect that for many this is a familiar experience. This is why, no matter how hard it seems, it may be on you, and you alone, to get help and get better. (Notice a theme?)

The reason it can be difficult to have a strong support network is because those in your life who have their shit together more than you often are too busy with their own lives. Or they don’t have the energy to deal with what, to them, seems like a difficult friend.

I can say that for me, someone who has always struggled to have strong connections with other people (partially due to mental illness, but also the fact I am a strong-willed person at the best of times), the majority of the people I thought were my friends essentially bailed on me because I was too difficult to deal with. You can look at this a few ways:

  1. You are just too much – This may not be a popular thing to say, but dealing with people suffering from mental illness is tough. Unless those around you really have their shit together and have the right temperament, you may actually be just too much for them to deal with at that time. It’s very unfortunate, but it’s an all too common scenario. It’s not that they don’t care, they just can’t make you a priority in their life. It’s okay, everyone has their own lives. These are the people you should forgive, as it is more an indication of their life than yours.
  2. They were not very good friends in the first place – To be honest, though I admit I am a difficult person, I would say that this is the category into which the majority of the “friends” I had before my major episode fall. I say this because the vast majority of people didn’t even try. They just saw I was being difficult and bailed on me outright. If this is the case, then be happy that they are out of your life. They clearly didn’t care enough to ask if everything was alright when the signs are clear as day that it is not. Don’t feel bad, just know that when things get better you will find new friends and you will be happier for it.
  3. It really is your fault because you aren’t even trying to get better – This applies to those people who have an active support network who are always trying to help, yet years later nothing is better. There is a point, whether you realize it or not, that eventually people will give up on you. I am sorry, but you may be just too much, in general, and you aren’t taking responsibility. Either you may need to seek different professional help, or realize that, if you don’t change, everyone in your life who matters will be gone. If you don’t want to change so that you can be happier, then there is nothing anyone else can do for you. It is ultimately on you. They tried, you didn’t. After a long enough timeline, don’t be surprised when people walk away.

The trick is to know which category you fall into. If you have an amazing support network from the past, or a new one you have discovered, whether it be a new friend, a support group for your mental illness, or a therapist, then that is awesome. But, if not, do you fall into one of the three scenarios mentioned above, or is there another one? The truth is you probably won’t actually know until later, when your mind has calmed down and you can think clearly. It may even be years later that you finally it out. But know, though, it is easier with a support network. So make building or finding one a priority in your first steps. You can get better without one if you really want to, yes, it is a lot harder, but it can be done.

In a country like Canada there is little reason why you should not be able to find something, as there are many government funded resources and groups you can access. Even if they are not for you, they can often start you on a path to healing, one way or another.

Conclusion

Mental health it can be a difficult topic to talk about objectively, as there is so much emotion and ego involved. One thing to remember is that you are not alone. In this world there is someone else who is feeling the same as you are. This is actually, in a weird way, good news, because when enough people have the same issue it means there are resources and solutions available. You just have to start looking.

The first step is identifying that there is a problem, and which problem there is. Once you do that, you will be able to find the path that allows you to get better, so you can live a happier, more productive life.

I have met people who have had all sorts of mental health issues, some, at times, were quite serious, but they managed to get it sorted out so they too could be happier and healthier. Others struggle with the same problem for years and years because, despite being given the same advice from everyone around them, choose to stay in the shitty mental state they claim to want to move on from.

The latter probably do want to get better, but they have found all sorts of reasons not to.

The choice is always yours. I know that if you are reading this you want it to get better. You want the pain to go away or at least lessen. And, yes, it is pain, just like breaking a leg or bumping your head, but this one is not so simple to fix; it will require hard work and change.

This post is not meant as a comprehensive mental health guide, it obviously can’t be. Rather, it is meant to offer a perspective in thinking about mental health.

This series has been about the fact that self-defence is not just physical, which means I wanted you to consider other areas of your life that could take a little bit of self-defence. Our lives have become ever more complicated; more so that our nervous systems are adapted for.

If you are able to take care of yourself physically but not mentally, and your whole world seems chaotic and painful, then what good is physical self-defence if you still are struggling to see the light?

The answers are all interconnected. Whether the concern is physical, mental, digital, or financial, they are all aspects of your life. You need to live a balanced life, and seek to better yourself a little bit every day. Build one and it can build the others.

So what are you waiting for? Make your life happier, healthier, and better today, even if only a little bit.

By: Jonathan Fader

This is the second of three sections expanding on the original piece titled, Self-defence is Not Just Physical.

In the modern world, being financially stable can be harder than ever, especially when the vast majority of people are living paycheque to paycheque. One of the biggest mistakes the average person makes is not thinking long term, but rather choosing instant gratification; getting something now and having nothing for later. A common belief is that our school systems do not spend enough (or any) time on financial literacy. Basic education should include simple things like how to put together a rudimentary budget, how to prepare your taxes, or how basic investing works.

While we often blame the rich for getting richer as the poor get poorer, one of the reason this trend continues is that either “the rich” understand how to make their money work for them, understand the financial system and how to protect their money, or they have the resources to hire the people who do.

For most of us though, it’s really a matter of understanding we are starting with less. So unless you happen to have the next “big idea” it’s going to be a long term thing. Work hard when you are younger and invest smart, then maybe you can retire in your 40’s or 50’s.

While I am no expert, I can certainly tell you the things that I have learned (mostly from screwing up and being broke). What I can say for certain is that part of personal self-defence is the ability to be ready, financially, to deal with the inevitable financial blows that life will throw at you. Even if that means you had solid enough financials to have a line of credit on hand in case of emergencies. Though having money in the bank is ideal, having financial buffers will save you from the deep hole that is financial ruin. So be smart, and include financial planning in your self-defence plans.

Don’t Spend Past Your Budget

As a martial arts instructor teaching a style that is not overly popular in my region, living on a tight budget is something I have become used to. However, as the world is increasingly difficult to survive in with less money, managing what little you have is key.

A question I often ask myself is, “how do people who make 4, 5 or 6 thousand dollars a month, after taxes, still manage to be broke (or at least say they are)?” It’s probably because they seek instant gratification and buy everything they can rather than preparing for the future. They seek experience and the “now” over anticipating the future. While that’s fine sometimes, do it too much and you may be on the path to financial disaster.

Of course, the less money you have the harder it can be to stick to your budget, because you may have to make important decisions on what to buy or which bills to pay (especially in with complications like Covid-19).

It’s at these times in life when budgeting comes in handy, or rather it would have had you done it. One of the hardest things for people to do, especially when they don’t have much money in the first place, is to include in their budget a “rainy day fund” and retirement savings. They may not seem important now, but they are! (I’ll come back to this.)

A basic budget should include necessities such as housing, food, and, in most cases, transportation. Anything beyond that, at least according “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs,” may in fact be a luxury. If you have the money to spend more, then have at it. But if you don’t, think, do you really need the newest iPhone?

Ok, so enough talk. In the absence of credit, a budget is simply the act of planning your finances so that money coming in can cover the costs of money going out. If you have no credit, or options similar to this, then a budget is a MUST. If you do not create and follow one, then you may find your self not eating.

Lets look at something simple.

Mike has $3,000 after taxes every three months.

  • Rent = $1,200
  • Food = $500
  • Transportation = $800

After the basics are covered Mike has $500 extra a month. Most people would spend that on eating out or “toys.” A smart planner would take some of that and put it away, even if it’s only a little. Lets say he puts $100 a month away into retirement savings and $100 into a emergency fund, that now leaves $300 for entertainment and toys.

What if Mike works hard and earns a raise? He now has $3,200 every three months. If Mike was already financially stable, why not put the extra money directly into savings or investments. If he was doing fine without it, then he will have a $200 boost in savings without noticing a change in his lifestyle.

While most people these days do not like to operate in a frugal mindset, in the long run planning investments and emergency funds into your budget is crucial; so that in the hard times you are not destitute. So be smart, start early and reap the later benefits of a well planned budget.

Invest Early and Consistently

Assuming you manage to put something away for investments and retirement, the earlier you do it, the better. Have you heard of something called “compound interest?” Essentially it’s interest on the interest. This is the key to long term savings and building your early retirement.

If I put $100 into my retirement savings, and it averages a 3% return annually, then after one year it’s $1236 (depending on the frequency interest is compounded). The next year I put in another $1200, which would also receive the 3%, but so would the original $1236, resulting in $2509 rather than just $2,472. Which basically means that first $36 in interest, which you didn’t invest from your pocket originally, is continuing to grow for you. The earlier you do this the more the interest stacks, and the longer you have the more you earn.

If you started saving for retirement in your 20s vs your 30s the difference in the end number can be quite staggering. The amount of money you would need to put in during your 30s, to get the same results you would have gotten if you started modestly in your 20s, is quite a lot more than you think (the math is out there). I say again; Start early, even if its only $50 per month.

The best way to start early is of course as a parent. Start saving for your child’s future, (and not just for school) in a trust and your child will have an amazing head start. of course don’t just give it to them when they turn 18, make them wait and ensure they have learned financial literacy and good spending habits early.

Another important consideration in favour of investing early, and consistently rather than lump sum, is the ability to average out your costs of purchases across lows and highs in the market. The idea of “buying low and selling high” really isn’t what you think. Even the worlds greatest investor Warren Buffet, doesn’t try to time the movements of the market; he does his research and plays the long game.

Even when the market crashes it can be an excellent time to buy, if you are planning for the long term, that is, if you are buying more conservative “blue chip” funds, rather than trying to play the actual stock market. Which is not advisable, unless you have lots of disposable income and really know what your are doing. For the record, most people I know who play the regular market with only a few thousand dollars (which they can’t really afford to lose) typically lose. So play the long game and be smart about it.

Remember, even if you had invested in Apple, Microsoft, or Amazon early on, only to sell a year later and make some money, it is nowhere near the amount you would have made if you had held on. Of course, there is also no way of knowing which companies will be the next big ones, so if you aren’t sure I suggest leaving it up to the experts.

Nowadays, due to online banking, you can manage your money on your own. That being said, buying the professionally managed funds, in the long run in most cases, is going to give you a higher return than simply guessing and playing the lows and highs. Why? Compound interest and people who know better than you.

So start early, be consistent, and don’t just gamble, play the long game.

Diversify

Unless you happen to get lucky with the next big stock, and cash out just in time for you to see the crash, it’s best to diversify. In reality, even the best investors can’t time the market and may lose billions in one big market swing or crash. Those who come out on top tend to do so because they play the long game and have diversified portfolios, they still have money working for them, somewhere, when a crash outright destroys others.

Diversifying basically means “do not put all your eggs in one basket.” Even if you are playing conservatively and sticking to large professionally managed funds, you should have your money spread out between a variety of categories. Though what percentage is split how is totally up to you. Maybe you have 50% of your money in funds tied to your country, 30% to precious metals, and the remaining 20% in highly volatile, high-risk-high-reward, stocks. Maybe you have a different break down, really it’s up to you and your money managers to decide based on your own comfort and goals. Diversifying will almost always give you more protection if one area does poorly, and can help you with that dollar-cost averaging in the long run, making you come out on top even if times are tough.

Remember, the Dotcom bubble of the ’90s, or the more recent Crypto currency bubble? People lost everything because they put everything into a single venture and lost it all. Consider that if you are hearing about it on the news chances are the people who made the real money are already out and you are just a sucker.

Of course, if you want to put 20% of your money into such risky endeavors, no one is stopping you. You may make a killing, but it is all about when to sell, and most people sell too late. But, if the rest of your money is tied up in safer funds, then at least that 20% loss wasn’t everything.

Be smart, diversify, and (you guessed it) play the long game.

Conclusion

I should remind you at this point that finances are not my expertise, and I, admittedly, I do not have much money. These ideas are based on the lessons I have learned the hard way. Wisdom that only now have I realized I should have known and acted on years ago. But, if you don’t have a lot of money the banks rarely give you the best advisors; you usually only have conversations with sales people at the lower level. If no one in your family or circle of those who you look up has a good grasp on financial literacy, you may find yourself drowning in debt.

The earlier you learn these skills the better. Remember, most “get rich schemes”are just that, schemes. They fail for almost everyone and result in large financial loses. So try not to get swept up in the hype.

Protect yourself and your finances through smart financial self-defence. This includes knowing enough to know when someone is feeding you bullshit. For if you simply give your money to someone to manage outright, and you don’t know enough to check, you could actually find yourself losing it all to the next big Ponzie scheme (read up on Bernie Madoff).

Become financially literate, learn enough to play the long game, and start early. If you do, you will be in better shape than the majority of the population.

Remember, self-defence is not just physical. What other skills might you need to properly defend yourself in the modern world?

  Mental and digital attacks can be as harmful as physical ones. (©Photo: PIxabay)

Once upon a time, learning to defend yourself was a simple matter of fending off wolves and stopping physical violence from others. OK, not so simple, but still much more black and white than the kind of things we need to defend ourselves from in the 21st century. Where it was once only about the physical, now we need to consider many other factors.

Don’t get me wrong, physical self-defence is still very important, as it is so fundamental (and I have, after all, dedicated my life to teaching others to defend themselves from physical violence). Even though the physical aspect is what would be considered more my area of expertise, I am aware of, and often talk about, other aspects of life that require a kind of self-defence strategy (in addition to the knowledge and skill to deal with them).

I will be discussing three areas of interest that I think people often need help in understanding so that they can properly defend themselves. I will expand on each of these topics in subsequent posts.

These are;

  • Digital Self-defence
  • Financial Self-defence
  • Mental Health Self-defence

Digital Self-defence

Everything that was once pen and paper, to be found only in specific buildings now forgotten, called libraries, is now stored digitally on computers or in the cloud, accessible to anyone with enough skill or patience to trick the systems.

While we often think it’s mainly about having a strong password, many people still use Password01 or 123456 (terrible ideas!). Digital security is so much more complicated than that.

Do you know what a “phishing” scam is? They are very common, yet many people still fall prey to them. In fact, the famous “Hillary Clinton email hack” was traced to someone falling to such a scam (and should have known better); as case in which phishing changed the course of political history for all to see.

Or how about a “porting” scam, in which scammers transfer your phone number to another carrier so they can reset all of your passwords. So much for 2-step authentication.

It can be easy to fall prey to these if technology is not your thing. Best case scenario, you simply have to change a few passwords. Worse case scenario, you have your entire savings cleared out in seconds.

So have you done everything you need to do to preemptively protect your digital self?

Financial Self-defence

Did I mention you can have your savings wiped out if you fall prey to digital scams? That is to say, if you in fact have any savings in the first place.

More and more, especially in the younger generations, people are struggling to defend themselves financially. Either because they can’t manage to save any money or they are not sure what to do with what they have.

Investing can be scary, and preparing for your retirement is something that can be put off for a long time because you feel like you have forever until that day. However, the earlier you learn financial self-defence, and thus the earlier you save and invest, the better of you will be.

Yes, financial literacy is extremely lacking, and it is increasingly harder to manage things yourselves without, ironically, forking out loads of cash to pay an expert. The thing is, the more financially literate you are as soon as possible, the easier choices will be in the future. That is, unless you happen to start during a black swan event, like what’s been going on in the market recently. Then its just bad luck.

Either way, how financially prepared are you to deal with the inevitable ups and downs you will face throughout your life?

Mental Self-defence

This is a topic which I have discussed before, and for many it may in fact be the hardest thing to deal with. How you address it will also depend on where in the world you are when you read this; it may or may not be considered a culturally acceptable topic, or there may not be support readily available for mental health.
Additionally, mental health, realistically, is relatively new topic in its own right, and as a result there are many aspects we are still trying to figure out, which means finding meaningful and closer-to-correct answers can be difficult.

“Difficult” becoming “seemingly impossible” if you are in the middle of a specific mental health crisis. On this I will argue, like all self-defence, that, if you are able to, you are the one most responsible for regulating and rebuilding your mental health; even when you have strong support networks. If you don’t have a support network, then know that you are not alone in the world.

This topic is very sensitive and it is often connected to experiences related to physical self-defence. Or it may be connected to other considerations, such as genetics, family history, or particular non-violent events in your life. Either way, it is a complicated subject and requires a certain level of understanding and knowledge to truly delve into.

Yet day-to-day mental health and happiness may be more important than physical self-defence, assuming you are in a safe country. If you are somewhere that physical self-defence is still a big part of your daily life, then often your mind may be too preoccupied to even realize that you are suffering a mental health problem.

Just know, as with physical self-defence, there are training options for both preventative measures and coping mechanisms to deal with such issues.

Conclusions

One thing to remember, in this world that is increasingly more and more complicated, is the importance of understanding that everything is interconnected. Only focusing on one area of your self-defence really is only looking at one part of the picture. It can be hard to understand it all, but if you are oblivious to the workings of your life, your emotions, and the world around you, then it will be even more difficult to overcome hardships when you are blindsided by events that you could have done something to stop, had you been aware.

Remember, no matter what type of self-defence you are practicing, at the end of the day the only person who can really protect you, is you. Waiting for others to step up may often just mean disappointment, which means further conflict, both internally and externally, which means you may not feel like you have any power at all, which is the farthest thing from the truth.

So what are you going to do to improve your ability to defend yourself, physically, digitally, financially, or mentally?

Your musical brain.jpg

Music is something that has been in the history of man for as long as most can tell. It is sound, vibration, the transfer of energy that creates soothing, or intense emotional reactions. Some of us, are even lucky enough to get goosebumps when we hear music, myself included. Music is ingrained in most cultures in one form or another and can be used for the most beautiful of intentions or used to manipulate you into buying something you wouldn’t otherwise have done.

In 1991 a French Researcher Dr. Alfred A tomatis wrote about something he called the “Mozart effect” in his book Pourquoi Mozart? Tomatis did research into auditory effects of music to help with various mental ailments.

In a follow-up study published in Nature in 1993, Rauscher et al showed using the Mozart effect that listening to particular music could definitively help with spatial reasoning and enhance IQ scores.

In short, something we have always known intuitively, that music enhances mood was shown by the Mozart effect and numerous other studies that music can improve performance and mood both for good or for the bad.

Now that the obvious is out of the way, let’s get into my personal history with music and how two artists, in particular, helped inspire me and get me through some tough times.

When I was younger at home, my parents used to put on things like classical music, opera, or some form of news radio. I used to fall asleep to things like Enya, Sarah Brightman, Andrea Bocelli and Peter and the Wolf as narrated by Captain Jean Luc Picard himself Err, I mean Patrick Stewart. I often forget that when I was younger, I was exposed to such things as it was so long ago, but once in a while when I take to time to think back I remember, I do like such music. Outside of that, however, music was not a part of my life as my family, in general, is not of the musical variety.

As I grew older in Elementry school, for some reason or another, I lost interest in music completely. I didn’t understand my peer’s obsessions with the top 10 hits on the local radio stations. Among other things, this was the begging of my realization that I am not really like other people. Perhaps I didn’t understand why they all just blindly liked the same thing like sheep and I rejected music because though I didn’t know it yet I am and always have been a wolf. Because of this at the time, I never used music for the good or the bad.

Enter High school and the standard years of angst. I don’t recall exactly how or why I started listening to it, but I began to listen to angry music like Slipknot, D12 or other such things. At the time I used it to enhance my anger, my hate and the feelings of loneliness and despair as I slipped closer to the Dark Side. Though I had “friends” I certainly never fit in, and looking back I feel like they only kept me around out of boredom or to have another person for their games. Post army, learning what real brotherhood and friendship were like I realized none of them ever were my friends. It’s a shame I didn’t know that at the time for perhaps I would have found different friends and had a happier time.

Later, in high school, I found a different group of friends, those who were also social outcasts but not socially inept. Through them, I found things like classic rock, The Beatles, Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC and at the time my favorite Led Zeppelin. Though not any happier with myself or any less angry at least I found music that would no longer enhance such emotions but instead would foster a more open view of the world around me.

As time passed, happiness, finally free of the prison that is the school system. A place not for people like myself, who don’t fit the mold in any way shape or form and someone completely, to this day, unwilling to be a sheep and conform to the lies and laziness of the powers that be.

It was at this time I started branching out into alternative music and EDM and other similar genres.

On January 18th, 2006, only a few months free, while watching the late-night show I saw this performance:

Yes, you guessed it, Matisyahu. If you had read my series on my Camp My Way Experience you would have noticed several of his songs. Though Matisyahu has evolved from his previous personal as that Hassidic Jew singing reggae his music has always spoken to me. Though I am not in any way a religious man in any way I think Matisyahu’s lyrics and music do a beautiful job at capturing what it means to be human.

Whether I knew it or not, like the butterfly effect, changing the channel on this night at this time would set things in motion for things to come and lay the path of my future life.

*Originally published Oct 19th, 2017

Music a Tool to change mood: A Personal History – Part 2

Learn to hit curve balls

Life as we know it is rarely a smooth journey. We might not always get where we want to go or things might not go how we would like them. Sometimes your day is wonderful, sometimes it is not.

But sometimes a life event might hit you like a tonne of bricks. From the death of a loved one to a break up to the loss of employment to your favorite Netflix show ending. Some of these are more tragic than others but from person to person the effects may feel the same. Perhaps a sense of loss. Perhaps the feeling of emptiness has washed over you. Or even you feel without purpose. If such an event happens what can you do?

First, I think its totally ok if you need time for your self. A little time for quiet and lack of stress to help calm your nervous system might be exactly what you need. It can however easily spiral. If you find your self for more than two weeks in such a state especially if it feels more like depression than quiet reflection then it may be time to get help.

Luckily for you, if you are reading this you are probably one of the lucky ones. You already have one of your best medicines. The fact your do Krav Maga, BJJ, Karate, Kickboxing, kung fu or insert your style here. (Please note that if you feel something is seriously wrong, please consult your doctor or mental health professional preferably someone whose the first reaction isn’t to just prescribe something).

What you may fail to realize is that your martial arts school is not just an outlet to let of attitude-change-life-quotes-Favim.com-1657043.jpgsteam physically but it is also a social group which you belong too. You think you dont have friends? well, you do if you train martial arts. It is unlikely that in the entire group of people you regularly punch in the face or try to choke out you can’t find one or more people to find support from. And you might not even need to take it that far. Simply being around other people that you like for an hour or two a day will most likely help you feel a little better.

Perhaps you learned something new that gave you a sense of accomplishment to lift your spirits. Perhaps you met someone new and you taught them something and that lifted your spirits. Perhaps simply being with people knowing you are doing something rather than sitting alone with a drink helped you out. You never know what it is but something will most likely help you feel better even if only a little.

Yes I know, you may not feel like going, you may still feel immense pain inside but you need to force your self to go and train. Just do something with people around.

I can speak from experience as recently something happened that I was less than thrilled about and while I took some time for my self I told my self ok nows the time to train. I then went to all the classes I could fit in my schedule and I can say I definitely feel better. I found the support I needed, and the sense of accomplishment by training the amount I would love to be on the regular.

I know I am not the only one as at any given time one or many of my students are going through a hard time. Usually, they stray away from training and I encourage them to come and train. Lately, I think the environment has been a good one and more students seem to be coming when they are having a hard time. Just know if you haven’t figured it out by now I think this is the right thing to do.

Of course, there is always a caveat. An outlet to make yourself feel better can always spiral into an addiction. Yes, you can train too much. If you train so much that everything else in your life falls to the wayside that perhaps you can train a little less. Especially if it’s not helping you achieve other goals in your life. The other thing to be aware of is physical burn out. Know your limits stick within them. Sometimes in order to hide the pain people train so much, they end up breaking their body down in a way that is just not healthy. So you always need to do little mental and physical checks to see if you are training the appropriate amount without totally overcompensating.

For example, in a normal week, I might train 2-4 times. This past little bit I have been training 10+ hours a week. Though I feel much better mentally I can say that physically its time for a break. So as I sit here writing this I am also taking 2 days off so that my body has proper time to rest.

So just remember, its the journey that matters the most. Learn what you can and strive to grow and learn. But most importantly be happy, or as happy as you can be in the process. Sometimes it will happen in leaps and bounds and sometimes only millimeters at a time. So long as your forward momentum overall is still going forward then things are probably not as bad as they seemed. So when life throws you a screwball, train more, be around a supportive group of people who have the same goal and remember you are here to train Krav (Insert other martial art) so that you may learn to walk in peace both inside and out.

 

Recently, in my quest for improvement, I started to meditate. I had always heard meditation was good for you, unfortunately, the types of people who always told me to do it were often WOO WOO types who like crystals or individuals who maybe took a few too many hallucinogens in their lives and were people I really couldn’t take seriously. When I was in university there was mention of the benefits of it when I was working on my Psychology Degree.

The question is why didn’t I listen then? It is possible that I really did not respect individual professors. Or they simply didn’t put a real effort into getting the classes to attempt to meditate. Or they really didn’t understand it enough to teach it in a way that was relatable or meaningful for everyone. Or I simply didn’t care to listen.

So why did I start?

Many of the podcasts I regularly listen to, individuals who I respect for the expertise or drive all had one thing in common. No matter their political ideology or stance on things they all meditate. Why? Because according to them it helps them focus and most of their successful friends do it. Oh and don’t forget the science. All signs seem to point to one thing.

Meditation is good for you.

In all honesty, I had tried meditation before but always had trouble focusing. So how you ask am I now regularly meditating with the guidance and structure I need to stay on track?

Easy. Sam Harris recently released his Waking up Guided meditation app on Android.  Here I can get daily regular guided meditations from someone I respect. Someone who is a respected neuroscientist, American intellectual and someone who has spent much time on the subject of meditation and mindfulness. You don’t have to agree with everything he says to appreciate the work he has put into developing this simple and easy to use (and affordable) app that can help one and all learn to meditate.

Now that I have started almost daily I have noticed a few things. I am enjoying the little things when walking outside. Like shadows, colors and other things and thinking positively of them rather than thinking nothing. I am a becoming more aware of when I am getting agitated. And in general, I am feeling better.

While I am no expert like Sam the key seems to simply be about calming your mind if only for a bit. In today’s world, we have far too much stimulus. While in the past if we wanted to have a quiet time it was a simple matter of a walk in the forest. Now unless you live next to the forest even that takes stimulus and effort with driving etc. And unless you want to make a big trek out of it most of the popular forest trails have far too many people.

Meditation is a way to easily and regularly quiet the noise both externally and more importantly internally. I have been doing as little as 5-10 minutes a day and have notices benefits. I should know that due to my previous experience with Yoga (casually) I have some experience with breath control. So if you are reading this and decide to start to know it might take a little longer to get the hang of it. The waking up app is designed for beginners so dont fret too much.

Being the Krav Maga instructor that I am, I started to think about how closely related mindfulness is to the Mental model of the Awareness colour code we use at UTKM. Or more commonly known as being “Situationally Aware“.

We as Krav Maga practitioners know how to be aware of impending physical violence by maintaining situational awareness or mental colour code yellow when we are out and about. But how often do we apply the same model to our own mental state? If you are stressed or anxious, internally that might be equivalent to being in colour code orange. The only difference is the threat is not real but perceived. The problem is prolonged time at orange means our bodies will get tired and burn out.

In a real threat with an identified threat, it can quickly go from orange to red. How long in real life would you stay around an identified threat or stay in a fight? Say a person standing there with a knife. Our first instinct should be to get away to safety. Or if we must FIGHT with all our might.

Ask yourself how is that any different if the threat is perceived but your nervous system is giving the same response.

The fact we often forget to consider this as Kravist, especially as we spend so much time learning to be hyper-aggressive, is a problem. We often do not learn how to be balanced.

In today’s world, Soldiers, Police, and first responders are experiencing and the epidemic of PTSD and other side effects because they spend so much time dealing with real threats they start to internalize and bring them home as perceived internal threats.

We can only fight for so long before something has got to give.

In traditional martial arts, they have to know about the need to connect mind, body, and soul for a long time. Its just unfortunate they lost the practical application to their styles along the way that for people like us Kravists its far to easy for us to ignore the other important aspects of self-defense that we spend little to no time on.

That is the internal mind and soul part. Sure we train our minds to handle stress at the moment for self-defense situations but we dont learn to soften them for the rest of the time. And we certainly don’t spend time on any spiritual aspect because for us time is limited.

Meditating-1Yet it is so important for us to remember that “so one may walk in peace” should mean both physically and mentally. Change your perspective that the mental awareness color code is for both external and internal threats. Recognize when you are becoming your own worst enemy and though you can handle physical foes, your mental ones are the real problems.

So I ask that you consider meditation and mindfulness as a path to walking in peace and remember that they are not just for monks, priest, hippies but also for warriors, soldiers, officers, Kravist or those who simply need a break.

 

 

If you haven’t noticed by now be some of my recent posts there is a focus on self-improvement. For those of you who are new to the site or just spent to much time on Facebook and not on the content of these pages then UTKM’s core concepts may be foreign to you. One of them however is Never stopped learning and growing. This doesn’t just include the students, but the instructors and myself as well. For us, an instructor who no longer wants to improve themselves and face the challenges associated with it probably does not want to be an instructor anymore. We have this attitude because leading by example is the best way to get students and others to do it too.

Don’t get me wrong, being a better person is hard. In fact, it may be the hardest thing most people do in their lives. It means facing the things we don’t like about ourselves in a honest manner and deciding if we are willing to change for the good. With the new years in order, I don’t really want to make a new years resolution I want to make a lifestyle change.

For those who have taken a class with me you may think, or know that I can come off as very confident and charismatic. The truth is despite this, I truly have a hard time making meaningful connections with those around me. Whatever the reasons for this are, dont really matter. What matters is that I would like to change this.

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Without meaningful connections, it can feel like you are alone even if there are lots of people around you. People, you may even consider friends.

If you dont have meaningful connections how can you reach out and get the information you want for self-improvement? Traditionally, there were books, then the internet, now there are podcasts. Podcasts are amazing as they give you a direct connection, often to the people that textbooks cite, except you can get the most updated information directly from the source.

One of my go-to podcasts for health, wellness and fitness is the Ben Greenfield podcast. Ben is one of the top fitness and nutritional experts in America and an elite athlete. He is driven to constantly better himself in all aspects of himself because he knows despite his achievements there is much to improve.

 

His recent podcast posted before the end of the year titled,

The Hidden Health Epidemic Nobody Is Talking About (& 6 Ways To Protect Yourself From It)

Ben-Greenfield during a ultramarthon

Ben during a Spartan race

Really spoke to me. Yes, Ben is a little religious for my tastes but the reality he is right. If you are depressed because you feel lonely it is likely you are lacking meaningful connections with even a few people. I can say that this may very well be the case for me (though I dont feel particularly lonely as I have the UTKM family.) I find it difficult to relate to people, and many people find me difficult for one reason or another. I have noticed whether intentionally or otherwise the podcasts I listen to all have been focusing on self-improvement lately(probably very intentional due to the new year).

If you are like me a more right-leaning (Politically) indivudal then you might find a lot of the people who talk about mindfulness and meaningful connections often sound very WOO WOO. The truth is, its probably because they aren’t the best themselves and are really just parroting the information. That or they have done a little too many hallucinogens in their lives and have lost touch a little. The reality is, the science seems to be fairly consistent at this point.

Humans are social creatures and as humans to be happy we need meaningful connections.

Even if this podcast doesn’t reach you like the way it did for me use it as a starting point and find someone that you can connect to. Either way, Ben is an amazing source for the most updated science-based fitness knowledge and info.

To give you an idea of some of the things he covers in this podcast:

  • How loneliness, or “social isolation” negatively affects your physical health…8:30
  • The correlation between smartphone prevalence and loneliness…16:15
  • Practical things you can do to fight loneliness…24:12
  • The chemistry behind face to face interactions…38:20
  • 6 ways to enhance your life and longevity with love…47:15

*pulled from his website on the link given above for the podcast

At this point, this episode has been out for almost a week and I have listened to it a few times. Two of the things I am working on immediately is

  1. putting away my phone during meal times and turning off notifications outside of business hours.
  2. I am also working on the eye contact part, something that has always been a challenge for me for one reason or another. Usually, if you think I am looking you in the eye there is a good chance I am actually looking at your nose. A trick I picked up a few years ago but probably does not help with meaningful relationships.

In many ways. Podcasts like this are far more helpful than seeing doctors. Usually, their advice is diet and exercise. But that’s usually because they are not really trained outside of acute medicine among other reasons, but I will not get into a rant here about it….

For someone like me, this advice is useless because I do exercise and I do eat fairly well. So what else could it be? Well, it should seem obvious to the doctors, but it is not. (I generally only go to them if I have already figured out what the problem is like the time I tore my ACL, even though they thought I did not).

So if your doctors are not helping you, and you do exercise and you still feel lonely. Then it is possible you lack meaningful connections. This is why those who are surrounded by people are still lonely. It is because the majority of the relationships are shallow, hollow, fake or just surface relationships. So if you think this might be you then, this podcast is a great start to a new lifestyle change for the new year.

I hope it is as helpful for you as it was/is for me.

P.S. If you are the type of person who prefers to read. The Transcript for the podcast can be found here!

 

 

And here we go..

Let’s be uber honest; I’m a 36 year old woman with zero martial arts training. Before I joined Urban Tactics and for the last six years, I was hyper-focused on my academic achievements. Sadly, I let my health and weight drastically decline, consequently gaining 45 pounds because, well, balancing life is difficult. I tired of the gym thing; it felt empty and to be frank, an absolute waste of time. Being that I’m a woman who has no time for useless activities and with a long-standing interest in Krav Maga, it made sense to try it out.

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Jen During her yellow belt test

 

With a bit of research, Urban Tactics seemed like the only place in the lower mainland offering an authentic Krav Maga training system and it turns out to be true in my opinion. I started Krav Maga in February 2016. From the first free trial class, I was hooked and at times I still feel like all I can think about is KRAV. What kept me coming back is the supportive and knowledgeable instructors, being pushed both mentally and physically and the comradery/sense of community emanating at UTKM. More importantly is the fact that Krav Maga is an extremely effective self defense system that combines my love for firearms and martial arts. Also, I am benefitting from the positive side effects of being 20+ pounds lighter with more muscle mass! No matter your shape or size, Krav is doable!

A quick google search and you can find evidence of shooters or knife attacks on public transit. Keep your head up and assess, assess and assess because your life is more important than a tweet.

Before I talk about the epic yellow belt test that nearly broke my mental capacity to fight, I want to touch on the real everyday reason to train in Krav Maga. Violence! In the words of Jonathan: “Situational awareness!”  We’ve all heard him utter those words and laughed, but it’s important.. very important. In this day in age, people are so consumed by their smart phones that it makes for easy targets in public. A quick google search and you can find evidence of shooters or knife attacks on public transit. Keep your head up and assess, assess and assess because your life is more important than a tweet. Krav Maga has opened my eyes a bit more and may have made me slightly more hyper-vigilant, but I see that as a positive side effect of training.

Declaimer: Please don’t take what I am going to say as a sweeping generalization of people suffering or struggling with mental illness because I in no way shape or form want to perpetuate stigma. In truth, anyone well or unwell has the potential for violence! If anything, people under the influence of illicit drugs/alcohol can be the most unpredictable and dangerous.

As a Psychiatric nurse, I am faced with the real and raw truth of violence. I’m not going to get into details; you can let your imagination do that. That said, in the short time I have been a nurse I have been physically assaulted three times, once leaving significant bruising. Nurses are at high risk of being victims of violence at work due to the close proximity in which we deliver care. Although my number one weapon against violence or potential thereof is my communication skills, Krav has given me more confidence in my nursing practice. Because of Krav Maga, I am more aware of my surroundings, constantly assessing and hands UP! In a semi-passive stance if need be!

Please note that we also have the luxury of security guards who are there to protect us. Thank you to them each time they respond to our calls! Shout out to my fellow Krav-Mate and a guard I worked with at St. Paul’s; Thanks Marco! Funny enough, Marco and I tested for yellow belt together!

Now, the yellow belt TEST..

Well, after a year of training, and being somewhat content to continue as a white belt, I was invited to test for yellow belt. My first thought, “EEK what? “ I have to admit, I wanted a bit more knowledge and to time to practice the curriculum and I’m aware I can’t hold a candle to some of my classmates’ technique and physical stamina, so the test invitation literally terrified me. That said, mentally I am not a quitter; if I set my mind to something – it’s as good as done. I had one month to prepare, so insert more training than normal, running, conditioning, practising at home, trying to eat clean and NO Drinking (well, I cheated on that one day).

The body will try to tell you to give up, but you have to just keep fighting, running, defending.

Fast forward to test day! To anyone preparing for the test, I honestly don’t know what to tell you, other than train harder! Yes, you will test with others, but it’s honestly a solo trip that will have you digging deep into your mental strength and stamina. The body will try to tell you to give up, but you have to just keep fighting, running, defending.  My first round of sparring, I was delivered some pretty heavy damage to my shin. I almost gave up, my face was leaking tears but I just kept thinking:

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Jens Leg, post test, Mostly curtesy of her Bf. Also a UTKM student. (It was all during the test don’t worry)

 

Retzef! (Hebrew for continuous attack)

Don’t stop attacking!

In real life you don’t get to give up. You have to fight for your life, and isn’t that what Krav Maga is all about..

 

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Yes, an actual VHS Cover.

 

The land before time was one of my favourite movies when I was a child. As is with most children’s movies there is so much lost on the child when it comes to the contents of movies. Sometimes, with children’s movies, the jokes or dialogue is intentionally written so that the child does not understand but the adult watching it does. Sometimes though, it is more nuanced. The title of the movie, whether intended or not, to me, now has so much more meaning.

The land before time implies that the dinosaurs lived in an age of no time. It implies that time is a human construct.

Yet Einstein famously theorized that time is relative.

A watched pot never boils as the old saying goes but what does it mean? Really, time is simply the measurement of the relative position two points in space from one instant to another. The movement as provided by the energy is what time is. Take away the energy, or hit absolute zero and time ceases to exist. Or at least this is my rudimentary understanding of such things.

And yet to us humans, time has so much meaning, and so little. We can be slaves to it or forget it even exists. Yet it rules everything no matter how we perceive it as with out it the entire universe might as well be a picture frozen in well…time.

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These are things I forget to think about because I am too busy or I don’t have enough time. Yet from time to time, I find the moment in time to have some quiet time to myself to contemplate time.

Had enough yet? Well, I suppose it’s all about your perspective, I mean time is relative after all isn’t it?

So what then got me on this existential thought process regarding nature or time and humans reality. Or even how little foot from the land before time could even understand what that even means.

Well, Recently I met a man named Terrance Kosikar and even had the pleasure of sitting down with him to do a podcast. Long story short, he invited me to partake in one of his initial exploratory camps from his creation Camp My Way.

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In his struggle with PTSD (though he hates to call it that) he found true recovery, or at least the process in it by spending time in nature, near his cabin in the interior of BC. He spent time, in the mountains, by the glacial rivers admiring the stars and contemplating. Away from the big Cities to which he grew up in, away from the bad influences that lead to his troubled past, away from the noise, away from the busy lives we all lead. To realize that time is relative and we focus so much on it when never take the real time to notice that sometimes it doesn’t matter at all. He realized that if he could heal away from time so could others and thus the idea of camp my way.

Camp my way to sum it up, it’s a place for first responders suffering from PTSD and recovering addicts can go to hit the reset button, with out time and in the peace of nature, that place we all came from.

So here in this Multi part post, I will talk about my experience and why I think more people should forget about time more often and get back to nature.

Part 2: Day 1 – An Attempt to relax

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