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Tips to Keep Your Child Safe from Danger Using Your Instincts

1. Rely On Your Instincts. Let's focus on this basic form of intuition. It is something we all posses and share with most animals. It implies a knowingness to act or not, without knowing how we know, we just know we know. Our instinctual nature comes along without effort on our part because it is a bodily sensation primarily motivated by fear or finding food.  It is a misnomer to limit it to motherly instincts. Instincts are not gender specific. They can generate fight/flight, or protective responses to pending danger in anyone.

Our instincts generally do not arise as an idea, or an “aha”’moment. This cognitive element is present with intuition, as if a light flashed on inside your the head. The key is to recognize a rush of energy within you and other physical manifestations that signal your instincts are aroused. A great Tai Chi teacher was once asked by a student, “What percentage of awareness should be given to the inner and what percentage to the outer?” The master replied, “Yes, one hundred percent inner, one hundred percent outer."

2. Forget Your Cell Phone. Somewhere between instincts and intuition is common sense, or the notion of street smarts gleaned from life’s lessons. But no matter the complexity or murkiness of information, some people cannot learn due to arrogance or being overly emotionally. I noticed their inability to handle constructive criticism and grasp subtle movements when I taught martial arts. A similar situation occurs in public with people on cell phones who become consumed in high drama and forget their kids are around, somewhere.

I know it’s hard to let go, even for a short while, but our obsession with smartphones means parents or babysitters might not be alert to their surroundings. They cannot sense and learn from changes in atmospheric tension emanating from others in their proximity. Frankly, you don’t have to be on the phone to be preoccupied. Perhaps, you've been absorbed in rumination over a recent conversation and passed right by a friend who shouted out your name to get your attention. When not in present moment it is the perfect time for kids to get lost. With instincts more in-tune to the person on the other end of the cell phone, or in your head, it is easy to be unaware of the guy in the bushes “jerking off” while he surveils the area, and not notice when the creep steals your child.

3. Use Soft Focus to Locate a Lost Child. “In the Japanese art of Aikido there is a practice called ‘soft eyes’ - it means to widen one’s periphery to take in more of the world. If a stimulus is introduced to an unprepared person, his eyes narrow and flight/fight response takes over. If the same unexpected stimulus comes to someone with “soft eyes” the natural reflex is transcended and a more authentic response takes its place….This reduces the effect of getting tunnel vision when you concentrate on one particular object.” - Author unknown. I have successfully used this method to help locate a child in a crowded park, and also to find lost objects.

In the initial moment of a missing child situation use the technique of “soft eyes” to scan the area and rely on your instincts. Blur the edges of objects and people in a soft focus. Your eyes are open to enhance peripheral vision. It will help keep you calm, alert, and ready like a lion on the lookout for prey. Now your instincts are heightened, as are colors and the furtive, evasive movements of a perpetrator more discernible. You’ll notice shapes rather than just faces. In the example of a child abduction from a playground look for tall/short groups, and the “short” also pertains to the color of your child’s clothes. Everything else is dismissed as useless information.

4. Act Instinctually, Don’t Act Impulsively. The next best thing to training in martial arts is to rehearse imaginary scenarios of you protecting your kids. This pseudo-superhero attitude might help you stay calm if a similar circumstance actually occurs. Do not fret over worse case possibilities. Impulsivity can lead you to grab something you do not know how to use. Don’t be stupid. All weapons can be taken away and used against you; be they actual, or improvised. Your bones can be broken if your blocks and strikes are not executed properly. Know what to do before you do it. A knife held the wrong way can stick when jabbed into someone who might pull it out. It all depends on where and how deep is the cut. It’s better to grip the knife so the sharp edge can cut snd slash the neck and torso in a continuous movement; across, down and across, up and across, and so on to keep the blade in motion. Do you know where to strike with a pen? Stab the writing tip end straight into your attacker’s eye should do it.

I know it sounds rough. Self defense has its aesthetics. It’s also ugly and vicious. You’ll need to train with an instructor to get it right. I can attest to the fact it takes years of practice to “own” the martial art. This is when your instincts take over and your responses are automatic. At a minimum watch videos or take a practical self defense course with your kids. Contrary to the martial arts adage “sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you”, as a beginner go over possible attack scenarios in your head where you’re always the winner. Later you’ll learn you can’t lie about your martial art skills, as some con artist do about their business acumen and wealth.

5. Profile Based on Instincts, Not Prejudices. Stereotypes grounded in race or a “look” can be a rabbit hole for distractions. It is better to pay attention to your inner signals, such as a gut feeling there is a bad person in your presence. Do not dismiss the tingle down your spine as nothing. Instead, use your common sense. It is a database of society’s collective instinctive and intuitive experiences to help formulate an instantaneous rational approach to what life throws at us. Responses can range from act polite but not engaged, move to a more public area, or kick someone in the shins and break their leg.

By the way, let’s focus on this notion of a “public” place. Don’t be stupid and turn your home into one. For example, if you leave your garage door wide open all afternoon it is an invitation to a thief and maybe even a murderer. As a criminal attorney, I assisted defense counsel in a trial for a daytime robbery that unexpectedly turned into a homicide and prosecutors asked for the death penalty. Ex-cons are often tempted to re-offend due to people’s bad habits. They say it’s easier to steal than get a good job.

6. Treat Your Body as if it’s a Wisdom Temple. Many mystical traditions insist intuition connects our soul to divine intelligence. Your body, including the brain and entire nervous system, is the structure/vessel for these inner capacities, particularly our instincts. Treat it with the same respect a holy temple or holy chalice deserves. A high regard for your body will help focus your attention on its deep warnings which pertain uniquely to you.

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