When bad things (emergencies, disasters, etc.) happen to good people, one of the first things to happen to many is panic, soon followed by the “Why Me?” cascade of emotion. I don't blame them. Their world has been turned upside down, shaken, and few of the rules that once governed their life now apply. They have built their life inside a set of comfortable boundaries that they understand and even embrace. Now it has all changed and their negative emotions fight (with little resistance) for dominance. Their situation would be much better served if they had entered into the crisis in a mindset that I call relaxed awareness.
Relaxed awareness is a lot like meditation…it is all about being totally in the “Now”. You go about enjoying your life in a normal matter but operate at a higher level of awareness than most people do. Defensive driving is a good example of relaxed awareness. When practicing it you are not “tuned out” and therefore you can recall your entire drive afterword. Instead of your mind wandering off while you are driving, it stays with your body. What a concept!
Being in a state of relaxed awareness when entering into an emergency situation will greatly increase your odds of survival. It allows you to quickly recognize and even avoid a threat and also keeps your mind from being short-circuited by your emotions. You are then able to easily elevate your awareness to a more focused level so that you can analyze your new reality, define a new set of rules, and develop a plan of action.
Another important aspect of the practice of relaxed awareness is that it helps you keep in touch with your subconscious. Your subconscious picks up subtleties that your conscience mind doesn't and communicates them to you with “gut” feelings. In a state of relaxed awareness it will be easier for you to trust your “gut” and evade a potentially threatening situation.
Everyone has the ability to develop a state of relaxed awareness in their daily lives. It is a mindset that can and should be developed and exercised constantly. Long term practice of this skill is not very stressful (as opposed to other, higher levels of situational awareness) and provides a layer of protection around you. It is like a security blanket that you never remove. With it you will enjoy your life with a greater level of security because you never leave your brain at home.