Awareness

MJS

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What are some of the steps that you take when you're out, to be aware of your surroundings? I think that this is an important aspect of SD, but unfortunately, some people do not seem like they're aware of whats going on around them.

For myself, if I'm pulling into a parking lot, I try to do a quick scan of the area. Once I exit the car, I still continue to look around. This is not to be mistaken for being paranoid, but simply knowing who or what is around you.

This is of course, one example of the many things we can do. IMO, people are going to be more of a target when they have their 'head in the clouds' so to speak. Fumbling for their car keys, looking down while they walk, etc. are things that the bad guy is looking for. Now, take someone who walks with that air of confidence. Just like locking your car doors. The bad guy is looking for an easy target. Can he still smash the window? Sure, but why not look for a car thats unlocked? If someone is aware, they just may be less of a target.

Mike
 

Drac

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For myself, if I'm pulling into a parking lot, I try to do a quick scan of the area. Once I exit the car, I still continue to look around. This is not to be mistaken for being paranoid, but simply knowing who or what is around you. Mike

Walking into a "big-box" stores I scan whose out in front and what they are doing..Upon exiting I don't walk out the doors and go immediatly to my car, I take a second to look around..
 

KeeblerElf

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I've always been aware of my surroundings. Whenever I leave a building to go to my car, my keys are already out and in my hand. I always get right into my car, only unlocking the drivers side door when I am a step or two away from it, and when I get in, I lock the door and start the car and only then do I arrange my things in the car like getting a drink from my water bottle or checking my wallet or writing down a purchase in the registry. I know that if I'm going to get jumped or something it will be when I'm fumbling around for something in my purse or pockets.
 

jks9199

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Awareness is a habit of thought and practice; it's not a set of tricks you can learn.

It's realizing that there may be a threat out there, and thinking about where the threat can come from. It's listening to your environment, keeping your eyes open and simply letting the information that's there penetrate to both the conscious and unconscious levels. If you start by consciously trying to note what you see and hear around you, and let that become a habit, you'll move towards awareness. When you start considering and learning what's in the range of normal versus different versus wrong... that also will make awareness start to happen.

Most of all -- awareness is the simple realization that you must be part of the world around you, not isolated from it.
 

Brian R. VanCise

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Walking into a "big-box" stores I scan whose out in front and what they are doing..Upon exiting I don't walk out the doors and go immediatly to my car, I take a second to look around..

Nice post Drac. I usually stop upon entering or exiting a building to seep in and feel what is going on around me. Visual check and Audio Check of who is near and what they are doing. Are there any cars in the vicinity and if so is someone in them? Those are just a few of the precaution's that I take. The same process minus the cars is used when entering a office building, restaurant, etc. Who is there and do they have a legitimate reason to be there?

I also think it is important to have a gut feeling level of awareness. That is just paying attention to your body if something does not feel right in your area, your body, psyche, gut, whatever will pick up on that and if you are tuned into that your conscious and subconscious will pick up on this as well. This is a huge advantage because you do not need to be in absolute total awareness and you will still pick up if something is wrong. (trust your instincts)
 

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Brian R VanCise,
Great post.
When I see someone entering a location doing what you have discribed, flags will go up. If that person isn't JonLaw he is someone to watch out for.
 

Brian R. VanCise

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Brian R VanCise,
Great post.
When I see someone entering a location doing what you have discribed, flags will go up. If that person isn't JonLaw he is someone to watch out for.

Absolutely! I double check anyone who has that state of awareness and they are registered on my radar in a big way.
 

kidswarrior

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I also think it is important to have a gut feeling level of awareness. That is just paying attention to your body if something does not feel right in your area, your body, psyche, gut, whatever will pick up on that and if you are tuned into that your conscious and subconscious will pick up on this as well. This is a huge advantage because you do not need to be in absolute total awareness and you will still pick up if something is wrong. (trust your instincts)

Well said, Brian--we often underrate instincts or intuition.

Awareness is a habit of thought and practice; it's not a set of tricks you can learn.

It's realizing that there may be a threat out there, and thinking about where the threat can come from. It's listening to your environment, keeping your eyes open and simply letting the information that's there penetrate to both the conscious and unconscious levels. If you start by consciously trying to note what you see and hear around you, and let that become a habit, you'll move towards awareness. When you start considering and learning what's in the range of normal versus different versus wrong... that also will make awareness start to happen.

Most of all -- awareness is the simple realization that you must be part of the world around you, not isolated from it.

Yes. You hit all the right notes, jks9199.

More than technique, it's a way of being.
 

Kacey

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Another key is to not be isolated from your environment. How many people do you see wearing headphones, talking on cell phones, doing anything that prevents awareness of the area around them? When I was in college, I would walk around campuswith headphones to my walkman (hey, it was 20 years ago, okay?) reading a book, using my peripheral vision to stay on the sidewalk and avoid tree branches... then I started TKD and discovered just how vulnerable I was making myself, and quit doing it. Awareness is not just what you do - it's what you avoid doing that prevents awareness as well.
 

KenpoTex

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here's a few of my personal practices:

Parking: I don't pick spaces right in front of the door, especially at gas-stations/convienence stores. I'll park a few spaces farther away so I can scan on the way into the store. Also, if possible, I'll try to pick a space that allows me to cruise past the entrance before parking. If there are any "shady" characters hanging around, I'll know it before I'm walking through the door.
If I'm at Wal-Mart or somewhere like that, similar things apply. Always keep an eye out for what's going on around you. Be aware of people just sitting in a parked car or loitering outside the entrance. I also carry all my bags in one hand leaving my other hand free (actually, I never allow both of my hands to be occupied...I want one of them available for immediate use). Also, don't sit there in your car to balance your checkbook or review your receipt...it'll wait 'till you get home and that way you're not just a stationary target who's not paying any attention.

At the counter or check-out line: I never allow someone to stand directly behind me. If someone walks up behind me, I'll angle my body so I can keep an eye on them using my peripheral vision.

In restaurants: I try to sit facing the door, preferably with my back to a wall. I will not eat at one of the "lunch counter" type places because I'm not going to sit there while people are walking in and out behind me.
 

zDom

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Great post, great thread. Important stuff!
 

Shotgun Buddha

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I personally find smearing myself liberally in garlic dip works well as a warning to all potential predators.
Attempts with BBQ sauce we're less successful, one attacker claiming he found mugging me to be both "sweet and savoury"
 

Bigshadow

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Nice post Drac. I usually stop upon entering or exiting a building to seep in and feel what is going on around me. Visual check and Audio Check of who is near and what they are doing. Are there any cars in the vicinity and if so is someone in them? Those are just a few of the precaution's that I take. The same process minus the cars is used when entering a office building, restaurant, etc. Who is there and do they have a legitimate reason to be there?

I also think it is important to have a gut feeling level of awareness. That is just paying attention to your body if something does not feel right in your area, your body, psyche, gut, whatever will pick up on that and if you are tuned into that your conscious and subconscious will pick up on this as well. This is a huge advantage because you do not need to be in absolute total awareness and you will still pick up if something is wrong. (trust your instincts)

Great post Brian, Drac, and JKS9199! I do this as well. I always scan (visual check), listen (audio check), and feel (gut check). If I get a weird feeling, then I re-scan, listen, scan some more. I may go about my business but I am on a heightened level of awareness. If all three check OK, I just keep the nomal relaxed vigil (as best as I can explain it). However, it isn't something I do only when I enter or exit a building or my car, etc. It is always there so to speak.

Additionally I also try to maintain awareness of my space relative to others in my close proximity (alarmed or not). I try to keep an appropriate distance if possible, but it really has gotten to where I don't have to *think* so much about that, it just seems to flow that way now. Sometimes I laugh at myself because I will notice it and it is almost comical as it seems like a dance sometimes. Someone moves into my space looking at things and I almost simultaneously move away so that the distance hasn't changed.
 

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Absolutely! I double check anyone who has that state of awareness and they are registered on my radar in a big way.
It's interesting. Cops tend to find other cops to hang out with, even if they're in a strange place and know nobody. We recognize each other; you recognize that awareness and consciousness of what's around you that a good, working cop develops, and has a hard time turning off. I know I've driven my wife nuts on occasion as I point out things going on around us... Often things that she'd have been just thrilled not to have pointed out.

Gut awareness/instinct/sensing danger... All of that comes from being part of, not isolated from, your environment. It comes from noticing what people normally do, and then what's different... and then learning the "different" that's also "wrong." Different is worthy of note... WRONG is worthy of alarm. But it's not something that I know any good ways to teach; you can give someone the concept, but they have to choose to learn it.

One thing I've done is go to malls and similar places where people gather, and just people watch. See what different sorts of people are doing. At a mall, you'll learn to tell the window shoppers from the people out "shopping" or just hanging out, and all of them from the employees, and from the people on a "mission" to a particular store, for a particular item. After a while, you might notice patterns where people return to... Eventually, you'll be able to pick up on the people who aren't there with any business, aren't hanging out, and aren't window shopping. A few of them will probably be "students of humanity" like yourself; most of them are probably up to no good...
 

Brian R. VanCise

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It's interesting. Cops tend to find other cops to hang out with, even if they're in a strange place and know nobody. We recognize each other; you recognize that awareness and consciousness of what's around you that a good, working cop develops, and has a hard time turning off.

I know I've driven my wife nuts on occasion as I point out things going on around us... Often things that she'd have been just thrilled not to have pointed out.

A few of them will probably be "students of humanity" like yourself; most of them are probably up to no good...

All three of the above are so true!
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MJS

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Great replies and some great points!!

There is a shopping plaza not far from where I live. It has been the scene of quite a few purse snatchings, the most recent Friday night, in which a 60 yo woman was leaving a store and was dragged to the ground while she was attempting to hold onto her purse. Unfortunately, the punk got away and she was transported to the hospital. I of course was not present when this happened, so I don't know all of the circumstances, but whenever I am in that plaza, I'm always looking around. My wife hates the thought of going there alone anymore.

Mike
 

zDom

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Additionally I also try to maintain awareness of my space relative to others in my close proximity (alarmed or not). I try to keep an appropriate distance if possible, but it really has gotten to where I don't have to *think* so much about that, it just seems to flow that way now. Sometimes I laugh at myself because I will notice it and it is almost comical as it seems like a dance sometimes. Someone moves into my space looking at things and I almost simultaneously move away so that the distance hasn't changed.

Me too glad to know I'm not the only one :)
 

bydand

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Wow, glad to know I'm not the only one with an aversion to sitting in a place with my back to the door. Plus I never sleep in a motel/hotel room in the bed closest to the door.

I witnessed the perfect example of subconscious awareness a week ago during my time downstate for a seminar. At our hotel there was a free happy hour and snacks. Of course a bunch of us went down to recoup some of the room cost by eating and drinking them out of house and home. While we were down in the lobby area there were a big number of families and other guests milling about and there were 12 or 14 of us who were there for the seminar. We had a large table right in the center of everything and were having a good time chatting and renewing old friendships, and the crowd was thinning out until there was only us and a few others left. All of a sudden, everybody at our table quit talking and turned as one unit to look at a pair of guys who had been sitting by the fireplace all evening. They had started to get up and follow a woman and her 3 kids to the elevators when we all felt something not quite right. When we all turned and looked, they stopped, reversed directions, and went out the front doors. Don't know what we all felt, but it was one of those "ah-ha!" moments.

To get the kids in the kids programs a bit more aware, every once in a while the Instructor will issue some "homework" for them. One of the things is for them to count how many people they see with a particular color shirt or jacket on next time they go to Wal-Mart or similar store with their parents. It just gets them into the habit of walking around, head up, and noticing what is going on around them instead of just bumbling around like kids tend to do.
 

kidswarrior

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To get the kids in the kids programs a bit more aware, every once in a while the Instructor will issue some "homework" for them. One of the things is for them to count how many people they see with a particular color shirt or jacket on next time they go to Wal-Mart or similar store with their parents. It just gets them into the habit of walking around, head up, and noticing what is going on around them instead of just bumbling around like kids tend to do.

Great idea! :ultracool I'll start it this week.
 

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