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#190142 - 12/07/09 01:13 PM Choosing awareness
dweste Offline

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 2463
Loc: Central California
Last Saturday's outdoor class gave me opportunities to notice what degree of awareness was available. I learned many times that I was choosing to ignore information available to me from my senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste.

I am still sorting this out. I am not used to even trying to be fully aware. I am a bit intimidated.

At the same time, I am intrigued at what is available and I did have some unusual and compelling experiences. Trying to stretch my willingness to sense distant sounds, to carefully notice and describe unfamiliar – and even familiar - smells and tastes, to navigate relying on senses other than sight, etcetera, were all strangely exciting and liberating. Maybe the word empowering fits.

When I re-opened my eyes after a considerable period of voluntarily not relying on sight, for example, colors and shapes rushed in with a vividness and pleasure I do not usually experience. I had a powerful sense that the world is a beautiful place and that I enjoy being here.

I also experienced how I shut so much out and how often I focus with tunnel “vision” on tasks and thoughts. That realization was a bit disturbing.

#190144 - 12/07/09 02:51 PM Re: Choosing awareness [Re: dweste]
benjammin Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 4020
Loc: Anchorage AK
We do tend to tune out a lot from our usual routine and environment. We'd overload quick if we didn't. I was sitting in a seminar a long time ago taught by Eugene Albright (one of those psych gurus). We were discussing heightened awareness, and as the conversation went, I voiced an assumption that a hostile combat environment would likely induce the highest awareness level presently available, to which he concurred.

If you want to simulate such awareness enlightenment, paintball competition and various other indulgences are a good way to subliminally train the mind to achieve heightened awareness. I would not normally suggest anyone enter into real combat conditions as the risk generally exceeds the benefit, but a decent simulation will suffice most of the time.

I note that the practice of hunting can have a similar effect.

Maintaining a heightened awareness of our surroundings can be a very stressful effort. That's why our tendency is to tune out most of the time.
The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
-- Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

#190151 - 12/07/09 03:28 PM Re: Choosing awareness [Re: benjammin]
oldsoldier Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 11/25/06
Posts: 742
Loc: MA
I had posted something before regarding awareness, not sure if it was here or not.
Being constantly switched on will burn you out quick. However, you CAN achieve a fairly constant state of awareness, and maintain it almost indefinitely. Its just a matter of being a little more aware of your surroundings. Most people do it every day-they just dont know it.
An exercise I do with my nephew is to go for a walk, and talk about whatever-then quiz him on people we have passed, or the color of houses, or how many people were in a car that drove by-simple things. The idea is that, no matter what you see, you CAN retain it-and once its retained, you start to become more situationally aware.
Of course, there are other ways to accomplish this too. Little brain teasers you can find online, simply observing the outdoors, its just a matter of being more aware.
Me, I am sometimes hyper aware (according to the GF)-moreso when driving or in crowded areas than elsewhere. She says I am the safest worst driver she knows...I am just always aware of whats around me-cars, pedestrians, sidestreets, etc. It isnt a trick-its just doing what your supposed to be doing-paying attention while driving. I am TRYING to teach her...
my adventures

#190154 - 12/07/09 03:50 PM Re: Choosing awareness [Re: dweste]

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 1853

the trick is the ability to switch from one awareness to the other as things demand.

#190158 - 12/07/09 04:16 PM Re: Choosing awareness [Re: CANOEDOGS]
JohnE Offline

Registered: 06/10/08
Posts: 601
Loc: Southern Cal
I'm reminded of two things.

The first is an account I've read of Thoreau walking in the woods with a friend, the friend comments that he always wished he could find an Indian arrow head as he'd heard that they were plentiful in that area, Thoreau responded by leaning over and picking one up an handing it to his friend with with some sort of pithy comment about observing vs seeing.

The 2nd was a personal experience that occurred when I was down in Panama working, post invasion. I was with 2 writers and a local "guide", we came upon an apartment building that had been shelled pretty severely, occupants had fled and it was slowly being torn apart for it's contents of copper wire, pipe and whatever else had been left behind. The writers wanted to go up a couple of floors and talk to some of the scavengers, I had what I can only call a "hinky" feeling and picked up a piece of steel pipe, I told them that I wasn't knowingly going to go into a building where guys were tearing apart walls to scavenge. Upon reflection, they decided that it probably wasn't a very good idea. They had simply gotten caught up in the moment and had forgotten that while most of the people we'd met had been very gracious to us, there were more than a few who were a bit pissed off at Americans for having destroyed their homes.

And about that driving thing, yes, yes, yes. Most people are simply unaware of their surroundings when driving. It's easy to get distracted by the ipod, the cell phone, the dvd player, the espresso machine, etc. I'm constantly scanning and making alternate escape plans, the best part is when someone does something really stupid and we know it is coming for quite a while before it occurs.

"and all the lousy little poets
comin round
tryin' to sound like Charlie Manson"

The Future/Leonard Cohen

#190192 - 12/07/09 11:24 PM Re: Choosing awareness [Re: benjammin]
SwampDonkey Offline

Registered: 07/08/07
Posts: 1268
Loc: Northeastern Ontario, Canada
Good Thoughts Benjammin,

Makes me think of Colonel Jeff Coopers "Color Codes of Awareness". Most Law Enforcement Officers and Military have heard of this Color Code.

White - No perception of danger (e.g. sleeping, relaxing at home).
Yellow - Relaxed awareness (e.g. on the job or in the field in a normal situation).
Orange - Alerted to an unknown danger/threat (e.g. strange noise outside your house/tent/car).
Red - Aggressive action or confrontation to address the threat (e.g. defensive or offensive actions against a threat).
Black - Metal Shutdown (e.g. Brain sensor overload, frozen in fear).

You try to live your life in the outside world in Yellow, prepared to escalate and de-escalate as needed.

If you are living in White (not situational aware), when confronted with a threat you flash directly to Black (frozen).

The plan is that you want to build-up from Yellow, through Orange to Red and avoid going into Black. Functional realistic, repeative training helps keep you out of Black.


#190228 - 12/08/09 02:51 PM Re: Choosing awareness [Re: SwampDonkey]
benjammin Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 4020
Loc: Anchorage AK
I am familiar with the Colonel's color code system. From a real world perspective, I don't do white anymore. Yellow is when I am in my office or my house, where I know there is a hard barrier between me and the outside and risk of confrontation is as low as possible (I sleep so lightly now, white is practically unachievable).

Orange is when I am in general public and under uncontrolled conditions, such as the commute to work, or shopping, or eating at a restaurant. Red is when I am out hunting, or detecting an alarm or distress in my vicinity.

Black occurs sometimes if I hear a noise that reminds me of a mortar attack, or if I get confronted abruptly while not in the red zone. It doesn't last, but it catches me unaware, and I have to stop and think about my situation before I can decide what to do. It is paralyzing. I have yet to experience a direct red to black transition, though I suspect such an event is possible. One example might be to expect a confrontation from a few and end up abruptly facing hordes while woefully underequipped for such a melee.
The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
-- Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

#190231 - 12/08/09 03:10 PM Re: Choosing awareness [Re: oldsoldier]
Am_Fear_Liath_Mor Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/03/07
Posts: 3078

I remember when Darth Vader came to my primary school to tell everyone in my primary class about the Green Cross Code.

I now have to constantly shout ' dopey ' to so many pedestrians who step out into the road in front of my bicycle as I pedal down the road. I think a it has a lot to do with prescribed medications such as Valium and its derivatives shocked

Edited by Am_Fear_Liath_Mor (12/08/09 03:22 PM)

#190237 - 12/08/09 04:17 PM Re: Choosing awareness [Re: Am_Fear_Liath_Mor]
dweste Offline

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 2463
Loc: Central California
Danger is one dimension of the information patterns presented by the world. It is important but far from all there is. It is closely related to fear, which causes "tunnel vision."

The lesson available from awareness classes is that there are sights, smells, sounds, textures, temperatures, and tastes all around us that we can choose to experience rather than staying narrowly focused on one feeling, task, or thought. Further, that there may well be information readily available to wider awareness that is a resource for dealing more effectively with whatever feeling, task, or thought we are experiencing - including dealing with danger and fear.

For example, there may be places, materials, or people readily at hand that could help us deal with or avoid danger which we might not even notice unless we have chosen to habitually open our awareness. There may also be aspects of a perceived threat that may reveal it is not a threat at all, arises only because of unintended action on our part which we can reverse, or is more easily dealt with, which only more open awareness will detect.

I can see that a preconception that violence or the threat of violence is the only response available to perceived danger might prevent us from becoming aware that other more effective and preferable options are available.

But I am only a beginning student.

Edited by dweste (12/08/09 04:18 PM)

#190238 - 12/08/09 04:55 PM Re: Choosing awareness [Re: benjammin]
KG2V Offline


Registered: 08/19/03
Posts: 1371
Loc: Queens, New York City
Originally Posted By: benjammin
...snip...Orange is when I am in general public and under uncontrolled conditions, such as the commute to work, or shopping, or eating at a restaurant. Red is when I am out hunting, or detecting an alarm or distress in my vicinity.

The Col described Orange as "I may need to stop/shoot/kill that person right now" and red as "I NEED to stop/shoot/kill that person RIGHT NOW" - aka you are ONLY in RED if you are actively engaging your target.

What you are calling RED, he called Orange, and what you call Orange, he called Yellow - and no matter how lightly you sleep, he'd call that white
73 de KG2V
You are what you do when it counts - The Masso
Homepage: http://www.thegallos.com
Blog: http://kg2v.blogspot.com

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