How do you increase your situational awareness?

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How do you increase your situational awareness?

Post by Pooter » Tue Jan 29, 2013 11:37 am

Most of what I have been reading on SA "Situational Awareness" involves following a set of rules or guidelines.
But nothing on increasing awareness, like I've done thru meditation. But some on here consider meditation
to be a religious topic that needs to be avoided, I dunno if it is, your thoughts on it please.
I would like to think that an increased awareness would be needed for survival type situations.

And, uh...
is it religious or not?
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Re: How do you increase your situational awareness?

Post by DJH » Tue Jan 29, 2013 11:44 am

I play a little game at my day job, or otherwise when I'm out of the house. I pick a certain make/model, and keep a count in my head of every one I've seen that particular day. Helps me to keep my mind doing multiple things at once, works my peripheral vision, and kills boredom.
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Re: How do you increase your situational awareness?

Post by praharin » Fri May 10, 2013 11:44 pm

Pooter wrote:Most of what I have been reading on SA "Situational Awareness" involves following a set of rules or guidelines.
But nothing on increasing awareness, like I've done thru meditation. But some on here consider meditation
to be a religious topic that needs to be avoided, I dunno if it is, your thoughts on it please.
I would like to think that an increased awareness would be needed for survival type situations.

And, uh...
is it religious or not?
I don't think that meditation, in and of itself, is religious. Especially in how it applies to awareness. What meditation does is give you the ability to relax your mind. Instead of getting caught up in a few details, you let everything sink in. At least that's been my experience.
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Re: How do you increase your situational awareness?

Post by itzybitzyspyder » Sat May 11, 2013 1:31 am

I didn't think situational awareness could be taught. I'm acutely aware of my surroundings all of the time. I wasn't taught to be aware, I just am. I don't meditate either.
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Re: How do you increase your situational awareness?

Post by RugbyFire » Sat May 11, 2013 2:24 am

I think meditation is a big part of keeping yourself together during a "ZA" for instance. Sometimes the best thing to do is stop what your doing and take a breath through your nose, clear your mind for a second, remember your goals of the situation... and don't forget to double-tap.
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Re: How do you increase your situational awareness?

Post by Grey Mann » Sat May 11, 2013 12:29 pm

For me, taking an MSF course (yes, motorcycle training) drastically increased my situational awareness. But I had an excellent experience across the board. Joining the military has been a bump, too.
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Re: How do you increase your situational awareness?

Post by vawilderness » Sat May 11, 2013 12:47 pm

I also like to play a little game sometimes to check my awareness.

Every once in a while, I'll ask myself... Self, if you had to get off the "x" right now:

- What is my 2 second plan? Where is the nearest cover/concealment in my immediate vicinity? Where do I stand in my ability to move, shoot, and communicate. What is my best egress route from where I am?

- What's my 30 second plan? Once I'm off the immediate "x"... Where is my next cover/concealment? Can I still move, shoot, communicate? How do I get off the "x" again?

- What's my 2 minuet plan... Do I get to my vehicle? Is there a good rally position? Is there a strong point or hunker down spot? And what's my get home plan?

This doesn't take long... Like 30 or 45 seconds of mental distraction. But, this exercise makes you stop and think about your surroundings. Think about the room you are in. Think about the difference between cover and concealment. Think about a plan incase Mr. Murphy shows up.

The more you do this, the more it becomes second nature. The more situationally aware you are.
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Re: How do you increase your situational awareness?

Post by nathat » Mon May 13, 2013 8:04 am

Simple things my whole life taught me SA...Hunting was a large one. Learning how to stalk made you aware of wind/what you're walking in or on/where the animal is/shotting lane and what is beyond the prey/etc.

Other things I remember that helped me, when I was learning to drive my dad would cover the rearview mirror and ask me what type of car is behind me, who is driving it, and things of that nature. He would also ask what mile marker have we passed last and what would be the next exit. It helped me practice being aware of what is going on. I don't pay as much attention to mile markers now I must admit, but I can almost always explain what cars are around me and how fast are they going.

You can learn SA, it's mostly just practice and testing yourself.

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Re: How do you increase your situational awareness?

Post by phil_in_cs » Mon May 13, 2013 8:40 am

Follow on questions:
-- what exactly is a problem?
-- what do you do when you notice a problem?

Being aware of something and not able to avoid/de-escalate/deal with it isn't that useful.
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Re: How do you increase your situational awareness?

Post by docdredd » Mon May 13, 2013 8:55 am

Hire some one to jump out of the shadows at random intervals and hit you with a rubber hose......... worked for me.
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Re: How do you increase your situational awareness?

Post by phil_in_cs » Mon May 13, 2013 9:49 am

docdredd wrote:Hire some one to jump out of the shadows at random intervals and hit you with a rubber hose......... worked for me.
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Re: How do you increase your situational awareness?

Post by itzybitzyspyder » Mon May 13, 2013 11:32 am

Live in a high-crime area and start taking the bus.
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Re: How do you increase your situational awareness?

Post by Mikeyboy » Mon May 13, 2013 2:57 pm

itzybitzyspyder wrote:Live in a high-crime area and start taking the bus.

LOL....I was going to say grow up in a bad neighborhood. The only way to get good at situational awareness is thru "Life Lessons". Just like rural guys who grew up in the back country can spot a rabbit hiding in the brush or can track a deer, city folk from bad neighborhoods can spot scams and people up to no good in a crowd.

Its hard to describe, but you can just tell when someone is up to something. Its kind of like a combat vet who can see others with the "thousand yard stare". You look over the a crowd of people going about their life, some are talking with their friends, others are doing work, others mindlessly walking with their dead down.

Then you will see a pair of guys, moving thru a crowded Mall. They are walking together, just looking around. They have no smiles, acting a little serious, and they are not talking to each other. One looks behind his shoulder then gives a nod to his buddy, who now starts walking in another direction, while the other guy leans against the wall and is checking out "Everybody" who walks by. It could be nothing, but I can tell you right there they got my attention.

1) Groups or pairs of people walking together will chit-chat.
2) Non verbal commands are kind of odd. Usually one guy will say to the other guy, ""I'll be right back", or "I need to hit the head, and the ATM"
3) Looking around is one thing, but looking "over your shoulder" sometimes means you are about to do something and you want to make sure the cops are not around.
4) A bored person wasting time will "people watch" , but usually they will look for something interesting, like a guy checking out hot women, or people dress weird or funny. If a guy is eyeballing everyone, scanning around and paying special attention to both young and old women with purses and employees of the mall, he is up to something.

Lone badguys are a little different. You might see them look around, but then make a swift, linear, movement toward the intended target. Always look for something odd and out of place. You work in a jewelry store and 5 guys come in the door at the same time, you are in a bakery and two teenagers come in to look around.

Can you see this one coming?
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Re: How do you increase your situational awareness?

Post by Doryman » Mon May 20, 2013 12:50 pm

Play the "What are they carrying?" game. Try to spot visual cues as to what a passer-by has on their person. It'll get you to notice pocket clips for knives, bulging pockets, etc.


Play the "What if?" game. If something bad happens, which way will you run? Are there any tools around you could use to help yourself, others? Fire extinguishers, first aid kits, AED's, etc?


Read a couple Sherlock Holmes stories every now and then. Not kidding. Everytime I nerd out on some Holmes, I find myself paying crazy attention to detail, trying to use his methods to learn things.


Also. Get your face out of your smartphone, get those headphones out of your ears.
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Re: How do you increase your situational awareness?

Post by Doctorr Fabulous » Mon May 20, 2013 12:56 pm

Doryman wrote:Play the "What are they carrying?" game. Try to spot visual cues as to what a passer-by has on their person. It'll get you to notice pocket clips for knives, bulging pockets, etc.


Play the "What if?" game. If something bad happens, which way will you run? Are there any tools around you could use to help yourself, others? Fire extinguishers, first aid kits, AED's, etc?


Read a couple Sherlock Holmes stories every now and then. Not kidding. Everytime I nerd out on some Holmes, I find myself paying crazy attention to detail, trying to use his methods to learn things.


Also. Get your face out of your smartphone, get those headphones out of your ears.
OTOH, use your smartphone as a covert mirror. I prefer to be facing the door, but when I can't I've found you can use a smartphone's screen to check behind you from time to time.
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Re: How do you increase your situational awareness?

Post by Phoenix David » Mon May 20, 2013 6:07 pm

General James N. Mattis, United States Marine Corps wrote:Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet
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Re: How do you increase your situational awareness?

Post by doc savage » Mon May 20, 2013 11:50 pm

itzybitzyspyder wrote:Live in a high-crime area and start taking the bus.
yeah, i'll second this one. live in a neighborhood where if a car backfires, the locals are all crawling along that five inches of curb for hard cover. where there are always people in the dark at all hours of the night. where if you stop at a stopsign, the locals sit on your car hood ( despite the obvious gun on the dashboard), and don't move until the car is accelerating dangerously.

now go sleep outside for a few nights. :)

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Re: How do you increase your situational awareness?

Post by Sworbeyegib » Tue May 21, 2013 6:31 pm

My dad stessed situational awareness too me a lot groing up as a kid. Anything from small things like sitting in a restraunt facing the doorway with your back to a wall, to the way to hold yourself while walking down the street. I guess it made me a people watcher in the long run. I'm constantly analyzing people in any given place.
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Re: How do you increase your situational awareness?

Post by Impus » Tue May 21, 2013 7:26 pm

A couple of links first...

http://www.jiyushinkai.org/zanshin.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

http://www.fightingarts.com/content01/zanshin.shtml" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zanshin" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

14 years ago my then-5-YO daughter learned the game of Slugbug (or Punch Buggy). We played all the time, much to her delight. I realized what an excellent Zanshin practice it was, and have been playing a solitare version 24/7 ever since.

That said, a good Martial Arts Teacher will spend time on the concept and training (think getting hit when you do not expect it), and spending lots of time in rough neighborhoods will impart the lessons with less room for error, as has been noted.
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Re: How do you increase your situational awareness?

Post by Boromokot » Tue May 21, 2013 7:33 pm

sworbeyegib wrote:My dad stessed situational awareness too me a lot groing up as a kid. Anything from small things like sitting in a restaurant facing the doorway with your back to a wall, to the way to hold yourself while walking down the street. I guess it made me a people watcher in the long run. I'm constantly analyzing people in any given place.
pretty much the same way i grew up. my dad grew up in a rough area so he'd always teach me what to look for. If we did walking in the city, every once in a while he would pause and ask "did you notice that back there?" or "anything seem off to you about him?" and just made me build a habit of noticing people and spotting things that don't fit. He also taught me the habit of carrying a knife and these two things together have saved my ass from getting jumped and mugged more than once.

one story we always tell: one day, we were hanging out and he stopped at an atm while i stayed in the car. I noticed some sketchy looking guy walking across the street from the atm start watching my dad. I noticed that he started approaching the curb, left hand in his pocket, so i stepped out of the vehicle. Once my dad got his money, my dad turned and as he walked back, noticed i was out of the car looking at him. Immediately Mr. Sketchy starts at a brisk jog across the street, not at the atm but directly towards my dad. right as this guy almost got across the street, he heard two clicks and saw my dad draw his spyderco while i was approaching with my own knife down by my leg. This guy stopped, looked at us both, stood there a second then went back across the street and started pacing. oddly enough we ran into the same guy as we left a Taqueria, years later and the exact same situation played out.

really i think it just breaks down to noticing what is out of place and what it means. particularly who is out of place and what that means to you

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Re: How do you increase your situational awareness?

Post by Andy in NH » Tue May 21, 2013 7:56 pm

I like to spot people I know before they see me.

Walking through a big box store or the supermarket, I'll be on the lookout for people I'm familiar with or recognize from around town.

When I see them first, I make sure to greet them right away.

It also works great in the hardware store or mini-mart.

In a moment of failure recently, I got task fixated while looking at mother's day cards in a store.

To my left, a man stepped up next to me (also looking at cards) within arms reach before I noticed him.

As I glanced over, I was surprised to see "Rob", a sparring partner from the dojo standing next to me.

He had not noticed me either, so I took a step back, (to his 4:00) and said, "Hey, you want to fight!" He didn't hear me at first, but I thought the woman standing to my right was going to shit a brick.

I repeated myself again, but this time louder, "HEY, YOU WANT TO FIGHT?" The woman to the right made herself scarce and Rob turned around.

Once he saw me we both laughed and shook hands in greeting. After a bit of small talk with him, I found a card and left.

I also like to play the "see them first" game in traffic.

I live in a relatively small town and it is great awareness practice to watch for people on the sidewalk or see their car coming before they see mine. Or at least see and recognize them in time to exchange friendly waves.

I really like some of the other "awareness games" that have been mentioned in this thread. I look forward to implementing some of them in my daily routine.
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Re: How do you increase your situational awareness?

Post by FelixArchon » Sun Jun 16, 2013 6:03 pm

Ahh, here's a thread near and dear to my heart: how to stop looking and start seeing. For all the knocks it takes for being new-age bullshit (rightly, in many cases), meditation is a good way to go. Get your ego under control, learn to master a situation by submitting to the fact that you're in it.

But that's a hard sell on a long road, so try this for practice: Drive.

Really. Turn off your cellphone and radio, and do nothing but drive. Start by adjusting your seat to where it's supposed to be, where you're sitting over your tailbone with your shoulders square, rather then reclining with your shoulders back. Get yourself in the at-attention seated pose you fall into when you're on the couch, playing a videogame, heading into a battle, and then adjust the seat of your car so you're in that pose with your knees just barely clearing the dash (you'll almost certainly be sitting WAY further forward than you normally do) and so the seat back is just barely touching your back. If you're doing it right, it'll feel like your butt is jammed all the way back into the right angle of your seat, and the seat-back seems like it's just kind of resting against your back while you sit upright over your butt.

Then drive like you mean it. Not like a jackass. But like someone who is driving like they mean it. Start smoothly but with authority. Stop smoothly, and without that little jerk right at the end when you fully stop. Use your blinkers. Be polite to other drivers. Don't drive fast. Drive smooth.

See and remember the other cars that are around you. See what's down the road before you get there: cross-traffic and side-traffic. Practice relaxing your eyes, both in focus and attention, and figure out that your brain can process everything that's going on around you, even the areas outside your field of view. With practice you'll be able to "see" what's happening through the windshield, on your instrument panel, and what's happening in the middle and driver's-side rear-view mirrors, all at the same time. You'll realize things like "that red sedan is no longer visible in my mirrors, but is not yet ahead of me: the jackass is cruising in my blind spot." You'll notice things like "the pedestrian walk signal of that intersection is counting down; the light is going to go red in 9, 8, 7 seconds. I won't get through that intersection before the light changes, and can start coasting to a stop."

When you find your mind wandering, when you start thinking about something other than what's happening around your vehicle, just relax, and refocus on driving. Treat yourself like you would treat a child learning to walk: gently steer yourself towards seeing the situation rather than looking at what's happening around you. It takes a little time to get zen about it, but it will happen, and you'll know when it does.

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Re: How do you increase your situational awareness?

Post by sigma42 » Thu Aug 15, 2013 12:17 pm

I have been in Hyperbaric medicine for 14 years.

I started to teach my self to use my peripheral vision, then to multitask my mind.

In a HBO chamber you have to watch multiple patients, the Inside observer, and what the chamber is doing, and what was going around you.

And the most important thing that I had to teach my self was not to get tunnel vision.

Get a log book and every 5 min. write down the time and what is going on around you. do this at work, on the bus, walking down the street, the restaurant, do it when you are driving but write down what you observed when you get to your destination

Teach your self to use all of your senses: sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch all at the same time

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Re: How do you increase your situational awareness?

Post by Phoenix David » Thu Aug 15, 2013 5:23 pm

wear a Speedo while not at the beach or pool.
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