View Full Version : Awareness = Paranoia?

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05-25-2004, 08:09 AM
I live in a pretty violent place, where horrible crimes like rape and murder are commited on such a daily basis that the papers and the news dont even bother reporting them anymore. Our police service is laughable with rampant corruption and horrible underfunding and understaffing.

I know of a few police officers who supplement their income by moonlighting as bouncers and security guards. The kind of crimes that would make frontpage news in the rest of the world are moved to a small column on page 6 and no-one even knows about it in a weeks time.

Everyday I wonder around the streets of Cape Town partially for exercise and partially to escape the brainfrying glare of my monitor at work, I always endeavour to practice Aikido while doing this, keeping my posture, moving from my centre, regulating my breathing and keeping awareness of the people I share the street with.

I find it troubling though that I dont feel I can enjoy myself in public places anymore, whenever I go out I feel horribly uncomfortable when the pubs and clubs are dark and packed. I always feel as if I need to be able to jump in at a moments notice and "save" whoever it is that I am going out with. This puts me in a bad mood and makes me feel paranoid. Before Aikido I used to be another sheep wondering around in a blissfull half-awake state, I shudder to think the things that I narrowly escaped but atleast back then I enjoyed myself.

I would like some opinions on how others cope with this.

05-25-2004, 08:32 AM
Well, it isn't probably right to compare Paris and where you live, but at some point every big city is dangerous... especially for a lone girl at some time in the evening.

Before Aikido I used to be another sheep wondering around in a blissfull half-awake state, I shudder to think the things that I narrowly escaped but atleast back then I enjoyed myself.

This feeling of awareness of danger: yes, I know it well. I started living in Paris at 15 and started Aikido at the same age. But I feel more comfortable now that I've learned more than before. I don't know if I would really be able to use Aikido to protect myself but at least I don't feel as defenseless as I used to.

Ninja Mike
05-25-2004, 09:34 AM
My advice would be to try and not think about it so much, i find when i wory about something like that the only thing it does for me is when the time comes where i need to use Aikido (or do anyting) i think about what im doing so much that it doesen't flow properly. i would suggest meditating and clearing your mind of all worries, and when the time comes if your mind is still clear it will just flow.

P.S and i do realise that my grammar sucks

05-25-2004, 10:43 AM
When building awareness, the first "stage" is pretty similar to paranoia from what I know. But that mostly passes with time. I guess there's mainly two things you can do:

1) Learn to adjust your "paranoia" to the threat level. Which places are so dangerous that you need to be on yellow alert all the time, which places are secure enough that you can relax or even "switch off your radar" and just enjoy yourself? Being able to take a break from the paranoia can do wonders.

2) Consciously practice / tune your awareness. Although that sounds contraproductive at first, it allows the "scanning for danger" to become unconscious, become second nature. When you're that far, it's not so much a matter of "being aware or enjoying the evening" but of how to best do both at the same time.

I'm not sure if it's possible to party like the "sheep" once one has become aware of that need for awareness (well, you know what I mean :) ), but I'm sure it's possible to come pretty close.

John Boswell
05-25-2004, 10:52 AM

I got a question for you: What is the product of 'Worry' ?

Worry only produces more worry and concern. It puts you at the effect of things that are usually intangable. A person can not control if people around them have drugs or guns, you can't control whether you are attacked or not while out walking down the street. Idiots in the world are going to do it or they're not.

The best thing to do in your situation is to make yourself the most competent and able person you can be... and BE that. A friend of mine once told me: "Don't be sorry, be effective!" which is an excellent point. The less we know about martial arts and the world around us, the less effective we are in it. Whereas if we study, train, improve our health by eating right and exercising, etc... all these things will build confidence in ourselves and our ability to take action when action is nessecary.

I don't like the idea of fighting and I sure don't put myself in the position to be looking for one, but I can say with confidence that after over two years of studying aikido, I have a much better idea of what I would do in a crisis situation than I did before. And with that bit of knowledge, I can then lay aside the worry and doubt and just go on with my life. If something bad crosses my path, I'll deal with it. Until then, I don't worry about it because it does no good to anybody, especially myself.

Meditation - calming the mind and clearing it of all thoughts is very beneficial.
Reading - helps escape the day-to-day world.
Walking in parks - surrounded by people and children provides and safer enviornment.

Best wishes to you during your travels along the :do:. :)
John B.

Jordan Steele
05-25-2004, 01:12 PM
Trust the little voice inside your head. Being aware is being relaxed, not paranoid. If you go about your business...other people go about theirs, however if you're looking for the potential troublesome situations chances are you're going to find them. Just go with your gut, it's always right.

Mark Jakabcsin
05-25-2004, 01:32 PM
If you are practicing awareness in order to sense danger earlier and protect yourself then yes you will increase your paranoia. When all you look for is danger you will fear it everywhere.

If you practice awareness because you believe it is a better way to live and desire to experience as much in each moment of life as possible then you can skip the paranoia.

Being aware simply to ward off danger isn't truly being aware, it is one sided and a trap. All you'll see is the negative side of life. Choose to increase your awareness so you can see ALL of life as it is and you can find a better path.

George Leonard touches on this subject in his book 'The Way of Aikido'.

Take care,
mark j.

Nick P.
05-25-2004, 03:26 PM
Maybe the better path, as Mark mentioned, is not one that you can follow living where you are.
I coped with it by moving (far, far) away from a city that made me feel alot like you described.

And before everyone jumps on my post with alot of "Your giving in." and "That's not using Aikido."-type posts, consider this; how long will it take before you admit there is no coping with it? 6 months? 6 years?
And more importantly, how much are you willing to risk in the meantime? Your sanity? Your life?

Obviously these are very personal questions and answers, and everyone here will have a different response. As Jordan said, go with your gut.

My gut told me to leave and never look back.