Extrasensory Situational Awareness

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Extrasensory Situational Awareness

Postby Doc Stier on Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:17 am

In response to the suggestion on another thread, perhaps a separate discussion of extrasensory situational awareness is appropriate here. That having been said, I'll get the ball rolling by sharing what I was taught in the Shen Men Tao System regarding this topic.

First of all, this isn't about being paranoid and constantly looking over your shoulder for sneak attacks or about constantly scouring the surrounding environment for hidden dangers. Nor does it have anything to do with anything magical, mystical, or occult in nature. On the contrary, it simply involves understanding the natural abilities of the human mind, which were an integral part of the hunter/warrior mindset in more primitive times, but now tend to be either ignored or overlooked by people in modern societies.

The human mind is clearly capable of both sending and receiving thoughts mentally, but cannot effectively perform both of these functions simultaneously. Of the two, mentally sending thoughts seems to be more highly developed in most people nowadays. Perhaps this is due to our greater ease in communicating with one another via our smart phones, text messaging, email communications, and other electronic devices, along with live face to face verbal communication of our own thoughts and feelings. And yet, other more subtle forms of communication also exist.

I'd venture to guess that virtually everyone has experienced the occasional incident of immediately knowing that you either like or dislike someone you have just met for the first time, and know with inner certainty that you either trust or mistrust this individual, even though there may not be any clearly logical or rational reason for feeling that way. Most of you have probably also had the feeling at some point that someone is staring at you, have turned to look around, and sure enough...someone is indeed staring at you. Other day to day examples include following the intuitive hunch that a desired item you've been looking for may be found at a particular store, perhaps one that you don't normally shop at or have never been to before, and amazingly, you go in and there it is!

And what about the 150 lb. male German Shepard you see laying on the grass inside a fenced yard as you walk past. He doesn't need to stand and growl at you, or bare his impressive teeth and rush to the fence to communicate his intention to take you down in a heartbeat if you enter the yard uninvited. Simply look at him and know it is true! So, why should it be a stretch of credible probability that these same intuitive knowings can provide unseen, unspoken warning of imminent risk or danger in other situations where someone silently and secretly plans to victimize you in some unknown way, whether that be through an ambush assault or through deliberately cheating you in a business deal?

This phenomenon is often referred to as following your intuition, playing your hunches, acknowledging your gut instinct, and so forth. Oftentimes, however, people don't understand how this happens and may therefore be unable to allow it to happen more regularly and consistently. Which brings us back to the idea of the mind as a two-way radio, capable of mental sending and receiving both, but only one at a time. So, if you use your mind primarily for transmitting, constantly engaging in an internal dialogue of self talk, or in constantly projecting your own thoughts outward through spoken conversation, text messaging, emailing, and so forth, you will tend to be a poor listener and also a poor receiver of thoughts and images sent by others. Again, you can't effectively both send and receive simultaneously.

The simple, yet not so simple, key is thus the ability to adopt a quiet, passive state of mind capable of turning off the constant outward mental transmission in order to more effectively access other information not being generated by your own mental activity. In this regard, any method of personal mind control that develops greater calmness and inner quietude will make you a better intuitive receiver. This is true of regularly structured practices such as meditation, contemplative prayer, self-induced trance, auto-hypnosis states, and other methods which develop more open access to the deeper states of mind where intuitive phenomenon normally reside, beyond the realm of normal wakeful consciousness.

To really quiet the mind internally in this way requires just as much time, effort and energy as external physical skills do, so there is no quick shortcut to success. It comes only through consistent training of a viable method, just like most skills of any kind do.
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Re: Extrasensory Situational Awareness

Postby Dmitri on Mon Nov 07, 2011 1:18 pm

I dunno Doc... I would venture a guess that modern psychology and related fields of study can probably explain very nicely every single instance of the "mysterious" phenomena you mention above as examples of something extraordinary... There are also things like perception of pheromones (which translates to literally "smelling fear", etc.), ability to unconsciously register and interpret "micromovement", etc. -- and I would much rather go with those than with some unexplained awesomeness, sending/receiving energies and thoughts, etc. Those are just too dangerously close to believing in "ki blasts"... :)
I've spent many years in my youth reading about (and playing with/testing) those types of things and came to a conclusion (personally -- others' mileage varies of course) that it's all in the eye (and mind) of the beholder. Attending (way back) sessions of hypnotism and watching (recently) Derren Brown do his stuff only reinforced those convictions.

Just my humble opinion/2 cents on the subject matter, FWIW.

P.S. All that said, -- situational awareness is, or should be, one of the top priorities for any serious MAist, because IMO your best fights are those you're never in.
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Re: Extrasensory Situational Awareness

Postby I-mon on Mon Nov 07, 2011 4:49 pm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonverbal_communication
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empathy

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364661304001032
Abstract

A recent article reports that human perception of heartbeat timing is mediated by right (non-dominant) anterior insular cortex, and that the activity and the size of this region is directly correlated with individuals' subjective awareness of inner body feelings and emotionality.


http://www.springerlink.com/content/m075p3605l383487/

Note to skim readers that "AI" is referring to "Anterior Insula" and not "Artificial Intelligence"
Functional neuroimaging investigations in the fields of social neuroscience and neuroeconomics indicate that the anterior insular cortex (AI) is consistently involved in empathy, compassion, and interpersonal phenomena such as fairness and cooperation. These findings suggest that AI plays an important role in social emotions, hereby defined as affective states that arise when we interact with other people and that depend on the social context. After we link the role of AI in social emotions to interoceptive awareness and the representation of current global emotional states, we will present a model suggesting that AI is not only involved in representing current states, but also in predicting emotional states relevant to the self and others. This model also proposes that AI enables us to learn about emotional states as well as about the uncertainty attached to events, and implies that AI plays a dominant role in decision making in complex and uncertain environments. Our review further highlights that dorsal and ventro-central, as well as anterior and posterior subdivisions of AI potentially subserve different functions and guide different aspects of behavioral regulation. We conclude with a section summarizing different routes to understanding other people’s actions, feelings and thoughts, emphasizing the notion that the predominant role of AI involves understanding others’ feeling and bodily states rather than their action intentions or abstract beliefs.


http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0149763406000522
Social neuro-science has recently started to investigate the neuronal mechanisms underlying our ability to understand the mental and emotional states of others. In this review, imaging research conducted on theory of mind (ToM or mentalizing) and empathy is selectively reviewed. It is proposed that even though these abilities are often used as synonyms in the literature these capacities represent different abilities that rely on different neuronal circuitry. ToM refers to our ability to understand mental states such as intentions, goals and beliefs, and relies on structures of the temporal lobe and the pre-frontal cortex. In contrast, empathy refers to our ability to share the feelings (emotions and sensations) of others and relies on sensorimotor cortices as well as limbic and para-limbic structures. It is further argued that the concept of empathy as used in lay terms refers to a multi-level construct extending from simple forms of emotion contagion to complex forms of cognitive perspective taking.

Keywords: Social neuro-science; Theory of mind; Empathy; Pain; mPFC; Insula; ACC; Emotional processing
Article Outline

1. Introduction
2. Mind reading
3. Empathy
4. Future research perspectives: distinguishing mentalizing and empathizing
5. Implications for developmental neuro-sciences
6. Mentalizing and empathizing not only separate but also intertwined


Our right hemispheres are taking in and interpreting an inconceivable amount of information, all the time.
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Re: Extrasensory Situational Awareness

Postby I-mon on Mon Nov 07, 2011 5:00 pm

Love this topic, by the way. It's well worth discussing and thinking about, and doesn't have to be all kai-balls and shielding. Also agree completely with you Doc on the ways to develop this stuff - quiet the "thinking mind" (ie the left brain), allow the mind to open to the total context of the situation and read everything at once (what the right hemisphere is always doing anyway), and notice what your insides are telling you (develop the interoceptive sense, since this is the part which is reacting most strongly to the nonverbal ques from everyone and everything around you).
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Re: Extrasensory Situational Awareness

Postby Ralteria on Mon Nov 07, 2011 6:25 pm

I-mon,

You are the master of internet research! :) Your last post was similar to what I was getting at in the Look Left, Gaze Right thread. It's impossible to really "grasp" at that sort of awareness with thinking about it. A meditative style approach is the only way to gather all that information to really correlate it properly. We see the trees constantly but we never see the forest.

It always reminds me of how, right before it snows, all the birds in the area take cover. You walk outside and it's deathly quiet and you automatically know something is up even if you can't put your finger on exactly what it is. Animals seem to instinctively know when an tsunami is coming or an earthquake is going to happen, as well. There is a plethora of information around that humans aren't used to picking up anymore.
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Re: Extrasensory Situational Awareness

Postby Ralteria on Mon Nov 07, 2011 6:26 pm

Doc,

In your experience, do you feel it's possible to give and receive simultaneously, similar to movement and stillness existing simultaneously in the concept of Taiji? I know you mentioned that it didn't carry the same effectiveness but wasn't sure if at higher levels of awareness if that was possible and still effective (i.e. Liangyi returning to Taiji). Very cool thread!
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Re: Extrasensory Situational Awareness

Postby DeusTrismegistus on Mon Nov 07, 2011 7:41 pm

I have to agree with Doc on the existence of this stuff. Just as an example a friend of mine tried to sneak up on me in the park across from our kung fu school when I was sitting on a bench taking a break from my workout. He was about 50 yards away directly behind me. I just turned around and smiled at him. When I turned around it was completely instinctive, I did not know he was there nor did I expect him to be there.

However I also think that there are ways we can structure our physical training to be able to train this kind of ability as well. A simple example is that when we spar in class we usually have people pair up and everyone spars in the same room at the same time. The intensity is kept fairly low most of the time. When someone is new they tend to run into people a lot. After a couple years they do not run into people as much. I almost never run into anyone anymore and it is not because I am looking behind me all the time. I have noticed many many occasions where I stepped in such a way as to move around people that were directly behind me without ever taking my eyes off of the person in front of me. While the room does have some mirrors set up and that is a possible explanation I have experienced the same thing in settings without the mirrors. Eventually you just gain a sense of when someone is near you.
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Re: Extrasensory Situational Awareness

Postby RickMatz on Mon Nov 07, 2011 8:00 pm

I used to be in sales, and am still in a customer facing role. When I am training regularly, I find that I can read what is going on with people in a room a whole lot better.

The Japanese word for this is kan, or "feeling". 勘

At http://classicbudoka.wordpress.com/2011/11/04/38-ken-and-kan-seeing-and-feeling, there was a post about this characteristic.
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Re: Extrasensory Situational Awareness

Postby chow_farn on Mon Nov 07, 2011 8:21 pm

When I was doing lots of Kendo - there a tatic I was shown that sort of fits this subject.

When sparring, you heavily think at one target but strike another.
In 95% of cases the people will think you are going for the original target & be left undefended.
The key to the technique is keep your concentration level focused, even & unchanged - from guard position to attack.
Most people when they attack drop there concentration level - this is where most masters pick you off.

Is it that people are reading your body language (Kendo you do lots & lots of sparring so you could pick up small changes) or is it mental.
Whatever - it works.
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Re: Extrasensory Situational Awareness

Postby Michael on Tue Nov 08, 2011 9:01 am

Makes sense to me, Doc, that improving the skill of focusing and quieting one's mind will allow for more intuitive knowledge compared to sensory input. I think this skill is probably easiest to practice in healing than in combat because healing requires more receiving than transmitting of information as well as the use of intuitive abilities for diagnosis.
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Simultaneous Sending and Receiving

Postby Doc Stier on Tue Nov 08, 2011 2:26 pm

Ralteria wrote:Doc,

In your experience, do you feel it's possible to give and receive simultaneously, similar to movement and stillness existing simultaneously in the concept of Taiji? I know you mentioned that it didn't carry the same effectiveness but wasn't sure if at higher levels of awareness if that was possible and still effective (i.e. Liangyi returning to Taiji). Very cool thread!

Ralteria:

I don't think it is possible to simultaneously send and receive mentally, just as it isn't possible to do so with a two-way radio, since you can't receive transmissions from another radio while the send button on your own radio is pressed to talk. But with deliberate mental training and development, it is certainly possible to establish a more passive state of mental quietude and detachment as the default setting. From this calmer, more meditative state of mind you can minimize the time spent engaged in non-receiving by gradually reducing and eliminating additional trains of thought relative to what's happening in the present moment. In other words, when a quieter default state of mind becomes the norm, the distraction of thoughts and feelings stored in your subconscious memory bank are less likely to be unnecessarily brought into wakeful consciousness for consideration relative to your conversation, activity or circumstance presently at hand.

In this way, the mind most often remains capable of intuitively receiving thoughts, feelings, and images projected by outside sources. At this point, however, a reasonable degree of mental filtering needs to be mentally established as well in order to minimize the additionally distracting tendency to consciously look at all of them throughout the day, while still allowing that which really needs to be acknowledged to enter your normal consciousness for appropriate response as needed.
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Re: Extrasensory Situational Awareness

Postby Doc Stier on Tue Nov 08, 2011 2:33 pm

RickMatz wrote:I used to be in sales, and am still in a customer facing role. When I am training regularly, I find that I can read what is going on with people in a room a whole lot better.

The Japanese word for this is kan, or "feeling". 勘

At http://classicbudoka.wordpress.com/2011/11/04/38-ken-and-kan-seeing-and-feeling, there was a post about this characteristic.

Rick:

Agreed. Thanks for the interesting and very relative link. 8-)
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Re: Extrasensory Situational Awareness

Postby I-mon on Tue Nov 08, 2011 3:00 pm

Doc Stier wrote:In this way, the mind most often remains capable of intuitively receiving thoughts, feelings, and images projected by outside sources. At this point, however, a reasonable degree of mental filtering needs to be mentally established as well in order to minimize the additionally distracting tendency to consciously look at all of them throughout the day, while still allowing that which really needs to be acknowledged to enter your normal consciousness for appropriate response as needed.


Cool. Similar process in my life for Chinese Medical diagnosis. For the first couple of years I was madly "diagnosing" people and couldn't stop: checking complexions, tones of voice, body shape and texture and movement, their emotional states, every little health symptom they mentioned etc and my mind wouldn't shut up "oh that's liver! dampness!! summer heat damp heart spleen insomnia! crying tone!" etc :D

Gradually it settled down so that I still notice all of this stuff and it sinks in in a way that I can use it without it having to constantly barge its way into the front of my awareness, it's all happening and it's just kind of there, all the time, without me needing to think about it or give words to it, except for when I want to for some specific purpose...

Super fun, super interesting work. I can only imagine the extent to which these kinds of perceptual skills could be developed over many decades - or the extent to which they may have been developed in less left-brained word-crazy tribal or hunting cultures 8-)
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Re: Extrasensory Situational Awareness

Postby QuaiJohnCain on Tue Nov 08, 2011 3:26 pm

This is a fun subject.

In the Japanese Bujinkan system (or whatever they are calling it these days) they have specific exercises to hone this skill. Their 5th degree black belt (Godan) test involves sitting down with eyes closed, and having the GM take a swing at your head with a shinai. The goal is to respond to his intent to kill (sakki) and evade. :


While I am sure there are some Chinese MA systems/families that do similar, I've just never seen it trained publicly. My first teacher claimed to have been given a type of this training in his youth. I never tested him, though. ;D
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Extrasensory Awareness or Supersensory Reactions?

Postby Doc Stier on Tue Nov 08, 2011 4:10 pm

Although the Godan test is interesting, the 'defender' knows exactly what is going to happen in advance, but doesn't when it is going to happen. I'm guessing that the close physical proximity of the 'attack' most likely allows normal physical senses to be employed in reacting to it. A sufficiently relaxed and focused 'defender' should thus be able to hear the air displaced by the movement of the shinai, as well as the movement of the sensei's body and clothing at such close quarters.

With all due respect to the acquired skills and reflexes of the 'defender' in that clip, I wouldn't say conclusively that something akin to what we're discussing here couldn't also be involved to some degree, but merely that this type of prefabricated scenario seems different to me than detecting the presence of an unknown ambush attacker who is yet to be seen or heard in any way. -shrug-
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