Self Defense Training: Vigilance vs. Paranoia
Defensive States of Mind: Paranoia vs. Vigilance
Since becoming legal gun owner five years ago I’ve been faced with a new set of perceptions about the world we live in. I’m a war veteran, and I have been the victim of violent crime, and much of my self-work has been to free myself from certain destructive states of mind surrounding those events. I don’t come to this discussion naÔve: I have some idea of how my mind, and the minds of others, work in regard to self defense, and have great respect for the human perceptual apparatus. However, I’m concerned about becoming over-defensive, over vigilant, to the point of misreading situations that could be handled another way. I’m thinking of examples of hyper vigilance that erode the quality of life. A rape victim who never trusts men again, etc.; or the case of a LEO friend who, when he sees cars parked at the end of the block, thinks there’s a crime being committed, while I know it’s a birthday party. Or, as with myself, if I see two young black men coming toward me on the street some part of me remembers that it was two young black men who assaulted and robbed me in 1981. As much as I try not to profile, that perception is there and it is my spiritual project to manage it. The point is that I am more likely to see two young black men as a threat and not just two young black men walking down the street. It’s embarrassing. Not only do our conditioned responses and preconceived ideas interfere with correctly perceiving the world, they also predispose us to be victims by rigidly assessing a situation one way instead of staying open to all the possibilities. I read a book by the Samurai, Musashi Miyamoto (The Book of The Five Rings) and it occurred to me that he had something like Zen mind, that is, a mind that responded to every situation individually and not based on prior experience or received ideas.
In any case, my dilemma is this: how do we stay open and positive about the world and not become victims? How do we train ourselves in self defense and not be “defensive?”
Interested in hearing the opinions of others.