Lives are speeding up. Add the ecstasy of virtual communication – and ponder – what happens to the quiet zone?
… technology … instead of liberating us from myth, confronts as a force of a second nature just as overwhelming as the forces of a more elementary nature in archaic times … Walter Benjamin
People tend to feel most alive when there is something to do. Ask what happens when you sit down without stimulation, your mind goes blank. And after a little thought you might say … it’s uncomfortable, I get jittery, I feel useless … Or, when you dig a little deeper … I’d feel guilty doing nothing … I’d feel lost … get depressed … I’d pick up the phone, switch on the screen … anything to engage with something other … You get the drift.
Doing and engaging makes us feel we belong, in the sense that we get carried along by the river, be it in the slow majestic flow, in the play of crosscurrents, or down the falls, but always in concord with something around us.
Until we get stuck in an oxbow, or soak up worries and sink to the bottom. What then?
Pressure mounts … to make decisions, finish things, start the next project, write the next blog … anything to be acknowledged … to feel alive and worthwhile.
So what is so threatening about the quiet zone? Well it’s not quiet, is it? Our body/mind is wound up by habit like a dynamo, try slowing down and … thoughts come, feelings come. Deeper layers of the psyche rise into awareness. And if we block or fight their content we end up confused, tired, drained, inadequate, out of touch with who we think we are, or how others know us.
The best-used concept regarding the deeper layers of the psyche is the unconscious. Freud saw the personal unconscious extending into the dark sea of the collective like a huge iceberg, well over ninety % under the surface of our day-to-day awareness. This complex and ever changing grid compels our lives. Jung added the idea of the higher unconscious, but added:
… Filling the conscious mind with ideal conceptions is a characteristic of Western theosophy, but not the confrontation with the Shadow and the world of darkness. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. The latter procedure, however, is disagreeable and therefore not popular. Collected Works 13: Alchemical Studies, p 265
The person who never felt inclined to dwell in the dark, or fears it, not having had guidance in navigating the dynamics of their unconscious, could make a start by studying maps of the psyche. They do exist. And while maps are not the territory, they help with orientation.
The satnav for the psyche has not yet been invented. But it could be understood as an analogy for the eye in the dark, the satellite floating in space from where to delineate the unknown landscape. With practice, we can develop our own satnav – a quiet zone – from where to witness the jungle and listen to the noise without panicking or rushing down the next track. It is possible to observe without reacting, and reflect on our attitudes and actions.
Greater awareness of our personal foibles and dysfunctions, and the collective ignorance around us is not only easier to tolerate when viewed from the quiet zone, it affects our perceptions, our tolerance, and with it our reality. Which is why we must take heart – every individual can contribute to the expansion of our collective consciousness by getting to know themselves better through befriending their personal unconscious. For this to work we need practice in creating a quiet zone, a satellite, a personal satnav from where to witness our inner landscape and find a meaningful geography to take position in.
I am waiting for the day when psychic maps and the practice of creating a personal satnav become part of every school curriculum.