In previous pieces, drawing on the work of John Vervake and Ian McGilchrist, I’ve discussed the importance of reciprocal processing and participatory experience in enabling insight, wisdom, and implicitly, eudaimonic well being. For the most part, those pieces were theory-oriented. Now let’s talk about applying the theory in practice. These practices are not my own invention. Rather, I’ve adapted them from other sources to match my theory a little better.
It’s really easy to get down about the state of collective discourse on the internet. It’s easy to think that the only consequence of our increased inter-connection is an increased capacity to be ass-holes to each other.
That’s true. I’m pretty sure the internet has a polarizing effect on people, because it’s easy to be a shit-head to someone behind a screen. It’s easier to demonize someone you don’t have to meet after you dox them and ruin their lives.
At the same time, I’m not convinced that wasn’t always the state of human collective consciousness. That didn’t stop us from doing some other really beautiful things, like all of the art in history, for example.
As promised, I’m about to give an account of social dancing as instantiating my requirements for a peak spiritual practice. In my case, the social dance is Argentine Tango, though I’m certain this applies to other dances such as Salsa or Blues. With that in mind, I’m going to focus specifically on how I see the spiritual aspects of social dance manifest in Tango.
I’ve never rough slept, though I’ve had plenty of friends who were rough sleeping at one point or another. For the most part, they were the types you would least expect to need to. Two of them were one time students at Cambridge. Sometimes I laugh a little bit internally whenever I hear anyone describe Oxbridge students as ‘poshos.’ They are ultimately people, just like any other person. I’ve never gone to an Ivy League school, but I think that’s probably a generalizable sentiment.
In my past professional life, I’ve worked at a charity for what we term ‘the homeless.’ Even now, my day to day experience mostly amounts to holding people’s hands while they’re burning in hell. Let me assure you, this is an experience that makes you ask questions.
Expectancy bias is real, and it shapes your reality. This means in some sense that what you expect is what you get. When I was a kid, I used to stand on my head so I could see what the world looked like upside-down. To look at the world from that perspective transfigured it.
My otherwise familiar living room would become something new and absolutely fascinating. As far as my visual field was concerned, all the shapes and colours were exactly the same, only inverted.
What bridged the gap between my familiar reality and the alien landscape — where the roof was the floor — was that I made it impossible to keep pretending that I understood what I was looking at. Instead, I just looked at it.