Orientations, lift and depth (phenomenological, psychological and navigational)
How we orient ourselves in the world, in our social, political, environmental situations, can shift and change, especially if our sense of home and stability is precarious. In this situation of vertigo there is an opportunity for reorientation. The vertigo stems from a displaced feeling, an uprootedness and a expectation or desire for stability and groundedness from which to move out into the world. This constant striving for ground only makes sense, not as a binary opposition, but as the balanced pole of vertigo. So vertigo is not going to be removed, but rather balanced by the pull of ground. This requires a shift in orientation. And for those who are grounded in a place, to open to the possibility of the vertigo of others and themselves.
A reorientation in place can be guided through sound and listening. It is a phenomenological, psychological and navigational process all at once. The aim is to accept but balance the vertigo, with an acceptance of the fluidity and transformation of identity, to find ways to relate to environments around us and at a distance, at the same time.
Can you experience the sense of lift? Look at the branches and leaves of trees lift with wind - can you lift with them? It’s like floating in water. You are not physically flying, rather your imagination is allowing you to be buoyant. The sound of the leaves moving together is how we hear the wind. We can hear it move through one area on to another, a spatial orientation guided by listening.
Watch a bird flying - any bird. Can you throw your imagination out with it as it takes off and rides the wind currents with it’s whole body? You experience this lift in yourself and with practice, the more birds you watch, you notice the difference in their behaviors, their flight, their physiology, by joining them with your imagination. We cannot all experience the lift of paragliding, or sailing, but we can do this. This is a way of learning.
Listen to music. Where does it lift you in the same way as the bird, or leaves, or wind? What combinations of timbre, melody, rhythm, harmony, instrumentation, lyrics, shift you into a floating essence? You’ll recognize this feeling, when we listen to music we are being moved in a multitude of ways.
So once we’ve practiced these things, come back to sound. Listen to a car passing, a plane overhead, a fridge rumble, a conversation through the wall next door. Listen to anything and consider - how does this shift in my attention also shift my perception? Do I fly with it, or recoil from it? What does my body do, where does my spirit go? How do these parts of me react? Just noticing at first, and then perhaps asking, why? Where do these patterns and reactions of mine come from? And how can I observe them better?
Navigation is a form of orientation, a way of being in and moving through the world. There are different techniques of navigation requiring differing amounts of attention. One way to think of navigation is getting from A to B in the most efficient way possible. GPS satellite navigation has become so efficient at this that we need barely any awareness of our environment to move from one place to another. So perhaps the term orientation is more useful than navigation, or perhaps we can put the two together - “orientational navigation” - to signify mental and physiological techniques of awareness towards the places we move through. Such orientational navigation might provide a way to balance the vertigo with ground.