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Overcoming the Amygdala Part 21

If reality isn’t entirely linear, then what is it?

We have to look carefully at ‘reality’ through the lenses of each of the Zones to get a complete answer, but briefly stated, reality varies depending on how it’s looked at.

Viewed through the amygdala, life is a manic linear struggle for continuance. That’s why the Panic and Anxiety (and part of the Rhythmic) Zones have the characteristics that they do: alarm signals going off all or most of the time as the amygdala continually assesses and re-assesses the ‘state of threat’ in the environment, and compares it (usually unfavourably) with your preparedness for linear progression through it, one day at a time. But as we journey into the heart of the ecosystem known as Us, this perception changes:

In the Rhythmic Zone, we phase in and out of the linear struggle, occasionally experiencing moments of latitudinal calm.

In the Calmer Zone, we are ‘unmoored from’, but still near the ‘shoreline’ of the amygdala’s kingdom: we visit the Calmer Zone when we sleep. Here — as we know from our dreams — reality bears some likeness to the linear zones but can be decidedly un-linear, with wandering connections between things known and unknown that follow no logical pattern. In fact, the one clear thing we can say about this zone is that it isn’t linear in the same way that the waking world is.

The Manifesting Zone takes a very different look at ‘reality’. Here, the best image or metaphor is probably that of an artist and a painting, or a novelist and a book, or a composer and a piece of music — the perspective has altered. Lines can still be seen and can still exist — brushstrokes or sentences or bars of music — but the whole creation can be seen non-linearly: the painter can step back and view the whole picture, the novelist can sit back and contemplate the whole story, the composer can hear the whole piece played. In the Manifesting Zone, the individual is still engaged with his or her creation, and that includes its ‘lines’ — but they are involved from a different angle. They are not ‘immersed’ in the same way, unless they choose momentarily to go ‘into’ their work and experience it from within; their understanding of it and connection with it is quite different to that of the outer circles.

It’s a useful analogy to persist with when we come to glimpsing the Play Zone. Just as an artist steps back from his or her single canvas to see it as a whole, an individual can step back from his or her whole life’s work so far to see how everything fits together. Engaged in a single artwork, the person might feel seriously focused and want ‘not to be disturbed’; taking an overview of one’s whole opus, one might be more playful or adventurous, or spot new horizons to steer a course toward. Play brings with it a sense of space, freedom, joy, with peril and penalty removed to remote distances.

Beyond the Play Zone is the Zen Zone. It’s not realistic to expect to say much about that, mired as we are in our outer circles most of the time. Probably one of the few things we could guess at is that the Zen Zone brings with it wisdom and ultimate perspective. Those who have glimpsed it bring back word of Meaning and Beauty and a frame of reference far beyond the linear, which our simple straightforward thinking would probably reject outright, but which, from those heights, are as natural as sunlight.

With Active Meditation, the best we’re hoping for is a peek into the Manifesting Zone — and we’re still quite some way from that.


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