August 28, 2015

Expedition Stories: Thin Air


On an knowledge expedition, we look at what it’s like to put one’s self at risk. The element of risk, the implication of peril, is one factor in unhinging a participant from the patterned obviousness of everyday survival. When the air you’re breathing no longer carries sufficient oxygen to support autonomic functioning, if only in one’s imagination, it’s enough to quickly generate a context for understanding that stands in distinct, unalterable existence outside the understanding one started with. The shift in context,guided and conducted in a small community, is an important foundational element for developing shared understanding.

Why does the creation of a substantive contextual shift require this kind of disruption of everyday reality? Can’t a self-actualized individual generate a new context by dint of will and concentrated thinking? Perhaps. It’s easy to observe, however, that this is rarely the case. In a virtureal setting, we provide new contexts for expanding one’s consciousness – the field of what is possible to think, say, and act upon takes a kind of focus across a range of cognitive, physical, and emotional reaches. Aligning these factors sufficiently on one’s own has proved challenging to humans at the current level of evolution. Few set off on a path to do so reliably, and even fewer achieve mastery.

The Knowledge Expedition methodology coalesces a variety of stimuli that guide participants through an experience that brings them to the point of tension or challenge. It calls for the formation of new pathways. Further it engages sociality as a means to form connections among participants who find themselves collectively in this heightened state. New collective pathways form. A sudden and profound sense of community emerges. A new sense of possibility inhabits the process, and guides thoughts, words, and actions.

The knowledge expedition leaves physical traces in one’s psyche; likewise, it becomes part of one’s muscle memory as well. As we are virtually imaging trekking, mirror cells fire; we feel the lactic acid accumulating in our muscles, we feel the shortness of breath as we ascend, our autonomic functions shift into new, taxed positions. And messages, the ways of thinking, the ways in which recognition is filtered through our senses at this point has lasting impact.