The Subtle of Subtle

  • Published 2019-12-12

Slow the fuck down is a way to tap the exquisite vastness of subtle. As things tend towards stillness and silence the subtle expands towards the infinite. Our senses become fine-tuned and heightened to the nuances in a way that feels electric. The moment stretches out into an endless experience.

In India it appears to me as if nothing is subtle. All the senses are overwhelmed with a continuous and relentless barrage.

I experience this with the insistence of spicy food. Those used to it struggle with anything else, finding it bland where I’ve refined my pallet to appreciate an array of complex flavors. I enjoy spicy food, and have taken delight and pleasure in some amazingly delicious dishes.

My struggle is that with intensity in every meal a blending can occur where it all begins to taste the same. Yet the Indian people I’ve met describe how vast and diverse the dishes are from different regions and cultural influences (and I have no doubt, there are offers of cooking classes everywhere).

I’m aware from working with trauma and stress states that this merging of everything into one is a natural coping mechanism of sensory overload. So my enquiry is becoming one of the subtly that exists along the continuum between extremes.

I’ve noticed this in the impressions I’ve been collecting and sharing on Instagram. Even where the conditions are dominated by pollution, decay and disrepair I’m finding subtle beauty in nuances everywhere – refined perspectives that draw out wonder and appreciation. Doing this has been critical for me to maintain a healthy mind.

The mechanism for this: slow the fuck down! It’s the same. Managing stress states so the body-mind’s natural defenses do not kick in. Taking a deep, expansive breath to relax and open the nervous system to receptivity. Adjusting the body posture to one where we feel powerful and in control. Observing the sensations with a curious awareness.

On a conscious, so-called rational level I can agree that spicy food is not attacking or threatening to harm me despite what my body responses are indicating (so long as it’s coming from a clean kitchen). If I’m defended and contracted there is less of me available to appreciate the subtleties and discover the beauty. When I’m receptive there are more opportunities to hear music and witness creative expression in the subtly that is present and to dance with the chaos.

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