Studies show that we humans naturally tend to walk in circles when left to our own devices – without the necessary knowledge or preparation to navigate a simple course. Even walking a (reasonably) straight line turns out to be an unnatural task for the human mind to convey to the human feet! This is true even without the influence of alcohol or other drugs, which we know (no matter how much we deny) can easily lead us astray in oh so many ways! It is also not a function of one leg being longer than the other, though that may tighten the radius of the circles!
Actually, a study of blindfolded subjects (published in the journal Current Biology), showed that “when they couldn’t see at all, the walkers ended up going in surprisingly small circles – with a diameter of less than 66 feet.” According to Randy Gallistel, a cognitive neuroscientist at Rutgers University in New Jersey, the results aren’t necessarily surprising: “Most dead hikers, after all,” said Randy, “are found within a mile, if not 100 meters from where they got lost.” As frightening as that is, many more are lost in the wilderness of ordinary life and walking in a death spiral right now, slowly winding their way to desperation, as the path to freedom awaits them.
I like to think that we naturally walk in circles, because our heart seeks to keep us centered. The circle is this gorgeously pure form, where all points in a particular plane are located at a given distance from a center. I find it profoundly mystical and beautiful that we would tend to remain close to and in constant relation with our center. If you are truly walking in circles as a conscious, intentional practice – which actually helps you get centered, so that you can then get your bearings and move in a deliberate direction – that is a practice to cherish (and perhaps a topic I will address directly in a future article). I believe that many indigenous peoples – and those devoted to a life profoundly connected to nature and essence – do, in fact, have a built-in moral compass that keeps them centered and whole, as the circle so aptly symbolizes. They also have the wisdom and mastery of place to find their way in circumstances more challenging than many of us “civilized” folk could even begin to cope with, much less master!
The truth is that for many (or most) of us living in the modern world (especially the U.S.), walking in circles is an unconscious and unconnected act: we are dizzily high on the omnipresent and omnidirectional spin in the airwaves all around us, permeating our brains, compromising our souls. It seems to take heroic effort of mind and heart just to avoid getting utterly lost in the incessant “B.S.” that swirls around us and through us – and to large extent – is us. Though “B.S.” comes in endless intensities of odor, the “B.S.” that seems most effective in keeping us walking in circles – or even spinning in place – are our “Belief Systems”. As writer, futurist and self-described “agnostic mystic” Robert Anton Wilson famously said, “Everything that gets into your brain affects your reality tunnel, your world view, or your belief system, which I abbreviate ‘B.S.’…” He also said, “You gotta be continually revising your map of the world, or you lose more and more contact with reality.” Though Wilson apparently did a lot of mind-bending drugs, it is hard to argue these points.
We can examine for ourselves (though much easier to see in others) the extent to which our own B.S. has served as our biased compass. Just where has that (mis)directional device taken us? For some it has taken them through what seems a straight and narrow tunnel of bigotry and intolerance, with no space for ideas that question their firmly established B.S. This can also be viewed as a vicious circle that incessantly returns one to the same narrow point of view. This is perhaps the worst kind of circle-walking, the kind where heart and mind have actually been co-opted by the ever-present cyclone of B.S., causing one to spiral into darkness and potentially into violent, destructive behavior, all the while utterly convinced that they are going in the “right” direction.
I trust, if you are reading this now, that your circles are not nearly so depraved as the example just given. But perhaps you realize that you have indeed been impacted by the noise circling around you all your life; that you do have a tendency from time-to-time to walk in circles, coming back to the same stale place of unbelonging, where your conditioning continually whispers its unrelenting lie, “this is where you belong.”
Thankfully, there are ways to break free from mindlessly walking in circles (that actually keep you stuck in the same place), and orient yourself in a direction that will take you progressively toward your goals, your vision. Regardless of where you are going and how you decide to get there, every path that leads to your dreams starts in the same place: with an awareness of where you are. And we can only find ourselves if we first stop walking in circles. I hope this article has heightened your awareness, and I trust you will find many clues herein as to how you can begin to break free from your own version of B.S., or “Belief Systems”, or Brain Spin.
I will address ways to escape the Brain Spin and begin to consistently walk in the direction of our choosing in various posts, so please stay tuned. And, please reach out if you need some one-on-one attention. For now, I’m going to clear my mind and ready myself for my next project by taking a walk around the block… in a conscious circle to help me keep my own B.S. in check, stay centered, plot the trajectory to my dreams, and always stay close to the point, the Why, of my life.