The importance of context

The importance of context

If you look this up on google, it mostly references the way we need context to communicate effectively. It shapes the MEANING in all communication and any meaning can be completely altered by delivering it in a different context.

But the truth is everything is interpreted through context, whether its how we perceive things, our emotional states or our actions, and in our work at ATTIC Teas we are particularly interested in how ‘polarity’ creates context, because so much of our focus is about balance.

Defined as “the state of having two opposite or contradictory tendencies” you don’t generally experience both aspects of a polarity at the same time. Yet you know what something is because your life experiences have built up some context for you to decipher the particular duality. You don’t only know something is white by having something black next to it or know something is far away by having it simultaneously close. You don’t tend to feel happy and sad at the same time but you recognise each emotion, despite the other one not being present to compare to at exactly the same time.

Also the polarity creates a spectrum of experience, allowing you to contextualise each thing so you don’t always have to experience it at the extremes - maybe it is grey, quite far and you just feel ‘OK’ today.

Polarities are of course, not always an objective phenomenon, in fact especially if they relate to emotional states, they often are very subjective. The current wave of mindfulness practices are helping us become more aware of ourselves and what we are thinking or doing. If we can ‘awaken’ in the midpoint of a polarity (i.e. at the point of balance) where we haven’t yet attached a narrative to the experience, we can create a healthier context and better perspective and thus make better choices.

As we cruise along in our autopilot mind and we experience a problem or negative emotion, our fight or flight response will kick in at the hint of this agitation or stress, causing our perspective to greatly narrow (that is its job as it helps us focus on our imminent survival strategy!)

It’s as if you were looking at the world from the wider side of the funnel and saw only a small part of the view on the other side. you could see your current situation only to the extent of what somebody said to you or did. You would see only what happened in relation to the accompanying emotions e.g. anger or fear, one side of a polarity. We get caught up in this one state of being and it can be very difficult to to move out of it into a more positive place without reflecting on why you it triggered that feeling in the first place. This is what most mindfulness practices are teaching us to do.

By choosing to come out of autopilot and taking time to reflect on your situation, you can choose to look at the event from a new perspective, in the context of the polarity you are stuck in. Realising emotions are changeable and there is an opposite feeling to the one you are in or acceptance, you can turn the funnel around, look at the event from a new, less limited, perspective. You can find a point of view, which is more realistic, and steers more constructive action.

By using the contrast of the polarities, ‘awakening in the midpoint’ you are able to see more of the opportunities in front of you. This may help alter the choices you then make, the actions you carry out or the way you react from then on out. Polarities can help us create context and context can help us navigate the ups and downs of life better, so we don’t get stuck in one state of being, helping us find more harmony and become more resilient.

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