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Quarantine anxiety and cognitive functions

05 March 2021 | practice notes systems

I am learning more about Si.

Meaning “introverted Sensing”—I have long been interested in the concept of Jung’s cognitive functions (of which this is one) and how they can be useful for self-development. If you don’t know of them, you have likely heard of Meyers-Briggs personality types. Bear with me if you don’t like Meyers-Briggs: I don’t blame you. It can be very superficial and vapid in most of the manifestations one finds online. That’s because those sites water the best parts of the concept down, probably in order to sell you a subscription to something. It’s not about the behaviors that you do, but about why you do what you do.

The why is the good part.

This is what the idea of cognitive functions sits upon. We all have feelings, we all have logical capacity. Why do we all use those functions so differently, then? This is what the theory wants to explore. This is what I want to explore, too.

So, as I said, I am learning more about Si.

How, by holding still with breathing or just doing the dishes or by feeling my body one inch at a time I enact a stabilizing force.

Si is the idea of what is familiar, reliable, concrete, bodily-knowable.

As a cognitive function, it is often described as comfort in familiar patterns or traditions, as creating confidence from routines. Brushing your teeth and taking a shower at the same time everyday helps you have more mental space for other things. Calling your mom every Sunday at noon helps you maintain a valuable relationship in an efficient and nurturing way. It can be about the deeply pervasive benefits of a regular exercise practice.

It can also be more subtle things like having perfect pitch: a deep knowing of a tone that has come before, and knowing just how to find it again. It can be remembering dances, pathways to the best berries, what a smell at the end of summer means about the weather. It has ancestral-ness, and an artfulness.

Si is visceral and when used well, quite a powerful non-verbal knowing. It gives a person confidence in action, or peace from an action.

Si seems to have an ability to balance the stack.

It is, I believe, the ballast of my ship. It does not power or steer the ship, act as the containing body of the vessel, or do many other visible functions. It’s not a primary function, and I have to take care to honor it.

When I do give it the focus it deserves, it keeps the ship of me more stable therefore afloat through the small and large disturbances of this journey, whereever that is leading.

Put another way, Si is the grounding rod. All the wild electricity of other functions, the functions that are hungry and even reckless with their curiosity and discontent—that electricity builds up over time, jolting me, making me worried and frantic and irritable. And Si takes all that manic energy and channels it into the earth.

Si is very, very earthy.

Stable. Solid. Reliable. Steady.

I wish to learn to use it better.

It is sitting still when sitting still is what must be done. It is moving when moving must happen. It is right timing, and rhythm. It is a focus, and from focus a stillness.

peace be with you

I do not have here an introduction to cognitive functions. It’s a theory that comes from Carl Jung. If you’re interested in a concept of how our consciousness is shaped by different ways of processing information, you can read the original theory in his book Cognitive Functions.

Many have come along and layered ideas onto it. Some ideas are rich and interesting, others feel vapid and as deep as a newspaper astrology reading. Take it all with a grain of salt.

However, in the ways film or music can tell us about our time here on earth, I think these types of theoretical art can also do that. You get to use theory to enrich your life—it’s yours to interpret. Play with it.

From Flickr commons.