Common steps and sub-activities

Visiting the Arctic and Antarctic

Both the Arctic and Antarctic are regions in which the principal colour is white.  Having been to Antarctica I know that there are other colours.  There are some peculiar forms of algae which are mostly red and pink in colour that seem to thrive near penguins and the ice under compression can become a beautiful deep blue or green colour.  This aside however, in areas where you are situated on a vast snowfield, the colour is white – so  you have a situation not dissimilar to a sort of sensory deprivation chamber.

 The only sound in both Arctic and Antarctic is the wind and if there is no wind there is no sound.    Thus we have a lack of stimulus for the eyes and the ears.  And there is also a lack of stimulus from smell and taste.  The only time you will smell anything in Antarctica is if you are near a penguin colony!  In effect, both the Arctic and Antarctic – as long as you pick your landscape well -  are capable of being places of almost total sensory deprivation. The sense of sight is deprived by the monotony of the landscape together with the light which is blinding and white, or the sky which is rarely blue and clear generally being a sort of white colour too, at times you are not sure where the sky begins and the snow ends. The only real problem is the cold [although hypothermia if it doesn’t kill you also works!], but these days, you can usually find clothes that very adequately protect you from the real extremes that you get there.  And you can be both mentally isolated and physically isolated.

Given that spiritual experience is usually only possible when threats have been removed, you must choose a location in which you are not terrified of dying from cold or frightened.

As far as I am aware, there are no companies currently that provide holidays in either the Arctic or Antarctic where you live on the ice, but you may be able to find companies that are prepared to take you to Spitsbergen, Siberia, Finland or Norway or Greenland and the communities that live there and then carry on from there.  Iceland may be a good compromise in winter as it is more accessible and they have developed vehicles and techniques for getting to the icefields.  The Ice palace is probably the nearest you will ever get to living in real comfort in these conditions.

Cold regions have a history of being very effective at producing quite profound spiritual experiences if the descriptions of the explorers are representative.