I was reading an article the other night on the dark web, which had an infographic (see below) to illustrate the vastness of those places that are largely unseen on the Internet. You know the one – the iceberg analogy, the tip of the iceberg being surface web (public space), the bulk of the berg allocated to the deep web (private space) and the remaining 5% , right at the bottom, reserved for the dark web (illegal space).

It struck me then how this parallels our minds, our identities and the parts of ourselves that are relegated to the dark places we hope no one will uncover, where our shame lies, quietly fermenting.

Hold up for a second – how did I get to the dark web in the first place? It’s a journey down a rabbit hole that is a perfect illustration of what’s above and also what simmers below, where our mind curiously wanders when we allow it to stray. I’m not saying a straying mind is good or bad, it just is. When the world is available to explore through the curated chaos of the web, that meander can lead to ascent or descent in equal measure.

Dark Web

My rabbit hole descent started with meditation on my meditation app, Insight Timer – definitely a clear web, no-parental-advisory-required activity. While meditating, I was distracted by thinking about a recipe I wanted to cook and when I finished with oms, moved to nom noms on Pinterest to look it up. While tooling around on Pinterest I saw an interesting tattoo, followed the link to the artist, saw an intriguing image of a barber with his face tattooed as a clown on the site, searched for info on who he was and why he went down the clown face tattoo route, finished an article on him and at the end was a link to another article with the title ‘How much money can you make selling illegal drugs on the dark web?’

My curiousity was piqued. It turns out the answer is not much, and it is a risky place to be doing business. I know scant, if nothing, about the dark web, so I clicked through a link at the end of the drug money piece to a beginner’s guide to the dark web.

Here, I learned more than I ever needed to know confirming the depths of the human condition and discovered the infographic that inspired this blog, that made me circle back to thinking about meditating and how we use that as a tool to keep our straying mind in check. From bodhisattva in training to dark web drug dealing aspirant in a handful of clicks. There I was, being human again.

This www analogy easily fits and parallels with most peoples lives. We spend our time striving to keep our acceptable, adapted façade erected and engaged, our orderly bodies participating in socially sanctioned ways, moving through life trying to be the clean web. But in truth, we are all clean web to deep web to dark web. The deep web is our inner narrative, our non-public face, our personal intranets where we organise and run our mind and our lives in a largely non-offensive network of knowledge and routine that has been learned since birth and forms the software that runs our autonomic mainframes.

Our dark web is our shame body, where we bury those parts of ourselves that we disavow, those thoughts that might blow the lid off the carefully curated identity that we allow out everyday for public consumption. While the actual dark web is a hot house of things which are largely illegal and untenable, our interior dark web is a construct of our mind.

It features all the things that we believe transgress social norms, all the shame we have collected over the years from our parents, peers, institutions and the world at large, packaged neatly away where the light don’t shine. Unventilated and uninterrogated, we react to these thoughts as if spending any time with them will quickly result in becoming them – a binary outcome of good and bad.

The reality is we are so much more than a binary option. When we don’t attach shame, blame or attachment to thoughts, when we don’t see them as who we are, we simply observe what the human mind is capable of and then release the thought.

In doing so, we disempower our dark inner webs as simply a nod to our humanity. We see them as a sliding door to the capacity for any of us all the time to investigate our fascination for both the sacred and profane. It can also raise self-awareness for the need to discipline our minds with meditation and our hearts with compassion so we can continually redirect ourselves toward thoughts, words and actions that serve ourselves and others.

It’s an easy point of decision – does this help or harm any sentient being? If the latter, it’s a hard no, if the former, a joy-filled yes. There mere fact that a dark web exists is testimony to the human proclivity for suffering and base activity, and all that entails. It’s an actuality, and also a metaphor, one which can guide us to a place where openness, transparency and connection based on compassion prevails. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if the above article resonates for you or leave a comment if you feel so inspired.

Photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash

I looooove this image. I’ve always wanted to visit Antarctica to see the spectacle of the icebergs and imagine what exists below the water’s surface. The iceberg analogy fits well with both the mind and the web. We know and accept the existence of more in both contexts – even though the other parts are often hidden or not as immediate or identifiable.

Disclaimer: This article contains the views of the author and is not a replacement for therapeutic support. Please reach out to a registered therapist if you are experiencing distress and require assistance.