Friday, July 27, 2012

Negative Space

All You Already Know

It’s taken me all my life to get to the point where I can express what I understand visually with words that have some hope of communicating what I see. This is probably true of many. Since conventional communication is usually in words, the intelligence of the visual minded often goes unnoticed. People are often unaware of the depth and breath of their personal intelligence when insight is perceptual, as most insight is. The culture’s emphasis on words can give the mistaken impression that not-verbal is not-intelligent. From the very beginning our information was visual, reading and mimicking facial expressions finely tuned to understand the danger or safety of our surroundings. Before we knew what we were seeing, we knew what others felt about what we were seeing, understanding the meaning of vigilance in the body, the whole flow of readiness, apprehension and every shade of expectancy as our bodymind registers the meaning of our place in unfolding events.

     Years ago I had a friend who was very wise about human emotions and the dramas we could build around ourselves. After sharing his perspective on some problem I’d confided he would end with, “I’m just reminding you of something you already know”. It’s a strange truth. There are many things we see and understand but never put into words. And saying it is realizing it in a different way. It sets the realization out in front to be contemplated. Having a representation allows it to be reinforced in memory as a symbol. Always it felt like he was right but that I’d never before articulated what had always been a visual understanding. There is so much we all know but don’t consciously express in words. Insight is seeing what’s important in a big picture and can be present without ever being described or narrated. There’s a day-to-day wisdom that never gets verbalized even inwardly.
So much of our inner life is imagery yet people don’t think of themselves as imaginative.
Daydreaming is a form of planning. A vague posing of possibilities, and though sometimes it may be verbal thoughts and prayers, more often it’s envisioning ourselves doing something wonderful, having a romantic evening, making a discovery, being in the spotlight, real or metaphoric. Our inner world is a stage. Sometimes we’re re-enacting scenes from our past, sometimes dramatizing a possible future.

    Words are deceptive by their very nature, extract a sliver of a situation and impose a judgment about importance by that choice and what’s left out. Images depend on context, the meaning in the action, what’s going on, not how we label and describe it. This is why evolving more visual mindedness will help us make better decisions. Relationships can be shown. Meaningful qualities illuminated. For example, if you make a diagram of your personal solar system with you as the sun and planets distributed according to emotional closeness, and the size of the planet, representing importance. It’s easy because its all stuff we know subconsciously. Just by making those choices you get a perspective that you knew inside but didn’t represent as a structure. Looking at art trains sensitivity to structure. As philosopher Susanne Langer wrote, “Art looks like feelings feel.”  And since feelings are connected to the whole circumstance, art tunes our sensitivity to meaning in the whole, develops that hemisphere of the brain that is in the gestalt.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Reflections of Consciousness


Most people I know think of consciousness as something within,
specific and enclosed in our bodies. Many of them think that it’s
always manifested in words. But we are conscious even in the absence
of inner narration. If our toe hurts we’re conscious of it whether we
think, “My toe hurts.” Or not. Watching something, observing
carefully, we can be intensely aware. We have what neurologist,
Antonio Damasio calls a “core consciousness” that we share with
animals, all beings conscious of moving around in space that’s moving
around us and knowing where we are in relation to the external world.
Thinking of consciousness as localized in our individual being is also
an assumption worth questioning, more of a mental habit than a proven
fact. There’s no more evidence of a personal consciousness than for an
overall consciousness that flows through everyone. Scientists have
never found a pilot in the mind. Why is it so hard to consider that
what we experience as awareness might be something that looks through
us as a resource for gathering knowledge? Just as the wave juts up
into the air but remains part of the ocean, consciousness uses our
senses and experience in the world to grow in knowledge that becomes
part of the larger consciousness. Our being is a specific location in
the whole, a portal to that region of spacetime, but never was it
separate. Our life experience and personality are like individual
qualities in the lens through which material reality is experienced.
Awareness is immortal because it was never of the body but using the
body. Things come to us when we need them. We connect to others that
matter to us because the field of consciousness is entire and
simultaneous, just as our body knows where the immune responders need
to be. Quantum physicists, most prominently David Bohm and Erwin
Schrödinger suggest the evidence is much stronger for a single unitary
consciousness. They see the unbroken continuum at the quantum level
and realize that boundaries creating separate things don’t exist at a
certain point. We are part of a continuous field. The anomalies of
science, like electrons once correlated remaining so no matter what
the distance, suggests there is no distance within an overall
consciousness. Messages don’t travel from one part to another since
they’re within a consciousness that includes all parts at once. All is
known and individual experience is knowledge contributed to a larger
Allen Watts spoke of incarnating the spirit as full attention to the
present moment. Let go of the idea of a separate ego-self and step out
of the drama of the personal life story and into the world as it is,
alive and available to attentive consciousness. Consciousness
recognizes and acknowledges its presence in others. Love is the
natural result. On this wonderful video of a cat and dolphin getting
to know each other there is such pleasure in witnessing the
universality of loving connection.
)Three species enjoy endorphins as a result of the connection, the
cat, the dolphin and the human that watches. The more different on the
surface the deeper and more profound seems the connection. The
possibilities are all around us.