MIND, SENSES & INTUITION:
The Building Blocks of Perception
How we perceive and process information happens from two “directions;” from the tangible outer world that triggers our senses and from the intangible inner world that triggers flashes of intuition. Most everyone is comfortable with using our senses because they are based on a tangible dimension of perception which is usually “provable” and verifiable by all five senses. What validates these “proofs” is also our trust in and use of time. That is, because we perceive a difference between what happened before what we are sensing now, our mind can easily see and believe changes in our physical world. Our senses work by virtue of the framework of time utilizing before and now and a tangible difference between a greater or lesser intensity. The physical world may be stressful but lends itself well to our belief system of, “If I can see it, touch it, taste it, hear it or smell it, it’s real” or “I’m from Missouri, show me.”
We accept and use our senses as the basis for our behaving rationally and logically. But intuition is a different animal. There is nothing tangible or rational like the senses that we can use to validate or “prove” the flashes it provides us with. It is intangible and operates in a timeless format. By most people, it’s considered completely irrational and has no basis in “reality.” Yet, for some of us it is considered a reliable resource for our actions and understanding. Even though there can be such drastic differences in our perception of reality, there is a third entity that can connect these two types of perception together and explain their workings between these two dimensions; the mind.
Our first two examples show us opposing camps from which we perceive our truth. But what position does the mind hold relative to rational and irrational? Its capability can act as a bridge working between both camps. Yet, most of us have only developed the mind’s tangible application. Its use is and has been sorely deficient in applying itself to discriminating and describing our intuition. Let’s take a look and observe how the mind works in both environments and see if we can make the connection to balance our use of the two.
When we see, hear, touch, smell or taste something, what happens? We discriminate a “texture” between the current experience and something we’ve experienced before and remember. It is the comparison of the before and now (in the moment) that produces the difference we feel triggering our attention and registering recognition. This recognized difference between before and now has gained our attention through the intensity or strength of a change, or perhaps the “volume” of the difference between two points of reference on the timeline. The variation in the intensity acts as a trigger for our threshold of awareness. The more intense the difference, the more likely it is to be brought to our attention and recognized. The more subtle the difference, the less likely it will be to catch our attention.
As an example, we can reference a subtlety or difference in intensity by comparing temperatures. If we move from a hot tub at 104 degrees into a swimming pool at 65 degrees, the difference in the temperatures between the two will most certainly trigger within us an awareness of the difference. However, if we move from the pool at 65 degrees to a shower set at only 70 degrees, the difference in the temperature between the two may not be of sufficient intensity to trigger a recognition in our conscious awareness. Our recognition depends on our degree of sensitivity which determines our threshold for triggering our awareness.
It is also important to note that even though we may not consciously notice a difference in temperature or texture, it still registers somewhere below the threshold of our conscious awareness. An example of this might be that we are moving through an environment where the temperature might be below our comfort level but we’re not aware of it. This may be so because we are preoccupied with other matters that are either triggered by a larger difference in intensity or texture or we may simply be preoccupied physically, acting or thinking through another issue. The point is that the texture or difference in temperature may not be intense enough to gain our attention. However, our unconscious mind has an interesting way of making its workings known. It has the ability to “put things in the path” of our moving attention in the same way we might arm a weapon before we actually use it. So, during our preoccupation with whatever might be holding our attention we may also notice the style or color of a coat that a passerby might be wearing. The meaning and usefulness of the coat are obvious. But because of our preoccupation we might not as yet make the connection to being cold. This effectively places the more subtle difference next in line for our attention once our action and focus on what we’re preoccupied with gets played out and the intensity drops. Then we realize that we are cold. Another example might be like being in a room where everyone is shouting and one person is whispering. We can’t hear the whispering person. But when everyone else stops shouting, we can. An example of “putting things in our path” might be if the whispering person moved to stand in front of us. In other words, a more subtle stimulation may be perceived once the grosser ones are drowned out or removed and the subtle one gains more intensity (moving).
It is also true that one or more of our senses may be more developed than others and have a lower threshold for being triggered. This can be exemplified by imagining that we have become blind. We now become much more dependent on our other senses. Our hearing and sense of smell become much more acute. Our tactile sense becomes much more refined. Our hearing begins to listen for the reverberations in the room which enables us to use it like sonar navigation. The point is that each one of our senses is individually developed depending on our life experiences and according to the necessities for enhancing our safety and survival.
After our senses have been triggered our mind “pairs” with the experience offering an assessment or judgment about the feeling. This assessment or judgment, if sufficient enough in intensity, may be committed to memory and consciously remembered so our reaction may be prepared if the experience repeats. If the memory is intense enough and well-structured enough it may also be used to anticipate future experiences. Remembering our hot tub experience, we may, before stepping in, remember the previous experience with temperature and, if it was too hot, observe caution before entering. Remember, future is also part of the timeline and functions within the tangible framework of the mind.
Intuition is a horse of a different color and a lot harder for the ordinary person to deal with. There are, essentially, two types of intuition. The first type is what most people work with and might not even recognize but think of it as instinct. This is when we are headed somewhere and we suddenly feel that it just doesn’t “feel” right. It gives us a feeling that if we proceed, things might turn out badly. Sometimes it might be precognitive where we find an auto accident happened at the time and in the path that we were headed toward, and sometimes we follow the feeling and it turns into a better situation than we had anticipated. In a very large percentage of the time most people don’t recognize the change for the better or worse as it’s happening or even after. And if it is recognized, its seen as a freak occurrence. Others can think back on it and recognize the value of what they may have felt at the time and consciously commit to paying more attention to future similar feelings. This type of intuition happens to large percentage of people but mostly in mini surges consequently adjusting their path through their life issues. This is also what many people would define as psychic or intuitive “hunches.”
The second type of intuition occurs as a full-blown panorama with circumstances in living color and depth. It happens all at once and in a flash with no before or after but only in the ever present now. Many people would describe it as a waking dream or vision. It is usually overwhelming and creates a very powerful impression.
One of the best examples of this type of intuitive flash comes from the writings of Ludwig van Beethoven. He wrote that an entire symphony would come to him in a tremendous flash completely inclusive of all movements and changes. It had a fullness inclusive of every counterpoint and key change in one tremendous split-second flash. It all happened at once. He then went on to say that it would take him months, even years, to comprehend it, organize it and put it down on paper. This type of intuition is a gift and usually happens to consciously productive and dynamic people. Whether they recognize it as such is another issue.
Very few people have this kind of flash. And even if they do, they often attribute it to a sudden daydream or hallucination. For people who are mostly invested for their beliefs and perceptions in the practical, down to earth tangible world, these may only be passing fancies comprised of irrational impulses. But for those of us who have listened and recognize that it is something on a much larger scale suggesting a path for our personal growth and potential, this can be a goldmine for creativity, individual expression and personal success. But those of us are far and few between. This kind of developed awareness also involves practice and a conscious commitment.
Since both of these types do not follow the timeline, they are not subject to the same dynamics that regulate the linear mind. That makes it much more difficult for us to understand and put it into a linear framework so we can exchange information about it. Although it can be rendered comprehensible through clever structuring of our language, it is still a very elusive and fleeting experience. Its dynamics work much more in line with the timelessness of a dream. A dream, and our inability to fully describe it, exemplifies the difficulty we face in attempting to bring an intangible and non-linear experience to the understanding of a linear driven world. Let me explain.
For most of us at best, remembering our dreams is a challenge. It is even more of a challenge to put them into a verbal form so they may be expressed to others. This difficulty in translation lies largely in the fact that our mental, and hence verbal, faculties follow a format that uses a linear timeline as its reference in order for us to express the dream’s structure and have it understandable to others. Dreams do not do this even though we remember some parts in a linear form. Perhaps it would be best to first explain what happens when we sleep so we understand the landscape that dreams occur in.
There are two fields of perception that our mind operates in. One is tangible, the other is not. The first is the tangible field and is composed of opposing polarities in the physical world hosting an evidence-based environment for our senses to operate within. This tangible or physical state can be exemplified by saying something is either black or white. We either see it or we don’t. We taste it or we don’t. We can touch it, or we can’t. This is the field that our mind uses to determine if things are or are not. Things either exist or they don’t. This field gives our mind the ability to discriminate between options.
The other field is intangible. It is the dimension of time. It operates in a past, present and future format. Our mental faculties need this waking, time constrained landscape in order to function in a linear fashion giving us a sense of moving through time. Thinking needs the linearity of before, during and after in order to have a field or space within which to operate. This dimension “regulates” and measures our sense of time in our waking state. This format is a “fluid” field for our mental life to operate within. It gives our thoughts movement.
But there is a major difference between these two states of existence. Sense opposites like white and black provide a state of opposing polarities that reflect the differences in our sensing of color, taste, sight, touch, hearing. It provides a two-way dimension. It either is or is not. Past, present and future, supportive of our mental waking state, provide a three-way directional field of before, during and after, allowing the movement of our thoughts through time.
Through these two perspectives our physical polarities allow us the perception of definition, what is or isn’t, and our temporal polarities allow us the perception of movement. When we “fall” asleep, we lose our perception of time. Our movement through the temporal world ceases. When the mind ceases linear movement, time collapses. When this occurs , we no longer have reference points for the linear mind to use. It can no longer function using the reference points
of past, present and future. Our linearity has melted back into the timelessness of dreams and intuition. The three-way dimension has collapsed. It’s like a house of cards collapsing into a flat pile. The pile becomes homogeneous. However, after we fall asleep, the two-way dimension allowing our senses to define our surroundings is still working. That is, what we perceive simply is or is not. Falling asleep is, essentially, the collapsing of only the three-way dimension of before, during and after but not the polarity of is or isn’t. You might assume that the two-way polarity of the physical world will give tangible function to the mind but it only provides the field for the definition of what is or isn’t needed to comprehend the polarities of separation and discrimination.
It is time, the three-way polarity, which allows the movement of the mind, making it active by utilizing the separation or the movement between polarities in a before, during and after format. This explains why we can comprehend the factors in our dreams but not comprehend their movement and sequence. Time is needed for that. In our dreams change occurs instantaneously as our awareness in the dream is refocused. We don’t perceive the degree of change, only the change itself. We “magically” appear in place after place with no memory of a journey between them.
When we fall asleep the body is no longer subject to the sequencing applied by the linear mind. The mental tension that was holding on to the stress of our conscious polarity is now absent and the body may regenerate itself through returning to a state of “mindless” balance. The body has a natural ability to reestablish stasis when it is free of external factors. The mind is, essentially, an external mechanism based on time.
So, now the landscape is established in dreaming. The effectiveness of the sequencing conscious mind has been “terminated” through the collapse of time. We are aware of the separation of things which allows us to define them but we are now in a sea of feeling where everything happens at once and everything is interconnected. This is the domain of intuition. Here, everything “occurs” in a flash, instantaneously with no beginning or end. It simply exists or it doesn’t. There is no before or after. There is only now. What we perceive flashes in and out; it exists then, it doesn’t…or never did. There is no past (memory). There is no future (intention). There is only the now of “it is” or “it is not.” When we change environments in our dream the two-way focusing of our is or isn’t awareness makes it occur instantaneously. Suddenly, we are just “there.” Are you finally starting to comprehend the fleeting quality and evasiveness of feeling this way? Now, with this perceptual perspective in mind, we can comprehend the stress and confusion that an infant experiences, leaving the world of timelessness and being thrust into our waking polarity defined and time driven world of linearity through birth. No matter how we ease, cut, slice or dice it, birth is a traumatic experience. Now, consider this; dying is the same change only in the other direction…back into timelessness or the dream state. It’s where we came from. It’s where we’ll return to. Physical death may be a hurtful and traumatic experience before we leave the body but after we do, arriving back into timelessness would be orgasmic.
To describe our dreams or intuitive experiences in a timeless format, they must be communicated with words. How do we describe a timeless experience with time constrained words? Words like “perceive” or “recognize” are inadequate in passing on what we feel. “Perceive” comes from the Latin per combined with capere or “to take” (capere) “through” (per). “Recognize” comes from re combined with gnoscere or “to know” (gnoscere) and “again” (re). Both use time as a reference point. But time constrained words are all we have because our vehicle of communication, the mind, is structured with them through our perception of linearity. It’s how our mind separates and understands creating our ability to think – before, during and after.
The “half in” and “half out” state we briefly reside in when moving from dreaming to thinking from timelessness to linearity is an alpha state and the only place besides in meditation where we can bridge the comprehension of a timeless dream into the understanding of a time constrained and a mentally communicable representation. The difficulty is easily exemplified if we imagine communicating in the interconnected dynamics of a spider web. Step on it and it resonates to and through every other part. The best path for describing it is in terms of what we emotionally feel rather than in terms of our physical senses. The better we can understand the context or feel of an experience, the better we will be able to describe the interconnectedness of a dream and our intuition. Context can best be defined simply by saying that we talk around a subject rather than in specifics in order to give our listener a feel for what is “in the center” of the conversation but impossible to be directly stated. The more contextual depth we are able to learn and experience in our communication skills, the more able and proficient we will be in describing what we receive through our intuition and what we experience in a dream or any other “timeless” experience.
So, in summary, our mind operates as a discriminator and a bridge between our tangible and intangible worlds. It uses its polarized two-way perception to discriminate what exists or does not in both our waking life, dream life and intuitive states. It uses its three-way perception of before, during and after in our waking state but is decidedly absent in our timeless dream and intuitive states. This leaves us with a tremendous challenge in explaining to others, in tangible terms, what we perceive in dreams and through our intuition. The mind is a magnificent tool. It is not who we are but a part of what we can use to understand our life and what we perceive as we move through it. We are and have much more at our disposal than we can perceive or even imagine…