Consciousness seemingly carries so many layers that it is difficult to understand fully with any certainty. We have Freudian definitions; Jungian thoughts on consciousness as well as a slew of philosophical thoughts and papers on what it is and how it is. This article looks not directly at consciousness but the operation of observation and awareness within and perhaps beyond or before it and the impact of awareness and observation on the perception of time through a first-hand experience of a few moments in time some time ago.
Awareness, Consciousness, Mind, Observation, Perception, Consciousness, Time
Always in the quiet and cool stillness of the wee morning hours do I find myself the happiest. The peace seems palpable, as if you could hold it in the palms of your hands. I treasure such moments as I do many others. When the world gets chaotic, emotional and seemingly out of control, I learned a little trick while walking along my up and down path in life. It’s simple gratitude and appreciation. For example, earlier in the week I was feeling a bit chaotic juggling all of the seemingly important things in my world when all at once I was struck by the depth of a cerulean blue sky. Not to stop there, as it seemed my perception was rapidly expanding, in the span of seconds I lost all concept of time. My consciousness expanded in an indescribable way and my senses came so very alive. It was so warm out and the grass had just been cut.
That smell of fresh cut grass on a warm day always reminds me of the summer time of my childhood...days spent in a little suburban neighborhood in Southern California. I was always up so early just waiting for the sun, choking down breakfast quickly so I could go outside and play. I stopped in the moment in my present reality and all of those memories and scenes played in my mind's eye and I was filled with the joy and laughter of childhood memories of play and friends. But the moment was still expanding and I caught sight of the poppy flowers in a bed near my building at work from the parking lot. The colors of those flowers in the distance seemed electric and alive...the brightest alive orange I’ve ever seen, the deepest soft pink in contrast with the deep green grass along with bright and vibrant yellow. I stood transfixed for what seemed like an hour. But the moment of expanding consciousness wasn’t yet done with me. My sight was pulled upward to a hawk hovering above the trees hunting for something small and delicious to eat. She looked magical floating on a warm up-draft of a gentle wind current. She circled effortlessly and I just watched in awe as if I could feel the wind beneath her wings.
But the moment still was not yet complete. Suddenly my consciousness was pulled to the scores of people walking around the campus. I saw them moving so quickly and noticed they hadn’t noticed their surroundings at all, too caught up in the drudgery as well as the superficiality of work-a-day existence by the looks on their faces. I could feel their thoughts and the cacophony seemed deafening. I observed only pulling back from my own thoughts and just observing a feeling of what was happening around me. A cool breeze kicked up out of no where and blew my hair into my face. I looked at my phone and realized all of this awareness, sensation, perception and observation occurred in a span of 3 minutes as I stood in the shade of a very large tree by my car in the parking lot. I smiled with an ear to ear grin. It’s like life is a simple joke sometimes. The things we think are so serious mean nothing and the things we miss, the things we don’t see mean everything. You might think it’s a cruel joke but to feel it you clearly know it’s not. A simple shift in your conscious observation can bring joy and love or infinite serenity spilling into your inner sight, your heart and your mind and the trivial things shift their phase out of the focus of your being for as long as you remain open and refrain from control. It’s an amazing space to exist in if even only for 3 minutes.
I find I slip into such much moments more frequently. Perhaps I’ve been through so much raw emotion these past couple of years that I’ve really lost my mind and those moments I am transfixed in observation may just be moments in which my sanity is lost or maybe it’s that I’m insane all the other times but those short 3 minute escapes I encounter or simply allow at times. I’m really not sure and I’ll probably question that forever. The one thing I do know is the effects are a bit intoxicating in a rather interesting way. Maybe it is the true essence of that "high on life" feeling evidenced in John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High song? Such moments remind me that there is so much more to life than we allow ourselves to see, hear and experience. You have to shift your focus a bit or become acutely aware when the shift occurs on its own; remember what that feels like so you can go back to that space any time you want to. It is an allowing, increasing observation of detail and feeling or seeing all that is happening within and around you and your consciousness.
ConclusionFrom an experiential perspective in this moment, I observed a shift in time. What seemed to be an hour of awareness of everything in crisp detail and allowing consciousness to unfold in an ever-expanding way outside of my elf and personal concerns, time had no meaning for a few moments. What was once linear and limited by ticking seconds and sequential order disappeared and was no longer entirely sequential at all in terms of the perception while observing life in a very open state. I question whether consciousness, time and perception are things much more in our control than we realize and that such descriptions are themselves so very limited. Time may seem to be consistent with a clock that seemingly measures each moment and we experience that sometimes as quick and fleeting with shallow perception or, we observe it and truly feel it as expansive, with great depth, infinite detail and moving much more slowly to not at all. We have much yet to understand and explore concerning how these perspectives of our minds work to influence time. Perhaps it is just another facet of the quantum whole of existence seeming to move but really just an aspect of our awareness pre-consciousness slipping through the veil of what we commonly understand as the conscious and physical mind.
Dr. J.L. Harter, Founding Editor - See bio section for detail.