Before falling asleep in the evening, and after waking up in the morning, I like to take some time to explore the sense fields. And as I often write about here, one of the things I explore is the three times. How does the past, future, and present appear in the sense fields?
I may begin with bringing attention to each sense field – sensations, sight, sound, smell, taste, and thoughts/images – one at a time, and notice what is there.
Then, I close my eyes if they are not already closed, and notice how I have an image of my body laying there in the bed, in a room, in a building, at the outskirts of a small town, next to a forest, in a country, on the Earth. All of that happens in my own world of images. It is the movie I play for myself about the world. I recognize it all as images.
If I want to do it more thoroughly, I do the next few steps to explore how my own world of images create a sense of space, and map sensory impressions on these images of space.
I notice how sensations and my images of my body combine into a sense of “body”. When I move my body, my images change to correspond with my sensations and how I perceive my body is positioned. In my images, sensations are given a location in space, and an image of my body is placed on top of them.
I notice how sounds are interpreted and mapped in space in my own world of images. The movie I play for myself pick up the sounds, give them an image explaining their origin, and place them in the room or outside the building somewhere. Sounds are mapped in my images of space.
If there is some light in the room, I may open my eyes and notice how my own images of my body and the room is an overlay of sight impressions. They make sense of the sense impressions. My own world of images organize sight impressions in space. These images map sight impressions in space.
And then back to exploring time.
I recall something from the past, preferably something that evokes emotions. Perhaps a situation I remember with fondness, and regret having passed. Or a situation I wished had not happened.
I allow myself to indulge in it for a brief while, to get a taste of it. I notice how it appears more solid, real, almost like an object there in the past.
Then, I notice how it is all happening in my own world of images. This situation from my past is only here in my own images. And yet, they sometimes appear real, solid, and as an object.
I cannot find the situation in any sense field apart from in my stories and images – the mental field. What do I find when I look more closely at them? What are they made up of? I notice they are ephemeral, insubstantial, almost like space appearing as something, similar to a hologram with form but no substance.
I also notice that when these images appear real and trigger emotions, they combine with sensations in my body. I tense up muscles in different areas of the body, especially in the throat and head area, and these serve as “anchors” for my images of the past. These sensations lend a sense of substance and reality to these images. When I look closer, I find that the images of the past “borrows” a sense of substance and reality from these sensations. Why do these sensations – from tensed up muscles – appear substantial and real? I find it comes for an overlay of images telling me that they are substantial and real. There are certain types of sensation, and then images interpreting these sensations as “substantial and real”.
I can do the same with the future. What images of the future comes up? Can I notice these too as happening in my own world of images? My own movie about the future? Insubstantial? Ephemeral? What happens when I take them as real and substantial? What happens when I notice them as happening within my own world of images?
And I can do the same about the present. This body. This room. This building. Other people doing different things at other locations. It is all my own images.
When emotions are evoked by these images, can I notice that these emotions are here in immediacy? What happens when I take the stories about the past (or future/present) as real and substantial? Do I experience the emotions as belonging to the past? Do they seem substantial and real? What happens when I recognize my images of the past as simply images? What happens when I recognize the emotions as here in immediacy? What happens when I recognize my images as form with no substance? What happens when I recognize emotions as happening within and as space?
I may, for instance, notice longing here now. Triggered by my own world of images. And itself being simply sensations, interpreted as “longing”. There is a sense of coming home, of fullness, of all being here now.
To finish it off: Do I have an image of a “real” world out there, beyond my own world of images? What happens when I take that image as real and substantial? What happens when I recognize this too as happening within my own world of images?
And what about the doer of all of this. What appears the most as a doer? Where is it located? How does it appear in each sense field? For me, I find sensations in the neck and head area. A slight tensioning of the muscles to create a sense of solidity and substance. And then an image of a doer overlaid on these sensations, lending a sense of substance to the image. Or rather, images. When I bring attention to the sensation/image of a doer, other sensation/image combinations take over as a sense of a doer, shifting around slightly. Also, there are images displacing the doer gestalt in space, often starting in the middle of the head, and then moving it slightly behind the head as attention is brought to the first one.
What about the observer? What appears most as an observer? Where is it located? Is it different from the doer? How does it appear in the sense fields?
What happens when there is identification with the sense of a doer or observer? What happens when they are recognized as content of experience? Are they any different from any other content of experience?
What is this identification? How does it appear in the sense fields? For me, I notice an image of a cone following the cone of sight, with origin at the center of the head, or slightly behind the head, and that origin is at the image of the doer or observer. There is then an image saying “this is what I am”. And my own world of images does its best to make it appear true. It is a difficult job, juggling images and trying to create the appearance of an “I” right here. And it is completely innocent. It is just trying to do its best living up to the initial image of an “I”, doing, experiencing, and observing
It is actually quite beautiful.
- gathering up past, future, and present
- notice “movie in the mind” overlay, it is all here now
- also all feelings about past, future, present – here now
- still use, but different experience