Sometime ago I was cycling to town. Suddenly I saw the body of a dead cat, probably killed by a car. As I was approaching the carcass, my whole body reacted with disgust and all related emotions and thoughts. As I was getting closer, suddenly my perception shifted. It wasn’t a dead cat anymore, it was a big dry leaf. The emotion of disgust disappeared, the negative thoughts had gone. The mind and the body had understood, without any thinking involved, that it had been just a leaf, nothing more, nothing to fear or avoid. All this process had happened automatically, without any intention involved. The mind had been gathering more and more data about the object, and the perception of it had been shifting according to the amount of data defining the object. When the perception shifted, the mind and body reactions changed accordingly.
Some optical illusions are a result of purposely limited information. The creator of an illusion withdraws certain information/data from a picture, leaving only the cues that lead to a wrong interpretation of the picture by the perception of a viewer. When that missing information is revealed to the viewer later, the perception automatically shifts and the viewer’s mind understands that it was subjected to an illusion. Then, when the data is withdrawn again from the picture, the perception flips back to the previous, ‘deluded’ state. The viewer intellectually recognizes that she experiences an illusion, but her perception stays on the ‘deluded side’.
This process is nothing uncommon. It is happening all the time. Our minds are continuously proceeding data from different senses, and our perception is being shaped and shifts according to the amount of data the mind gathers. Perception of ourselves and of the world we live in. Based on this perception our body and mind reacts with happiness and sorrow, with love and anger with liking and disliking. Based on this perception, we define ourselves and our place in the world.
The attention of the mind moves around the senses, allowing the perception to organize data into percepts. If we focus our attention on something (a good book or a movie) to an exclusion of the outside world, the perception of the outside world ceases or becomes very limited. With this limited perception, our reactions to the outside world will change as well. We might react with fear or anger to certain sounds, sights or touches that would bring about an entirely different reaction, if we were paying attention to the world (let our mind gather the sufficient amount of data). Similar situation takes place when we pay entire attention to the storyline of our thinking. This thinking becomes a good movie (can be a love story but can be a horror movie as well) that takes our attention away from the other senses causing a shift of perception of what is actually happening. This movement of mind’s attention, conditions our perception and therefore our reactions to the experience. Like in the case of the dead cat or an optical illusion, the mind with the limited data perceives the world in a ‘deluded’ way. That brings about a whole range of misreactions (misunderstandings) on the emotional level. The only way to move out of this, is moving our attention away from the thinking process and allowing the mind to gather data about the present experience. Constant flow of sensory data describing the present experience will gradually shift the perception of what is actually happening. And that shift of perception will bring about deep relaxation on the emotional level. The dead cat will become a dry leaf. There will be nothing to fear, nothing to run away from…