This evening I chose one of my favourite alpha/SMR sessions (P38 on the Procyon) to have another prod around the senses. Lately I’ve been working on my “progressive dismissal” induction sequence, and I’m beginning to be able to enter what might be called “mind-awake/body-asleep” quite readily. I’ve always associated mind-awake/body-asleep with “deeper” states, low theta, and meditative intent, but a reasonable equivalent can occur way up into beta. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just a matter of putting the body in a safe position and leaving it on autopilot while I’m ferreting around other parts of the brain.

Other parts of the brain.

In one of my other posts I played with the theory that our sense of I was centred in the thalamus.

My “progressive dismissal” induction involves laying down in a quiet secure location and, starting with whatever part of my body attracts my attention first, acknowledging the body part, attending to anything that will cause it distress over the next hour, and then telling it that it’s on it’s own for a while. I go through this, moving, adjusting, scratching, moistening my lips, whatever, until no body parts have anything further to report, or I have looked at the problem and decided nothing can be done, but no harm will come, and so told the body part to suck it up (such things as mild headaches, tummy upsets, general aches and pains). Then there’s the autonomous functions checkout. Yes, I can feel the air passing through my nose and or mouth. I’m happy that I’m breathing at an appropriate rate and won’t have to check into respiration any time soon. My heart is beating just fine and will continue to do so whatever I might be doing in my mind – I don’t have to be alert to, or even notice, changes in respiration or heart-rate – my autonomous systems have it all under control. I am dressed and/or covered such that I will be neither to too hot or too cold.

Having now repeated this procedure on numerous occasions, tweaking bits as necessary, I’ve begun to identify my Self with the entire central nervous system. More often than not, the position I settle into is one which devolved from the Osiris position. In the Osiris position you’re laid out straight, with your feet side by side, and arms crossed at the forearms over the chest (mummy position). I like this position, but it’s a dynamic pose – gravity imposes stresses. The feet want to fall outwards and the elbows want to slide down the sides. Exotic poses requiring endurance may be prerequisite to obtaining some objectives, but not mine. I find it much more useful to eliminate any physical intrusion than it is to overcome it. I have tried this technique in a few poses, another favourite being the Dragon, and it works fine, but I have found no advantage in discomfort, dismissed or tolerated. So I lay with my legs crossed at the ankles, toes touching and with my hands with fingers loosely interlaced over my chest, elbows alongside me on the surface. I usually have a firm pillow. What I like about this position is that it just stays there without effort. It’s also very easy to do spot checks on the wellbeing of any body parts if they come to mind – the limbs and extremities are all tidy and in sufficient contact for easy verification. The point to all this is that the method of dismissing a sense is the same as that required to dismiss a thought. My knowledge of my physical presence is exclusively in the form of sense data. I am all that can consciously sense, and all consciousness that those sensations evoke.

This is useful in two quite distinct areas. From the metaphysical perspective, this is the best way I have found of forming a body of light – by knowing myself from the inside out, I have formed a “shell” which is my interface with the external world. This shell can be dismissed for a period of time. From the therapeutic perspective, this forms the basis of a very effective pain relief protocol and for dealing with the underlying “stuff” of depression and anxiety.

All this leaves me feeling like a fairly thoroughly disembodied consciousness. All that’s left is the sound and the light inside my head. And I’m free to engage in whatever mental pursuit I wish. 

This evening I was trying to work out at what level of consciousness the fovea and optic disk are processed.


The optic disk is the blind spot, the point where the optic nerve leaves the eye. It’s on the nose-side (nasal retina) of each eye. You can find it by putting a nice strong black spot in the middle of a sheet of paper, holding the paper half a metre in front of one, closing one eye and fixating on the dot with the other, then moving the paper around, without following it with the eye. At some point the spot will vanish. At that point it is imaged on the blind spot, which as no photoreceptors.

The fovea is on the out side (temporal retina) of each eye. While most of the retina has a mix of rods (high sensitivity luminance) and cones (low sensitivity chrominance), the fovea contains only cones, specialized for high visual acuity. It is this part of the eye that swivels into place when we want to closely examine something. Remembering that the visual field is inverted at the lens, the two fovea focus in the centre of the field. The most accurate part of the eye points where we need it most – right in front of us and especially up close – clever, eh?

Most of the time the visual system deals with these anomalies in the visual field quite transparently – not a moment’s thought is required on our part. Is it possible to overcome the automatic scaling, filtering and image processing and “see” what the retina sees? Can the ability to adjust “automatic censorship” of the senses be applied to other mental processes (nagging thoughts, worries, annoyances)?

Complex geometric patterns produced by flashing light, for me especially in the 10-15Hz range, provide a key – an even field, darkness and light revealing structure. Periodically a region of the pattern will present itself especially clearly, a razor sharp region feathered into the surrounding imagery. It’s almost like a clear hole in a slightly diffuse lens. Pleasingly, there is also a dark, sometimes just dim, patch  that comes and goes. There’s a few other little games I enjoy playing too, but it all suggests to me that our nervous system is an open book – with practice any little bit should be uniquely addressable.

As I’ve said before, I don’t really know what anyone else does, or what they’re aiming for, or how they’ll know when they achieve it. For me it’s all about perception. The “problems” I’ve used AVS for respond very well to perception based practices. When I first turned to AVS to help dig myself out of depression, I was focused on my perceptions of the outside world, and reconstructing them so that they work better. At peace with the outer, I am free to explore the inner. AVS provides a superbly controllable and repeatable stimulus for two senses that are particularly amenable to “being probed”. My view is that what I learn from these two high-profile senses should be able to be extended to the other senses, and to any other mental process.

I hope this hasn’t been too convoluted. Through an investigation centred on the “eye”, “I’ has been sensed a little better.

This seems as good a time as any to wrap up that “little meditation” exercise I suggested too – the one about words and the spiritual implications of symbolic representation. I don’t know about you, but I can’t bring back to consciousness anything I experience during AVS unless I have paused to acknowledge it and given it a name. Likewise, if I see something unfamiliar in the outer world, I am unable to recall it’s details unless I have carefully gone over it and broken it down into its known, named, components. I have become skeptical of any technique that leads to recall through hypnosis, and of any subliminal technique – I really, really think that we have to notice a thing to remember it. I believe that words are the most efficient index key for memory association, and the ability of the human to acquire a huge vocabulary is an essential distinction between us and our nearest “animal” cousins. Have another play with “wordless meditation” – see what you can come back with.


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