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The Plasticity of Time Print E-mail
Written by Editor, Studios Saint Sulpice   
Dec 17, 2009 at 05:24 PM

It is a common belief among people familiar with vortex energy, that it is mind-expanding. With regard to the Basye Vortex, a known but little understood aspect of vortex energy is evoked: vortices can "bend time." 

It is perhaps an irony that many people who would not consider the possibility of vortex energy, or goofy concepts (at least "formerly goofy") such as the plasticity of time, nevertheless come to Basye VA seeking relaxation, one of the effects of which is to change our sense of time. When we are relaxed our temporal frame-of-reference changes; we count on that without realizing that it works because our relationship to time in general has a certain unrecognized plasticity -- a way in which it can change based on our frame of mind. When we are relaxed our sense of time is effected even if it is experienced only as a change of mood. Things slow down, and can become somewhat suspended, like in those late hours on the golf links when shadows are longer on the fairway and everything stands out so sharply it is almost unreal -- the sweep of the valley can look like a high definition picture of the valley. But it is real.

Perhaps it would be useful to the understanding of vortex energy and its effects, to become conversant with the concept of the "temporal cognitive window" and its plasticity... If indeed vortexes are consciousness expanding, it would be in a couple of different senses: first, our emotional and perceptual levels are enhanced at a vortex; second, "expansion of consciousness" has a more scientific meaning: it refers to the malleability of the mind's scope on what is happening "now," and the ability of the "width" of that scope to be broadened, i.e., expanded. Hence, the notion of "cognitive window size," and serious studies of the plasticity of that window,images/stories/serpentine340.jpgmeaning changes in the amount of information it can contain in a single experiential instant.

What is meant by "the cognitive window" is not immediately apparent, because it is something that is so close to us we take it for granted. But the flow of consciousness has a sense of the present, of what is happening right now. Although the edges of the "now" are not sharply defined, nevertheless those edges exist. There are components of what is happening that drop into the past, and whenever we can perceive of something as "having just happened, no longer present," it is outside the edges of the cognitive "now." The question then is whether vortexes can make that cognitive now expand, so that the mind's temporal "clock cycle" or "word" (comparing it to computers -- see below for more on 32 vs. 64-bit computing) is broader.


Serpent of Time 

It is said that at the so-called Red Serpent Vortex -- a down-and-up loop along the bridle path on the west side of Lake Laura -- there is a chance to explore your sensitivity to time-bending. Where the path crosses the creek (which as far as we can tell is dry at least some of the year) is called the "fold." The Red Serpent Vortex supposedly provides -- or potentially provides -- a kind of time-folding effect, where what just happened an instant ago, instead of moving into the past, lingers so that it is superimposed on a fold of time and experienced as simultaneous with a later instant. This would create "an expanded now," and fundamentally change your awareness of time for a few moments. Supposedly the Red Serpent Vortex presents an opportunity to expand your sense of the now. Is this possible? Or is it the kind of experience which either happens or it doesn't?  The physical path does go through a little switchback (see picture). We were told that by consciously meditating on the experience of walking down into the "fold" of the vortex -- where it crosses the little muddy would-be creek -- and up out of the vortex, all of which takes less than one minute, we could experience a shift in the "word" of awareness (a "word" in computing being the number of bytes the processor can handle in a single operation or "take"), so that we could experience going down into the center of the vortex, the fold, and out of it, at the same moment -- except that this moment is in fact a sequence of moments folded on top of each other like waves. Even a minute expansion in the "size of the now" -- the number of bytes our mental "word" comprises -- can be of great consequence to the quality of awareness.


[Geek note: There is an analogy to this notion from the world of computing, which is undergoing the shift from 32- to 64-bit processing. Basically this refers to the size of an integer that can be handled by the processor in a single clock cycle (a single "instant" of the processor's mental life). In essence, 32 bits means the number that can be handled is up to about 4.3 billion (which is 2^32, or 2 to the 32nd power). A 64-bit processing speed is not twice that of 32 bits -- it is exponentially more powerful. The size of the number it can handle in one clock cycle, one 'take," does not just double, it goes from the billions to the quintillions. -- more on this topic later. See the quick reference article on this from About.com]

[See neuroscience article link, below. Image: the Serpent Vortex, Lake Laura. Copyright, Studios Saint-Sulpice, 2000-2009.]


It is pretty simple to demonstrate that there is a temporal cognitive window size, and that it is a defining element in our sense of "the now." "Now" is where we are; it is what we cognitively experience at this moment, in such a way that we are experiencing it without any element of it being what happened just before, images/stories/concert.jpgby even the smallest instant.

For instance, let's say we have a device that can sound lute strings in succession, and can measure the exact moment the string is touched, to some arbitrary degree of accuracy (microseconds, for instance). At first, the lute strings are plucked 5 seconds apart; but each time is reduced by some increment. As the intervals of the sound of the string being plucked gets smaller, at a certain point the listener can no longer tell that there is an interval at all. It will sound as if one note is being sounded. Although the two sounds occur as one we know they are not because we have a calibrated device which tells us to the microsecond what the delay between the two notes is. In other words our auditory-cognitive window width is measured by what the delay is between two notes that we perceive as simultaneous. The listener's cognitive window no longer can discriminate that they occur apart in time. The sounds are simultaneous -- they satisfy the common sense definition of that term. They are "now." The most rigourous definition of "now" is a moment of perceptual experience in which temporal sequentiality is not experienced. Whatever the content of the "now window," it is all simultaneous content.

If it were a case of two electronic "blips" of shorter duration, instead of lute strings, it would be even more dramatic. At one point, as the interval gets smaller though they are not sounded at the same moment in time, these two blips are heard "now," together. The measurement of the differences in time of the two blips, is the size of your temporal auditory cognitive window. 

The now is continuously moving, and being converted into the past. In a way the absolute present moment is hard to define because it is not sharp-edged: in consciousness there is always this sense of aggregation, of movement, or relationship, of transition; of things grouping and ungrouping. But there is a "now," a fluid sense of the moment. However you want to put it, consciousness is not a snapshot. It is not assembled out of snapshots, or out of a series of frames being linked together, like a movie. Rather, there is a flow; we perceive motion, for instance, without any still frames being involved, but nevertheless we have this notion of "now," and that notion is connected to the "word" of mind data, cognitive window's comprehension. 





This cognitive window size -- the breadth of events that can be defined as simultaneous or "now" -- is highly dependent on sensory perception, and ultimately on the way the senses are integrated. 


If a series of blips are being sounded in a given medium with a known speed of sound, separated by let's say one minute, and an observer is approaching the sound directly at a sufficient speed, there will not longer be an interval between the blips, it will be a continuous sound.

Doppler effects are relevant here.. the idea is that if your cognitive window size is larger, two events that are separated by more time temporally, become simultaneous. 

To see what science is doing with this concept, here is a pointer to a reference article from the Journal of Neuroscience on "the Temporal Window of Multisensory Binding (unfortunately only the abstract is available for free), concerned with what is called "audiovisual simultaneity. What is important in that article is that it discusses the question of the plasticity of the temporal window -- that it can change size. In fact, it turns out that perceptual training can narrow the window size of perceived simultaneiry, which is the opposite effect from that of a vortex! From a vortex perspective, the expansion of this window is the intriguing possibility, but fundamentally important is the idea that it can change at all. It is interesting to realize that if the window of cognition is plastic in size -- that is, that more events can be experienced as the now -- and if the vortex triggers that plasticity by increasing the temporal perception window, it is in fact consciousness expanding. The difference between noise and data -- or noise and music -- is pattern. To see pattern, means you see more of the thing simultaneously: to expand the now. To increase the temporal cognitive window size is to expand your consciousness because a wider temporal "byte" is comprehended in what you call the now.

More to come....




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