Dr. David Rock is one of the leading Neuroscientists out there, and he is great at explaining complex stuff in easy to understand terms. In this article from Psychology Today, he helps to explain how people experience “their experience”, and how the two modes interact and can make for a richer life.
Key summary: “Let’s recap these ideas. You can experience the world through your narrative circuitry, which will be useful for planning, goal setting, and strategizing. You can also experience the world more directly, which enables more sensory information to be perceived. Experiencing the world through the direct experience network allows you to get closer to the reality of any event. You perceive more information about events occurring around you, as well as more accurate information about these events. Noticing more real-time information makes you more flexible in how you respond to the world. You also become less imprisoned by the past, your habits, expectations or assumptions, and more able to respond to events as they unfold.”
I’ve been having a great time experimenting with meditation, and it’s especially nice here on Vancouver’s Seawall in the Spring. The key for me has been to enjoy slowing down by breath and to really settle into my body and simply notice all the sensations. By focusing on those, it has this almost intoxicating effect when you do move into the narrative mode (the default mode of your brain involved with interpretation, planning, executing, etc). My experience thus far has also aligned with the idea that the direct experience mode produces higher quality insights when I do switch to the narrative mode. Things just sort of pop into your consciousness and have this “of course” moment with yourself.