Vividness

 
 Jon Collier on Flickr

Jon Collier on Flickr

Sometimes in meditation, or at night just as I’m falling asleep, an image comes to me of a sky blue parallelogram

(yes I had to google the name for a rectangle seen at an angle)

I know what it is. It’s the memory of the skylight in the ceiling of the ICU ward, as I saw it on the day my dad died.

I’ve wondered about this vividness so I decided to do a bit of research. Here’s what I found out, mostly thanks to Rebecca Todd in Science Daily.

We've discovered that we see things that are emotionally arousing with greater clarity than those that are more mundane.

What's more, we found that how vividly we perceive something in the first place predicts how vividly we will remember it later on. We call this 'emotionally enhanced vividness' and it is like the flash of a flashbub that illuminates an event as it's captured for memory.

Emotion alters activity in the visual cortex, which in turn influences how we see.

If you’ve ever been on retreat, and you’ve been meditating, you’ll know that meditation can also increase the vividness of appearances. You walk out of the meditation room and it’s as though everything is so clearly vibrating with ‘what it is’, the tree is really ‘tree like’.

Maybe you even remember now something you saw in one of those moments? The more vivid something is seen the more likely we are to remember it.

The vividness is always there

This vividness or clarity is one of the three intrinsic qualities of mind that Rigdzin Shikpo writes about in ‘Openness Clarity Sensitivity’. Intrinsic means that it is always there, this clarity is a quality of mind that is ever present, it is just that it gets covered over with a kind of dullness.

It’s like the blue sky that is always beyond the clouds.

I wonder what was happening for Carlos Drummond de Andrade when he saw that stone lying in the middle of the road?

In the middle of the road

In the middle of the road there was a stone
there was a stone in the middle of the road
there was a stone
in the middle of the road there was a stone.

Never should I forget this event
in the life of my fatigued retinas.
Never should I forget that in the middle of the road
there was a stone
there was a stone in the middle of the road
in the middle of the road there was a stone.

- Carlos Drummond de Andrade