June 8, 2005

A Stability and Clarity of Mind

Necker.jpg
A vein of gold here:


The researchers tested the experience of visual rivalry by monks during the practice of two types of meditation: a "compassion"-oriented meditation, described as a contemplation of suffering within the world combined with an emanation of loving kindness, and "one-point" meditation, described as the maintained focus of attention on a single object or thought, a focus that leads to a stability and clarity of mind.

Whereas no observable change in the rate of "visual switching" during rivalry was seen in monks practicing compassion meditation, major increases in the durations of perceptual dominance were experienced by monks practicing one-point meditation. Within this group, three monks, including two of the retreatists, reported complete visual stability during the entire five-minute meditation period. Increases in duration of perceptual dominance were also seen in monks after a period of one-point meditation.

In a different test of perceptual rivalry, in this case prior to any meditation, the duration of stable perception experienced by monks averaged 4.1 seconds, compared to 2.6 seconds for meditation-na?ve control subjects. Remarkably, when instructed to actively maintain the duration, one of the retreatist monks could maintain a constant visual perception during this test for 723 seconds.

The findings suggest that processes particularly associated with one-point meditation--perhaps involving intense attentional focus and the ability to stabilize the mind--contribute to the prolonged rivalry dominance experienced by the monks. The researchers conclude from their study that individuals trained in meditation can considerably alter the normal fluctuations in conscious state that are induced by perceptual rivalry and suggest that, in combination with previous work, the new findings support the idea that perceptual rivalry can be modulated by high-level, top-down neural influences.

So I google for links of examples of perceptual rivalry. Dali surfaces again. Personally, I like to think of seeing painting as both abstraction (physical stuff in effect) and representation simultaneously. Or nearly so.

Imagine, a possible link between an art of perceptual/conceptual rivalry and "a stability and clarity of mind".

Whew.

We're in Gombrich territory, aren't we?.

Posted by Dennis at June 8, 2005 2:18 AM

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