mental zoom

My mind's eye feels like a microscope. I can zoom in to different levels. For example, I might be looking at a ladybug on a leaf. Here are some different levels:
  • seeing the intricate details of the ladybug, focussed on the small part of my retina that contains the image
  • seeing the plant that the ladybug is on, and hearing birds overhead
  • aware of my body standing on a path in the woods, looking at a ladybug
  • aware of my goals; I know where I am in the woods, and where I hope to end up
  • aware of higher level goals; I know why I chose to come to the woods
  • aware of mental systems, like the fact that my brain has goals, and that it has a variety of systems in place for achieving goals
  • aware of meta-mental systems, like the fact that I seem to have a "mind's eye" that is seeing mental systems, including the mental construct of a "mind's eye"
I "feel" the stuff at the level I'm zoomed in to. If I'm zoomed into the intricate details of the ladybug, then those details seem "real". I'm subjectively experiencing them. As I zoom out, I'm less "in the moment" of experiencing the ladybug, and more in the moment of experiencing some higher level process.

At one level, I might be aware of a pain in my leg, like a bug bite. As I zoom in (to something else) or out, this pain fades.

One tool for zooming out, for me, is "indifference". In order to see something from a higher level, I need to not care about the stuff at the lower level. Caring about it seems to keep my mental focus at that level. At a higher level, my mind can still deal with issues at a lower level, but without getting "wrapped up" in them. For instance, if I zoom out from the level of really feeling the pain of a bug bite, I can still put some ointment on the bug bite, without feeling the pain as much. Similarly, if I am feeling scared or angry, I can zoom out and process the situation more objectively without being "controlled" by the fear or anger. Of course, if I zoom out too much, I become indifferent to how I handle the situation at all, because my mind is focussed on much higher level issues, and I will appear outwardly to just be staring into space.

I think I may be my mind's eye. If feel like I do things, but I'm not sure that I really do them. I think I just feel like I do. I'm not sure what the connection is between subjective awareness (the stuff that seems to come from where the mind's eye is looking) and action (the stuff we might call "free will"). As  I think about this mental model more, the more it feels like I am the mind's eye, but it does still feel like I have one control knob, and that is the zoom level -- and what to zoom into -- but I'm not even sure that the mind's eye itself is even in control of that.

I think meditation can help people zoom back. Meditation seems related to indifference and awareness, which both seem like useful tools for zooming back, in addition to the tool of calming the mind (which is itself a form of indifference).

I think the zoom level right behind our physical body is our imagination, and this can be a tricky level to zoom behind, because our imagination is capable of making it appear as if we are zooming behind it. For instance, in reading this, I might imagine zooming back from my act of reading this, past my imagination, and seeing all kinds of stuff happening in my mind, and everything getting smaller and farther and farther away -- but it's possible that that is all taking place at a static level of zoom at the level of my imagination. That is to say, the things that seem like other stuff going on in my mind may not in fact be going on, but are just fancy images that my imagination conjures up for what it might look like to see stuff going on in my mind. My mind is very tricky this way. I have felt at times that I am actually zoomed back, and actually seeing real stuff that is going on, and this feels subjectively different from merely imagining that I'm zooming back, but the difference is subtle.

I think some drugs can zoom people back (or forward) more than the mind usually does in the corse of a person's normal life. Of course, drugs may also "tilt the mind's mental camera" to look at things a little sideways, seeing things differently, e.g., seeing colors as sounds, or emotions as images. The benefit of drugs may be becoming aware of mental zoom levels that were never achieved before. The danger is that zooming way back, having never zoomed that far back before, and having the camera tilted as well, can be confusing and scary. There is also the risk of taking physical actions based on this possibly skewed and misaligned view of reality, so I would want someone to look after me.

When we are focused at a particular zoom level, it is possible to forget that zooming is possible. Maybe my girlfriend breaks up with me, and I'm very sad and so wrapped up in the sadness that I forget it is possible to zoom back a bit and see the sadness more objectively, and in context with other things going on in my mind.

When I am zoomed back far enough, I can see my mind's processor for predicting future events. This can feel like seeing the future, though I'm sure it is just my mind's best guess about the future.

Each time I manage to zoom farther back, it takes a while to understand what is really going on, sortof like being a baby and trying to learn how to use my limbs.

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