The part of our minds that registers experiences is no large than a pea! Experiences come and go, but our awareness is always present. Our awareness is like a movie screen. A great variety of movies play on it. The experiences in the movies change from second to second. But the screen always remains the same. Your awareness is like that movie screen. Experiences that come into your awareness are not who you are, just as the flickering pictures on the screen are not what the screen is. Our experiences are temporary; our awareness is permanent. It is what I call “me.”
Awareness is very limited
Our awareness is very limited. It can process only 40 to 60 bits of information a second. Listening to a single conversation requires 60 bits of awareness. If two people are talking at the same time, we become confused. Our minds can’t process 120 bits per second to listen intently to two conversations. We’re all pea brains.
We control what comes into awareness through our intentions and focus
Let me show you what I mean. You can focus on what your left foot is feeling by bringing it into awareness. The feelings you notice are taking up the whole 60 bits per second of space in awareness. Now focus on your right shoulder. You must stop your focus on your left foot and focus on your right shoulder. You can’t focus on both at the same time. Look at the wall before you to see what is on it. As you do so, you lose focus on your left foot and right shoulder. You can focus on only one experience at a time. Repeatedly shift your awareness focus to your foot, then your shoulder, then the wall in front of you and you’ll see that you can allow only one experience at a time to enter your awareness.
Our mind fills in what is not in awareness to give us a sense of the whole
They why can we have an experience of a room with dozens of things in it that each would seem to require focusing our tiny awareness on it? As we stand in a room filled with wall treatments, chairs, tables, and objects, we scan the objects one at a time because our awareness can hold no more than one thing at a time. As we do so, our mind creates the impression of the whole room, even though our awareness is focused on one thing at a time. We feel like we’re seeing the whole room, but in our tiny awareness we’re experiencing only a lamp or a window or a picture on the wall, depending on our focus. Our minds fill in the rest of the room. We live our lives filling in reality based on our knowledge of what is there from past experiences and combining our scans using our tiny awareness into a whole impression that is entirely in our minds, not in our awareness.
Some experiences come into awareness unbidden
Some experiences come unbidden, such as a sudden peal of thunder or an image that just pops into our awareness from nowhere. Some experiences come from the world around us, such as seeing a daisy. Others may have been cued up from memory by something. We can see the daisy, and suddenly our friend Daisey’s image pops into our awareness, then the announcement we just read that Daisey was promoted to manager, then the name of the pharmaceutical company Daisey works for, then the memory we have to pick up our prescription drugs, all being cued up into awareness without our intention. Or we might be looking at old pictures and see a picture of Daisy. We then intentionally bring to awareness the image of Daisy playfully wrinkling her nose. These chains of cues go on during every waking hour. Some we intend. Some just come into our awareness. They blend together to fill our mental life. Our minds are filled with rich experiences from our changing environment and changes in what comes to our minds intentionally or unbidden. Our awareness focuses on only one tiny thing at a time. Our minds create the rest of our reality. We’re all pea brains.