Cognitive Pearl #055 Adar 20, 5775 March 11, 15

After a few weeks of dreary weather, the Jerusalem skies are taking on the beautiful deep blue of spring and summer. Walking to shul this morning, my eyes followed the horizon upwards; a wave of mirth and joy overcame me as I beheld the limitless blue of life.

That was an aesthetic moment. There were no museums involved. No admission fees. No questionable images.

It was free and it was wonderful.

Now let’s try and understand it. Then let’s figure out how we can help our clients have these same kinds of experiences of joy and transcendance.

So far we’ve spoken of coherent narrative. Our perceptions and thoughts take the form of flowing, seamless narrated experience. While this sounds very complicated, it isn’t. Or it is complicated but we get very good at it. We can tell ourselves stories in the whisper of a thought. Or maybe a half a thought. Tachlis, it’s really fast.

So the artist tells me a story which I then impulsively follow like a hound on the scent of a wayward bone. (We’ll get to impulsive consciousness when we discuss mindfulness). My senses and mind are a captive audience. And then BOOM! Surprise! Delight! The artist has led me along a path, bringing me to something that moves me.

In order to understand this reaction, we must consider a phenomenon known as peak shift. And that’s where we’ll start next time.