Perception is imagination. Awareness is not. Awareness is that center from which we can experience any aspect of your experience or being. It is also called the “observer” in some popular texts.
Have my statements left much to the imagination? You can tell the quality of a statement because it will have “resonance” in your awareness. It will cause items of your experience to connect to it, and it will begin to integrate or “click” quite naturally.
This process is described as “subconscious”, because the very real architecture of your brain has, at its root, patterns that we formed even before your conception. Left to its own devices your brain will check all of your experience against these patterns. One of the names these patterns go by is “instincts”, but that definition tends to be far too narrow to really describe what lays at the foundation of the human mind.
We do have some control over our brains. Do we use this control well? Recent research has identified a network in the brain they are calling the default mode network (DMN). It’s always active. It seems to have to remain so. This part of the brain works sort of like a diesel engine on idle. It’s easier for the brain to function if this network has kept functioning normally, than if any part of it stops or activates too much.
But all parts of the brain are controllable by thought. This is in evidence in the practice of bio-feedback. Repetitive and especially emotionally charged repetitive thought can wire the default mode network to other psychological constructs, resulting in fascinating states of mind usually all having some sociopathic aspect. That is one of the necessary traits for making a neural condition a psychosis, the anti-social quality. The tendency to reject “normative” inputs from other healthy minds for defensive reasons, across the board, some of which have very physical symptoms. The schizophrenic who is imagining a swarm of spiders biting their flesh, when hooked up to an EEG has pain spikes just as if that were actually happening. They can even go into metabolic shock resembling being poisoned, develop swollen tissues in the skin and even bleeding. The imagination is very real, and if it is, then is there anything outside of the imagination?
There is a case of a man who got stuck in a train refrigeration unit. He expected that it was on and he was going to freeze to death. He was found, after having been in the car for only one day, dead. His body showed all the signs of shock that would have been caused by hypothermia. He froze to death. The thing is this car had long since been decommissioned. Its temperature inside was actually pleasant. When your body expects something to happen, it will make it happen.
Imagination is the basis for most of the experience you consider to be, “What really happened to you.”
Are the root patterns you mentioned the DMN? They are located in the DMN and the brain stem. It laces from the brainstem and through the amygdala and into the higher cortex. This is why your emotions have the ability to override your logic. Your brain won’t allow the arbitrary tendency of the frontal cortex to exclude sensory input and sensation that relates to state of being. We call these sensations of our state “emotion”, and if it were not for the base line override, we would have gone extinct as a species as we would have had to figure out what to do in the face of every threat we experience. We would be very slow.
Are there boundaries to imagination? Actually, no. The imagination taps into sensations that science is even now just beginning to understand. It forms pictures not only from your own nervous system, but picks up information from what science calls the mirroring nervous system, which they used to think didn’t do anything at all. So not only does your imagination include the fact that you feel grouchy, but whether you want it to or not it adds in the mirror that the person you are talking to is also grouchy. This is very likely why you are, or why they are. This is why moods and attitudes are “contagious”.
Does the mirroring mean that you pick up emotional energy? You don’t need to ask if someone is angry, you can usually just feel the energy. You do have to pick up emotional energy, but you can still manage it. The human system is remarkably resilient if your energy isn’t being burned up trying to “rationalize” why you are experiencing what you are. Dealing with input takes energy which most people burn up with the idea of “control”, which has nothing to do with free will.
I don’t like it when people ask why and try to talk me out of feeling a certain way. They say I have no reason to feel that way, well I do. There efforts both lack empathy and practical purpose. They could instead ask to share in what you are thinking about that has you upset, and actually have a dialogue about that. The individual awareness is not “public domain”, but all thought is. It didn’t come from you, and won’t stop with you.
Every thought is imagination? Yes. You have a thought when you extract a “generalized” pattern from your sense impressions.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.