Picture-like thoughts

Mark Farris Pirtle, modified 5 Years ago.

Picture-like thoughts

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I have a question that has been bugging me for some time. We all have picture-like thoughts--what Shinzen Young calls "Image." But, does that mean that thoughts ARE pictures? Do we really see thoughts? I don't think so. At least I don't. I've spent years observing picture-like thinking, carefully. I don't see those thoughts. Which makes me wonder if anyone does. A thought is MEANING running through the mind, but that doesn't make it a picture.

Now to my question. I read about visualization practice all the time. Daniel even talks about it. The way it's described, it's as if the meditator is able to conjure an actual picture in the mind through this practice. I have a hard time believing this is possible. When I close my eyes and meditate, I see a black space, and a little "light show" behind my closed eyes. I often take this light show as my object. Picture-like thoughts arise and pass, yes, but the actual pictures don't.

There are instances when, in a deeply concentrated state, an ACTUAL image of an object--face of the Buddha, a ficus tree, a geometric fractal-like shape--appears. But such images appear spontaneously. They are other powered. They arise, abide and pass completely on their own. Try as I might to stabilize the object, it eventually passes and I'm unable to influence it in any way.

Does anyone out there ACTUALLY, LITERALLY, SEE their thoughts? Can any of you conjure an ACTUAL image, intentionally? What are we really talking about when we talk about visualization practice?

Thanks,

mpirtle
Eva M Nie, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Picture-like thoughts

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Mark Farris Pirtle:
I have a question that has been bugging me for some time. We all have picture-like thoughts--what Shinzen Young calls "Image."
Incorrect assumption, most have that but a few don't.  I don't.  When I was in a cognitive psych class and they discussed this, me and one other did not think in images, out of say 200 or so students.  So it's kinda rare but not SUPER rare would be my guess.  I actually do not typically see any images with my conscious mind when in the waking state.  I think in narrative and feeling.  I also have some abnormalities with visual recognition skills (prosopagnosia and a few other minor ones).  I can almost kinda see colors but it's half a feeling more than an image.  I seem to remember visual details via narrative I have about them and recollection of body orientation and activity, if neither of those apply, I will not typically remember. I do see visual images during sleep, usually shadowy vague images but rarely very intense perfect visions of utmost clarity.  I also sometimes see flashes of detailed imagery of apparently random things, usually unknown scenery and people.  This tends to happen during meditation and sex, seems to need a certain type of spaced out altered state.  Otherwise nope.  

But, does that mean that thoughts ARE pictures? Do we really see thoughts? I don't think so. At least I don't. I've spent years observing picture-like thinking, carefully. I don't see those thoughts. Which makes me wonder if anyone does. A thought is MEANING running through the mind, but that doesn't make it a picture.
Yes, that's my experience.  A thought is meaning and in my case often narrative and/or feeling (not a feeling like through the body but more like various nuanced subtleties of emotion like experiences). I was actually rather surprised when I found out the average person has all those images in their head all the time, seems like it would be rather distracting. 

Now to my question. I read about visualization practice all the time. Daniel even talks about it. The way it's described, it's as if the meditator is able to conjure an actual picture in the mind through this practice.
From what I've read, some people can do this.  It's actually one method for obtaining OBEs and I've read of plenty that can apparently with will and concentration see in their mind lifelike images of scenery on command. 

There are instances when, in a deeply concentrated state, an ACTUAL image of an object--face of the Buddha, a ficus tree, a geometric fractal-like shape--appears. But such images appear spontaneously. They are other powered. They arise, abide and pass completely on their own. Try as I might to stabilize the object, it eventually passes and I'm unable to influence it in any way.
Yeah, from what I've read, that is described as something that happens in meditation sometimes.  Like you, mine are just like a flash, there and gone in an instant, like a glimpse.   Except I do not see things I recognize nor that seem to have anything in particular to do with anything else.  Like recently I saw an old guy at a wood desk doing something.  ANother time, I saw a very foreign looking metal bridge in the desert in a strange land.  Sometimes I get get a bit of feeling type info about the scene as well, like in that case that there was a big city beyond the bridge, but in meditation usually it's just the image with no other data. 

Does anyone out there ACTUALLY, LITERALLY, SEE their thoughts? Can any of you conjure an ACTUAL image, intentionally? What are we really talking about when we talk about visualization practice?
OK, I 've long wanted to know something related, my apologies if this is off topic a bit.  But if you are not seeing an actual image, then what is it you see?  Is it a cartoon like image or what?  How do you see an actual image if it's not the image?  If you imagine your kitchen and are not seeing your actual kitchen in your head, then what do you see instead?  What's different?  This whole thing about seeing conscious images really fascinates me.  I have asked others but they seem to think I am nuts for asking or either that, just can't seem to understand the question or explain it. 

I once read a few books on NLP (neurolinguistic programming)  In one of the books, there was a lot of descriptions of what people see in their heads when processing various types of info.  What people see varies a lot between individual, but there tends to be certain patterns like important things are bigger, brighter, or in front for example  The books give many examples of how you can manipulate the images a tad and how that effects your thought processes.  NOrmally thoughts seem to influence image production but the books teach you how to get the tail to wag the dog, so to speak, ie alter the images and then that influences thought.  Interestingly the processes do seem to work, at least from the ones that were applicable to me (not all the methods in the book required visualizatoins exclusively)  Anyway, variations between thought processes tend to vary a LOT between individuals, from what I've researched.
-Eva

Mark Farris Pirtle, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Picture-like thoughts

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Dear Eva,

Thanks so much for replying. And in no way am I trying to be contentious, but I'm sensing that you don't fully understand my question.

"Image" (a picture-like thought) that Shinzen talks about is an actual phenomenon, for everyone. Our right brains do create "picture-like" thoughts. But here's my issue...that still does not make "picture-like" thoughts pictures. The thought is there, yes, but the picture is not. It's "picture-like." It's my contention that everyone thinks like you and I do. We have picture-like thoughts, but we don't see them.

Every day I work with beginning meditators. Sometimes I ask them to, "think of the Eifel Tower." Then I ask, "did you see it in your mind?" 9 out of 10 people say "yes." But, then, upon further probing, I can get them to see the truth. They really don't. They DO have the thought, but there is NO picture.

It's my contention that no one ACTUALLY sees their thoughts. We can imagine, visualize, yes, but that doesn't mean we LITERALLY SEE the thoughts. This is why I'm asking the question and why I'm confused about visualization practice. Is anyone really able to consciously conjure a LITERAL image in their mind?

As mentioned before in my previous post, sometimes I do see LITERAL images. And sometimes they last quite a while. I can focus on them, literally see them in my mind. It's like the exception that proves the rule. I'm ACTUALLY looking at something in my mind (not a vague flash). BUT, and it's an important BUT, "I" didn't consciously create it, conjure it, nor can I consciously manipulate it. In deeply concentrated states, actual images sometimes do arise, then pass all on their own. But I can't ever say "I'm" doing a visualization practice.

I hope I'm making myself clear. I want to know the truth about visualization practices. Are some meditators able to consciously conjure ACTUAL images, or, are they just doing what everybody does, working with picture-like thoughts?
Eva M Nie, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Picture-like thoughts

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Mark Farris Pirtle:
Dear Eva,

Thanks so much for replying. And in no way am I trying to be contentious, but I'm sensing that you don't fully understand my question.

"Image" (a picture-like thought) that Shinzen talks about is an actual phenomenon, for everyone. Our right brains do create "picture-like" thoughts. But here's my issue...that still does not make "picture-like" thoughts pictures. The thought is there, yes, but the picture is not. It's "picture-like." It's my contention that everyone thinks like you and I do. We have picture-like thoughts, but we don't see them.
Huh, well now I am confused.  What is a picture like thought?  If someone asks you what color your fridge is, how do you know the answer?  Did you like that girl's haircut that just passed by, how do you know the answer?  Is that the same guy that was here earlier, how do you know the answer?  When you go to get that information about something you just saw but are not currently looking at with physical eyes, how is the information showing up in your mind?
-Eva 
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Psi, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Picture-like thoughts

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Mark Farris PirtleI have a question that has been bugging me for some time. We all have picture-like thoughts--what Shinzen Young calls "Image." But, does that mean that thoughts ARE pictures? Do we really see thoughts? 
From what I can tell, yes, some people see picture like thoughts, plain as day.  I have asked people, one person in particular, I asked, and she could visualize the alphabet so that she could look at it in her mind and read it backwards to me.  But she did not meditate.

In fact, most people seem to be able to see picture like thoughts, and the rare phenomenom is to not be able to see picture like thoughts.

Some people, maybe most are just visual people.

It is hard to really find many studies on not being able to visualize, at least when I was looking into not being able to visualize a few days ago.

Most people I ask say, yes they can visualize, though I do not know to what degree of clarity they can do so, if they really can do so, or if it is picture like.

I have found that in deeper meditation there is an area that can be slipped into that has some visual life like phenomenon, but I have not tried to pursue this area, and have treated it as one of the imperfections of insight.

Psi
Mark Farris Pirtle, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Picture-like thoughts

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Hi Eva,

I know, it is confusing. It's like looking at emptiness itself. The picture-like thought is there, but the picture is not. There's no other way to explain it. My issue is that meditators speak of "visualization" practices as if they are consciously conjuring an ACTUAL picture in their minds. I don't think this is possible. I know they can imagine, but that doesn't make the imagined image an actual picture.

Welcome to my paradox.

Mark
Mark Farris Pirtle, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Picture-like thoughts

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Dear Psi,

I know most people say they do "see" picture-like thoughts. I strongly disagree. They only think they do. I work as a meditation teach in rehab. Part of why my patients struggle so much with their addictions, depression, anxiety, trauma, PTSR, OCD, etc. is that they reify (make solid) their thoughts. They seem to perceive pictures and sounds that are not there. We all have picture-like and sound-like thoughts, but that doesn't make them ACTUAL pictures and sounds. Do this for yourself. Close your eyes. See the dark space of your mind. Then focus gently on the backs of your closed eyelids. You'll see a very dim "light show" or play of lights. This light-like artifact is created by the chatter of your brain cells in your visual cortex. Look at it. See it. Then, think of the Eifel Tower. Keep looking at the light show. Notice you can think of the Eifel Tower, but the light show does not change. You can have the picture-like thought, but you can't see the picture.

Do the same with sound-like thoughts. Start to count in the middle of your head. Listen inwardly. It is sound-like. We've all had a song stuck in our heads. But really listen. Is it an actual sound? No, there is no sound. It's just sound-like.

This precise appreciation of the phenomena of thoughts is a way pointing to emptiness. So, it makes me wonder what meditators are doing when they do visualization practices. Are they simply imagining, albeit strongly, one-pointedly, but not really SEEING their thoughts? Or, are they ACTUALLY seeing their thoughts. I contend it's the former, not the latter.

Thanks for hanging in their with me.

Mark
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Psi, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Picture-like thoughts

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Mark Farris PirtleDear Psi,
I know most people say they do "see" picture-like thoughts. I strongly disagree. They only think they do.


Hey, wait a minute, even with my eyes open, what is being seen is a thought, it is really only occuring within the back of the brain, in the visual cortex.  

All sight sensations could be classified as just a thought, a symbol of reality, not reality itself.  But, it is all we have to navigate with.  And yes , true visual images can and are produced from internal stimuli all the time in humans, dreams for instance.  Hynagogia and Hypnopompic phenomenon are another phenomenon that points ot real visualizations, though these are perceived as outside of the body, and are just as real a visual as any other exterior object.

But, again, I would say, at first glance, that all sight is a form of thought, as it occurs within the brain.

I also sometimes get very, very clear images in the mind while meditating, ocean views, bright light being shined in my eyes, people's faces, I have seen pages in books plain as day, etc...

Just because we do not all experience the same phenomenon does not mean that other people do not.

Do we all hear our verbal thoughts in our minds?  And if so, what is the difference between verbal sensations and visual sensations?  Internal stimuli and external stimuli?

So, I vote, yes, internally stimulated visual phenomenon can be just as visual as externally stimulated visual phenomenon.

Psi
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Psi, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Picture-like thoughts

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“I soon discovered that my best comfort was attained if I simply went on in my vision further and further, getting new impressions all the time, and so I began to travel; of course, in my mind. Every night, (and sometimes during the day), when alone, I would start on my journeys – see new places, cities and countries; live there, meet people and make friendship and acquaintances…

This I did constantly until I was about seventeen, when my thoughts turned seriously to invention. Then I observed to my delight that I could visualize with the greatest facility. I need no models, drawings or experiments. I could picture them all as real in my mind… I do not rush into actual work. When I get an idea, I start at once building it up in my imagination. I change the construction, make improvements and operate the device in my mind. It is absolutely immaterial to me whether I run my turbine in thought or test it in my shop.”

- Nikola Tesla

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Psi, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Picture-like thoughts

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To further clarify.   The eye does not see anything.  It all happens within the mind.  [quote=]

Mark Farris Pirtle, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Picture-like thoughts

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Thanks so much for the intense debate. And although it may seem like I don't understand the science, I do. And I know I'm deep in the weeds here. But, the fact still remains, like everything, the thoughts we have ARE conditioned. Meaning, when we use our actual eyes, the condition creates a resultant effect that we conventionally call sight.

However, when we think, without using our eyes, we can and do have picture-like thoughts. But, without the condition of the eyes, the picture-like thought is not the same as an actual sight, no matter how relaxed one is. In fact, the more relaxed and aware one becomes of the actual phenomena of image activity in the mind, the more one "sees" there is nothing to actually see. Again, we can and do imagine all the time, but it doesn't make it a picture. Even Nikola Tesla.

Thanks all. I appreciate the debate.

M.
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Psi, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Picture-like thoughts

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Mark Farris PirtleI have a question that has been bugging me for some time. We all have picture-like thoughts--what Shinzen Young calls "Image." But, does that mean that thoughts ARE pictures? Do we really see thoughts? 


Oh, and then there is Stephen Wiltshire....


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVqRT_kCOLI


The mind has capacity, now, how is it accessed???
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SeTyR ZeN, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Picture-like thoughts

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and there is Oliver Sacks to explain what happens when that mind capacity goes haywire

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgOTaXhbqPQ
Mark Farris Pirtle, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Picture-like thoughts

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Hi again Psi,

The video on Stephen was amazing. He does have picture-like thoughts, conventional what we'll call memory. But here again, it doesn't make his thoughts actual pictures.

M.
Mark, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Picture-like thoughts

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Hi Mark,

You wrote earlier "There are instances when, in a deeply concentrated state, an ACTUAL image of an object--face of the Buddha, a ficus tree, a geometric fractal-like shape--appears." 

What is the difference between his Stephen's images and the ones you have - apart from your ones not being intentionally manipulated ?

It seems you experience "actual images" or what you are calling "pictures" ?

I'm fairly confident people can think in visual images. There are quite a few reports of this in scientific type fields, for example I believe Einstein thought about realtivity visually before being able to express the mathematics. Personally I've had experiences when solving some engineering problems where solutions appear as images/geometry before being able to express it in some other form e.g. words or code.


Mark Farris Pirtle, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Picture-like thoughts

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Hi Mark,

I think the actual difference between the rare case when an ACTUAL image arises, unbidden in my mind, and my regular "picture-like" thoughts is that in the former, there is a picture that I can see in my mind. In the latter, which I contend is the case with the vast majority of visualizing, imagining, how Stephan and Einstein think, is that these types of thoughts are picture-like. The operative word is "like." Meaning, I wouldn't have to say "like" if they were ACTUAL pictures. I hope everyone is following the nuance here.

We all have "picture-like" thoughts. But my contention is that these conventional picture-like thoughts are not actual pictures. The rare exception being when an actual image arises, unbidden in the mind. It arises on its own, abides for however long, and then dissolves all on its own.

Again, when we speak of visualization practices, have these meditators cultivated an extremely rare skill to consciously conjure actual images in their minds? Or, are they doing what Stephan and Einstein and the rest of us do everyday, which is working with "picture-like" thoughts?

Thanks for working this out with me.

Mark
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tom moylan, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Picture-like thoughts

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howdy,
the word 'thought' is a label that we attach to what arises as a sense object of the mind.  it arises in forms we interpret as 'images' or in forms we recognise as 'speech' etc.  when not experienced with clarity and wisdom we bunch them together automatically and compare them with memories and they are pidgeonholed as concepts.

when these images arise with clarity we differentiate them by type (image, speech etc.) which is still conceptual if not as rough and deluded as an untrained 'worldling', living continually at the conceptual level.

the more clarity one brings to observing the arising and falling of these ASPECTS of 'thought' the less one is apt to draw conceptual distinctions methinks.

there is also the aspect of 'knowing'.  who, or what is knowing these thoughts, or aspects of thought?  are they sense objects arising independent of an observer or is the 'knowing' an inherent aspect of them which we take to be an independent entity?

i am not an apt intentional visualizer, meaning that if i try to create a mental image of vajrasaatva for example, i don't get very far.  some people have this capacity.  sometimes , however,  vivid images present themselves unbidden which are startlelingly clear and evocative.  where they originate is anyones guess.

cheers
Mark, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Picture-like thoughts

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Hi Tom,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve_Nidānas mentions fabrications as "bodily fabrications, verbal fabrications, mental fabrications." which confuses me as to why there is a separate class of verbal fabrications. I'd consider verbal fabrications to be mental fabrications expressed through sound, mental fabrications might also be experienced through internal vision etc.

You and I seem to have a similar point of view. I'm wondering if we are missing something ?
Mark Farris Pirtle, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Picture-like thoughts

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Hi Tom,

Your post gets closest to my experience, my paradox. Picture-like thoughts and sound-like thoughts exist as concepts (meaning in the mind), but not as actual pictures and sounds. Mere arisings of meaning, but no actual pictures and sounds.

And yes, you, like I have had the direct experience of an ACTUAL image arising, unbidden in the mind. This is the exception that proves the rule, we don't see our thoughts. And, you realized, like I did, that YOU didn't cause it. It arose on its own.

So, when meditators speak of visualization practices, do they actually see the visualization, just like the latter experience you mention? Or, are they working with the conventional picture-like thoughts--meaning in the mind, yes, but picture, no?

Mark
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. Jake ., modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Picture-like thoughts

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How does this science relate to your question, Mark?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mental_image#Mental_imagery_in_experimental_psychology


"Kosslyn's work showed that there are considerable similarities between the neural mappings for imagined stimuli and perceived stimuli."

Why do you say that internal images aren't 'seen'? I don't understand the point you are trying to make. Clearly, they are not 'seen' if by 'seen' we mean 'seen by the eyes and brain'. However, it seems clear that the visual centers of the brain are activated for internal images. The visual centers of the brain are more significant for 'seeing' than eyeballs are, I submit.

So what are you meaniong by 'seeing'?

In my personal experience I was able to imagine much more vividly as a child in a 'normal' waking state. This capacity gradually reduced with age. I can still experience extremely vivid inner imagery in hypnagogic/pompic states, while dreaming at night, or when very relaxed and alert with eyes closed. I don't find it easy to 'visualize' intentionally although I do a lot of vajrayana practices that are supposed to involve visualizing. In this case the teachers I listen to suggest the felt sense of connecting to the energy field of the guru or deity is moer important than actually having clear mental imagery.

My girlfriend says she doesn't think in images at all, just words and feelings. She can't imagine spatial things such as how items would look in our house for example. I think in abstract images, with little or no verbalization in my mind generally speaking, just flashes of abstract images and feelings that I can then translate into verbal concepts.

ETA: OK your last post makes more sense. I now see the distinction you are making. I disagree with your conclusion however that there is a difference of kind. My experience is that what you are calling 'images' vs. 'image-like thoughts' are not actually different in kind but rather degree. The more relaxed and alert i am the more the vivid are the latter. The more harried and task-oriented I am the less vivid they are.

Visualizers have learned to access the more vivid concrete imagery capacity, yes. Another way to do that is through Jung's 'active imagination'. My hypotheses is that the more strong the sense of 'me imagining' is the less vivid inner imagery is [ETA: this explains my experience of this capacity changing from childhood to adulthood]. The more one reduces the sense of 'me imagining' and allows 'imagery' to spontaneously arise, the more vivid it is. this in my experience is true of everything in experience. The more relaxed alertness there is the more vivid all the senses are.
Eva M Nie, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Picture-like thoughts

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"Kosslyn's work showed that there are considerable similarities between the neural mappings for imagined stimuli and perceived stimuli."
This makes sense.  You'd expect similar brain pathways to trigger.  In one case when using eyes, light waves hit the rods and cones of eyes, travel to the brain, and the brain processes the information and forms a picture for you.  But in some situations, the brain can form the picture for you WITHOUT the eyes.  It makes sense actually, now that I think about it, that the brain would not need the light waves.  It must be quite complicated to interpret the light waves, may not be any more complicated to form the image without the light waves.  Either way, similar parts of brain are likely used. Anyway, when you see with your eyes, the eyes are not forming the picture, they are just sending a bunch of info to the brain.  The brain takes that info and forms the picture (at least according to science). 

QUite likely the amount and skill of parts of brain responsible for this processing varies a lot between individuals.  You would not expect one person to have the exact same experience as another.  From what I see, and take into consideration that I have multiple anomolies associated with the fusiform gyrus area of my brain, my normal brain functioning just does not do picture like images.  I am at the bottom of the continuum of ability in that area. I can almost see color in my mind, usually that's about it for doing it on command. 

But like others here, I sometimes get spontaneous images kind of like sudden visions during times like meditation.  These are very different in that they are fully formed and show detail and quality actually superior to my normal eye function, they give beyond 20/20 clarity with no bluriness at distance for instance, unlike my regular eyes.  From a phenomenological perspective, although clear as if they could have come from actual eyes, they do feel slightly different, as if my mind knows they are from a diff source than usual, and as mentioned, the clarity would be a clue, but if such a vision where to continue for minutes instead of a second, I could see myself easily getting these visions confused with regular seeing because they are very very clear and immediate looking.  I would note though that for the visions type images, they do feel different in a way that is hard to describe, kind of closer, more intense, more holistic, like there is less space between my awareness and them.  I might describe it as more of a nondual type experience, similar to lucid dreaming, there is something that with normal vision is between me and eye originated vision, that is not there when the vision is not from eyes.  But overall, such visions are quite realistic.  This compares similar with intense dreams in which, even when you become lucid enough to question your current mental state, it's easy look around and decide the dream is in fact normal reality (whatever that is), the experience is realistic enough to confuse a person. 

Now for sound based thoughts, an area which I am MUCH better at, yes sometimes I can hear them so close as to be almost as good as hearing them in real life, a song maybe, with all the voice's correct intonation, or someone's voice I know.  I am excellent at copying sounds too, sometimes I can hear it in my head as good as hearing it out loud, which makes it easy to copy the sound as long as my tongue is capable of making the noise (some noises in some languages are hard to replicate for those not trained since childhood).  So in that area, I can hear in my head almost as good as reality, sometimes better because in my head, i can keep replaying it as needed.  Yet I still do perceive a difference in the sound in my head from the ones that travel through ears.  My brain knows the origin is different, so although it can sound the same, there is an element of the experience in which I know I internally generated it and it came from inside. 

Very rarely, I have had some psi like experiences with sound that it was much harder to identify origin of it.  For those, I would often mistake them for coming through ears.  I think because I knew that the conscious 'I' did not call them up, that experience of consciously calling them was not there, so I would tend to assume without much thought that it must have come through ears.  However, on retrospect, I did realize there was a subtle difference in those experiences than normal ear based sound, just that the difference was too small to be easily noticed.  Perhaps the other reason that the ear based ones can fool me is that in normal life, sounds often start and stop out of nowhere without any advanced notice so the brain is not confused when more of that happens.  It's common to suddenly hear some strange sound you were not expecting.  But for vision, if you suddenly see a whole 'nother scenery than a second ago, the brain is immediately questioning it as not normal and not properly contiguous with previous experience.

Anyway, for both visual and auditory, I expect internal fabrications skills exist on a continuum.  For some, attempted internal fabrication of sound or vision is probably very rudimentory while in others, it can can be quite advanced with similar quality as to those generated from actualy eyes or ears.  However, from reading NLP books, looks like it is common for peopel to see things as if pictures in their heads, maybe they are not as good a quality as from eyes and the mind knows they are not from eyes, but there are many many reports of people describing actual images in their thoughts such that they can draw them on a piece of paper later.  I don't get that experience, there is nothing I could draw because there is no image picture like or other, it's just not there.  I could however write the narrative down instead.  From my experience and reading, there is a WIDE variety of ways that individuals experience their thoughts, probably more accurate to suspect that one individual will be similar to another. 


My girlfriend says she doesn't think in images at all, just words and feelings. She can't imagine spatial things such as how items would look in our house for example.
I can't do that aspect of spacial either, gotta have the item placed in that spot in the house to get a good idea of it will look good, but other aspects of spacial I can do, although it comes through as more of a feeling, like will the car fit into that tight parking spot, trajectory of ball's current course to paddle, etc.  What we call 'spacial' skills are actually a group of different skills all lumped into one category.   

I think in abstract images, with little or no verbalization in my mind generally speaking, just flashes of abstract images and feelings that I can then translate into verbal concepts.
Yeah, that sounds so opposite of how I do it that it's hard for me to imagine!  ;-P 
ETA: OK your last post makes more sense. I now see the distinction you are making. I disagree with your conclusion however that there is a difference of kind. My experience is that what you are calling 'images' vs. 'image-like thoughts' are not actually different in kind but rather degree. The more relaxed and alert i am the more the vivid are the latter. The more harried and task-oriented I am the less vivid they are.
Yeah, strong evidence that such skills and tendencies are on a continuum with wide variation between individuals.  NLP splits people roughly into catagories as to how they mentally process, either visual, auditory, or feeling.  Most will excel and use one particular modality predominantly, another skill will  be intermediate, and they may suck really badly at the third.  When communicating with people, they tend to understand better if you use their preferred modality.  This is a common tactic in sales as well.  Studies suggest people will tend to trust you more if you present in a way that feels most comfortable to them using their preferred modality.   There was a thread started on here a little while back by a guy who said he didn't care for long posts.  An NLP practitioner might assume that he was probably not a verbal thinker in the first place, hence words may not be his preferred modality.  
Visualizers have learned to access the more vivid concrete imagery capacity, yes. Another way to do that is through Jung's 'active imagination'. My hypotheses is that the more strong the sense of 'me imagining' is the less vivid inner imagery is [ETA: this explains my experience of this capacity changing from childhood to adulthood]. The more one reduces the sense of 'me imagining' and allows 'imagery' to spontaneously arise, the more vivid it is. this in my experience is true of everything in experience. The more relaxed alertness there is the more vivid all the senses are.
Good observation,  made me realize the auditory is like that too, the more I kind of imagine or operate as if I am really hearing a real sound, the more clear it sounds.  To imagine a different reality, it works better the more you believe in it apparently.  Interesting observation, thank you. 
-Eva
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. Jake ., modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Picture-like thoughts

Posts: 698 Join Date: 5/22/10 Recent Posts
Thanks for sharing your experiences and the NLP references, all very interesting! I say viva la differance emoticon I think your observation of the hyper-real quality of vivid inner images is more evidence that 'seeing' is actually, if anything, more of an inner thing, more to do with the brain than the eye... hmm, interesting.

Now, if only my girlfriend and I could mind-meld, then while we were looking at things for the house I could picture how they would look and she could tell whether they would actually look cool or elegant or stylistically fitting there ;) 
Eva M Nie, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Picture-like thoughts

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
. Jake .:


Now, if only my girlfriend and I could mind-meld, then while we were looking at things for the house I could picture how they would look and she could tell whether they would actually look cool or elegant or stylistically fitting there ;) 

I believe they have computer programs for that, designers often want to show clients how it will look before expensive items are purchased and house painters also use them.  ;-P
-Eva
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. Jake ., modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Picture-like thoughts

Posts: 698 Join Date: 5/22/10 Recent Posts
Ha! Ok, now I just neef to be wealthy enough for that to apply ;) 
Eva M Nie, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Picture-like thoughts

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
. Jake .:
Ha! Ok, now I just neef to be wealthy enough for that to apply ;) 


Well the programs can be had for free: http://www.homestyler.com/ but you are on your own when it comes to the furniture!  ;-P
-Eva
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Psi, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Picture-like thoughts

Posts: 1095 Join Date: 11/22/13 Recent Posts
. Jake .:

Now, if only my girlfriend and I could mind-meld, then while we were looking at things for the house I could picture how they would look and she could tell whether they would actually look cool or elegant or stylistically fitting there ;) 


Jake, she probably already has you mind melded...  Girls have a secret book or something no one else knows about,  emoticon
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. Jake ., modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Picture-like thoughts

Posts: 698 Join Date: 5/22/10 Recent Posts
hahaha! you guys are funny

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