"Perception is reality." "You are what you think you are." “A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes.” (Ghandi). "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." (Einstein).
These famous quotes are standard fare in the menus of gurus in the positive thinking movement. And yes, I am a believer in the thoughts changing reality camp. Although I am probably not as far out as some. My new work-in-progress book on reality hopes to paint a more "realistic" view of the change-your-reality concept.
Part of painting a picture of what we can really change about reality is to get some nice hard scientific evidence which is hard to come by. That's why the following study caught my reality searching eye.
Many of us have an intuitive sense about how our minds can change our perceptions and realities. Back in my chiropractic college days we learned about many diseases and then subsequently began to match up every ache and pain with some dreadful illness. The class influenced how we perceived our bodies.
Now researchers from Vanderbilt University put the idea of imagination changing perception to task in a scientific study. Lead researcher Dr. Joel Pearson and his team asked subjects to imagine vertical and horizontal stripes. They then cleverly exposed the subjects to a horizontal pattern in one eye and a vertical pattern in the other. This basically sets up a contest with both eyes with the winner being one image or the other.
Lo and behold the image the subject saw was the image previously imagined. According to Pearson "This is the first research to definitively show that imagining something changes vision both while you are imagining it and later on."
How many times do you need to imagine something before it influences your perception? It appears that as little as one time can have an effect on what you see.
What I thought was great about this experiment (my spin on it) was the parallel to the good ole quantum physics idea of superposition of multiple states. In other words when you set up an experiment to measure light as a wave you get a wave. Likewise when you set up the same experiment to measure light as a particle you get a particle. What happens is that the light exists as both simultaneously. It only manifests as particle or wave when it is measured. I like to say that the light changes states when information (a decision) is added to the equation.
The same thing appears to happen with the horizontal and vertical lines in the study. If the subject obtains information about one pattern (horizontal or vertical) in the form of imagining it ahead of time, then the dual observed states collapse into one. They actually don't collapse like the quantum particle but the effect is very similar.
What happens is that a decision is made to interpret the dual states as one or the other. The decision is in turn influenced by the before imagined state. In other words information was injected into the system in the form of the imagined state. Information changes perception.
I could go on (I love this stuff) but my head is beginning to spin...