An itch... in the middle of the room

On the selflessness of your visual field



Ever since restarting my meditation practice with longer (30-60 minute) daily sessions, I have come across some funny and intriguing anecdotes about the illusion of subject-object dualism in consciousness. A recent one that put a fine (and annoying) point on this self-less-ness was a simple itch in the middle of my family room.


To set the scene: I typically sit in my family room and meditate... looking across the room towards the west window. It is a basement room with a minimalist-ish set of adornments typical of many rooms of people who don’t have young kids. As I sat in a typical eyes-open, guided meditation, I started to take as the object-of-mindfulness a normal, non-threatening itch I had on my middle-right POV, an itch on my family room!


From my side of experience, the itch on my right cheek was emanating from my living room somewhere in a block of space beneath the top of the window and the floor, not all the way to the TV or the fireplace. What did I know of cheeks? How had I managed to miss such an obvious scratch of the itch of my headless and boundless awareness in all of the times I’d perceived an itch, sore, or swell someplace I could see was a remarkably different scene from that sensation? Of course mindlessness and the mental model of the self are the answers.


Sympathetic scratches are back in the moment I write this—overlayed on pen and paper are the little insect feet of a scratch, as bright in my experience as any, but given just the location of their appearance in my headless view of a world without my self, instructive in pulling me back to being mindful of one of the fundamental features of consciousness—it is your entire world—the in-here and the out-there intermingled and illuminated ONLY in awareness. Your mind’s eye is a phantasmagorical, multimodal experience factory, uniquely your own, and the only way you get to ever know the present.