This week I’ve been reading On Dialogue, by the late, great physicist-philosopher-neuropsychologist David Bohm. In this book, he presents, among other things, a useful notion he describes as the “proprioception of thought.” I now see that, once again, I’ve reinvented the wheel, though my scuba-wisdom version is pretty primitive compared to Bohm’s.
Never mind that Bill the Mathematician had already asked me how my stop-breathe-think fix differed from counting to ten, an idea that has been around awhile. So here I’ve re-emerged onto land, triumphant, only to find I’ve reinvented the bicycle.
Further reflection, however, leads me to wonder to what extent Bohm himself hadn’t also reinvented a wheel—i.e. a relatively primitive version of what Buddhism, an ancient and sophisticated psychology, has accomplished in part by way of disciplined mindfulness, for instance vipassana meditation.
More on that later.
Proprioceptors, in case you didn’t know, are internal nervous-system sensors that tell you how you and your various bits are disposed at any given time. Those of my inner ear (among others) even now tell me I’m sitting upright here in my chair instead of lying on the floor. Proprioceptors in my hand, meanwhile, inform me that it is right there at the end of my arm safely wrapped around this glass of wine and not, e.g., out in the kitchen rummaging around for something that might complement a passable Chardonnay. … Excuse me—my hand is now back on the keyboard, preparing to bring this blather to a conclusion.
Bohm’s notion of developing a parallel“proprioception of thought” is well worth considering. (With both the latter idea and with vipassana, the process leads inevitably to reflections on our embeddedness in larger associations of minds and on our relations and responsibilities within such. Or so I’m going to maintain, and you can blame the Chardonnay if I’m wrong.)
Note the balloon glass, Sara’s crystal balloon glass that has gone all out of focus at the mere touch of a merely passable Chardonnay. Or is that me that’s gone out of focus? My proprioceptors remain neutral in this matter.