Think of experience as having two primary components, perception and action. Perception includes those processes through which you know yourself and the world around you — vision, hearing, proprioception (body awareness, balance, position in space, movement), intellectual and intuitive understanding, etc. Action encompasses what you do to interact with that world — getting a drink when you’re thirsty, moving away from a threat or toward an opportunity, buying a car, making love, etc. Perception and action are not as distinct as giving them two different labels makes them seem, of course. Your actions are among the things you perceive, and perception itself involves choices that result in actions that contribute to perception, such as how you organize your awareness and where you focus attention. Perception and action are intimately intertwined aspects of the complex process which is human experiencing.
We’ll examine the information flows involved in composing experience using a framework I call the Perceptual Process Model. This framework builds on and extends ideas developed in The Reality Illusion. There I focused primarily on perception, whereas here we will also examine action as a component of experience, and somatic organization as the ground that underlies our actions. We’ll eventually consider the nature of emotional experience as well, where action and perception are combined in an unusual way.