Like always, I prefer Wikipedia’s description. Déjà vu “is the experience of feeling sure that one has witnessed or experienced a new situation previously (an individual feels as though an event has already happened or has happened in the recent past), although the exact circumstances of the previous encounter are uncertain.”
We all experience it at one time or another, some of us more frequently than others. So, what causes that sensation? Scientists have several explanations. The most common one is that it’s not precognition or prophecy or past lives or any other supernatural reason. Some explain it as a problem with a glitch in memory that can create the sensation of recognition when it is not accurate. I dismiss this explanation for the simple fact that when I have déjà vu, it involves all senses with great detail which would not be a memory glitch.
Other scientists, specifically quantum physicists, explain déjà vu as a potential example of time occurring simultaneously or perhaps glimpses into other dimensions in which the same life courses through at a different time from ours allows us to catch a momentary viewing. This is a really exciting thought, but the fact there is no accompanying aura to discern that there’s been a split in time or space, makes me doubt that one.
Vision has been another explanation, that one eye may fractionally record something quicker than the other one causing confusion in the brain. I find this explanation fairly intriguing because I have a fear of heights and I know that fear of heights is partially an issue with my astigmatism. One of my eyes overcompensates for the weakness in the other and creates 20/20 vision, but you stand me on a ledge looking at the Grand Canyon and I lose all concept of depth perception, the same thing on an escalator or ladder or anything where I can’t judge distance accurately. I lose my entire equilibrium. That problem with the eyes and the fact I get déjà vu fairly often makes me think of the scientific explanations, that’s a good fit. The only problem is that fraction of a second isn’t enough to feel as if something is familiar. The mind has barely registered it.
The last explanation that I feel is a great fit is the concept that our minds hold memories from an entire lifetime and we discard many of them as insignificant. Have you ever talked to someone you grew up with and he remembers an event you don’t recall at all? The mind will search through its archived or “zip files” in new situations to find a fit. This helps us to recognize places, events, people, and situations. When it draws one up from the past and presents it to you in the present, it’s quietly saying “doesn’t today’s situation seem like this one???” The mind is actually having a recognition of its own from the past to the present.
Whenever I get déjà vu, I always stop and study it. It’s extremely similar to psychic impressions. Unbelievably so! I have always tended to recall what happens next and try to live it out. One day, I was foraging through the cabinets to come up with an incredible supper out of need-to-grocery-shop canned goods. A song was playing on the radio that rarely ever plays ("Ventura Highway"). I captured a scent in the air like cardamom, a homey spice that reminds me of apple tarts. At the same time, the light coming in the window and the way the cans were lined up was very familiar. I had a rush of recognition of having this same emotion of frustration, the same light in the surroundings, the same scent…I wanted to hold onto the feeling long and observe it but I feared it would go away if I didn’t complete whatever it was had been the previous experience’s outcome, I would lose the feeling. I tried to claw in my mind for the past encounter with these elements when it was suddenly gone, interrupted by a timer that went off to remind me to start making supper. I was completely deflated by the loss of that pleasant experience. Some people don’t like déjà vu, but I find it to be as intoxicating as those moments when you’re falling asleep and you feel blissfully relaxed and warm and comfy and pleasant. It’s almost embryonic…
Have you ever smelled chlorine from a swimming pool and were transported to you teen years spent at the public pool and the associated symptoms of hope and discovery of the opposite sex? Did you ever sit outdoors when the sun is setting and everything is awash in orange light and feel a sudden memory of childhood and the time of night when lightning bugs would start to show? I get this one a lot--does anyone else: You're driving in your car, a song comes on the radio, and you swear you heard that same song and that same intersection before? deja vu, deju vu, deja vu! All of this leads me to believe it truly is a memory recall trigger.
Related to the sensation of déjà vu is “tip of the tongue.” Jeez, as I get older this one becomes worse and worse, especially with names! I can’t stand being able to picture a person in my mind, hear their voice, and yet draw a blank for the name. If you’ve had this, the way you flip through the Rolodex in your mind probably feels very similar to déjà vu. You’re desperately grasping for a bit of floating debris to grasp as you’re washed downstream in your mind’s thought process.
I’d love to hear your déjà vu experiences. For people who don’t see themselves as psychic, I’d like to hear if they feel this is as close to feeling psychic as they’ve ever felt because I can tell you, it’s exactly the same way I feel when I file through images when doing a reading and grasp onto that little bit of jetsam and ride it to its conclusion.