>I've had a scientific training and therefore tend to approach things from that viewpoint
Ditto (though it might not always seem that way).
The cold objective 'Scientific' truth of 'The Way Things Are' ought to exist somewhere out there. It feels right, that there should be a bottom level of being, for all things, where they can be described in terms of measurements. Measurements that will become apparent to me by way of my senses. As I interpret incoming signals from the outside world, I exercise a degree of selectivity. I filter some stuff out, and emphasise other stuff. In a sense, I make my world up as I go along. Of course, this is true to some extent, but you can't get away from the fact that though it's possible to ignore some signals and concentrate on others, this tweaking of the signals can only be effected within certain parameters. No matter how hard I try, I cannot manage to convince myself that it's possible to affect the physical materium around me by thinking hard enough. So says half of me.
Yet I can't get away from the nagging feeling that the physical materium is not the be all and end all of reality. So how to reconcile these two contradictory thoughts? I wish I knew.
Some old bunch or other, I think they were proto-sufis or something similar, used to say that god recreates the world millions of times every second. This sort of has echos in quantum waffle. From my limited understanding of matters quantum, the Everett-Wheeler interpretation of some-shit-or-other implies multiversal levels of physical materium. I've taken this to mean that the universe is constantly phasing in and out of an infinite number of possible states, and that what consciousness does is something akin to reducing signal to noise ratios in this shifting multi-dimensional mush. A bit like forcing a narrative out of random words. Human brains seem to be ideally placed to support consciousness whilst being firmly placed in nice sensible lines of self-sustainable causality. I mean, the molecules of your brain don't suddenly go zooping off into an eigenstate akin to that of a small shrub. These molecules follow more or less predictable patterns. If it's a brain on Monday, it will, accidents notwithstanding, be a brain on Tuesday, it can't really stop being so of its own accord. But the bit our awareness that isn't brain, call it' the mind' or whatever for the sake of argument, it does have the ability to become something other than what it is of it's own accord. It can develop, it can expand, and it's dynamic in a way that I find impossible to describe with words. So I'm not even going to try.
Dunno if this has any bearing on old rocks and stuff, if it does (and I hope that's the case) then at the moment, I am mostly susecting that it has to be something to do with an attempt to transcend our mundane human perception of time.