Language can turn into an obstacle when discussing consciousness. The term consciousness is a more straightforward means of referring to several intricate biological processes.
Our brains store events as memories. Once linked, these memories serve as the framework that mediates perception, action, and choice. Internal and external stimuli induce the brain to function in specific conditions determined by this framework. New experiences alter stimulus, forming fresh memories that expand on earlier ones and further biasing perception. This process produces an interpretation of the experience, which becomes a new input to the same process.
The process never ends and is continually forming our sense of awareness and thoughts. The pathways that convert this information in the brain move at various speeds. Our brain takes and makes sense of this input, relating it to the framework of memories, then constructing a consistent narrative before awareness forms, thus experiencing the event – which takes up to about half a second, meaning we live in a delayed reality.
The illusion of free will is understandable, but also explainable. Without some way to restructure the brain’s information processes and timeline and discovering that consciousness has properties outside of this process, I think it’s reasonable to conclude that the process is the definition.