Psych Central

Archive for February, 2011

Build Yourself a Mini-Library of Mindful Eating Books

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

Just had a chance to review Carmen Yuen’s “Cosmos in a Carrot” (on Amazon) and I thought the review itself makes a broader point that is of possible interest to a PsychCentral mindful eating reader.  So, here it is.

Mindful eating is one of my writing topics. So, you’d think, I really shouldn’t be supporting competition, so to say, but I don’t operate like that. If I like the book, of course, I am going to say so. So, I am researching for my next project and I stumble upon “Cosmos in a Carrot” by Carmen Yuen (Parallax Press,2006) and, after about an hour with it, I have this thought: if I had read this sooner, I, perhaps, would not have tried to publish my own mindful eating project, Eating the Moment (which originated back in 2000 but I didn’t get around to submitting the manuscript for publication until 2007, a year after “Cosmos in a Carrot” was written). 


Community Through Communication

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Facebook, Twitter, email, chat, texting, social media, blogging.  What is this constant compulsion to share?  Must be the fear of remaining un-witnessed.

When “the body is but the foam of a wave” (as Dhammapada teaches), the mouth has nothing to do but to foam with words.

It’s always been like that.  What’s a haiku but a medieval tweet?!  Mind watches its own passing and mourns itself with verbal sentimentality.  Community through communication.

Pass your time in centrifugal peace, fellow eddy-in-a-stream.  Un-wind outward!  No swimming up this stream of consciousness.   No hoarding of water.

This constant communication-compulsion to rejoin the stream of “what is” is what makes this communal life-stream flow in the first place.  Pour out!


To Seek Approval is to Seek Dependence

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Chained to Approval

Let’s say that after months of unemployment I finally landed a nice job. You are my new boss, and you just bought a new car.  You ask me: “What do you think?  Like it?”  Not wanting to get on your bad side, I say yes.  You like my response.  You decide to mentor me.  I tolerate that.

Over time, however, I lose myself.   I get conditioned or programmed to look at the world as you do, to value what you value.  I become dependent on the subjectivity of your approval.  What started out as adaptive approval-seeking led to a partial loss of self.  In seeking your approval, I got carried away by the currents of your subjectivity.

Lesson learned: to seek approval is to seek dependence; to seek dependence is to lose your sense of self. 


Paradox of Approval Seeking

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

You say to-may-toes, I say to-mah-toes, who's right?

Minds are fundamentally subjective: we all have opinions of what is but no objective knowledge of what is.  After all, to define reality objectively, we would have to be outside of it.  But we aren’t.  To define reality objectively, we would also have to be outside of our subjective minds.  But we aren’t.

Subjectivity isn’t objectivity, and an opinion isn’t a fact.

To understand the arbitrary nature of any evaluation, we have to understand the concept of value. 


Culture of One: You Are Not Your Social Context

Monday, February 21st, 2011

We often seek identity in our circumstance.  The word circumstance stems from Latin proposition word circum, which means “around,” and the verb stare, which means “to stand.”  A circumstance is that which stands around you, your surroundings, your context.

Look around you for a moment.  Notice what’s around you.  Perhaps you’re at home with a laptop on your knees, a cup of tea at your side.  Or maybe you are at work, looking at a computer screen with this very text on it.  Or maybe you’re in a subway car reading this post on your smart phone…

No matter where you are, remember that you are not this physical context—you are that which it surrounds.  That’s obvious.  What’s less obvious is that you are not your cultural, ethnic, sociological, or racial circumstance either.  Whatever your situational context, you are not your situation.


Shortage of Humanity

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Thoughts on today’s article in the New York Times, Today’s Lab Rats of Obesity Studies: Fattened Monkeys.

  1. “[D]emand for the overweight primates is growing as part of the battle against the nation’s obesity epidemic.” Really?  We are the most populous overweight primates on the planet! What shortage?!
  2. Barbaric, cowardly research design: “Dr. Grove said he needed the animals separated at all times so they could snack between meals, since that is an important reason people gain weight.  And allowing them outside [they are housed in cages], even one at a time, would mean they would exercise more;” “the study will do what cannot be done with people – kill some of the monkeys to examine their brains and pancreases.”  Really?  We are testing self-evident, scientifically imbecile hypotheses just to find more “magic pills” to do what can be accomplished behaviorally?
  3. Idiotic rationalizations: as Dr. Grove is catching flack from animal rights groups, he offers the following gem of a rationalization – “This is a booming industry in China.  They have colonies of thousands of them.”  Really? We are now going to worry about outsourcing monkey-abuse research to China?

Dzogchen Psychology

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

Been “playing” with Eastern concepts for ten or so years  – passively and academically (through reading and writing), and actively and experientially (through meditative practice and day-to-day application).  I feel I am finally (!) at a place to make the following mini-pronouncement: Nirvana is Meta-cognition (rigpa). That’s right: not a heaven-type place (to go to when you die), not a parallel reality, just a state of consciousness.

Ta-da!  Self-evident in fewer ways than one…

But don’t just take my word for it.  Here’s Chogyal Namkhai Norbu, one of the greatest Tibetan masters:

“Enlightenment, or nirvana, is nothing other than the state beyond all obstacle […] Nirvana is not a paradise or some special place of happiness, but is in fact the condition beyond all dualistic concepts, including those of happiness and suffering.” (Dzogchen: the Self-Perfected State, 1994, p.73).

Nirvana, thus, is not a geographical coordinate or a spiritual destination but a psychological state – a state of non-judgment, a state of passive awareness of whatever is, a meta-cognitive distance from the transient and fleeting mind-forms, – i.e. a state of consciousness.


Mindful Eating is Always on Time

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Thought process (from a few minutes ago):

“It’s 1:11pm.  First meal of the day.  How shall I think of this?  Late breakfast?  Early lunch?  Time… is irrelevant to eating.  I  am eating now.  I am eating this moment.  Eating the moment is always on time.”

What was I eating?   Irrelevant too!  Here’s what matters: I was feasting on experiential calories of the moment. 

I wish you a healthy existential appetite!

Mindful Eating Tracker

Counting Experiential Calories


Remain Unstirred By Recycled Consciousness

Friday, February 18th, 2011

When I tell my clients that “thoughts are fleeting, transient events that come and go” and that “there’s never been a thought that didn’t go away,” they initially really like the idea, but they invariably ask: “If these thoughts are so impermanent, then why do I keep thinking some of them?  Why, for example, do I keep having same thoughts about myself?”

Let’s see if I can explain.  I’m sure you’ve had the experience of having a song stuck in your head. “There it is,” you think to yourself, noting the intrusion into your consciousness.  Author David Harp’s concept of “recycled” consciousness can help make sense of these repetitive thought patterns (1996). 


There Are No Mistakes

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

No One Makes Mistakes On Purpose (Sabotage Notwithstanding)

The phrase “to make a mistake” implies purposive, conscious, planned action.  That’s utterly inaccurate: there are no intentional mistakes, no one consciously sets out to fail.

When we fail on purpose, when we make a mistake by design, we are actually succeeding with some kind of covert plan.  Therefore, even an act of conscious sabotage isn’t a mistake (to you) even if takes the form of a mistake (to others).

Bottom-line: No one makes mistakes because no one ever makes a mistake on purpose (sabotage notwithstanding). 


Reinventing the Meal
Reinventing the Meal
Present Perfect
Eating the Moment
The Lotus Effect The Smoke-Free Smoke Break
Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D. is the author of The Lotus Effect, Present Perfect, The Smoke-Free Smoke Break, and Eating the Moment: 141 Mindful Practices to Overcome Overeating One Meal at a Time.


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