Archives for April, 2012


Autonomy of Eating

“We cannot stop our heartbeat or our breathing but we can choose to stop eating and die, as many protest-fasters have demonstrated.” (G.  Sams, p. 208).

This is a highly curious point.  If you were to try to hold your breath to kill yourself, you will faint and your body will take over the steering wheel of your existence.  It will override your stewardship of this body in a kind of body-over-mind coup d’etat.  But if you decide to stop eating, your body is out of luck.  Sure, it will torment you with pangs of hunger but it cannot – without the assistance of your volition – move your hand to put food in its mouth.

Thus, eating (as well as drinking) is a kind of Rubicon of personal freedom.  Not only is the eating behavior within your control, it is also the very reins with which you steer this chariot of body.  How marvelous!  This seemingly out-of-control eating of yours is the very vehicle of mind’s domination over body.
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Acceptance-Based Perfectionism

How To Experience Perfection Without Being Perfectionistic

Classic perfectionism is like an infinite tunnel:  you drive in and you never get out.  For a finite mortal like you and I, chasing the Unattainable is akin to trying to beat the speed of light.  It can’t be done.  Thus, the no-way-out-doom-and-gloom of the perfectionistic mind.  Perfectionism is an autobahn into Nowhere without any exit ramps.  That is, unless we redefine Perfection and Perfectionism.

Shifting the Paradigm of Perfectionism

As I see it, perfectionism is a crisis of misunderstanding of the concept of perfection.  As a culture we believe that perfection is unattainable.  If seen as such, the word “perfection” becomes a nonsense word, a word that refers to something imaginary and nothing real, nothing attainable.

I posit just the opposite: the word “perfection” isn’t a nonsense word, it does refer to something real.  Indeed, as I see it, the word “perfection” is synonymous with the word “reality.”  As such, perfection is not only attainable, it is inevitable.
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Mindfulness Is a Mindlessness of Self

To understand mindfulness (of a certain meditative type) you have to understand the issue of Subject-Object duality.

Subject-Object duality is a vestige of our predatory nature: a life-form (such as you) eyes (sees) another life-form; zooms in, focuses, attends... to see if this other life-form is fit to eat; subject-object duality is born: "I" want "it."  This is our evolutionary past: our attention evolved to track patterns.

To attend is to objectify, to turn an aspect of reality into an "object," into a "thing."  When you objectify an aspect of your environment at the very same time you are also objectifying yourself, turning your unconditional sense of being into a "thing" called "self."  Indeed, to attend to the Other is to distill yourself into a stand-alone Self out of the oneness of what surrounds you. Immersed in all that is at a baseline, we pop out of this anonymity of mindlessness as soon as we begin to track and hunt patterns.

We are first and foremost informational hunter-gatherers.
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Kicking the Habit: Taking Time to Build Skillpower

Smoking, as you well know, is a hard habit to break. What makes this seemingly simple behavior so difficult to quit, from a behavioral standpoint, is the sheer amount of conditioning that goes into installing the habit.  If you smoke a pack a day, you take an average of 160 puffs per day!

The stupefyingly high frequency of smoking behavior can only compete with breathing, walking, and eating. Indeed, can you think of anything else you tend to do at least 160 times a day, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year?

Furthermore, smoking, as a habit, has a tremendously wide conditioning footprint. Smoking is connected to just about everything: to a whole gamut of emotions; to a variety of places, people, and things; to a range of activities, such as eating, thinking, reading, driving, and having sex. So, if you think of smoking as a kind of psychological cobweb, its strands are everywhere, and its triggers linger in every corner of a smoker’s life.

But here’s the kicker: traditional smoking-cessation programs give you only about two weeks to extricate yourself from this psychologically sticky web.  That is, most of these programs recommend that you set a quit date two weeks from the time you start your quit efforts.

For some people, this two week timeline makes sense.  Perhaps you’ve had previous quit attempts, you’ve learned some coping strategies, and you are highly motivated to leave cigarettes behind for good.

For many others, however, two weeks to quit constitutes a rush job that ultimately sets you up for failure.  Our advice?
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Mindful Eating: Tracking Light

Here's a thought from Reinventing the Meal that may "illuminate" your eating a bit:

All energy on this planet – one way or another – is a sun-product.  So, as you fill up your shopping cart, try to mentally track the connection between any given foodstuff and its relationship to the sun.  Plants are, of course, easy.  It’s nearly automatic to envision them outside, basking in the sun, and soaking up the energy...
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