Archives for May, 2012

To Eat Is To Know

Eating was the original science, the original study of the environment. Kids, just like primordial life-forms, learn about reality by putting it in their mouths. This mouth knowledge knows no abstracts. The world is either sweet or bitter, smooth or prickly, pleasant or unpleasant. Mouth knowledge comes with gut-level certainty. So to eat is literally to know.

But to know what?

It is to know self from nonself.  Mouth knowledge taught us the boundaries of our bodies. When, as babies, we sucked an object, such as a pacifier, we felt it only from one side, from the side of the mouth. When we sucked our thumbs, we felt them from the outside, through the mouth, and from the inside, through the feeling of the thumb being sucked on. This mouth knowledge—unlike later school knowledge—gave us a glimpse of our paradoxical nature: that somehow we are both the subject and the object of our own experience.

We gave our species the name Homo sapiens.  That name makes good sense. The word sapiens is Latin for both “to know” and “to taste.” Yes, we are knowing animals.
Continue Reading

Slip, Lapse, Relapse

Here's an excerpt from Smoke-Free Smoke Break  (P. Somov & M. Somova, 2011) on slip/lapse/relapse prevention training.  This particular excerpt is tailored to smoking but the idea applies to any drug of choice (and is originally adapted from Recovery Equation, Somov, 2003).

Slip, Lapse, Relapse

The goal of slip, lapse and relapse prevention training is to help you to stay abstinent from smoking, that is, to prevent abstinence loss. In our analysis, there is substantial confusion about what constitutes loss of abstinence. If your dermatologist (skin doctor), without any testing, told you that a dark spot on your forearm was melanoma and turned out to be wrong, you’d fire that doctor.

The recovery industry does this sort of thing every day when it confuses a slip with a lapse and a lapse with a relapse. These three are, of course, not the same. So, once and for all, let's end this lingering confusion and make sense of abstinence loss with the help of a “banana peel” metaphor that we developed for working with substance users.
Continue Reading

General

Congrats On Your Unfocused Mind (3)

Another excerpt from "Attention Surplus" (which is "100 meditative propositions that reframe the concept of ADD from a strength- and empowerment-based perspective"):

[continued from Part 1] [continued from part 2]

62.  There are two kinds of attention – Horizontal and Vertical.

63.  Horizontal attention is when you scan the world from left to right or from right to left, back and forth, up and down, from corner to corner.  But it’s not really about the direction…

64.  Horizontal attention is panoramic but superficial: you notice a lot but you don’t really understand a lot.

65.  Horizontal attention is when you try to take it All in.  And when you notice Everything you react to Everything.  Horizontal attention comes with hyper-reactivity and hyper-activity.

66.  Vertical attention is different: vertical attention is when you go deeply into one thing.
Continue Reading

Choice Awareness Training

Weak Willpower or Habitual Automaticity?

Adapted from Choice Awareness Training: Logotherapy & Mindfulness for Treatment of Addictions:

The act of will, application of willpower, and making of a choice are synonymous.  The term willpower, however, has an unfortunate connotation of varying strength, as if to convey that some people have a more powerful will than others.  It should be noted that the term “willpower” is not an inherently incorrect term.  When used in the sense of “power of will (or volition),” the term heightens, if not extols, the human capacity to make a choice.

The phrase “power of will” is free from any kind of interpersonal comparison, it is merely an acknowledgement that as humans we possess a power (a freedom) of self-determination through choice.  The term “willpower” becomes problematic, however, when the semantic focus shifts from “power of will” to “how powerful one’s will is.”

The Concise American Heritage Dictionary (1987) reflects this distinction by defining “will power” as:

the ability to carry out one’s decisions, wishes, or plans, and
the strength of mind.

While the first meaning of willpower does exist, the second is nothing but a linguistic connotation of the word “power” that does not have a phenomenological reality.  Comparative perception of will or capacity for choice as being stronger or weaker is erroneous and psychologically damaging.  An act of will or a choice is a binary event: one either acts or does not act in a certain fashion.  Consequently, all people are equally strong choosers, with an equal power for will, i.e. of the same willpower.

Continue Reading

12