Archive for May, 2012

To Eat Is To Know

Friday, May 25th, 2012

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.

Slip, Lapse, Relapse

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

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.

Wellbeing Chooses Itself

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Whether you are choosing the lesser of the two evils or the greater of the two goods, whether you are choosing to reduce pain or choosing to amplify pleasure, or just choosing not to choose in order to maintain the comfort of the status quo, a choice is always made in the direction of one’s wellbeing.

Indeed, a choice is an act of selection between two or more options.  But what guides this selection?  What informs any given preference?  Wellbeing, of course.  So, congratulations to you on any conscious choice you make since any conscious choice is an affirmation of wellbeing!

Life is in the business of wellbeing.  Celebrate life with conscious choice!


[reference: Choice Awareness Training (for clinicians)]


Time for a Tail Wag, Fish!

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Did you know that not all that long ago, you (yes, you!) had a tail?

I’m not talking about evolution; I’m talking your very own embryonic history. At about four and half weeks’ gestation, when you still didn’t know air and lived like a fish inside the liquid medium within your mother’s amniotic sac, you had a large, tadpolelike head and a tail and resembled “a prehistoric animal” (Nilsson 1990, 80).

So let me ask you: how does this bit of embryonic trivia change your sense of humanity, if at all?

Time for a mindful tail wag, human fish!


Wise Dirt, Humble Soil, Knowing Earth

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

Homo sapiens—how humbly and wisely we have named ourselves.

Our first name (our genus name), Homo, has its roots in the soil. The word “homo” is related to the words “humus,” “humble,” and “humility,” all of which mean “dirt” or “earth.” Our last name (our species name), sapiens, takes its origin from the Latin verb sapere, which has two meanings: “to know” and “to taste.”

So here we are: Wise Dirt, Humble Soil, Knowing Earth.

As you sit down for another meal, remember that you yourself are Earth, that you are eating Earth, that you are becoming Earth as you eat this Earth.

Enjoy your next eating moment with the wisdom and the humility of self-awareness.


Congrats On Your Unfocused Mind (3)

Friday, May 18th, 2012

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.

Willpower, Habitpower, Skillpower

Friday, May 18th, 2012

We are all equally endowed with willpower but we differ in the power of habits that we have ourselves created and have now to struggle with.  We also differ in terms of the skillpower*  that we bring to the fight with the habitpower.

*skillpower: coping power (which is a reflection of our mastery of such coping strategies as craving control and emotional self-regulation)

related: Weak Willpower or Habitual Automaticity?

Weak Willpower or Habitual Automaticity?

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

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:

  1. the ability to carry out one’s decisions, wishes, or plans, and
  2. 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.

Ego-Loss Pill Is Hard to Swallow

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

If there existed an ego-loss pill, would you take it?

If not, why not?  What would you be afraid to lose?

If yes, why yes?  What would you not be afraid to lose?


My take?

Ego-loss pill is a hard one to swallow.

But it’s good for your psychological health.


Resource: Self-View/Lotus Effect

Living Rock

Monday, May 14th, 2012

So much of the mineral side of this planet hasn’t yet had a chance to experience itself biologically. Entire oceans of molten lava have yet to pour out of the Earth’s core onto its surface, then to cool down, then to solidify into rock, and then – over billions of years – to be eventually eroded by wind into the fine mineral dust that may or may not one day become incorporated into some conscious life-form that will look at its own bones on an X-ray and say “Wow!”

What a privilege to be this living rock that I am.


What category shall I file this post under?

- “Incarnation,” I guess.

Select books by Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.:
Mindful Emotional Eating Reinventing the Meal
Present Perfect
Eating the Moment

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