Psych Central

Lotus Effect: Identity Detox Articles

Sensitive? Not a problem.

Monday, March 31st, 2014

-1Sensitivity – I realized – is wound-ability.

(I know it’s a strange word.  Is that even a word?  It is right now.  After all, language is at our service.)

If you weren’t easily wounded, you wouldn’t be sensitive.  Stones don’t feel which is why they don’t cry.  I am glad you are not a stone.  I am glad you feel.  I am glad you feel intensely.  Why?  Because there is a lot to feel.  And to feel intensely is to live intensely.  I hope you too are glad that you are sensitive.  But I doubt you are.  Many see sensitivity as a bad thing.  Rollo May didn’t when he said: “Anxiety is the shadow of intelligence.”   He might have as well said: “Sensitivity is the shadow intelligence.”  Stones don’t feel.  They are dumb.  I am glad you aren’t.

And yet, you might object, wound-ability is a vulnerability, a liability.  It is, indeed, if you don’t know how to heal.  But if you know how to heal, sensitivity stops being a problem.  It used to take me a long time to heal (from ego wounds).  Then I got better about it.  By the time I figured out the “lotus effect” way of shedding informational suffering, I’d heal just as fast as I’d get wounded.  Wound-ability stopped being a problem but the intelligence that comes with it remained.

This is important: psychological sovereignty isn’t invulnerability, it’s heal-ability (ability to heal fast in a self-sustaining manner), to shed dirt like the self-cleaning lotus does.  Point is: psychological sovereignty isn’t about high fences and rigid boundaries to avoid damage and trespassing, but about reasonably permeable boundaries and effective self-repair.

Heal-ability? Yes, another strange word.  Make language serve you instead of being at its service.  Heal yourself with it.

Related Posts

Waste Away

Friday, February 14th, 2014

-1Mind is a perfectly fine thing to waste.  From a meditative standpoint, that is.  Indeed, mind comes, mind goes, recycling itself from one fleeting state to another.

Point is: mind wastes itself, leaving absolutely nothing of permanence to hold onto.

The real conservation question is: what remains?

Look into this cosmic mystery that you are.

more: Lotus Effect

I, a Process

Monday, January 6th, 2014


You are not a thing, you are a process.

You are not a fixed entity, you are change itself.

You both are and aren’t.


Related: Processual View of Self either in Present Perfect (Somov, 2010) or in Lotus Effect (Somov, 2010)

I, a Plurality

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

A (pattern-interrupting) thought to ponder:

We would get a better sense of who we are if we started thinking of ourselves as a “we” not an “I,” as a neural plurality rather than a neural monad.  (Not, as a Royal We, but as a Neural We.)

So, instead of asking yourself “Who am I?” try: “Who are we?”

The above (“Who are we?”) is a big picture question.  Here’s how you could also apply this thought experiment on a narrower, more psychological scale.

Body is a social network.

Mind is a social neural network.

You know how there are times when you wonder: “Why am I so inconsistent?  Why am now this way and at another time that way?” These kinds of inconsistencies are hard to reconcile when we think of ourselves as an “I,” as a neural singularity. But as soon as you switch from an “I” to a “We,” the paradox of our inconsistency falls away. We are metazoan, multi-cellular organisms.  Brain is not an organ but an organization, a neural community of billions of neurons, organized into firing patterns.  Each firing pattern is an “I” of sorts and they clash and compete and come in conflict and, now and then, work in amazing unison (union). When you switch from an I-based view of your mind to a We-based view of your mind, your apparent inconsistencies will suddenly make sense. You’ll have moments of realization: “Hmm, this is an old part of me, an old neural firing pattern, that got programmed long time ago and it was just triggered… And, yes, a different neural “I,” a different part of my neural community, a different neural aspect of my Neural We just kicked it… So, no, I am not crazy, I am not irrational or inconsistent, just multi-faceted, varied, nuanced, complex – it’s just that one of my many minds (one of my many “I-s”) has shifted and the view has changed.”

My position that each of us is not a unified “I” but a variable Neural We is akin to Robert Ornstein’s …

A Stoic Ego Boost

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

epiEpictetus said:

You ought to realize, you take up very little space in the world as a whole – your Body, that is. In Reason, however, you yield to no one, not even to the gods, because Reason is not measured in size but sense. So why not care for that side of you, where you and the gods are equals?

Epictetus, a Greek sage, a Stoic, was born a slave but never was one – not to form, not to tradition, not to dogma, not to culture. He was – what I call – a psychologically self-made man. There are people that are (financially) broke but are not (psychologically) broken. There are people that are (financially) self-made but are (psychologically) impoverished.  When Epictetus says: your Body takes very little space but your Reason (Consciousness, Spirit) is, essentially, of the diameter of Oneness, he is punking your Form and complimenting your Essence. It’s a Stoic kind of ego boost – the kind that belittles the irrelevant and hints at the immeasurable.

“So, why not care for that side of you, where you and the gods are equals?” – to my taste, this line is a great Christmas message. Heck, a great message for any day.

Related: Lotus Effect (Somov, 2010)

Empathy Training for Robots

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

Pattern Break #108-a

Initial statement: the problem with empathy training for robots is not software but hardware. Mirror-neuron circuitry is hardware-based empathy that requires no programming.

Refined statement: the problem with empathy training for robots (and sociopaths) is not software (culture) but hardware. Mirror-neuron circuitry (of biological or technological kind) is hardware-based empathy that requires no programming/culture/modeling.

Pattern Break #108-b

All software eventually hardens; all hardware eventually softens.

Pattern Break #108-c

A mind on an autopilot is a robot lost in a mirror.  Mindfulness (and humanity) begins with self-reflection: ask yourself “Who is this who is asking ‘Who is this?’” Break a pattern.


Anger Management: Shopping for Disapproval

Friday, November 29th, 2013

Anger_04Shopping, like traffic, is a hotbed of fleeting social moments. It’s a time for snap judgments and social comparisons (“Can you believe what he or she is wearing?!”). Immunizing your mind against such trivial ego-challenges is too part of anger management. Invite your client to tap into this well of random social judgments to risk disapproval. Or, if you yourself are feeling a little thin-skinned, explore shopping as a disapproval-inoculation activity.

Do you usually dress up (or put on makeup) to go shopping? What do you think it would be like for you to dress down (or go shopping without makeup)?

Do you ever use coupons? No? What do you think it would be like for you to try, just to cause someone behind you in the checkout aisle a fleeting inconvenience and thus run the risk of that person’s disapproval?

How awkward do you think it would be for you to insist on a price check?

Ponder these questions with your clients (and ponder these questions for your own purposes).

In short, invite the client to explore the activity of shopping for ego threats and encourage him or her to consciously inoculate himself or herself against these judgments, which are insignificant in the overall scheme of the things.

Rethink anger and rethink anger management!


I am giving away a few copies of Anger Management Jumpstart to non-clinicians.  While I wrote this book primarily for clinicians, I believe the book is also useful as a self-help resource.  If you are interested in reviewing this book on Amazon as a self-help resource for anger management, contact me for a free copy.


Adapted from Anger Management Jumpstart: a 4-session Mindfulness Path to Change and Compassion (P. Somov, 2013, PESI Publications & Media)

Verses of Awakening

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Interpreting poetry is a dirty business. Understanding why it affected you is not so bad.  Here’s another verse that woke me up the other day.

Korean Zen preceptor Naong (1320-1376):

With the true emptiness of nonaction,

I nap on a stone pillow among rocks.

Do you ask me what is my power?

A single tattered robe through life.

What is about these four lines? What did I see in this? A couple of thoughts:

1. We are restless creatures. We keep optimizing. We keep trying to get comfortable.  But here, a fellow mind naps on a stone pillow among rocks. How is this possible? How can you be comfortable amidst such discomfort?  By realizing that “with the true emptiness of nonaction” discomfort passes on its own.  By realizing that there is neither the sleeper nor the stone pillow to sleep on.  By realizing that all solidity is a dream.

2. We seek power. We aggrandize ourselves. We accrue.  But here’s a fellow mind pursuing a different path, living a life in which “a single tattered robe” is enough. There is a different kind of power in this: a power of letting go, a power of non-attachment.


related: Present Perfect and Lotus Effect (Somov, 2010)

ref: Anthology of Korean Literature, by Peter H. Lee


The One Looking

Saturday, September 14th, 2013

lotus effectMind is the real body. *

The inner body.**

Get it fit.


*”Mind is the real body.”  What does that mean? – Look at your hand; are you this hand or are you the one looking at it? Of course, you are not your hand – you can lose it and still be the one looking at your other hand.

**”The inner body.” What does that mean? – You are not the body you see in the mirror; you are the one looking at this body; no, you are not the eyes either, you are the one looking through them; that am-ness, that sense of being is the inner body that you are, the lotus within.


Pattern Interruption Mindstream

Identity Giveaway

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

-1Identity theft is when someone identifies themselves as you and steals your resources.  Identity giveaway is when you identify as someone else and surrender your sense of individuality and uniqueness.

All identification with the external is a giveaway of your essence.

Identity giveaway begins with social comparisons and peaks with social imitation.

The word “identity” comes from the Latin word idem, which means “same.”  Identity is built through identification with the external, with what you are not. We determine our identities by comparing ourselves to “not-ourselves” and thereby try to determine who we are. We tend to think along the lines of “I am like this or that” or “I am like so-and-so or that-and-such.”  Therein lies the problem.

You aren’t like anything or anybody else, even if you are similar.  Similarity isn’t sameness.  No one is the same as you. There is no one like you.  You are not an almost-you, or a kinda-you, or a sorta-you.  You are one of a kind, fully and uniquely you!  When we identify (equate) ourselves with the external, with what is not us, we ignore the very uniqueness that makes us different.

Recognize that uniqueness is beyond comparison.  Recognize that you are beyond comparison.  Recognize that as long as you define what you are by what you are not, you are exchanging your uniqueness and oneness for similarity.  And, in so doing, you are giving away your identity and losing sight of your essential, unique self.  Identification with the external is an identity giveaway.

Identity giveaway, just like identity theft, is a loss of self.


Adapted from Lotus Effect (Pavel Somov, New Harbinger Publications, 2010)

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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