Psych Central

Pattern Interruption Articles

Talking Heads of Pattern Interruption

Monday, November 26th, 2012

A few pattern-interruption points from Talking Heads (from 1984):

“There is a finite number of jokes in the universe.”

“There is no music in space.”

“Cats like houses better than people.”

“Schools are for training people how to listen to other people.”

“Violence on television only affects children whose parents act like television personalities.”

“Table manners are for people who have nothing to do.”

“Civilization is a religion.”

“People will remember you better if always wear the same outfit.”

“In the future we will all drive standing up.”

“Adults think with their mouths open.”

“Passport pictures are what people really look like.”

“In the future it will be a relief to find a place without a culture.”

“When everything is worth money then money is worth nothing.”

“In the future love will be taught on television and by listening to pop songs.”


The future is, of course, always now.  And the pattern-interruption advice from Talking Heads reveals the path to the present moment:  ”Stop making sense.”

Take yourself to the river of the now and drop your mind into the water of whatever is.

Break the pattern to resume your flow.


Pattern Interruption


Next Economy, Buddhist Economy

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

buddhist economyNovember 6th, 2012: the day we vote on economy… the year of apocalyptic partisanship… the year of promises of new economy…

I usually don’t mess with economics.  The last time I spoke on the topic was when I re-phrased the all-too-familiar “It’s economy, stupid!” meme into “It’s psychology, stupid!” in my 2009 Huffington Post blog.

My question is this:

What kind of economy are we trying to build?

The kind of economy where everyone who wants to work can work?

Or the kind of economy that works by itself without the need to work?

Or the kind of economy where work doesn’t feel like work?

These are all very different questions and the answers to these questions range from industrial age pragmatism to utopian fantasies.

But I am looking for something in the middle, for an economy of the Middle Way for the middle class…

Is there such a beast?

Turns out there is and it’s called Buddhist Economics as described (in the 1970s) by E. F. Schumacher in “Small is Beautiful” (a must read!).

A couple of excerpts and a few points.

Schumacher explains:

“There is universal agreement that a fundamental source of wealth is human labor.  Now, the modern economists have been brought up to consider “labor” or work as little more than a necessary evil.  From the point of view of the employer, [labor] is in any case simply an item of cost, to be reduced to a minimum… say, by automation.  From the point of view of the workman, [labor/work] is a “disutility;” to work is to make a sacrifice of one’s leisure and comfort, and wages are a kind of compensation for the sacrifice.  Hence the ideal from the point of the employer is to have output without employees, and the ideal from the point of view of the employee is to have income without employment.”

Exactly: that’s what I, as an immigrant to this country, have witnessed over the past 20 years  – employers try to get rid of employees and the working public keeps dreaming the American dream of early retirement.

I am a big fan of the television show …

A Brain Isn’t an Organ but an Organization

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

You see, we over-identify with our brains. We think of brains as our central organs whereas in reality we are a massive neural colony (nervous system) on a body-wide scale. We think that we are in our skulls. But we aren’t. We – the neural colonies that inhabit a given body – are all throughout. You are not just in your skull. You are also in your fingertips and in your toes. You are everywhere you find the neurons that you are along with all of your axonal or dendritic extensions.

First Person Plural

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

“We have seen the whole and we are extraordinarily alive.” (1)

Having seen the Whole we have seen ourselves… and yes, we are extraordinarily alive.

A Part that recognizes itself as a Whole stops being apart, stops being an “I” and becomes a “We.”


(1) Jiddu Krishnamurti

Mindfulness Is a Mindlessness of Self

Friday, April 13th, 2012

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.

What is Mind?

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

What is mind?

Short answer: mind is just another four-letter word.

Long answer: mind is a body that thinks it is not a body but something separate from it.  Thus, a mind is a deluded body.  Once again: here you are, a “mind,” thinking that you are “in” a “body,” but you aren’t “in” a body.  You are a body, a body thinking that you are a mind, i.e. a body that does not know oneself, a body that thinks it isn’t what it is but something else.  But you aren’t anything else.  You are this body.  That’s all.  I hope it’s enough since there isn’t anything else.

Sure, you can call this “mind” a subtle body, or a body-within-a-body, or an inner body, but a body is still a body even if it’s in the form of a nesting doll set.  You are one, not two, even if you use two words (body and mind) to describe this two-dimensional oneness of yours.

Had a Taste Yet?

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

A thought-provoking passage from a story Yam Gruel by the early 20th century Japanese writer Akutagawa:

“Yam gruel is a gruel made by boiling slices of yam in a soup of sweet arrow-root.  […]  It was regarded as the supreme delicacy. […]  Accordingly, such lower officials as Goi could taste it only once a year when they were invited as […] guests to the Regent’s Palace. […] On such occasion they could eat no more of it than barely enough to moisten their lips.  So it had been [Goi’s] long-cherished desire to satiate himself with yam gruel.  Of course, he himself did not confide his desire to anyone.  He himself might not have been clearly aware that it had been his life-long wish.  But as a matter of fact, it would hardly be too much to say that he lived for this purpose.  A man sometimes devotes his life to a desire which he is not sure will ever be fulfilled.  Those who laugh at this folly are, after all, no more than mere spectators of life.”

I have but one question for you today, but I’ll state it thrice:

Are you aware of what drives you and why?

What yam gruel are you still chasing?

Have you had a taste of life yet?


Note to Mere Spectators of Life: if you happen to have the wisdom of merely noticing “what is,” without chasing it, I salute your equanimity!

Reference:  Rashomon & Other Stories, by Ryunosuke Akutagawa

Mind Rinse

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Have a swig of mind rinse (of the Pattern Interruption series):

Life is hardware with software.  Hardware without software is dead matter.  Hardware with software is living matter.  But hardware and software are not two.  Software is when hardware softens.  When hardware softens to enable self-reflection it becomes software.  Software is just self-aware hardware.

Hardware that is aware of self is also aware of other.  Life runs on self-other duality: to know other is to know self; to know self is to know other.  But, of course, self is other and other is self (since this world knows no true separateness).

Confused?  Enlightened?  Doesn’t matter as long as this reading served as a neural cleanse of sorts for your mindware.  When you started reading this you were mentally at point A.  Now you are mentally at point B.  Your mind moved on (even if your body hasn’t).  It’s always like that: mind rinses itself.  What’s next?  C for yourself.

Postscript: When lost in flow, find flow to rediscover yourself.  Whether it’s from A to B or from B to C or from A to C is irrelevant.  No need to get hung up on the informational specifics of the content that flows through your mind.  Flow itself is the anchor.


Circle of Choice

Architecture of Pattern Interruption

Pattern-Bound?  Take a Detour

[image source]

Thin Ice of Presence

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Meaning is an association of what is now with what once was…

Take a look at any object in your immediate environment: say, you are looking at a “so-called” (I’ll explain the “so-called” parenthetical in a few moments) cup. Say, I picked it up from your desk and asked: “What is this?” You’d say: “A cup.” And I’d say: “No, what is this?” After a moment of bemusement, you might offer: “A mug?” And I – with the best of the poker faces – would stay firm: “No, what is this?”

After a pause and/or after a little friendly prodding from me, you might suggest: “A container for liquids?” To welcome the emerging looseness of your associations, I’d kick the door of your mind with a more clue-like question: “Yes… What else could this object be?” With this prompt, you’d likely fire off a series of ideas: “A paper-weight, a weapon if you throw it, a small hand-held shovel…”

So here we are: what used to be a cup now has acquired some additional meanings, by virtue of re-association…

Where am I going with this? Okay: let me reiterate the thesis: meaning is an association. When, as kids, we first encounter a new object, we ask: “Mom/Dad, what is this?” “It’s a fork,” Mom/Dad programs our mind… “And this (fill in the blank)?” Mom/Dad: “This is (fill in the blank).”

Rationalizing is Rational

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

What is the vector of your rationalization today?

Are you rationalizing Determinism into Free Choice or are you rationalizing Free Choice into Determinism?

In other words, are you taking conscious credit for what had to be or are you explaining away a choice you freely made by blaming the context, the situation, the environment, the circumstance?

In other words, what is your Rationalization Vector today?  How exactly are you saving your face?  By internalizing or externalizing?

Accept whatever you observe.  Whether you are externalizing or internalizing, you are coping, i.e. taking care of yourself.  That makes emotionally-pragmatic sense.

Conclude: rationalization – however misguided – is rational.

FYI: I catch myself going both ways most days.

[image source]

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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