Perfectionism: Uncertainty Training

By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

9781572247567

Psychologically speaking, koans are a unique way to inoculate a human mind to the anxiety of uncertainty. When we encounter uncertainty, we are stumped. Uncertainty frustrates us with its enigmatic nonsense. Koans, in their unanswerable quality, effectively simulate such moments of uncertainty.

Author Hee-Jin Kim explains: the koans are “realized, not solved” (1975, 101). Admittedly, this explanation is a bit of a puzzle itself. But here’s how I make sense of it. A koan, once again, is an unanswerable puzzle. If we take it on, we begin banging our dualistic head against the nondual wall of the unknown . At some point, we realize that there is no solution, and we settle into a don’t-know mind.

This realization, of course, comes up pretty early in the koan work. And it serves as the true beginning, not the end of the process. Knowing in advance that you are working with an unanswerable question, you accept your limitations. No longer trying to know the unknowable, you calmly remain with the question in a state of not knowing. Knowingly, you keep chasing the tail of not knowing in a process that, I believe, very much parallels the day-to-day mystery of life.

Thus, the potential therapeutic value of koan work as a kind of one-question-therapy that can help soothe the perfectionistic thirst for answers.

Here are a few of the koans [from the Present Perfect book] that I developed to challenge perfectionistic thinking for my clients and my readers:

What …


Comment Comments Off

Mindful Eating Moment # 804

By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

Mindful eating moment # 804: “Standing on a city park bench, eating mulberries. A summer treat.”

Share yours.

Mindful Eating Tracker



Love is Auto-telic, Hate is Auto-exaleiphic

By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

Love and HateWhen we love, we love the fact that we love.

We love to love.

Love is auto-telic* (self-reinforcing).

When we hate, we hate the fact that we hate.

We hate to hate.

Hate is auto-exaleiphic** (self-limiting).

Notice this distinction in yourself.***

-

* Auto-Telic/autotelic: auto is Greek for “self” and “telos” is Greek for “goal” = self-reinforcing, self-driven, a goal in and of itself

** Auto-Exaleiphic/autoexaleiphic: auto  is Greek for “self” and “exaleipho” is Greek for “wipe out, obliterate” = self-limiting (a term that the author of this blogpost coined for the purpose of this blogpost only).

***A caveat: initially we might not mind that we hate, we might hate righteously, with or without awareness, this is a period/phase of anger, when hate is really just fear; but eventually as the limbic/affective side of hate/fear fades away, hate becomes a kind of cognitive residue.  Hate turns on itself.  In sum, inevitably, hate spoils itself.

www.eatingthemoment.com

www.drsomov.com

neuraltribe.squarespace.com

 

Dennis Skley via Compfight


Comment Comments Off

Good Self-Esteem is Still Self-Judgment

By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

9781572247567The solution to bad self-esteem is not good self-esteem.

The solution to bad self-esteem is unconditional self-acceptance.

All esteem (good or bad) is a form of situation-specific self-estimation, that is, a form of conditional self-judgment, and, as such, is psychologically self-limiting.

Self-acceptance, on the other hand, is a platform of unconditional wellbeing.

-

[I have proposed this idea in my 2010 book Present Perfect (Somov, New Harbinger Publications) in Chapter 9 "From Self-Esteem to Self-Acceptance."  In my clinical experience,  this particular shift (from self-esteem to self-acceptance) has proven to be one of the most powerful ways of breaking through the perfectionistic impasse.]


Comment Comments Off

Eating is Yoga

By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

 

9781608821013The Sanskrit root of the word “yoga” means “to yoke.” Therefore, yoga is literally union. In truth, all of your existence is yoga. You are made of this world. You depend on this world. If this world ends— locally or globally—you end too. There is no absolute self-sufficiency, and therefore no stand-alone self. All separation is relative, a trick of the mind. Untrick yourself at your next meal. Recognize that you are not apart from this world but a part of this world. Eating, just like breathing, reminds you of this union. As such, eating is yoga; eating unifies. And your dinner table is a yoga mat for your mind. Stay in the asana you are in. When you eat, eat.

Adapted from “Reinventing the Meal” (Somov, 2013)

 


Comment Comments Off

A Seed of Awareness

By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

 

9781608821013Botanically, a seed is not the potential for life; it’s already a life—a tiny plant life with a lunch box of its own food, awaiting a journey of life. In my book The Lotus Effect (2010), I shared a story about 1,300-year-old lotus seeds that managed to germinate and grow when given a chance.

Eat a handful of seeds to meditate on how innocently your metabolic needs result in killing. Here you are, taking care of yourself and, at the same time, denying a living thing its chance to grow and flourish. Wrestle for a moment with the question of which is more important, you or those seeds. My answer is you, of course. If those seeds could eat you to survive, they would. Life is inevitably self-serving. As long as there is a self, it is going to serve itself a serving of environ- ment. That’s just how it is. So, even as you contemplate this inevitable zero-sum metabolic scenario, enjoy your sustenance. No guilt, I say— just compassion and gratitude!

Adapted from Reinventing the Meal (Somov, 2013)

 

 


Comment Comments Off

Disconnecting Through Eating

By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

 

9781608821013Breaking bread with someone is a form of intimacy. But eating can also alienate. As Lucille Schulberg wrote in Historic India, “A primary impulse behind the caste system was probably the fear of spiritual pollution through food” (1968, 140):

[The Indians believed that] the mana, or ‘soul-stuff’ of human beings was the same as the soul-stuff of food, especially vegeta- ble food. Unbroken cereal food—grasses growing in a field, seeds waiting to be gathered—retained their soul-stuff when they were handled; anyone could touch and eat them safely. But once grain was softened in cooking or seeds were pressed for their oil, their soul-stuff mixed with the soul-stuff of the person who prepared the food… A taboo on sharing food with an outsider—that is, with anyone not in [one’s] own caste—was a protective measure against such spiritual pollution… The higher a caste, the more restricted its menu.

A couple of questions for you.

  • Do you believe that the “soul-stuff” of food is the same as your “soul-stuff”? If you do, how does this inform your eating? If you don’t, how does that influence your eating practices?
  • Also, in what ways are you an eating outcast?
  • How does your eating style isolate you?

Ponder how what you eat might have stratified you socially. Ponder how connecting to something existential or spiritual through eating can also lead to some degree of social disconnecting.

Adapted from Reinventing the Meal …


Comment Comments Off

Crazy Wisdom of Existentially Grounded Cynicism

By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

frJitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins was the second book that I read in English (the first one was The Future Shock by Alvin Toffler). Robbins’ style helped me fall in love with English. It was a long time ago (late 80s). Now the guy has come out (reluctantly) with a memoir, Tibetan Peach Pie. Here’s an excerpt from a recent interview.

Tom Robbins: “What I’ve learned along the way is that existence is cosmic theatre, but paradoxically, we should play our roles to the absolute best of our ability while having the wisdom not to take them too seriously.”

RL: “Would you call yourself a cynic?”

TR: “Basically I agree with the existentialists, but the difference between me and, say, Camus and Sartre is that I don’t let it snow on my fiesta.”

Crazy wisdom, originally a Tibetan concept, according to Robbins is “the opposite of conventional wisdom.” Viewed as such, all wisdom is crazy since all wisdom is a non-cliche pattern break.  Crazy wisdom is half-asleep enlightenment in frog pajamas…

-

Reference: interview with Tom Robbins by Rob Liguori, The New York Times Magazine, May 2014


Comment Comments Off

A Bite of Knowledge from a Tree of Mindful Eating

By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

 

9781608821013When you eat a fruit, such as an apple, you are stepping—wittingly or unwittingly—into someone else’s reproductive cycle, becoming involved in a kind of ménage à trois with a tree and Earth in a life-giving project.

In fact, when you eat a piece of fruit, you are literally eating a plant-based sex organ. A fruit, botanically speaking, is a sexually active part of a flowering plant. When you consume an apple, you eat its fleshy, sweet, pulpy ovary tissue, and then you participate in the process of seed dispersal by throwing out the apple core.

Naturally, if you shred the apple core and its seeds in a kitchen garbage disposal, there isn’t any life-giving going on. But if you eat an apple and toss the core into your backyard, you might just be participating in the birth of a future apple tree. Ponder this apple bite from the tree of knowledge before your next meal.

Adapted from Reinventing the Meal (Somov, 2013)

Share your mindful eating moments at Mindful Eating Tracker

www.eatingthemoment.com

www.drsomov.com

 

 


Comment Comments Off

Craving Control: Controlling By Letting Go of Control

By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

 

9781608821013Mindfulness involves two essential mechanisms: applying a certain kind of attention and practicing disidentification.

Attention can be active or passive: that of an active observer or that of an uninvolved witness. This distinction is easy to understand through contrasting such verbs as “to look” versus “to see.” “To look” implies an active visual scanning, a kind of goal-oriented visual activity. “To see” implies nothing other than a fact of visual registration. Say I lost my house keys. I would have to look for them. But in the process of looking for my house keys, I might also happen to see an old concert ticket. Mindfulness is about seeing, not looking. It is about just noticing or just witnessing without attachment to or identification with what is being noticed and witnessed. This is where disidentification comes in.

Cravings (for dessert or something specific to eat, or just to keep eating) come and go. Mindfulness—as a meditative stance—allows you to recognize that craving is a transient, fleeting state of mind, and just one part of your overall experience. Mindfulness teaches you to realize that this impulse to keep on eating is but a thought inside the mind. Yes, it’s part of you, but it isn’t all of you—which is exactly why you can just notice it, just see it without having to stare at it. In sum, mindful- ness—as a form of impulse control—is a strategy of controlling by letting …


Comment Comments Off

 
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.


Subscribe to this Blog:
Feed


Or Get a Single, Daily Email (enter email address):

via FeedBurner



Recent Comments
  • best honeymoon resort: Cancun has got several golfing clubs with scenic locations that are considered to be a few of...
  • Garage Remodeling: Omg. Great style. Exactly how did an individual make absolute sure it had sufficient place and...
  • Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.: I follow. Well said. Thank you.
  • oldblackdog: This is a reaction to A Snapshot of Self” I used to “do” a lot of photography, old...
  • Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.: Not sure what you mean (in the context of this post). Thank you.
Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code



Users Online: 12240
Join Us Now!