Formula of Change

By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

A break-through begins with a pattern break.

That’s it: pattern interruption restores operational freedom.

Break out of the prison of pattern, Luddite of Consciousness.


related: Choice Awareness Training: Mindfulness and Logotherapy in Treatment of Addiction (Somov, P)



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Existentially Grounded Self-Help Psychology Begins with Nondualistic Ontology

By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

advaMade of nothing more than seemingly dead matter, you see and feel and think, right?


Matter that sees, feels and thinks is not dead.

You are Living (Conscious) Matter.

Get it?!

Existentially grounding self-help psychology begins (and ends) with nondualistic ontology (i.e. with a non-divisive view of self and reality).


ref: go here for image source

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Enduring Identity of Am-ness

By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

waterfallWe are not things. We look like things but we are not things. I can bump into a table, I can bump into you as if you were a thing out there, an obstruction…

But we are not things.

When you walk into a river, you bump against a current as if this current were a thing. This current is always there – it was there yesterday when you went in for a swim and it is there today when you go in for a swim. But a current is not a thing. A current is a process not a fixity.  And so are we.  We are not things, we are… autopoietic currents.  We are… processes. We are… presence-in-progress… am-ness-in-progress…

In fact, there are no “things” per se. Even what we consider to be “things” are not immutable, unchanging objects. Even “things” are ever-dynamic currents of molecular, atomic, subatomic change. We only objectify these processes as “things” because we are unable to visually detect their ever morphing nature.

The Universe is a fluid (dynamic) Oneness.  And so are you…

Stewart White makes a good point (among so many!) in the Unobstructed Universe:

Sometimes it is necessary to take away from a man everything he holds dear before, in despair, he will sit down alone to find that which cannot be taken away from him, that which, despite all, endures and lives within his consciousness.

I call this process of stripping every-thing away “identity detox.”  But whatever the name, notice …

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Opine Not!

By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

su1We love to opine. Opinions express our subjective individuality and, therefore, our bias, taking us away from the inexpressible truth of what is.

Seung Sahn, a spunky Zen master, had this temple rule for his followers:

“To cling to your opinions is to destroy your practice. Put away all your opinions. That is true Buddhism.”

This, in my opinion, is a good advice. And not just for Buddhists. But for any mind that is becoming aware of its own fuss and noise.


I am sure you have some.

And, in the opinion of Seung Sahn, you’d do well to just witness them come and go unexpressed.


Ref: Seung Sahn “Only Don’t Know”

Related: Forgive the Fuss that Rises in You

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Forgive the Fuss That Rises in You

By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

jrThere’s a line from Carl Jung’s Red Book that I like:

“Forgive the fuss that rises in me.”

“What’s the context?” you ask.

Forget the context. The context doesn’t matter. The context is the fuss that arises in us. This Jung’s line has a mantra-like quality. It’s enough for me. I use it out of context.

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Meaning of Life as Defined by a Butcher

By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.


The meaning of life is listening to Pavarotti, feeling the sun on your face, drinking a bottle of wine, and then another. The meaning of life is having a safe and healthy society, a happy family life, good health, a loving wife, work that you like, smelling the smell of a new car and the ocean air, being able to hit a bull’s-eye, coming home with the fish and not another fish story.

said Carmine Pucci, a butcher.

People ask: “What is the meaning of life?”

My own answer is: “Living is the point of life – mindfully, with presence… and, to paraphrase Carmine Pucci, coming home with the fish and not another fish story about the meaning of life.”


ref: The Meaning of Life, by David Friend and the Editors of LIFE, 1991

Fish image available from Shutterstock.

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Chandelier of Pattern Interruption

By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

chaThere is a chandelier in my sitting room. It’s hung too low. I bump into it with my noggin now and then. Everyone tells me I need to get an S-hook and raise it up a bit. They assure me that it is an easy fix.

But I am not interested. This problem is a solution. This chandelier keeps me awake. Chandeliers are meant to illuminate, aren’t they?! This one does so even when it is not lit.

“Knock, knock!”

- Who is there?



related: essays on pattern interruption/choice awareness

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Recovery Need Not Be Your Only Identity

By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

What Would Henry Rollins Do

Rollins once wrote:

He tells me he’s doing better now

It’s been a long upward crawl up from the sewer

The bottom floor was hell for real

He used to be addicted to junk

Now he’s addicted to talking about

How he’s not addicted to junk

Counting the days he’s been clean

He talks about junk more now than when he was using it

Makes me think that no one gets away from it all the way

The more he talks, the more I see the monkey

Breathing down his neck

Singing sweetly in his ear

Telling him to come home

No one over gets away

No one ever crawls all the way out

They become living documents

Tributes to the overwhelming claws of the 10 ton monkey.

Rollins, a modern-day rascal sage, is right and Rollins is wrong. He’s right about the “addiction to talking about addiction” and he is wrong in prognosis: you can get away if you are willing to let go of the identity of an addict. As a clinician, I’ve seen this happen many a time. The key to getting away is this: recovery need not be your only existential accomplishment. Recovery need not be your only source of identity. Document not your recovery but what follows it.  And the monkey moves on to look for another back to ride on.


Comparing 12-Step and Non-Step Models of Addiction Recovery (IRETA – the Institute for Research, Education and Training in Addictions)

The Bananas of Slip/Lapse/Re-Lapse Prevention (Somov, 2003-5)…

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A Taken

By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

Being isn’t a given.

Being is a taken.

“To be” is a verb, a documentation of action.

Being isn’t a cause, being is a consequence

of willing oneself into continuation,

a consequence of taking a breath,

a consequence of taking a chance,

a consequence of taking responsibility,

a consequence of taking a life (via eating, self-defense, etc).

Shakespeare knew it.

And so did Shopenhauer (the grandpa of European Logotherapy, in my opinion).


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What Doesn’t Matter Matters Too

By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

On the way home from work, at a stop sign, I noticed a pigeon walking circles around an empty bag of potato chips.

Does this matter?

It depends on your existential filter.

A Sufi teacher, Sayad Ali Shah, once said:

“You must become as aware of insignificance as you think you are of significance; do not [just] seek feelings of significance alone.”

Why is that?

Because what doesn’t matter matters too.

That, in my understanding, is the real meaning of logotherapy.


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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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