Waking Up the Zombie

Ensō (円相) is a Japanese word meaning "circle" and a concept strongly associated with Zen. Ensō is one of the most common subjects of Japanese calligraphy even though it is a symbol and not a character. It symbolizes the Absolute, enlightenment, strength, elegance, the Universe, and the void; it can also symbolize the Japanese aesthetic itself. As an "expression of the moment" it is often considered a form of minimalist expressionist art.  (source: wiki)


Choice Awareness Training - Intro

Choice Awareness Training

Freedom manifests through the awareness of a choice.  But what is a choice?  We say we “have a choice” when we are aware of options to select from.  Thus, the notion of “choice” refers to:

a)      the awareness of the options available, and

b)      the act of selection of one of the options.

Becoming aware of the options restores our sense of freedom, takes us off the auto-pilot, off the zombie mode, and gives us an opportunity to change our patterns, habits, rituals, routines. 

Theoretical Freedom

We are fundamentally free.  And yet, in our everyday life, we do not feel free.  We mindlessly repeat the same patterns over and over, and, as a result, end up feeling caught up in a vicious cycle of sameness, feeling powerless to change.  This kind of mindlessness, this sense of being stuck, is true of all of us, and is particularly true of compulsives (such as perfectionists, substance users, etc.).

Operational Freedom

Operational (or practical, actionable) freedom is proportionate to our mindfulness, i.e. to our presence in the moment, to our awareness of the options available to us at any given moment.  The more options we are aware of at any given moment, the freer we are.

Increasing Operational Freedom

When you are stuck in a "should," when you are mindless, when you are flying blind on an autopilot of a given habit, you don’t see any options other than the course of action that is expected of you.  Your operational freedom is close to zero.  You are a zombie, a robot, a passenger of what's been programmed into you.  Acceptable alternatives, of course, exist but you are not in a habit of looking for them.

The goal of Choice Awareness Training is to increase operational freedom by looking for the alternatives and by practicing the psychomechanics of choice.  Ultimately, the goal of Choice Awareness Training is to de-program the zombie so that he/she can consciously re-program oneself, in order to own one's life rather than to keep living out someone else's expectations.


Recovery Equation: Motivational Enhancement, Choice Awareness & Use Prevention, an Innovative Clinical Curriculum for Substance Use Treatment (P. Somov, M. Somova, 2004)

Choice Awareness Training: Logotherapy & Mindfulness Training for Addictions Treatment (P. Somov, 2010)