Welcome

GOAL: to help you reclaim eating moments of your life with meaning and moderation; to help you leverage self-acceptance and compassion; to help you appreciate the ordinary perfection of what is; and to help you rediscover your essential self. 

Pavel Somov, Ph.D.

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10 Clinical Skills to Overcome Overeating

Author: Pavel Somov, Ph.D.
Publisher: CMI Education Institute 2011
Length: 4 DVD(s)
Media Type: Seminar on DVD
Duration: 5 hours, 29 minutes
Item: ZNV041660

 

Price : $79.99

Product Details

There is more to mindful/conscious eating than just slowing down, paying attention and chewing ten times.

Watch this seminar recording and take home a highly experiential, clinically eclectic mix of conscious eating skills designed to broaden the definition of mindful eating beyond the “raisin meditation.”

The recording will culminate with motivational enhancement training through a development of a personalized philosophy of eating designed to help your client (and you!) anchor your eating habits in your existential and life values.

This practical and popular seminar recording is based on Pavel Somov’s program of awareness-building and habit-modifying mindful practices to overcome overeating one meal at a time described in his book, Eating the Moment.

acceptance of reality = self-acceptance = other-acceptance = compassion

Sunday
Oct172010

OK to Have a Motive

The reality runs on cause-and-effect.  We are part of this reality.  We run on motive-and-behavior.  We run on reason-and-behavior.  After all, we reasonable, rational, sentient, sapient beings.  If we don’t have a reason (i.e. a motive) behind what we do, then whatever we are doing is mindless, meaningless, and reflexive.

Selflessness – as unmotivated behavior – is a psychologically-toxic myth.  A robot is selfless because it doesn’t have a self.  A human has a self, and this self makes choices, i.e. expresses preferences, i.e. moves towards wellbeing.  That’s how we operate.  That’s natural.  There’s nothing wrong with having a reason (i.e. motive) behind what you do.  We tend to struggle to acknowledge our motives in fear that you’ll be accused of selfishness.  But selfishness doesn’t have to be a bad word.  Selfishness* is simply a pursuit of well-being, an act of self-care.  It is our psycho-physiological imperative. 

Sure, we aren’t always conscious of our reasons and motives, but they are there.  We are just not in a habit of acknowledging them.  And, sure, sometimes, we just do things on autopilot.  If I hold the door for you, of course, I didn’t quickly calculate some kind of quid-pro-quo scheme, I’m just being an automaton of politeness.  My gesture is reflexive, conditioned: my self wasn’t really involved.  That’s not altruism or selflessness, that’s just mindlessness.

The fact of having a motive in and of itself isn’t the problem; the problem is when our motives benefit us at the expense of others’ wellbeing.  If you secretly took some work home because you want to do a really good job, it’s for you even if you are not going to get credit for it.  How’s that?  Well, if you made a choice, then you expressed a preference.  If you expressed a preference, then there was something preferable, i.e. desirable about it.

What could it have been, you might ask, and remind me that you weren’t even going to get credited for this?  Well, you tell me: you made a choice, you expressed preference!  What moved you to do so?  Maybe you thought you’d feel good knowing that you did the best job you could on this given task?  Or maybe you were interested in the project itself and welcomed the stimulation of the challenge?  But whatever the reason, one thing is clear: you had one.

To claim that you didn’t have a reason is to claim that you are an exception to this omnipresent reality of cause-and-effect.  But, of course, you are not: you have your reasons.  A reason is a motive.  If, for some reason, you like the word “reason” better than the word “motive,” then call your motives “reasons.”  What you call it is irrelevant: what’s relevant is that you acknowledge – at least to yourself – that whenever you make a choice, you are moving in the direction of your own wellbeing, that you are taking care of yourself.  Once again, there’s nothing wrong with that!  Therefore, you shouldn’t be afraid to want to feel good.

You shouldn’t have to sustain yourself on shoulds or hide your motives.  After all, a should is just another want.  So, why the charade?  Why not acknowledge your motives?

No need to cover up your motives: recovery of motivation begins with awareness of one's motives.  Unmask a "should" to find a "want."

Notes:

*Selfishness can be "zero-sum" or "non-zero-sum;" in "zer0-sum" selfishness satisfaction of one's needs comes at the expense of others' needs; in "non-zero-sum" selfishness one's need-satisfaction does not impinge on the wellbeing of the others (and possibly facilitates it); thus, the word "selfishness," in and of itself, is not to be confused with "egotism" (which would be zero-sum type of self-serving behavior).

Friday
Sep242010

There Are No Mistakes

No One Makes Mistakes On Purpose (Sabotage Notwithstanding)

I did my best… I did my best!

Dane Cook, comedian

The phrase “to make a mistake” implies purposive, conscious, planned action.  That’s utterly inaccurate: there are no intentional mistakes, no one consciously sets out to fail. 

When we fail on purpose, when we make a mistake by design, we are actually succeeding with some kind of covert plan.  Therefore, even an act of conscious sabotage isn’t a mistake (to you) even if takes the form of a mistake (to others). 

Bottom-line: No one makes mistakes because no one ever makes a mistake on purpose (sabotage notwithstanding). 

And yet mistakes do take place.   Indeed, now and then we all drop the proverbial ball.  Not because we intend to but because there are too many balls to juggle with. 

Understanding the difference between an intentional mistake and an unintentional occurrence is key to wellbeing and self-acceptance.

A Mistake is a Difference Between What Is and What Should Be

When we think of a mistake, we think of a difference between the real and the ideal, i.e. of a discrepancy between what is and what we expect to be (or is expected to be).  But any expectation is fundamentally generic. Whether the standard is set by you, your boss, you parent, your partner, legal system or social norms, it fails to reflect the specifics of any given moment and the specifics of any given mind. 

Rules and laws set the ideal expectation of conduct that is aimed at everyone but is based on no one in particular.  It’s true that we shouldn’t run the red light but sometimes we do.  Why is that?  Certainly not because we want to get a ticket, wreck our car or run somebody over.  But because even the most alert of us now and then experience a lapse of attention.  We are doing our best even when our best falls short of the general expectation.  

Now, if you consciously decide to run the red light, it isn't a mistake - it is an intended socially-unacceptable action, a planned violation of traffic norms.  Conscious violations - sabotage, criminal acts - of course, exist.  It's the mistakes that don't.

Mistakes Are Accidents 

On September 15, 1927, the legendary American dancer, Isadora Duncan, “met a tragic death” when  she “was hurled in an extraordinary manner from an open automobile in which she was riding and instantly killed by the force of her fall to the stone pavement” (The New York Times).  Gertrude Stein, in referring to this occurrence, said: “affectations can be dangerous.”  True: this wouldn’t have happened if it had not been for Ms. Duncan’s affectation for long flowing scarves and for Benoit Falchetto whose car she was in.  But it’s preposterous to imply that Isadora Duncan should not have worn scarves or been in a car with a lover.  She wasn’t killed by affectations.  She was killed by an accident of life.  An accident is a collision of variables that cannot be reasonably anticipated. 

Mistakes are accidents.  That’s why if you run through the red light and have a wreck, we first compassionately call it an accident.  And only at a later point, for reasons of litigious finger-pointing and compensation, we switch to the blame-game language of wrong-doing. 

Justice Is Blind to Specifics, But You Don't Have to Be

Reality doesn’t short-change.  You are a sub-set of this reality.  Therefore, you never short-change.  You always max out.  You are always doing the best that you can at any given point in time.  Whether it is obvious to others or not, make it obvious to yourself.  The rest of your so-called mistakes are just the accidental mismatches of expectations. 

Of course, you will be held responsible for what you do and don't do, and you will have to clean up your unintentional mess.  You will be made to correct the mistakes you haven't really "made" (in any intentional sense).  Of course, the society will demand that you face the consequences of your conduct.   Of course, the society will typically ignore your plea that you had done the best that you could, that you did not mean to make a mistake.  Chances are you will be judged as guilty as if you had meant to screw up.  That's how societies work.  They operate on generic expectations that do not take real-time variables into account.  Justice, after all, is blind to specifics.  But you don't have to be blind to specifics.   You, yourself, however, can see that you did your best, that you never meant to make a mistake (sabotage notwithstanding), and, therefore, you don't have to beat yourself up for any unfortunate life-occurrences that have befallen you.

The Cup Is Already Broken

You might have picked up your coffee cup from your desk without interrupting the eye-contact with your customer and brought the cup with surgical precision to your lips a thousand times, but it’s only a matter of time before some hidden variable (say, an unforeseen hypoglycemic tremor of your hand) will interfere with your intention to have a sip.  As a result, the cup will tip, the coffee will spill into your crotch, you will yelp and, reflexively, release the grip, and the cup will drop smashing on the floor.  And then you will be chewed out by your boss for having ruined (as if by intent!) a stretch of perfectly nice carpet.  As the Zen saying goes, the cup is already broken.  Expect the mistakes and, when they happen, remind yourself, like Dane Cook, that you did your best even if no one else believes it.

(Adapted from Present Perfect: a Mindfulness Approach to Letting Go of Perfectionism and the Need to Control)

Sunday
Jul042010

4th of July: Proclamation of Psychological Independence

The West is in a constant war with reality: perpetually dissatisfied with what is, we are desperately trying to perfect it. This one and only reality seems never enough and we feel ever entitled to more: bigger houses, bigger (hybrid) cars, bigger (Anime-sized) eyes, bigger market shares, bigger tax deductions, bigger incomes, bigger bonuses, bigger breasts, bigger penises, bigger egos, and bigger wars. We have been culturally programmed to endlessly optimize and supersize, and to constantly perfect ourselves and everyone else around us. Our appetite for more has been kindled to the level of insatiability. No wonder we feel psychologically starved and existentially empty.

We have been taught to chase the unattainable: to be more than what we are at any given point in time. We are a culture of idealistically naive strivers unable to be content with what is if only for a moment. This absurdly unrealistic goal (to be more than what we are at any given point in time) comes with the high cost of psychological dependence. Feeling chronically imperfect, we sell out for reassurance, validation and approval. Feeling chronically incomplete, we compete in consumption and stuff ourselves beyond measure.

This chronic deficit of self-acceptance becomes a matter of national deficit and undermines the socio-political independence of our society. Long-term sovereignty of a nation rests with psychological independence of its constituents. A nation of psychologically insecure denizens is at war with itself, and is, thus, divided.

On this 4th of July, 2010, and onward, I encourage you to proclaim your psychological independence - from a hollowing-out and incessant desire for more. Your individual psychological health is part of our collective wealth. Self-help, self-care, self-awareness and self-acceptance are patriotic. Stop waging war on yourself: you are doing your best, nonstop, all the time. On some level you know it. Make it official. And as soon as we do, as a nation, we will shift the paradigm from conspicuous consumption of goods and calories to the era of conspicuous compassion and moderation.

Proclamation of Psychological Independence

1.

We confuse perfection with imperfection

But there is no difference

Unless, of course, you compare what is with what isn't.

2.

If (at this very moment) I could be better, worse or other than what I am right now

I wouldn't be myself.

But I am, perfectly imperfect.

3.

It is always like that, not just during this now

But at any now that you are alive.

Present is perfect.


Proclamation of Psychological Independence Explained:

1.

We confuse perfection with imperfection but there is no difference (between these two) unless, of course, you compare what is with what isn't.

Explanation: what's real is real, what's not is not. Here's a brief inventory of what exists on this planet at any given point in time: the planet, of course; the animal kingdom; and you (the humankind) with its fantasies of what still could be. My point is this: there is no other reality at any given point in time aside from the one that actually is. We can now envision and imagine a theoretically better world and we can compare it to the real world that exists and we can say: "I don't want this actual world, I want that theoretical world." Suffering is borne out of this very comparison: the ideal always beats the pants off the real. In any comparison of what is with what isn't, in any comparison of reality to fiction, fiction always looks prettier. So, as we envision what still could be, we ignore what still is. But here's the existential glitch: there is only what there is at any given point in time. If we don't know how to be content with what is, we are stuck chasing the tail of desire, constantly optimizing, supersizing, perfecting. Bottom-line is this: perfection is a state that is beyond improvement; reality is the best that it can be at any given point in time (even if it had been better at some point in the past or if it can be still perfected at some point in the future); if so, then whatever is, at any given point in time, is the best that it can be, i.e. perfect. If this momentary reality (the one and only we have at any point in time) is perfect, then it is only not enough when we compare it with what isn't (i.e. our idealistic and naïve visions of still could be).

2.

If I could be this very moment better, worse or other than what I am right now I wouldn't be myself. But I am, perfectly imperfect.

Explanation: At any given point in time, you are what you are. That is self-evident. What this means is that at any given point in time (like right now) you are not less, not more, but exactly what you are, i.e. all you can be (right now). If you were in any way different right now, you wouldn't be you, but you are you, exactly as you are. What this means is that right now you are the best that you can be. Why? Because you cannot be any better right now. Sure you can be better at a later point in time, but we are talking about this moment, the one and only moment that there is, in which you are exactly what you are, not worse, not better, but just you. Doing the best that you can (at any given point in time) = being the best that you can (at any given point in time). I see this as inevitable perfection. You have arrived in this moment, perfectly imperfect, with nothing amiss and fully realized. Self-realization isn't when you are more than you can be at any given point in time; self-realization is when you realize that you are this real you, not the perfectionistic figment of imagination of what you should be right now. Understand this in your bones: you are what you are and that's enough. Accept your inevitable perfection at this moment and perfect the future if you still so desire. Self-acceptance isn't the end of striving (no, you can still strive, just without that overcompensating urgency and rushed desperation) but a beginning of psychological independence.

3.

It is always like that, not just during this now but at any now that you are alive. Present is perfect.

Explanation: You are doing the best that you can and, therefore, being the best that you can be, not just now, but always. Sure it might not seem so when you compare you to not-you (i.e. to some theoretical you that never exists or to others who are, by definition, not like you). But if you compare you to you, as you are, then you are always doing the best that you can do and, therefore, being the best that you can be, non-stop, without fail. Think this through until this becomes self-evident: there is no past right now nor is there any future in this moment, there is only this, this moment, this now, and it's always like that. You are always in some kind of now, in which you are only what you are, not more, not less, but just enough. Reality does not short-change us: there is no celestial lay-away in which the reality is withholding better versions of itself until a later time. Right now, which is always, there is only this, this moment, however it is, not less, not more, such as it is, perfectly imperfect. Look around for a moment: everything is what it is, if a door is half-ajar, it is half-ajar, if it is closed, it is closed, if it is open, it is open; if the sky is azure blue, then it is, if, however, it is overcast, then it is overcast. And so are you - in this moment, which is always, - all you can be, perfectly imperfect. Accept this ordinary, self-evident perfection of what you are in this moment and, if you still need to, perfect the future. Savor the new unhurried calmness of this continued self-optimization: when perfecting yourself from the platform of self-acceptance, you take your time living.

From Conspicuous Consumption to Conspicuous Compassion

Am I oversimplifying? Hell, yeah! My mind is still green (and I do hope it stays this way) but it does (fortuitously) know that the greener pasture on the other side of the hill is just an optical illusion, just the Jungian shadow of our insatiable, culturally-kindled appetite for more. I'll be writing and talking about all this jazz of self-acceptance and inevitable perfection as long as I breathe. My motive has nothing to do with altruism but self-preservation. You see, the world of self-rejection is a merciless jungle. If I can help you accept yourself, my guess is that you'll be kinder to others, which, in turn, will translate into a hopefully less hostile world all around. Self-acceptance means psychological independence, i.e. a world in which people mostly mind their own business, meeting their psychological needs in-house, without psychological blackmail or relational warfare, without surface-deep resource-intense contests of egos and psychological careerism. When we realize that we are doing the best that we can and being the best that we can, at any given point in time, eventually it dawns on us that everyone's like that and that, my fellow mind, becomes a platform for forgiveness and compassion. When you stop attacking yourself you automatically call a truce on the world at large. It is for this and only this reason that I keep jabbering about self-acceptance: self-acceptance powers compassion and compassion - at the end of the day - is just another form of self-care. On this July 4th and every day onward, be psychologically independent, even if you are in debt otherwise!

Now, somebody, toss me a veggie hot-dog and a couple of sparklers. Time to light up the sky!

Resources:

360° of Compassion

Friday
Jan292010

Proclamation of Psychological Independence

1.

We confuse perfection with imperfection

But there is no difference

Unless, of course, you compare what is with what isn’t.

2.

If I could be this very moment better, worse or other than what I am right now

I wouldn’t be myself.

But I am, perfectly imperfect.

3.

And so are you!

4.

It is always like that, not just during this now

But at any now that you are alive.

Present is perfect.

 

ps: if this aleady makes sense to you, I am glad for you; if it still doesn't, consider it.