What kind of snack does Buddha eat as he’s watching TV?

Author Photo

What kind of snack does Buddha eat as he’s watching TV?

I’m trying to tell you a lot about myself while using just a few words. So now you know something about me: I like to use pictures to supplement words.

There’s also the statement below the picture. It may sound a bit silly. But it stops you in your tracks, the way a koan would.

I am very interested in these kinds of things. Not just koans, but ways to open up to new perspectives.

I think of mindfulness as what naturally happens when we disrupt the mindless default…


Image: Pete Linforth / Pixabay

In the science-fiction mythology of the 1950s and 1960s, extraterrestrials were represented as human-like creatures with enormous heads and tiny bodies. The idea was that more evolved people would have less and less to do with the more primitive aspects of existence, i.e., the body. They would develop even further what is most advanced in us, the brain.

Even then, I don’t know that anyone aspired to evolve into a giant brain housed in a big head carried by a tiny body. In any case, today, that vision feels like a nightmare as opposed to an evolutionary goal.

So, why do I mention this caricature?

While none…


Licensed Image: Jesadaphorn Chaiinkeaw / 123RF

All too often, people who are good at intellectual pursuits or technology feel daunted by life’s emotional and psychological aspects. Hence the image of the geek as socially inept. But this happens because geeks see emotional and psychological issues as separate and different from what they are good at.

Mindfulness hacks

You need to realize that you have potent resources to tackle these issues if only you look at them the right way. Think of it as using your talents to hack into the “secrets” of mindfulness, inner peace, and harmony. There is no better place to start than in dealing with…


Image: Serge Prengel

It takes intentionality to shift from the mindless autopilot mode we live in much of the time. The way to do that is essentially similar to what happens when we change directions in our car, and the GPS recalculates the situation. Something changes, so the GPS can no longer follow its programmed route. It needs to re-orient.

When we pause, there is a disruption.

We are disoriented. Our mind, body, and whole organism recalculate how we are vis-a-vis the situation. This recalculation is new information about the situation in a very subjective way. …


Photo: Jagrit Parajuli / Pixabay

You know what it’s like to have an insight: one of those “aha” moments when something becomes very clear. You “get” it. Even though you may not be able to put words into it, you have a sense of clarity, a sense of possibility. In this article, I will talk about the fine line there is between insight and action.

I sometimes use provocative metaphors to make my point. This time, I’m going to use an analogy with safecracking. It’s not that I practice this art or expect you to have a first-hand acquaintance with it. But we’ve all seen…


Photo by Moose Photos / Pexel

Daniel Gilbert, a psychology professor at Harvard University and the author of “Stumbling on Happiness,” has a beautiful phrase to describe uncertainty. He writes: “An uncertain future leaves us stranded in an unhappy present with nothing to do but wait.”

So how can we deal with “nothing to do but wait”?

One thing is to not take it for granted that there is nothing to do. This includes:

- Getting as much information as possible to better understand the situation and thus reduce the uncertainty

- Preparing “what if” scenarios and contingency plans. The practical reasons are apparent: Being ready…


Photo: Igor / Pexels

This article makes a case for thinking about mindfulness in the context of interaction. It describes how our perceptions are inherently relational: our brain is wired to make stories out of situations. These stories are not necessarily accurate, but we can do something about that.

Understanding our biases helps us act more appropriately

You see somebody frowning. What is your reaction? You might assume that this person is angry at you. Another story you could tell yourself is that things are not going well for this person today.

The stories we make up might, or might not, be true. The point is, our brain automatically makes up stories…


Here’s an experiment. Do it at home, in the kitchen. Fill three small pans with water and place them on a high fire. Get a carrot, an egg, and some ground coffee. When the water comes to a boil, place the carrot, the egg, and the coffee each in one pot.

Let them sit and boil for about twenty minutes. Now, fish the carrot out and feel it. You will notice that it is soft. Pull the egg out of the pan and break it: it is hard-boiled. …


Photo: Ivan Lapyrin / Unsplash

Culturally, we value being fearless and sneer at being fearful. So it may feel strange to own up that I have a healthy respect for fear.

Fear is a potent part of who and what we are. Not just you and me, but our whole species and other animals as well. Eons of evolution have developed that capacity in us.

The phrase “survival of the fittest” could be expressed as “survival of the most scared!”

Being bold and foolish makes for a great action movie. …

Serge Prengel

Serge Prengel is a therapist in New York. He is the editor of the Active Pause & Mindfulness podcast, at http://activepause.com

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