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Stop and take a moment to pause your machinery

An excerpt from Chapter 1 of my recent book, Your Mind Is What Your Brain Does for a Living, now available at


Stop and take a moment to “pause your machinery.” The concepts and techniques I present throughout my latest book, Your Mind Is What Your Brain Does for a Living, require mindfulness to learn and master, and these brief written exercises will give you the opportunity to rest, step outside the pattern of passive reading, and bring yourself into the present moment to reflect and see how the information I’m sharing can be integrated into your own life.


Keep your written answers, because they will be valuable for you to review and refer to later. You may want to buy a notebook or open a computer file so that you can keep all of your responses together in one place.


  • Take out your notebook (or open a new computer file) and describe in writing two or three recent incidents in which you now recognize that you acted or reacted the way you did because your machinery was on automatic pilot. In other words, situations about which you’d now say in reference to your behavior, “It was my machinery.”
  • Read over the list of incidents one at a time. Bring up the memory of each incident by pretending it’s a scene in a movie being projected on the screen of your mind. Watch the scene and remember what thoughts and emotions came up for you during the action.
  • See if you can identify the thoughts (interpretations, judgments) and feelings that triggered your machinery to act on automatic pilot. Write down the trigger(s) for each incident. Keep this list, because these thoughts and feelings are likely to trigger your machinery to act on automatic pilot in other situations in which they come up.


Did any negative self-thoughts come into your mind when you did this exercise? For example, in realizing that in these incidents you acted on automatic pilot, did you think that you were “wrong” or “bad” to have acted as you did? If so, recognize that this is a judgment, an interpretation, and it’s part of your programming.


In each incident you’ve described, what happened is just what happened; it simply is what it is. Taking responsibility within yourself for your actions and being responsible to others doesn’t mean judging or shaming yourself for them. Criticism aimed at yourself hurts you and doesn’t help anyone else either. If you did judge yourself, do you think that this is part of a general pattern for you? If so, write down the kinds of judgments you habitually make about yourself. Remember to keep what you’ve written; it will remind you that these self-criticisms are not facts but interpretations that are part of your default programming.



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  • 28 Apr, 2014
  • Posted by Steve Fogel
  • 4 Tags

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