Sunday, January 23, 2011


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Attention Training is an educative procedure that employs the innate or born with characteristics of the individual to eliminate distraction and to have focus directed onto events in the here and now. It is with focus in the present that the individual may experience the pleasure of sensory stimulation.

There are three concepts that I believe to be the cornerstones of the procedure and set it apart from other theories of comfort and discomfort. These important concepts are: Intelligence, Attention, and Discrimination. For a more detailed description of these concepts, please see, The Habit of Living, pp. 31 – 34.

To me, Intelligence is not IQ or being smart. To me, intelligence is one’s contact with the environment. Simply, intelligence is awareness of what is occurring in the moment and in the here and now. Intelligence is an extremely important characteristic since it is the only one that has the individual be in contact with the environment through the five senses.

Intelligence is automatic. We are born with awareness and it develops with time. Intelligence is automatic. You don’t need to consider and decide to be aware of what is happening around you, you simply are aware. The parts of intelligence include the higher abilities such as creativity, problem-solving, humor, etc. and the physical abilities of the senses. These include the abilities to see, hear, smell, touch, and taste.

The second important concept of Attention Training is Attention. Attention is how we maintain contact with the environment and, therefore, maintain a degree of Intelligence. Attention is a quantity that vacillates from dull awareness to sharp focus. Attention or focus can be low as in drifting and unaware in front of the TV or sharp and crisp as during a visit to Yankee Stadium to witness the Bombers destroy the Boston Red Sox. How attentive or focused we may be results in how intelligent we are at that time.

The last important concept of Attention Training is the major characteristic of Intelligence: The ability to notice differences among situations. These three concepts form the basis for the value of the Four Points and Taking Back Small Times and provide the logic behind Attention Training.

The Four Points provide four different ways to increase Attention in the present or the here and now. With increased Attention directed toward the environment, Intelligence is increased. With increased Intelligence, the ability to see differences or to Discriminate among situations is increased.

The relationship among Intelligence, Attention, and Discrimination is vastly important and sets Attention Training apart and separate from current thought as to where discomfort originates.

It is the degree that an individual is attentive or focused on the environment or on his/her surroundings that determine Intelligence and the resulting ability to Discriminate or to see differences among situations.

With decreased Attention and intelligence, Habit Thoughts cannot be fully seen as simply thoughts but are reacted to as if actual in reality. The result is discomfort for the individual.

The fact that decreased Intelligence renders the ability to Discriminate or to see differences weak and vulnerable to Habit Thoughts is the basis for reflexive Attention Diversion (RAD) and provides a logical explanation for the origin of discomfort that does not exist outside of Attention Training.

I see this inability to Discriminate to be the basis for all learned discomforts in individuals and the Four Points and Taking Back Small Times to be the remedy to alleviate the discomfort.

In future papers and articles, will examine the relationship between decreased Intelligence, Attention, and the ability to Discriminate and specific human discomforts as well as the simple manner to remove the source of the discomfort, and as a result, the discomfort itself.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Some Characteristics of Habit Thoughts

By Dr. Ernest Mastria

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Habit Thoughts include concern for the future, dwelling in the past, worry of what others think, and dazing off in low activity situations. While some intelligent thoughts, such as planning and memory travel outside the present, they have a firm anchor in reality, always lead to a decision, and there is no resistance to return to the present.

In contrast, Habit Thoughts do not have a firm anchor in reality but are fabrications and distortions of reality, prevent decisions from being made since these reflect the individual’s taste, and resist a return to the present.

However, the easiest way to determine an intelligent thought from a Habit Thought is to see that intelligent thoughts are positive in content and result and that Habit Thoughts are negative in content and result.

Habit Thoughts are negative since the intelligence employs them to "Identify the Enemy". The intelligence, confused by the discomfort of holding back expression literally leaves the present to fabricate a justification for the discomfort. Since discomfort is negative in quality, any justification that the intelligence fabricates must also be negative since the thought is believed to produce a negative emotion.

However, there are other characteristics common to habit thoughts. First, they must be personal to the individual who experiences them in order to capture his/her attention. Second, they must be of some importance or value to that individual. It is the value of the content of the thought that determines the intensity of the discomfort experienced. Should the content of the thought be of low value, the individual may not attend to the fabrication and focus would maintain in the present. But high valued content is taken seriously by the individual and demands that attention be paid for fear of negative consequences.

Although Habit Thoughts at times have a specific content to capture the attention of the individual, most often they will not. At these times they are attitudes (reflexive interpretations of perception) or thoughts without words or pictures attached to them. Most frequently, the attitude will convey that something will happen that the individual will not be capable to handle with disastrous consequences to follow. These attitude (thoughts) are most frequently associated with an anticipation of pending doom and are the most frequent Habit Thought experienced by individuals.

There are occasions when Habit Thoughts may be extreme and produce intense discomfort for the individual. At these times, the intelligence will fabricate a justification for the discomfort of “hold back” that is in direct contrast or opposite the character and values of the individual.

For example, I had a student who happened to be a Jersey City Policeman. He came to me with concern and discomfort over the persistent thought that he would remove his revolver from its holster and fire at pedestrians. Another student believed that he might touch his children inappropriately while another believed that he was capable of hurling his young son from his shoulders where the boy was riding into a brick wall triggering the man’s concern for his violent behavior against his son.

The behaviors mentioned above are directly opposed to the characters and values of each of the students who experienced them. Although each realized their incapability to engage in these behaviors, each suffered extreme discomfort as a result since each believed that there might be a hidden, darker side of them that lurked in their personalities and could emerge at any time.

Each was vigilant during situations when such behaviors were more likely to occur. So that the first student was extremely cautious while on duty and the other two were cautious when with their children.

However, in situations where the feared behavior was not likely to occur such as off duty for the policeman or when each was away from their children, relief was meager. During these times each was preoccupied with thoughts of the feared behavior and distracted from the moment so that spontaneous expression could not occur.

Habit thoughts have one purpose, to distract the individual from the present so that spontaneous expression may not occur. In this purpose, Habit Thoughts fit my definition of a symptom. A symptom, regardless of the content has the purpose of distracting the individual from the present, where they may express tastes and find happiness.