This is a short excerpt from my book, “The Myth of Doing.”

In addition to the fact that we have a survival instinct that makes us want to protect ourself from danger, I purport that the illusion that there is a part of us that can act freely in our favor (a soul or a contra-causal will) persists because we feel like we are where our thoughts are instead of where our body is. We are generally distracted into fantasizing that we are not where we are in space and time (in the living room, now, for example), but instead, in the places of which we are dreaming, even if that is just the supermarket. Furthermore, I believe we assume a body and a mind (causal will or soul) separation because of the lack of sensorial feedback we receive from our environment, due to how our muscular tension braces us against that with which we are physically interacting (the floor, the chair, the person next to us, the sofa cushion, our clothes, etc.). Our reactionary muscle tension impedes our awareness of the contact we are making with the surfaces with which we are engaging. Touch receptors, which alert us to the specificity of our immediate surroundings, and which make us know that we cannot be somewhere else (and, therefore, doing something else) because we are exactly where we are, are blocked by our continual fight or flight status.

I suspect it is our mental and physical dissociation, this feeling of non-hereness I am describing, that gives us the false impression of a body-mind divide, i.e., a sense of splitting off from our physical self (or a deluded perception that our head is not attached to the rest of our body all the time). As we are not directly “in touch,” so to speak, with our environs or our physical wholeness, we rather identify with our thought process, which transmits a story about us and our life that does not take place in real time.  Instead, it is based in an imaginary land where we get to be the director of our life’s course, and act in the future and in the past.


  1. A Zen master I know often says that we begin to wake up when we stop preferring our fantasy to reality. This excerpt makes me wonder, how can we prefer reality if we aren’t actually experiencing it to begin with? I’m intrigued by the idea of reactionary muscle tension and its effect on our perception of our environment. I work with people in recovery from addiction, and my Stress Reduction curriculum tends to center on the effect of Fight or Flight on the brain, and not so much on how chronic stress keeps us physically dissociated… I’ve just purchased Body Over Mind, and I look forward to seeing how your work informs mine. Jeff


    1. Thank you Jeff! And please feel free to ask me any questions you have while reading the book. Before rereading my post that you are responding to, I’m wondering what I wrote that makes you say, “if we aren’t actually experiencing it to begin with…” If i were to align with your Zen master, which I think I would, then in my work it just means that what you see yourself doing…that which is your actual physical reality, you would be ok with no matter what it was, being that nothing else is physically possible. ok…haha, I just reread the post. So that fight or flight reaction, which is basically just a muscular contraction, tends to give us the impression that we are not physically here. It puts our focus on our thought process instead of letting us sense our body parts in relationship to the things they are touching. also, when the head and neck really come out of tension and realize they are part of the rest of the body, your sensory awareness wakes up and makes you see that you are here, in direct contact with everything else that is physical in the room for example. also tension just does not allow for sensing through touch receptors. it makes us brace against the surfaces we are in contact with. the chair, the keyboard, the phone, another person, etc. that is what i am calling our physical reality, where we actually are, what we are actually doing. if that does not answer your question please ask again!



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