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Glossary of terms used in Adaptation Practice

Note: the glossary is continually being edited. If a term you come across on this site or in the Practice is not listed here or is not clear please contact me to let me know and I will try to clarify it.


 the process of change in ourselves to live and function better in harmony with the environment, the circumstances we live in. It is to see life as it really is and to live in accord with this. Adaptation does not mean to do nothing about our circumstances: it means to learn to live with them and so to be able to change them if necessary.


commonly thought of as a sense that ‘I am conscious of’ and ‘I know that I am conscious of’ what is seen, heard, smelled, tasted, felt or thought. What is sensed registers in consciousness and can be reacted to, reflected on, thought about and remembered.

Lack of awareness (not being any of the above) is often the reason we forget where we put the keys or whether we drank a glass of water.

Awareness does not need thought or any input from ‘I’ (see ‘I’ below). When we think or say to ourselves, ‘I am thinking,’ or ‘this is a thought,’ or ‘I can feel my feet,’ we are telling ourselves what we already know. If we did not already know we were thinking, we would not be able to think the thought, ‘I am thinking.’

The Practice brings awareness that thoughts such as ‘I am thinking,’ distract us from direct the thought. Now the thought is, ‘I am aware that I am thinking.’


the physical organ in the head composed of nerve cells that are stimulated by nerve impulses from the sense organs (see senses below) and that in turn affect all functions of the body and mind. For example, making muscles contract, glands secrete hormones and giving rise to moods, feelings, memories and thoughts.

Together with the heart, liver, kidneys and lungs the brain is one of the five vital organs – all of which life depends on. The brain is part of the central nervous system, which also includes the nerves and nerve endings throughout the body.

The sense organs (see below) grow out from the brain before we are born and remain connected with it through the nerves.


consciousness arises when the sense organs make contact with objects that stimulate them and give rise to their respective consciousness.

Visual objects stimulate the eyes and give rise to visual consciousness (sight)

Sound objects stimulate the ears and give rise to sound consciousness (hearing)

Odorous objects stimulate the nose and give rise to smell consciousness (smell)

Taste objects stimulate the tongue and give rise to taste consciousness (taste)

Touch objects stimulate the body and give rise to touch consciousness (touch)

Mental objects stimulate the mental organ or faculty and give rise to mental consciousness (thought, mental picture, memory, etc.)

These include everything we can experience, think and know. Nothing in the world exists apart from these.

We are not aware of all that enters consciousness. Any of the above consciousnesses can, and often do, affect us without our being aware of them and so without our being aware of what is causing changes in how we feel and behave. A smell, for example, might give rise to memories or to gut feelings without our being aware of the smell. A sensual desire might give rise to behaviour without our being aware of the sensual desire. The body is aware in that it responds but we are unaware.


the life energy and force that moves us towards what is wanted and away from what is not wanted. Life depends on these functions and, not surprisingly, emotion arises from the very core of our being (see also ‘Heart’ and ‘Underlying emotion’ below).

Emotion affects every organ and system in the body and every function and faculty of the mind.

Emotion gives rise to our moods and feelings and drives us blindly in what we say, do and think. The emotion can be sensed in our voice, our facial expressions, gestures, body language, how we behave and how we think. It affects our attention, concentration, memory and learning. Emotion takes over our reason and our will. When driven by emotion we are blind to reason and often are unaware of or ignore what the consequences of what we say, do and think will be – we deceive and delude ourselves.

Being a manifestation of life, emotion is perfectly natural and normal. It is never bad, abnormal or pathological. When driven by emotion we can and often do cause harm, but this is not because there is something wrong with the emotion.


a commonly used term that refers to speech, actions and thoughts that touch and move us – that is, they evoke moods and feelings in us. They might be anything from heart-warming to blood-curdling, or simply done energetically and enthusiastically. The emotional aspect of actions and thoughts is not rational or logical. It comes from the heart, not the mind.

Emotional problems:

all our difficulties and problems caused by how underlying-emotion affects us and how we cope with this:

addictions (drugs, tobacco, sex, addictive medications) – agoraphobia – anger and rage – anxiety – attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – bereavement – claustrophobia – depersonalisation – depression – despair – eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia and obesity) – fear – fear of dying – fear of flying – gambling – greed – guilt – irritability – jealousy – lack of confidence – mental illness – midlife crisis – moodiness – nervousness – obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) – panic – personality disorder – phobias – post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – relationship problems – resentment – sexual problems – spiritual crisis – stress – suffering workaholism – or any other emotional difficulties.

Emotional problems all have one thing in common: emotion, and so they can all be relieved and prevented by training in Adaptation Practice

Gut feeling:

(a) intuition, instinct, immediate feeling that cannot be explained rationally.

(b) sensations and feelings in the stomach and intestines felt anywhere in the abdomen and related to the meanings above in (a). Such sensations and feelings are usually somewhat vague but can change our decisions, opinions and actions.


the metaphorical seat of emotion and consciousness, where emotion, moods and feelings arise, emanate from and are often felt. Underlying-emotion (see below) arises from the heart in the midriff area between the abdomen and chest.

The heart is the seat of the dynamic energy associated with emotion, and giving rise to moods and feelings.

The term heart as used in societies all over the world, and in the Practice, does not refer to the physical organ that pumps blood around the body, although recent research has found nerves from the heart associated with emotion.


me, self, myself. Throughout Adaptation Practice we use the word ‘I’ rather than ‘ego’ or ‘the self’. The Practice is directed inward, toward the root causes of our response to events, thoughts, moods and feelings. Using the personal pronoun ‘I’ encourages us to realise I am the one who senses, feels, speaks, acts and thinks, the one who likes this and dislikes that, and the one who suffers when ‘I’ cannot have my way. ‘I’ alone am responsible for the effects of what I say, do and think even when driven by emotion – just as I would be responsible for my actions when intoxicated. Nothing and no one else is responsible for the consequences of my actions: not my mind, my brain, my ego or my self. All these are regarded as objects different from ‘I’ and I then deceive myself by believing that I am not responsible for the consequences of my actions. I am.

The Practice gradually removes these self-made deceptions and delusions as I adapt to live in harmony with life as it really is instead of how I want it to be or mistakenly believe it to be.


the seat of thinking, reasoning, rationalising, logic, imagining, planning, learning mental information (not skills or other physical activities), remembering, decision-making, prejudices, opinions, beliefs and will.


See ‘I’ above.


the six senses that give rise to consciousness: eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mental faculty.

Anatomically, the senses are the usual first five of this list plus the brain. Nerve impulses arising in the brain give rise to more nerve impulses and so to mental consciousness.

Dynamically, the senses convert (transduce) energy from light, sound, chemicals, touch, heat, cold, etc. into electro-chemical energy we call nerve impulses, and these give rise to consciousness and to a wide variety of stimuli affecting other organs: muscles, heart, skin, hormone secretion, etc. Nerve impulses from the different senses are indistinguishable from each other.


(a) the state of responding neither internally nor externally to stimuli, including no arising of consciousness (see above).

(b) not aware of one of the six modes of consciousness (see Consciousness above).

Underlying emotion:

the response of life in the body to changes in and around us. Underlying emotion comes before the emotions, moods and feelings. It is their precursor. It underlies them and goes on to drive us in what we say, do and think. It is the driving force in everything we say, do, think and feel that is emotional.

The intensity and nature of the underlying emotion depends on how strong our likes and dislikes are, how affected we are by our desires and fears, and on how strong we are to bear the force of emotion and to stop it controlling us.

Normally, we are unaware of underlying emotion. The first task of Adaptation Practice is to bring us to feel the underlying emotion before it forces us to say or do something and before it generates thoughts.

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