Immediate Moment Theory Glossary

Immediate Moment Theory is a Constructal Theory and animal behavioral model developed by Kevin Behan of Natural Dog Training. This glossary is an attempt to make fundamental concepts of this theory more available. It will be continuously updated with new entries and clarifications until our symposium in October 2018, so keep checking back for most current glosses. Last update 16 August 2018

Animal Mind: the body and mind as a continuous inseparable whole. This is synonymous with the idea of the “bodymind”.  Animals experience the world as one big Self, inner feelings and outer stimuli are completely entangled. From a human perspective, animals behave as if what they feel inside can change the world “out there”, because to them there is no separation. Human beings are animals that can separate self and other and therefore conceive a timeline and have cognitive thoughts, but this is still floating on top of the fundamental animal reality experienced first and foremost in the body. Human cognition – separation of self and other – is literally an afterthought.

Balance Over Hunger: When, due to a stimulus, an animal loses the sense of its body, the big brain in our head is disconnected from the little-brain in the gut, the gut tract begins to spasm or ceases any peristaltic movement, and the overall body feels sensitive. Under this influence the body exhibits behaviors that are the same as someone trying to regain their balance – stiff, sudden, loud, windmilling, or freezing/paralysis. The bodymind in this state craves stasis, no changes (“stop the merry-go-round I want off!”), and will express output in the form of sudden charged movements and vocalizations as charge refuses to pass into and through the animal but just bounces back out. In addition, a classic human response to being in Balance over Hunger is to internally or verbally express thoughts. The well-known Fight or flight responses are Balance behaviors, and are typically associated with male threat-response behavior, while tend and befriend are the stereotypical female behaviors, but tend and befriend  are actually adaptive strategies for grounding and releasing excess charge, rather than seeking sudden relief through electric behavior just like a short circuit.

Big Brain: The big ball of fat in the head, whose first evolutionary job is maintaining balance and orienting the body to the direction of locomotion. The seat of instincts, habits, and for humans, thoughts, all fundamentally related to each other.

Charged Particle: The simplest model of an animal system, as a particle that emits and absorbs energy, thus affecting and being affected by the particles (animals) around them.

Circle of Temperament: The differing poles of personality – Active/Reactive, Direct/Indirect – that pair up to express different strategies and accommodations to engaging the emotional landscape, Active/Direct, Active/Indirect, Reactive/Direct, Reactive/Indirect. Supple Active individuals can flip from pole to pole (from Direct to Indirect) to accommodate the evolving environment; stuck Reactive individuals in a Balance over Hunger state cannot.

Cognitive Memory: Memories that are shallowly recalled without “reliving” the experience.

The Constructal Law: the physical law, discovered by Professor Adrian Bejan of Duke University, that describes all evolution of material and living configurations as being governed by flows in systems. Immediate Moment Theory is a Constructal Theory.

Current: The substance flowing through a channel (such as an animal body, canal, or a copper wire).

Electric: an animal body in a sensitive or Balance over Hunger state, due to the short-circuiting, sudden, zappy, live-wire, hair-standing-up-on-end behaviors. See Sensitive.

Emotion: A monolithic force of attraction, like gravity, that organizes animal bodies in relation to each other and the environment.

Emotional Battery: the overarching nature of the body as a storage container for emotion (which is carried by the body as stress) that has a capacity and can be full or empty. 

Emotional Capacity: the capacity of the bodymind to accommodate a volume of emotional current, as determined by amount and intensity of predatory or preyful aspects in the environment. This exactly corresponds to an ecosystem having a carrying capacity for animals (as flows of energy) that circulate within it.

E-cog/Emotional Center of Gravity: The projection of the p-cog onto/into another animal body, allowing the observer to experience – physically, in their body – the amount of resistance they perceive the other is experiencing. Somewhat related to the notion of mirror neurons.

Emotional Ground: anything (preyful essence, food, drink, stuffed animal, security blanket) or any experience (hot bath, massage, aromatherapy) that releases stress from the body, converting it into flow. Chewable or bitable objects are especially grounding, think of the jaws as alligator clips that clip onto a battery and allow charge to flow through them. For humans, our grip is also our bite, so holding and manipulating objects is effective as chewing gum or a doggie bone – koosh balls, fidget spinners, pens for doodling, etc all act as grounds. Sometimes we both hold on to pens and chew them at the same time for the ultimate grounding experience!

Fear: The collapse of the force of attraction between animal bodies or the environment due to a stimulus, the animal thus being unable to orient to an emotional current causes the bodymind to experience the sensation of falling and this experience is stored as stress and physical memory in the emotional battery.

Feeling: A field generated by the particular pattern of resistance (or lack thereof) to emotion flowing through an animal body.

Input: rich sensory experiences – smells, tastes, smooth movement – craved by a bodymind in a Hunger over Balance state.

Heart Brain: also known as the “network brain”, the Heart intelligence helps us to go-by-feel and synchronize with other animal bodies in space. The Heart Brain is our chief place for designing the living systems around us by shifting our relationships with other bodyminds.

Hunger Over Balance: When, due to sufficient grounding, the big brain is connected to the little brain in the gut (enteric nervous system), the bodymind then begins to generate a smooth peristaltic wave in the gut and the overall body feels sensuous. Under this influence the bodymind exhibits behaviors that are smooth, rhythmic, wave-like. The bodymind then craves input.

Gut Brain: known by researchers as the “second brain”, the web of nerves and neurology in the gut. Also called the “little brain” or the “social brain”, this brain manages our ability to stay grounded and in flow as resistance increases. When this brain is connected to the Big Brain in the head, smooth adaptive and creative behaviors are possible (and a pleasurable experience of flow emerges) because we then have access to our Heart intelligence as a midpoint between them. See Heart Brain.

Locomotive Rhythm: the wave form we conform to when running towards what we want, at full speed, that is the fundamental basis of feeling good, having two phases, just like a wave; projection (all four legs extended to front and rear) and collection (all four legs collected under the body crossing each other).

Magnetic: an animal body in a sensuous or Hunger over Balance state, due to attractive, smooth-field generating, successfully self-organizing and cooperating behaviors. See Sensuous.

The Negative: Anything that has the potential to project energy, that pushes away or resists flow of energy/emotion; also an “interruption in the continuum”, like a dot or black line on a white sheet of paper. See Predatory Aspect and Polarity.

The-Negative-Gives-Access-To-The-Positive: In accord with the Constructal Law, flow systems must incorporate new sources of resistance into their flow configuration to persist in time (to live). Therefore the animal mind naturally seeks the negative (sources of resistance) to expand the amount of energy (the positive) that can move through it. Eyes are experienced by animals as the negative, and bodies as the positive.

Output: movement, secretions, excretions, and vocalizations. When the bodymind is in a Balance over Hunger state, they are charged, sudden and stiff movements and expressions – vocalizations, secretions (sweat, urine, etc.), flailing, grasping, and feel bad. When Hunger is primary then they are smooth, adaptive, rhythmic, from the belly, and feel good.

Preyful vs. Predatory (Aspects): The environment, including all living beings, is perceived by the body-mind as a continuous emotional topography whose elevation (low or high) is defined by Preyful and Predatory aspects. Qualities of bodies and the environment that are Preyful naturally pull on an animal body, as if the animal were a ball naturally rolling downhill in accord with gravity into a low spot on the landscape – qualities such as smooth, rounded, rhythmic, soft, vibrating, small/short, familiar, and so on. Qualities of animal bodies and the environment that are Predatory naturally project energy or push an animal body away as if the animal were a ball moving uphill against gravity – qualities such as sharp, angular, flat, sudden, hard, still, large, tall, strange, reflective, bright, and so on.

P-cog/Physical Center of Gravity: A single point usually found in the gut, but that moves and shifts as the animal body changes orientation and locomotes across the landscape, tracing a vascularized configuration of resistance experienced by the body as physical memory.

Physical Memory: Memories that are primarily experienced as body sensations, as if you were “reliving” them.

Polarity: Just like in a magnet, animal bodies have positive (rump) and negative (head) ends and orient in the same way to other bodies/magnets.

The Positive: Anything that absorbs energy/emotion. This is usually a resource like food that can be smoothly integrated into the observer’s body. See Preyful Aspect and Polarity.

Preyful essence: any substance from an animal’s body – sweat, tears, feces, urine, saliva, hair, and so on – that represents pure resistance-free energy to the animal mind and is so very compelling. Also environmental substances, such as snow, mud, and so on, can carry the quality of preyful essence. The “goop”-type children’s toys are great examples of preyful essence.

Resistance: Anything that impedes the flow of emotional current.

“R” value: The location of the “pinched pipe” in the body; where resistance is felt in an animal, due to their current ratio of Balance to Hunger. The can be anywhere along the length of the animal’s body, from face to shoulders to gut to rump. The farther to the rear the more sensuous the animal is; the farther to the front the more sensitive.

Release: the true emptying of emotional charge via an emotional ground.

Relief: temporary escape from trauma, though delaying the release or resolution of the charge. Usually accomplished through Balance-type behaviors such as striking out, expressing intense energy in an uncontrolled fashion (‘wild’ behaviors), pseudo-emotional grounds like alcohol or drugs etc.

Resolve: growing emotional capacity to authentically accommodate the intense stressor.

Sensitive: An overall excited, nervous, and electric feeling generated by the need for Balance dominating over Hunger in the animal mind.

Sensuous: An overall relaxed/languid/rhythmic feeling generated by the feeling of Hunger dominating over seeking Balance in the animal mind.

Small/Gut/Second Brain: The enteric nervous system.

Stimulus: Anything that we experience as a resistance to our locomotion and which then inherently, to some degree, even if for a split-second, knocks us off balance. We cannot perceive a lack of resistance – everything we can perceive is a stimulus, the sensation of being knocked off-balance.

Stress: the solid state of emotion; how animals store energy in the body until they convert it back into flow.

Trauma: any stress that exceeds a bodymind’s emotional capacity and thus is stored in a way that is much more difficult to convert back into flow.

True Feeling: any feeling that feels good is a sign of being in our Heart Brain and is a “true feeling” of emotion flowing through us. Any feeling that feels bad is a sign of the emotional flow being choked off, and for this reason we say it is not a “true feeling” but rather the collapse of connection to our body and others around us.


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