Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘Stress’

Who Has ‘Text Neck?’

A recent article in ‘The Week’ magazine entitled, ‘The Text Neck’ refers to an ‘epidemic’ that is worth becoming aware of – the craze of texting – which for some has devolved
into a dependency behavior. The latest research on the topic by back surgeons has concluded that those who are constantly looking down at their phones to text are subject to neck cramps, pinched nerves, herniated discs and even early degeneration of the spine especially in the younger generation.

The reason for the effect is quite logical when we think about how our bodies are designed. The normal head weighs between 10-12 pounds. Using computer modeling the researches found that when the head is angled or bowed at 60 degrees (looking down from an upright position to text for example) the strain on the neck increases to 60 pounds – about the weight of four bowling balls! Our bodies simply cannot support that weight over time.

For those who have become addicted to texting (yes – this has become a recognized addiction which has even been linked to increased depression) maybe it’s time to share this information with them. The data is in – permanent physical damage can happen when texting becomes habitual. Further, when we replace active engagement with other people to mere texting we lose our ability to read social cues or develop a stronger sense of self.

When someone creates a limited comfort zone around them using texting as the main way to communicate with the rest of the world they become less rather than more. Real communication cannot be reduced to a quirky three or four word response. Deeper, more engaged communication is critical for healthy family relationships as well as success in the work place. But how does someone develop the critical skills of active communication if they don’t practice them continuously in the real world setting?

Often we can observe families at restaurants or on the mall and the parents as well as the kids are not interacting with each other but are busy texting or playing a game on their phones. The opportunity for true human connection is lost as their fingers tap out their current abbreviated comment to someone – anyone – and they anxiously await a response.They seem to be saying to themselves … ‘I am important to someone out there – just watch and ‘they’ will respond to my latest comment.’ Their phone has become their ‘go to friend’ and they have become so dependent upon it that they can have a melt down if their battery is low. Really?

The benefit of this powerful technology cannot be downplayed. It has changed the world for the better. It can make us more efficient and effective when we need to communicate with someone quickly and even allows us to share something funny with a friend without interrupting them at the precise moment we send our text. However, like anything in life the question boils down to balance and moderation. If those two concepts sound a bit boring to you – think about living without them in your life. Not a pretty picture!

If each of us would consider these implications in our own lives and take the time to gently encourage our family members to consider them as well we would improve our ability to communicate authentically and see the deeper value in the human experience.

If you try to discuss these points with someone you care about who seems to have become addicted to texting and they refuse to listen or engage in the discussion you know you have hit a nerve. That can be a good thing if you don’t give up. After all, we know that sometimes a point needs to be repeated four or five times to get through to a reluctant learner. Don’t we owe it to those we truly care about to share information that would help them in the long run?

Have a great few days!

Even Rats Have Regret!

U.S. researches have discovered what appears to be “regret” in lab experiments with rats. In “Wired.com” a research team located at the University of Minnesota said they were able to substantiate that the observed behavior was actual regret rather than mere disappointment.

Regret, the recognition that different choices could have resulted in different outcomes can be destructive or instructive. If even rats can demonstrate regret what does that say about regret and the human condition? It seems that the feeling of regret is more prevalent than we once thought. Rather than deny any feelings of remorse we may be experiencing maybe the issue is really the length of time spent in regret and what we take away from the experience that is the discriminating difference between productive and nonproductive behavior?

Some people live their life living in the regrets from their past resulting in a continual cycle of thinking ‘if only I would have done this or said that rather than..’ and as a result seem stuck in the past. Their lives continue to replay scenarios of what could have been. Living in the past stops people from experiencing the joys of today and hopes of tomorrow. They live in “the waiting place” that Dr. Seuss refers to in his book. “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

On the other hand, other people experience regret but look at it from a perspective of what lesson they have learn from the experience. They live in today and dreams of tomorrow because they feel empowered to make better decisions for their lives because of what they learned from their yesterdays. Doesn’t it seem only natural that we relive moments or events when we were not at our best in an attempt to better control our decision making for the future? As long as we are aware of the amount of time we are spending in that place of review it can be a healthy, instructive thing.

We all have times – especially when we are sick, tired or stressed when mole hills look like mountains. Before responding or making a decisions at this point it is important to realize that we are not functioning at our best and try to avoid saying or doing something that we may regret later.

Let’s assume, however, that we do not heed our own best advice and say or do something that we wish we could undo. Often this happens from feelings of fear or anger. After all, we are simply human and bound to make occasional mistakes along the way. Rather than beat ourselves up over it or attempt to assign blame to others if we simply accept ownership for the error or mistake and offer appropriate apologies as necessary we can turn around something that could have become rather ugly into something meaningful – an “Aha” moment that makes us better, happier people in the long run. Regret in this example can mean that we have lived, learned and are moving on. That’s a good thing!

Our challenge is to learn from the experience and decide to handle the next situation a bit differently. We are all products of the choices we make. Everyday and in every way life has a way of testing us to become our best selves. Life is not for the faint of heart. We have chosen this life experience to become wiser, more thoughtful and productive human beings while we are on this planet. It starts with being brutally honest AND ultimately kind to ourselves and others as we learn our life lessons.

Have a great few days!

12 Minute Meditation That Works

Loss, stress, and aging take a toll on our mind and body. We all have moments when we can’t remember something. At first we may dismiss it and think that we have too much on our minds. However, when the frequency of memory lapse seems to be increasing, it is time to get serious and do something about it. Fortunately, there are leading neuroscientists discovering ways that can increase our memory function, attention span, information processing, problem solving and social decision making skills.

A proactive way to increase brain function is explained in the book, How GOD Changes Your Brain by Andrew Newberg, MD and Mark Waldman. It is called Kirtan Kriya meditation (KKM). A short synopsis of the technique is that it involves 3 things; breathing, sound and movement. The four sounds of sa, ta, na, ma, are chanted or sung out loud to whatever notes you want to give them. While you are singing each sound, touch your index fingers to your thumbs for ‘sa’, middle fingers to thumbs on ‘ta’, ring fingers to thumbs for ‘na’ and little fingers to thumbs for ‘ma.’ The authors recommend doing this daily for 12 minutes before getting out of bed in the morning.

As I started practicing this type of meditation I noticed that it quickly stops that monkey chatter in my mind. You can learn more about this through Newberg’s book, or googling Kirtan Kriya. There is even an 8 minute YouTube video demonstrating the technique.

In addition to all of the other benefits, meditation helps us become more in tune with the Universal Energy source and can further open our channels for hearing, seeing and feeling from our loved ones on the other side. In my book, Just Behind the Door, I have shared a decade of conversations I have had with my son, mother and sister who have passed on. During my book talks people have asked me how they can learn to communicate with their loved ones. I feel that the Kirtan Kriya meditation technique makes sense. I know it works. Give it a try- even for a week- and let me know what you experienced.

Have a great few days!