Archive for March, 2006

Posted on Mar 21st, 2006

Straddling the end of winter and the beginning of spring, March has always been a hectic month—a month of reckoning as it were—when last year’s issues must be faced head on. Income tax returns must be filed, and spring cleaning ( both inside and out) tend to become a logistical nightmare. This March, I had a personal difficulty to work through as well and for a while it seemed as though the world was an unending series of burdens. It was then that I tried a strategy that I had read about in Wayne Dyer’s book, "Your Sacred Self "( 1996): in times of turbulence, walk out of your body!

I began by imagining that I had walked out of my body and that I was looking at myself as though I were another being. This took some practice because the tendency of the mind was to stay within the ego and I had to keep reminding my mind that I was outside looking in, not inside looking out. After a while, the exercise became more fluid and I was able to maintain this "observer" position with greater ease.

I began with a side view of my body, imagining myself as I would appear to someone who was watching me from the side. I went from head to feet– acknowledging the angle of head, hair, shoulders, slant of body and even the way my legs were crossed at the ankles. Then I went through the whole process again this time adding the colors of my hair, shirt, pants, socks and slippers. And then in my mind’s eye, I walked backward a step or two, pretending that I was seeing "me" for the first time. What did I see?

"A being who is overwhelmed emotionally"

What did I sense about this being?

"She need not fret so much; she is perhaps a bit overdramatic about her situation,but it is not the end of the world. After all, this too will pass."

The remarkable thing was that as an outsider, I received immediate confirmation that all suffering was temporary. From an observer’s point of view, the person suffering was not the self. Just seeing "me" as another being allowed me to feel the temporariness of the situation. I then placed myself (as observer) in a different location—up on the ceiling and I imagined my body as it would appear to someone floating above. Then I went through the same process, digesting my being from that angle.

The more I played this game with myself, the more I was released from whatever worries I had in the first place. The overwhelming conviction was that I was larger than what stood before me and that all this fretting and worry would pass. Outside my body, I could feel a sense of limitless possibility that seemed impossible to sustain inside( the body). It seemed as though I had been suddenly released into an open field. The expanse of the spirit was everywhere, especially when I broke through the ceiling and roof and took a wild and fantastic circle around the skies.

Children do this everyday and we have a lot to learn from them: they use the imaginal to tame the real. If we examine the practice itself, we can see that there are several reasons why walking out of your body can be a sound strategy for diffusing stress.

1. Placing yourself in a third-party observer point of view makes allowance for the distance that is so crucial to an accurate assessment of any situation. How often have we remembered a past wrong in the light of distance and time and recognized the folly of our grievance? Our judgment is often dimmed by an experience that is too raw and close to us. Walking out of our body allows us to tame that rawness.

2 .If experience is recorded as cellular memories in our bodies, then getting a distant, less distorted perspective is not only important, but critical to our survival as intact and holistic beings. Fred Allan Wolf in "Mind Into Matter" (2001) refers to our bodies as "living scripts": "at the level of the body, the observed and the observer are the same thing." Would you prefer an observation that burns everything to the ground or one that hatches an escape route through the ceiling? Would you prefer a script that leaves you a victim, paralyzed by fear or one that allows you to take the reins in your hands and gives you a shot at turning the situation around? My almost 5 grandson understands this totally; he is a master inventor of escape routes and his favorite stories have always been those where the hero found a way out, a wormhole though the keyhole.

3. Walking out of our body allows us to raise our threshold to stress. Stressful events are an inevitable and unavoidable part of life. While removal of stressors is often impossible, raising our threshold to what is bearable for us is more than a viable possibility. Raising our threshold is like breaking though a barrier—what was once unthinkable becomes plausible. What once caused pain and furor becomes not only understandable, but accepted as part of our evolutionary process. The advantage we have to seeing our burden as a necessary part of a larger dynamic is that we have grown large enough to accommodate it within our system. We have grown because we can now metabolize it; we are ready now to transform it (the pain) into something greater than itself, something creative and inspiring. This is only possible when we can take the pain outside us and place it within a larger and evolutionary context.

Instead of succumbing to the sweet song of victimization( who does not enjoy the "poor me" chant?), a more effective strategy when confronted by stress, is to walk out of your body because that immediately places your pain in perspective.

Copyright 2006 Mary Desaulniers

A runner for 27 years, retired schoolteacher and writer, Mary is helping people reclaim their bodies. Nutrition, exercise, positive vision and purposeful engagement are the tools used to turn their bodies into creative selves. You can visit her at http://www.GreatBodyat50.com or learn how she lost her weight at http://www.greatbodyproteinpower.com

Posted on Mar 21st, 2006

Tai Chi is a very ancient Chinese form of martial arts which focuses on the internal energy in the body more commonly referred to by the Chinese as “chi”. The aim of Tai Chi is to increase the flow of chi and integrate the mind, body and spirit promoting both mental and physical well-being.

Tai Chi is not just a series of movements but also involves the use of meditation and deep breathing making it particularly useful for reducing stress and anxiety. People who regularly practice Tai Chi have reported a better sense of well being because of its calming and meditative aspects. Due to the nature of the movements, Tai Chi also benefits the entire body increasing muscle strength and enhancing balance and flexibility. Many doctors prescribe Tai Chi as a complementary form of therapy particularly for those that suffer from arthritis, circulation problems, high blood pressure as well as stress.

It is best to learn Tai Chi from an instructor rather than by following a book. If you are unable to locate an instructor, a Tai Chi video is another option. However books and videos are best used as complementary sources of information to supplement what you have learned in a Tai Chi class.

Tai Chi require you to keep your body, mind and breath together while moving in a rhythmical, effortless and in continuous flow. With regular practice, you will learn how to relax the mind and body eliminating any feelings of stress and tension.

David Tomaselli is the creator of Stress Management and Self Improvement Techniques – The Wholistic Development Exchange. The aim of the Wholistic Development Exchange is to empower you to deal with stress, pressure and the day to day challenges that life brings by providing you the latest Tips, Techniques, Articles, News, E-Books, Products and other Resources related to Stress Management and Self Improvement. To download free E-Books go to our Free Stress Management E-Books section. To find out how to create an Extra Hour in your Day, have a read of our NEW seven part Time Creation Tips series.

Posted on Mar 20th, 2006

Our society seems to be on a mission to possess as much and as many as possible in their life experience. It seems as if many individuals are in the process of accumulating wealth, success, relationships, recognition, material goods, social status, and control, hanging on for dear life because they believe this will bring them happiness.

Anything you hang onto is simply an attachment, and an attachment depicts bondage. In bondage you are not free to express as the person you are because you are living under the control of someone else. If you allow someone or something to control your life you have given away your power and are literally seeing life through another person’s eyes. Or perhaps you’re the controlling person, doing your best to manipulate the lives of others so things go the way you decide they should go.

People think that control signifies power. After all, you understand fully the power that a policeman has over you if you’re stopped for speeding. That is external power and is forced due to chain of command, age, money or status. You look at these individuals as powerful because they can control certain aspects of your life, but this is only on the physical plane.

Your true power and freedom comes from surrendering your will to God. Surrender to most people spells weakness, but actually an individual who totally lets go finds a source of power within themselves they had forgotten. Letting go of planned outcomes and attempting to manipulate the details as you see fit frees you up for the good to come to you.

Stop a moment and think of a circumstance in which you loosened your grip and a miracle occurred, one you could have never planned yourself. Here’s an example. A woman who had been widowed with two children had wanted to teach children, write books and be with her own children more. But, as the sole caretaker of her two children she remained in a job that took a lot out of her but gave her a very nice income - security for her family. She wasn’t enjoying the work any longer but was afraid to try anything else.

She began having one physical problem after another with multiple surgeries in a short time frame. The job was too taxing and she knew it wasn’t good for her. She decided to leave that company and began searching for something similar but with better job assets. In her heart she was feeling this would be a good time to move forward with what she really wanted to do but fear popped in once again and she went for the "secure" job. Only a few weeks into the new position she knew it wasn’t going to work. Finally, she surrendered her will and let go so God could take over. Having stepped out of the way, letting go of her grip on how she was attempting to control things, doors began opening in so many new directions. Within a few weeks of letting go she was on her way to a new life that would give her all her heart’s true desire: more time with her children, teaching and directing children, and writing books.

What caused this dramatic chain of events to happen? It began in her thoughts. Our thoughts are energy and create every experience in our lives. If we don’t like out life as it presently is we have the power to change it completely. Energy once formed can never be destroyed and if fear rules our thoughts we connect with more fear and continually bring fear-driven situations into our lives. When we let go of the fear, surrendering to the higher purpose of our life, we not only grab back our power but allow the right and perfect things to flow to us.

This woman changed her perception of how she thought things should be. She surrendered her will, letting go of the attachment to every detail of her life and her financial security. When she loosened her grip and closed the door on something she knew was no longer in her best interest, she opened up new opportunities that will not only bring her a good income, but will also fulfill her higher divine purpose. She could have remained where she was for we always have the power of choice, but she listened to her spirit and got out of the way. She is now free, the chains of attachment are gone, and she is doing something she loves. The miracles that have been gracing her life are beyond anything she could have imagined.

That’s how it is when we loosen our grip and allow life to flow. You try so hard to hold on to a relationship that doesn’t serve because it feels scary to leave. You remain in jobs you dislike because you’re afraid there might not be anything better for you. Those beliefs that say it must be a certain way may be the prison door that is blocking your life.

So ask yourself right now, what am you holding onto that is not raising you to a higher level? A relationship? A job? An old belief? Self-incrimination? Security? All of these are an illusion that the ego provides so that you believe you need this. Need always tells the story of wanting more because it seems there’s not enough. This keeps you from moving forward as you remain under the thumb of your ego. I invite you to loosen your grip and let it go. Then, and only then, can the new, exciting, life-enhancing possibility appear at your doorstep. Open the door and let it in!

Carolyn Porter, D. Div., is an inspirational speaker,author of multiple books, ebooks and audios, spiritual wholeness coach, trainer for speaking, and energy facilitator, whose passion is to help idnviduals move beyond their limiting beliefs and become who they are meant to be.

Posted on Mar 20th, 2006

Saying “No” to requests you actually don’t want to do is a good way to reduce stress. Sometimes you are asked to do something that you simply don’t want to do or is beyond your capacity. It might be a favour for a colleague at work, a close friend or even your partner. In many cases your boss might be asking you to take on more work than you can actually handle. In such cases you may feel obliged to say yes but in doing so you take on the burden of their request. If the request is really something you just didn’t want to do, feelings of resentment will inevitably creep in. If the work load becomes too great, then you run the risk of feeling overwhelmed. In either case you will become stressed.

The best way to deal with such situations is to simply say “No”. If your friends are constantly asking you to do something which you don’t want to do, it is better to say no than say yes and then become resentful. Feelings of resentment will only strain your relationship. If they are your true friends they will understand. The worst case scenario is that these so called friends do not understand which begs the question of whether they are the kind of friends you should have.

If your boss asks you to take on far more than you know you are able to deal with there are a number of ways you can say no. Firstly if the time frame is too tight, you can ask for more time. If extra time is not an option you can ask for assistance, that is, strongly recommend that more resources are used to achieve the task at hand in the desired time frame. In any case, you need to be able to demonstrate to your boss the amount of work you currently have on your plate so that he/she sees that you are not just being lazy. It is important to remember that sometimes there are unavoidable deadlines and things just have to get done. However if the task is simply not achievable try to negotiate the amount time or resources needed to complete the task.

David Tomaselli is the creator of Stress Management and Self Improvement Techniques – The Wholistic Development Exchange. The aim of the Wholistic Development Exchange is to empower you to deal with stress, pressure and the day to day challenges that life brings by providing you the latest Tips, Techniques, Articles, News, E-Books, Products and other Resources related to Stress Management and Self Improvement. To download free E-Books go to our Free Stress Management E-Books Section. To find out how to create an Extra Hour in your Day, have a read of our NEW seven part Time Creation Tips series.

Posted on Mar 19th, 2006

Your alarm rings and you slowly pull yourself out of bed. Sniff, sniff…where’s that aroma you are so used to smelling…your immediate pick-me-up? You discover your coffee pot didn’t come on this morning and your attempts to make the brew are futile. Totally frustrated you grab an herbal peppermint tea bag instead and hurry into the shower, mumbling unpleasantries all way through. As you dry off and prepare to put on your clothes, you realize you forgot to pick up the outfit from the cleaners that you had planned to wear that day. Scrambling through your closet you find something suitable for the meeting that morning. You’re finally ready to hop into your car only to hear the cur-plunk of a dead battery as you attempt starting your car. Needless to say, you’ve had it, and a whole string of words continually flow from your thoughts and mouth. Extremely frustrated you’d really like to crawl back into bed and just forget this day.

You’ve all had those days when everything seems to go wrong. You wonder why that particular day had to malfunction since there is so much to accomplish. You actually awoke in a great mood and suddenly everything is shot to pieces, or so it seems. What happened? Why you ask?

This is life. Life happens! The key however, is in the response to the situation. Did you kick your car in anger because it wouldn’t start? Did you curse your coffee pot for not giving your much needed morning energy boost? Perhaps you chewed yourself out for being so stupid to forget picking up the dry cleaning. And in the process what happened to your great day?

Learning to allow for the flow of life no matter what comes your way shows a strong and balanced person aligned with the ebb and flow of life. Getting angry and upset when these flukes happen in your life places you in a negative space expressed through fear. But understanding that these experiences are for your growth, are not a coincidence, and that there is a gift in the experience, shifts the negativity to positive expressions.

Maybe the coffee pot episode was so you could experience a healthier alternative to the coffee. Perhaps the outfit, even though you thought it was perfect for your meeting, really wasn’t as good as the one you ended up choosing. Possibly, by being late after getting your battery charged, protected you from being in an accident. Or, maybe you were given an opportunity to laugh and see the lighter side of life!

I believe everything happens in life for a very definite reason. Sometimes we get it and sometimes we don’t, but anytime we can learn to accept whatever and smile in spite of, we open channels of light and love to be expressed through us. Besides, what good does it really do to become angry? Does it change the situation in any way? Does it allow for resolution any faster?

Some months ago I was in front of several hundred people. I noticed a woman in the front row looking at my feet and I wondered why. Later, after the program was over, I checked out my feet and was I surprised. I had on two very different shoes! They were both black and had the same size heel, but they were so very different in style. Then I remembered trying on both shoes to see which I liked better, and in my rush I obviously forgot to exchange one of the shoes.

A few years ago I would have been so embarrassed to do something so seemingly unprofessional, especially since I was going to be in front of hundreds of people. Instead, I started to laugh, realizing how much I had grown because it wasn’t that big a deal anymore. In fact, I went to the executive director and asked if he wanted a good laugh. When he agreed I told him to look at my feet. Yep, he got a good laugh and so did I. It was so unlike me to do something like this yet we’re all human and things happen. The key is in the response.

How do you respond to your life situations? Can you laugh at the chain of events that made you late, allowed you to be imperfect, or made you feel silly? Can you accept everything as perfect and allow it to be without judgment? That is how you grow beyond the bad hair day and become greater. You are bigger than anything in your life experience, and these little inconveniences (or big ones) help you grow into the possibilities life holds for you, if you see them. Every day is a Gift. So is everything that is in it!

Carolyn Porter, D. Div., is an inspirational speaker, author of multiple books, ebooks and audios, spiritual wholeness coach, trainer for speaking, and energy facilitator whose passion is to help individuals move beyond their limiting beliefs and become who they are meant to be.

Posted on Mar 19th, 2006

Negative thoughts and feelings can significantly contribute to the tension we experience in our bodies. Most of the time we are unaware of the tension in our bodies until it manifests as a physical condition such as muscle tightness in the body, headaches and even stomach ulcers. Progressive relaxation serves as a great way relax the body at the first sign of tension.

Progressive relaxation involves systematically tensing and relaxing various groups of muscles in an orderly sequence. By regularly practicing this technique, you can train yourself to recognize the feelings associated with tensed and relaxed muscles. Recognizing the tension or stress in your body at an early stage gives you the opportunity to stop it before it becomes a major physical problem.

When performing the progressive relaxation technique it important to follow the following guide lines

  • Do this technique in a quiet room where no one can interrupt you
  • Sit on a comfortable chair, couch, recliner or lie on a bed
  • Allocate around 10-15 minutes every day as your scheduled time for this technique
  • Note the sensations you experience tensing and relaxing the various muscle groups

Start off by closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths for one minute. Then start progressive tensing and relaxing the various muscle groups. The sequence of muscles varies slightly depending on how much time you have however the general order is as follows:

  • Toes
  • Knees
  • Entire right leg
  • Entire left leg
  • Right hand
  • Right forearm and hand
  • Entire right arm
  • Left hand
  • Left forearm and hand
  • Entire left arm
  • Abdomen
  • Chest
  • Neck and shoulders
  • Face

At the end you should be feeling quite relaxed. Keep your eyes closed and breathe in deeply. Slowly start moving your fingers and wriggling your toes. Breathe in deeply again and stretch gently. Then breathe in deeply one more time and open your eyes.

NOTE: because this technique involves deliberate tensing of muscles, it is important to check with your physician if you have any medical history of muscle problems.

David Tomaselli is the creator of Stress Management and Self Improvement Techniques – The Wholistic Development Exchange. The aim of the Wholistic Development Exchange is to empower you to deal with stress, pressure and the day to day challenges that life brings by providing you the latest Tips, Techniques, Articles, News, E-Books, Products and other Resources related to Stress Management and Self Improvement. To download free E-Books go to our Free Stress Management E-Books section. To find out how to create an Extra Hour in your Day, have a read of our NEW seven part Time Creation Tips series.

Posted on Mar 18th, 2006

Few things are more stressful than driving, I think. And to aggravate the situation, I noticed that it is behind the wheels, protected by anonymity that most people show their dark side. Most of the drivers are very nice people, whom, if you meet at a grocery store, or at a post-office parking lot, or at the video store, would certainly smile at you, at the least. Somehow, being in control of a weapon, the car, in this case, makes them unrecognizable. Jekyll and Hyde.

I find it particularly hard to take cussing. I feel a sense of violence towards me that can only be compared to being robbed or something. It hurts my soul. Now, ordinarily, people don’t curse you on a face-to-face situation. It’s too confrontational. However, they don’t even wait a heart beat to show you the finger or shout the F word or honk in such a way to wake up all the babies in town.

This week only, two instances happened to me that made my heart sink. These, by no means reflect the quality of my driving, which is not the point here. The first one, I was the next on a 4 way stop. This young man decided that he should go too, though it was clearly not his turn. Perhaps he was not paying attention as I was supposed to cross after the car in front of him crossed the road.

Anyway, both of us started at the same time. When I noticed the potential danger of the situation, I hit the break, and was immediately shown the finger while he passed in front of me. With my heart pounding at the violence towards me, I went on my way, trying to find a thought that would immediately make me feel good, to counteract the aggression. But the thought kept churning in my mind: why?

The other circumstance was close to same stop sign. This time, my son and I are coming down the little hill, at a speed of perhaps 35 or 40 mph followed by an older lady behind my car. Suddenly, a squirrel runs in front of my car. As I break for all animals, I swerved to the right – silly thing to do as this was the squirrel’s direction as well — and hit the break, very forcefully.

Well, the lady behind me, either because she was too close to my car, or either because she was not paying attention, got really scared, I think, and hence, very angrily honked at me with all her might. Well, that really bothered me, for not only I have the right to stop for an animal but also because I think it is my duty to do so.

I never did this before in my life, but this time I left the car to speak with the lady. Of course, stereotypes being what they are, I was not afraid she would have a gun in her possession and shoot me in traffic. I was right. I went to her while she opened the window and heard my words: “I prefer not to kill squirrels, that is why I stopped the car so abruptly. I apologize.” And turned and left. She waited until I was opening my car’s door to yell something at me, which, fortunately, I couldn’t hear.

See what I mean? She could have answered something when I was facing her, but again, preferred to use her aggression only after I couldn’t hear. That situation created other bursts of anger from the few drivers behind us. Even if her behavior made me feel bad and even if the other drivers were mad at me, this time, I felt better, for I was taking a stand for a defenseless animal who doesn’t know better than to cross the road in front of my car. By the way, my son told me I hadn’t kill the little creature, thank God.

Now, I have learned that, though we cannot control how others feel, we can try and control our feelings. The best way to do this is to immediately find something to make us feel better. Appreciating anything is the best bet and recollecting great memories is the second best.

© Maria Moratto 2006

Dr. Maria Moratto is the author of "The Inner Cure: Healing Your Body, Mind, and Soul." Visit Prescription For Bliss at http://www.rx4bliss.com, sign up for the newsletter and receive a free report.
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Posted on Mar 18th, 2006

Controlled breathing exercises can greatly influence your mind and body, and is a very practical way of managing stress. By focusing on your breathing, you naturally shift you mind away from thoughts that may be upsetting you. It is widely believed in the medical community that regular breathing has a calming and energising effect on the body and is highly recommended for dealing with stress related health problems.

A very easy breathing technique that is used in some forms of meditation is abdominal breathing. To start off, simply close your eyes and connect your tongue to your palette. Inhale air through your nose into the bottom of your lungs. When done correctly your abdomen expands slightly. Hold for a moment and then exhale through your mouth or your nose. If you exhale through you mouth, your tongue will naturally detach from the palette. As you exhale, your abdomen will contract. Hold again for another moment then inhale again. Repeat this 10 times. If you start to feel light-headed while practicing abdominal breathing, stop for thirty seconds, and then start up again.

A common mistake is to breath in a rapid shallow manner where the focus is mainly around the chest. By focusing on your abdomen while inhaling and exhaling, you are promoting deep breathing. As you get better, you can control the amount of time taken to breathe in and out, as well as the time taken between inhalations and exhalation by counting. For example, breathe in for 6 counts, hold for 3 counts, breathe out for 6 counts, and hold for 3 counts. As you improve you will be able to extend the number of counts.

Regular practice of abdominal breathing will increase your lung capacity and help you to breathe more deeply. It will also become a very useful tool that you can use whenever you feel stressed, anxious or something upsetting occurs in your life.

David Tomaselli is the creator of Stress Management and Self Improvement Techniques – The Wholistic Development Exchange. The aim of the Wholistic Development Exchange is to empower you to deal with stress, pressure and the day to day challenges that life brings by providing you the latest Tips, Techniques, Articles, News, E-Books, Products and other Resources related to Stress Management and Self Improvement. To download free E-Books go to our Free Stress Management E-Books Section. To find out how to create an Extra Hour in your Day, have a read of our NEW seven part Time Creation Tips series.

Posted on Mar 17th, 2006

While the practice of therapeutic massage has been used for centuries in the east, it is a relatively recent phenomenon here in the west. While the wonders of modern medicine have left many awestruck, more and more people are looking towards complimentary therapies and non-invasive treatments for their ailments. Massage therapy has never been as popular as it is today in America.

A number of studies have shown that massage therapy is a highly effective stress reduction technique. An earlier study, conducted by the University of Miami Medical School and published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, suggested that children receiving 30 minutes of therapeutic massage daily were less depressed and anxious than they were at the time of their admittance.

This particular study also observed marked differences in the health and behavior of the children in the test group, over the children in the control group. The nurses taking part in the study also noted that the children were more cooperative, and were able to achieve a higher level of sleep quality. On the biological level, the children in the control group exhibited lower levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) in their saliva and in their urine. It quickly became evident to researchers that massage can play a significant role in stress reduction.

It is highly encouraging that both the medical establishment and the general public are starting to realize the impact that stress can have on an individual’s health and well being. Some physicians and researchers have suggested that stress is responsible for over 75% of all disease in the western world, including skin disorders, high blood pressure, headaches, digestive ailments, muscle pain, and depression. By employing the age-old techniques of massage therapy, there exists the distinct possibility of overcoming these terrible afflictions.

The eminent Victorian physician, Dr. Stretch Dowse, noted the following back in 1887: "The mind, which before massage is in a perturbed, restless, vacillating and, even despondent state, becomes after massage, calm, quiet, peaceful and subdued; in fact, the wearied and worried mind has been converted into a mind restful, placid, and refreshed." While modern medicine is full of promise in certain areas, it is not wise to ignore the knowledge and insights of the past. Massage therapy has helped countless people cope with the stress of modern life. It could help you, too.

Stephanie Macintosh is a certified massage therapist based in Portland. When she is not busy with her growing practice, she writes for massagetherapy101.com – an insightful website with information about the benefits of massage therapy, complimentary therapies, frequently asked questions and more.

Posted on Mar 17th, 2006

Could simple stress reducing solutions be the answers to our myriad modern problems?

Urban sprawl and suburban flight are causing massive traffic jams on freeways nationwide, as individuals are working longer and longer hours. The invisible effect is a nation buckling under accumulating stress that affects parents, children, and society in budget busting and heart wrenching ways.

70% of all illness is due to unmanaged stress according to the National Institute of Mental Health (US). Longer work hours and thickening traffic are part of the problem, but it goes deeper. Family stresses are piled onto this work/traffic stress. Children are often left on their own between 3 PM and 7 PM, after they get out of school and while their parents are working or fighting traffic. Tragically, and not coincidentally, this is when most crime is committed.

Our national crime costs are near $500 billion per year, while our health care costs are $1 trillion per year. Our system’s buckling from trying to repair damage that is already done to our bodies, our children, and our society, through backend spending on health problems and prison/court/enforcement costs. How can we deal with the front end, before these problems occur?

What if we went to the root of these stress related problems. Many children turn to the drugs and alcohol, which is behind most youth crime, for "stress management." Their lives are increasingly stressful in a rapidly changing world, and their parents are unavailable, battling their own stress issues and the lives that cause them. So, how could we affect the root problem, or stress? Government can play a powerful role in affecting this deteriorating situation, by affecting the direction of our economic development.

Tens of millions of Americans could begin working several days a week at home, telecommuting via the Internet. The technology is there, yet companies and employees do not utilize it. Government could provide tax incentives to companies to establish telecommuting days for employees. Dollars would be saved immediately on traffic costs, road wear, and emergency care as millions are taken off the hi ways daily. Air would immediately become cleaner, reducing the alarming increase in asthma problems nationwide. But, the most important benefit would be a national sigh of relief as parents and children can relax more around the demands of job and family. A parent who works 8 hours from home, rather than fighting an hour or two of freeway traffic, working 8 hours, and then fighting the same traffic to get home too late to truly relax, brings an entirely different parent home to the children. This may help a parent be one who has time to "be there" to help with the challenges of life our children face.

This would not only affect telecommuting parents, but others who must drive or bus to work will find the roadways much clearer and less polluted, leaving them healthier and less stressed when they get home much earlier than before. However, the other issue affecting all is the one of hours worked. Too many Americans are skipping breaks, and working way past the 8 hour work day that our ancestors sometimes fought and died for. Breaks and 8 hour work days were not fought for because our forefathers and mothers had nothing better to do. They were established because this limitation of work to find balance in life is "essential" to our quality of life. Again, when most crime is committed between the time school lets out and the time parents get home and we are building and filling prisons faster than ever before in our history, it is time to "take a deep breath." It is time to reevaluate how we are living.

We must decide whether human beings should be squeezed into a matrix that does not nurture us or our children, or whether we use the emerging technology to redefine our lives to flow around us like a soothing healing balm. We are entering an age of technological miracles that can provide an extraordinary quality of life — if we choose to use these tools for that. However, right now the opposite is occurring, as stress overwhelms us and 70% of illness and the six leading causes of death are the result of stress. With the dawn of the information/computer age the average worker is many times more productive than their counterparts decades ago, yet we are working longer hours for little more money. How do we change this? First of all by lifting our heads up to see beyond "what is" — to see what "could be."

There is an extraordinary book called Flatland. The main character is a one-dimensional worm who crawls through a groove seeing only the butt of the one-dimensional worm in front of him. This is his world. But, then one day he suddenly on impulse turns to the side, and finds a whole new two dimensional world expanding outward, left, right, front and back. This blows his mind and he goes wild and discovers that he can "lift up" off the two dimensional plane his expanded world had become into a "three-dimensional" reality. He can look DOWN, and look UP, and see LEFT, and RIGHT, and a whole new world expands all around him. But, when he goes back to his one-dimensional world, his peers think he’s gone crazy dreaming up these ridiculous possibilities of an "expanded world."

Our society is at a point with the level of technological development to lift up from "the way we are doing things." We can literally redefine our society to fit human needs. A compassionate economy can unfold within, throughout and all about us, until we see crime and health care costs whither, and surpluses growing, effortlessly and simply by learning to live in ways that "feel good."

Copyright 2005 Bill Douglas

Bill Douglas is the Tai Chi Expert at DrWeil.com , Founder of World T’ai Chi & Qigong Day (held in 50 nations each year), and has authored and co-authored several books including a #1 best selling Tai Chi book “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to T’ai Chi & Qigong.” Bill’s been a Tai Chi source for The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, etc. You can learn more about Tai Chi & Qigong, and also contact Bill Douglas at http://www.worldtaichiday.org

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