Tip for improving pain and posture

I have been doing something I learnt in chikong a while back and that was also taught to me by a Thai medicine doctor a long time ago.

And it’s been causing a beautiful stretch in the back of the skull that has been reducing the stagnation and stiffness in my neck and shoulders and even my rib cage by a lot!
In just three days! Can’t wait to see what further helps it will bring me!

It’s dead simple to do and no counter indications whatsoever.

Here goes

It’s just touching the roof of your mouth with the tip of your tongue and taking the tongue backwards until it reaches the soft part of the roof of the mouth.

I have been taking long walks like this or basically doing this all the time I can, front of tongue touching the soft part of the roof of the mouth.

Not difficult at all! And so very helpful! Give it a try and let me know here in a few days.

Living with Hypermobility and Deficient Posture Syndromes

I have often written about how to cope with these things and how to take effective action to reduce pain and improve your body’s efficiency. 

I have never written about what it’s like to actually live with these monsters on your shoulder day in day out. Having the pressures of modern life – traffic, work, noise you can’t control, love quarrels, family discussions, sex cravings, differences at work – when all along you know a drop might tilt your glass and take away your ability to very literally take the next step. Walking step I mean.

I work with maths. It has the power to take my brain away from any pain. I dealt with my Father’s one month agony until his passing by throwing myself into maths wholeheartedly, 12 hours a day, which was all the waking time outside his visiting hours.

I do maths for a living now. It’s like having a big lego box to play with. And I do it well. So I often have people around me asking for direction, needing me to give them reassurance and spoon-feed them the next step. My work involves a lot of pressure. And a lot of travel. And I mostly like that.

But with these annoying syndromes, it means my brain requires more “space” than others to coordinate my muscles. And sometimes it goes into over-run when too many things pile up and it has not had time to recuperate. And it just gets overwhelmed. So overwhelmed it switches off my ability to walk. Or gives me extreme dizziness. And all I can do is lie down and hope it will pass. Anytime anywhere. And sometimes with a good rest it all goes away. And sometimes a little meditation is all that’s needed. Sometimes not. Sometimes there is some obstacle in my posture that makes the noise not go away. I have had a full month of dizziness and another of headache with no idea what to do to stop it. Then I have to control my fear and think through the causes that might be making the obstacle. It is often something in myjaw alignment  but sometimes it is some tight muscle for example. Then I need to find someone to help – a dentist, an osteopath, a massage therapist, normally the first. While all this is happening, there are still 15 people at my door asking for this and that. My nephew is still over-eating. My mother is still needing help with this and that. And I must just retreat. I have no other choice. And my boss gets upset. And I have to sit and watch this from my bed and just apologise and feel like shit. And if all this happens during the many months I live alone in London, then I’ll have to go through all that without even a person to bring me a cup of tea. And that’s so scary.

I have been known to be driving and not manage to walk when I get out of the car. To have some strong jaw or back click and just feel my muscle control switch off entirely. It happens because the click changes the relative position of my body and all of a sudden the brain has no idea where anything went and just goes “fuck this” and switches me off. And I never know when it’s going to happen. And as I travel the world doing my presentations that I do and going from airport to airport, I know this might happen any moment. And I have to manage the fear that it brings. Cos I don’t want this thing to dictate my life! More than it does! Cos I want to cycle and climb mountains and do healthy strong things too! And it feels alive and liberating when I do.

Lately I haven’t been managing to cope. I can’t quite manage the fear. I feel anxiety and panic over nothing. Shortness of breath. This started since I found out I needed an operation for something unrelated (?). My brain being more wired up than usual as regards the condition of my body (due to my syndromes) felt the invasion of the cut even if my consciousness registered no pain. Being told the option was between cut and risk of cancer also added to the feeling that I have no control. As no one does. But the illusion of control was what kept time going all my life. Hence the maths.

And so now I find myself entering panic states over nothing. Feeling my throat compress and shortness of breath, inability to sleep. I can still control it by saying “Ana, it’s just fear, it’s not real”, but the shortness of breath stays. I don’t know how to get myself back. And all along still 15 people outside my door ask for help with maths and think it’s all very very important. And my brain would much rather listen to them than face the fear of void. And has me ploughing along despite all the spites. And that doesn’t work.

And on top of it all, every so often I have to deal with someone thinking I’m weak, or vulnerable, or some physical therapist thinking they know so much more about this than I do, when they know so little. What they do not realise is that I have been dealing with sides of this for 15 years! Do you know how strong I’ve had to be to reach where I’ve reached with this Aquiles heal?! I’m just tired. Been doing it alone far too long.

Now that I’ve said all that, and aligning all this left to right has helped, I will go do some micro-cosmic orbit meditation and hope for the best.

Three dimensions of healing and health

We exist in three dimensions: the body, the mind and the soul. They are not independent, but instead are one same structure, with manifestations along the three dimensions. The correspondence is precise.

That is why you often see people in pain who are also perturbed in their emotions that day. Or people who live in negative thoughts and develop diseases to go with it.

I heard of a man who was in a concentration camp in the II World War. In his old age he has cancer and doctors are examining to see whether it is pancreatic or liver. Liver is the area of forgiveness (or lack thereof). Pancreas is the area of anger. How could he have forgiven? How could he have found peace after that? But because he hasn’t, the emotion gets stored in an area of the inconsciente so the brain doesn’t have to deal with it and can keep us functional. The inconsciente is the body. The area for that type of emotion is the liver.

For breasts it’s goals and self-pride. For womb it’s femininity. The cervix is associated with the heart. Cervix problems mean there is likely a dissociation between sensuality and feminine emotion and love. Resonate with our day-in-age of disengagement? And the epidemia that is going about of cervix HPV. 80% of women get HPV once in their lives and of course similar proportions of men, except they can’t die from it, women can.

The shoulders are burdens. The lower back is sadness. The heart is impatience and anxiety. The knees and legs are the foundation of the being. The left side overall your relationship with yourself, the right your relationship with the world.

The issues with the body appear as the emotions appear or vice-versa, chicken and egg, because they are manifestations of the same reality, a closed system.

And so, in order to get rid of the problem and heal, you can do it from any of the three angles, or all of them at once. Combining massage and meditation, understanding the emotional conditions that brought about your illness. What is your body trying to tell you? What are you doing / denying / feeling that is hurting it? 

If you take just a material approach to it, you miss out on handling the reasons that brought about the disease. Areas of the body that store negative emotions do not get adequately fed of blood and chi and energy, your brain just can’t reach them the same, hence disease arriving. If you cut out that part of your body, fine, but your brain still can’t get to it. And often cure is temporary.

If you just take a psychological approach to healing, you often never truly heal either. Psychotherapy is awesome to get things started, but it itself admits it can’t reach the inconsciente, except sporadically. It can’t because inconsciente emotions are stored in the body and the brain is good with ignoring them. NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) is a bit better. It combines words with tapping specific Accupuncture points in the body and therefore you can sometimes get a deeper response. I once healed a psychological trauma with a self-back massage. I massaged the muscle that stored the memories of my father’s death and my divorce. Just behind the pancreas it stored huge anger (death of loved ones does bring about anger, I’m afraid); a bit lower, huge sadness. I massaged the whole lower left side of my back, from ribs to hips, from spine to end of me, until every naught was gone, as deep as I could go. At times I was overwhelmed with emotion that I had to leave the area and return to it later. But I didn’t give up. After that, my boyfriend of 4.5 years could get as angry with me as he wanted, I never had these muscles spasm again, like they used to at the very start of every fight. And I started managing to stand up to him so much more. Cos I wasn’t afraid of losing him no more. Cos the emotional wound of the death of my loved ones was no longer a scar in my body. I healed body and soul and spirit. With a deep self-massage. The only true way to heal, in all three dimensions.

So if you are sick or in pain, stop, listen, analyse, hear about body theories (Taoism, body reading, chakra healing, shamanism). Do meditation, peace yourself down, understand the body map against your personal history, understand which emotional wounds you avoided or handled wrong, how your body and soul and emotions need changing. By all means visit the doctor and discover which options he has for you too. But don’t approach it unidirectionally, it’s a three dimensional system.

Forward head posture and your adolescent

I’ve been seeing it more and more. Adolescents and young adults with forward head posture. This is the result of growing up with way too much computer and no knowledge of how to handle them. Stop it now while you can!

If you use a laptop, but a screen to attach to it!! It’s not even expensive!! And your health or your child’s health is worth it!!

Raise the height of your screen to level it’s top with your eyes and bring it as close as needed for you to be able to see the screen whislst sitting back on your chair.

Sit with your bump to the back of the chair.

When you decide to raise your head, don’t just tilt it backwards, leaving the giraffe neck as is! You must move your head backwards starting from the bottom of the neck on the back. Get each vertebrae of your neck to go as backwards and upwards as you can. Then tilt your nose down. Your head has to go backwards, not up!

When walking, stick your tummy in. Imagine you have a belt. Tie it as far as it can go. That’s the 10th hole on your belt. Now release it half way. Then a little more to the 4th hole on the belt. That’s the right amount of muscle tension on your tummy. Use it all the time.

Tilt your hip inwards probably. Chances are you tend to stick your bump out a bit too much.

Do the towel trick. My Mum cured a hunched back at 65 this way! Take a towel and wrap it so as to make a role of it. Lie on top of the towel. For people with forward head posture you want to place the rolled towel underneath your stomach while you are facing up. For people with the opposite problem, hunched back and hip inwards, i.e. too straight a back, you want to place the towel underneath your waste. Rest on it for 10 minutes at night and 10 minutes in the morning. When the time is up, do not rush!, roll sideways, remove the role, rest for another couple of minutes.

This can be cured. Stick to it!!

Warm pebble beaches, the power of now and the importance of self-massage

Yesterday I was at a beach with warm pebble from the sun like Brighton but gorgeous in every way except the pebbles.

Some people were lying on 12 euro chairs, some were reading a book, most were chatting. Great though books are, and I do love them, they do take your thoughts away to a place that only exists in your head, which is a shame when you’re in a place like this, that is probably more gorgeous than the ones in your book. Sometimes I find it a shame the way people search for mental stimulation rather than mental relaxation, myself often included…

 I lied there and felt a pebble right against the back of my head. I picked it up and it started, a full day of self-massage with warm pebbles: head, neck, shoulders and lower back, even a bit of sacrum. Nobody at the beach seemed to mind 🙂 Now my back is sooo happy and my headaches are nowhere to be found.

Self-massage is one of the most precious and powerful resources we have. Whether you have chronic pain or just a stiff neck every so often. No one knows our body like we do, no masseur can get to those naughts like we can and none will do it quite like we need it. My trick is to search for the point that hurts the most and declare war. Gently of course. And allow for anything that wants to click or readjust on its own to just do so, for example your foot may want to be in a different position now, don’t overfocus on the massage, let your foot go, give yourself any stretch your body asks for, anywhere else in the body, feel your whole body enjoy the relaxation you’re bringing to your point of stress. Experience your body as a fully connected organism.

In meditation, they tell you to focus on your breath as you empty your mind of thoughts, but they say you can focus on anything really. For me, self-massage is a form of meditation. You can’t think of anything else but what you’re feeling. And noticing what you’re feeling, not what you’re thinking, is a great way to let the now envelop you and to find your inner peace. My take on mindfulness for the day.

But you don’t need a warm pebble beach for self-massage, great resource though it is. On the lift to work I found a corner that is just perfect to reach my upper back. On the lift of the subway I found an amazing corner that reaches the sacro-iliac joint like nothing else. Be creative. Use your environment.

Trilogies in the body. Key to self-healing.

“Healthy mind, healthy body” goes the saying, acknowledging a duality. I add that mind, body, and soul are three sides of the same coin. Let me phrase it better, they are different manifestations of one same whole and correspond to each other entirely. I give more detail.

When sperm first finds its way into and egg, multiplication of cells starts. At first they are all similar but soon they start to specialise into a trilogy. One part of the cells goes on to form the digestive system, top to bottom, another goes on to form muscles and tendons and organs and most other things, the third part forms what I call the brain system: the brain, the skin, and the intermuscular white membrane that envelops every muscle in the body. For those of you who have ever tranched raw chicken, this part is the white membrane that is easy to cut through. So the brain is made from the same type of cells that wrap everything else in the body, effectively our body being held by an extension of our brain. Why wouldn’t the brain use its farthest parts?

Another well-known trilogy was identified by Freud: conscient, sub-conscient, and unconscient mind. The latter underlies our behaviour and is difficult to access even under hypnosis. Where does the brain store this part of its records that underlie everything and yet are not easily accessible for identification?

It is my opinion that these memories are stored in the white membranes that envelop our muscles throughout. I’m not the only one to think this either. In Brazil there is a field of study called “body reading” that reads your emotional troubles from the location of your physical pains. The left side of the body is related to how we feel about ourselves, our inner world; the right to how we feel about the world, our place in the outer world. Lower members are related to the bases of our life. Shoulders harbour grief. Stomach harbours anger. To name a few. 

When there is trouble in an area of life, the respective body part gets slightly less blood flow or “chi” and our brain has more trouble accessing it and keeping it healthy or even locating it accurately in space. And so in the middle of the chaos of every day activity, troubled areas are more likely to get hurt first. 

A good friend, during his PHD, was really ok risk of not being able to finish it early enough and was afraid for his future and well-being. And sure enough, walking around his contemplation table he would bump his right toe again and again, until we had to go to the hospital once to have it checked, so hard was the bump. I hurt my left knee when the fear a divorce started appearing and for 15 years I prioritised my right leg for any type of locomotion and I excelled professionally but not romantically.

But I have a clearer example of the brain’s ability to store unwanted memories away from its core and around distant muscles. The pain from losing a parent is similar to the pain of divorce. It involves two primordial emotions: sadness and anger. One day I was self-massaging the lower left side of my back while under meditation. And a huge sadness started involving me. I remembered Dad and my ex-husband and the feeling got so powerful I had to leave the area. I went further up a bit. And a huge anger started arising while I thought of the two of them. I had to let go of the area again and came back a little later. When I did, I massaged the whole area thoroughly, so thoroughly there was not one naught left when I was done. I started from close to the spine and finished at the farthest, as if sweeping the naughts and the vibes out.

Until then, during the first two years of my first true relationship after my divorce, which had an abusive nature, whenever he looked like he was going to get angry and leave, which happened every four days precisely, at the first twitch of his face immediately my low left back muscles would contract painfully and unexpectedly so that I had to sit and let him go on his predictable little rant. After this deep massage, they never ever did again, I became so fine about the guy getting up and leaving, so knowledgable that he’d be back after his pouting, after just another four days. His power over me was much reduced and after that our relationship became a lot more equalitarian.

My memory of the feelings from that utter pain had been stored in the muscles and formed my unconscious reactions. No amount of psychoanalysis was going to release that. Intervention on the muscle was required. Body, mind, soul.

Curing chronic pain involves healing mind and body. And this raises the vibration of your soul. And your attractiveness to others.

Traumatic versus chronic pain. Why chronic pain exists?

If you suffer some form of an accident and for example hurt a joint, this causes traumatic pain and normally heals after you treat it. If however you leave it untreated, traumatic pain likely turns chronic. So do get help already (see my last post for tips on where and how). 

The reason traumatic pain goes chronic is that your body adapts around the point of hurt and that adaptation causes all sorts of issues elsewhere. Once your body gets used to the new position, which protects the hurt point in detriment of the any others, it is very dificult to teach it another way of being. Our body is a complex system of interconnected muscles, tendons, joints, bones, nerves etc, all of which have some ability to adapt to change within a small healthy range that respects the rest of the system and that we grow into through all our lives. Beyond this small range there is still adaptability, at the expense of chronic pain. Chronic because it is engrained in how that complex system now works. Anything you improve when you treat a part of the chronically affected system affects any of the other parts of it in an unknown manner and pain can start elsewhere until hopefully you finish trailing a complex set of causes and consequences and find a new balance that is pain free. This is where I’m getting to after 15 years.

Chronic pain doesn’t just start from a untreated traumatic injury. We can genetically inherit a propensity to it. For example, I am hyper mobile. This means my ligaments have genetically less than usual collagen. This makes me very flexible. This characteristic affects about 10% of people. Most do not have chronic pain. But if they injure themselves at a point and don’t treat it fast enough, their system is more prone to adapt at the cost of other joints and points leading to chronic pain.

Chronic pain is also influenced by psychological factors. If you grow up in an environment of stress where people give you low value, this can make you grow with a posture of sadness, that leads to joint pain further down the line.

Dental problems incorrectly treated are another major cause of chronic pain. Imagine you have a tooth removed. The body does not like emptiness and so, when your system is supple because maybe you are hyper mobile of your muscles are week, you body adapts how it can and closes the gap. Now your teeth are bones that are attached to a bone structure that are connected to all the other bones in your body. Bones are not fused to each other, they are loosely held together using joints, muscles, tendons etc. Skeletons in laboratory fit together elegantly but are held together with screws to replace the effects of all the bio matter. When you pull the arm of such a skeleton, the rest of the body moves too. Everything is intertwined in a set of causes and consequences we do not fully understand yet. So for the space in your mouth to close this must be at the cost of pulling other stuff just a little to accommodate that.i have seen this in many people. The problems start 10 years later and so the connection to the cause is rarely remembered. But it’s there. I had a lower left tooth removed. My whole system adapted to close the space. Years later I was pronating my right foot and the other was flat. I was overusing my left leg and the joints got tired. I rusted my left ankle for the first time 4 years later, then again 6 years later, then my left knee, my ill-treated traumatic reason. 

Other bite issues are also a major factor. Whether your upper and lower jaw close elegantly, in a manner that keeps them precisely parallel to each other, affects the way you tilt your head, which affects the way you hold your head, which affects your upper back, etc etc, it’s a closed system and all parts are interconnected, inevitably.

My traumatic injury happened to come about at a time of personal stress, during the first signs that my relationship was going to fail. In times of stress, our body has less room to heal itself during sleep and keep us totally functional. It also has less resources to do a full blown recovery of the injury. Stress and sadness is also a factor of chronic pain.

Often in chronic pain sufferers all factors converge. I suspect a lot of pain syndrome sufferers like fibromyalgia recognise some of them in their lives.

The way I have managed to cure my chronic pain has been to address all these aspect, slowly but surely, through any and all means possible. From pain-ridden to pain free. And you can too. Stay tuned.

Chronic pain – therapies that help

I have coped with 15 years of pain. Of which 10 were of constant pain. As in all-the-time.

I am practically pain free now. I have learnt an awful lot during the past 15 years and I can help you find ways to heal faster, so you do not have to search for 15 years as well.

My previous post on this topic spoke about starting by searching your environment so as to make sure it works with you and not against you. Today I will talk about the therapies that help and how so. This should be able to help you in your own search for finding more comfort.

Orthopaedists – great at prescribing anti-inflammatories and muscle-relaxers and using doom words to explain your condition. Great at mending broken bones and anything requiring cutting and pasting. Great at offering an operation to a location in your skeleton without looking at the bigger picture. Works for traumatic injuries. Not good for chronic pain. Their MRI etc exams detect details but skip big pictures, e.g. ignore joint healthy movement, which is often where pain stems from. So always do include one of therapies below, specifically chiropractors or osteopath so, even if you just have a traumatic injuries.

Physiotherapists – love to solve everything with localised exercise. Great for recovering from traumatic injuries, like after an operation. Not for chronic pain.

Osteopaths – use gentle techniques to manipulate your bones and release your joints into a more comfortable position. They get you out of crises and into more comfort. I particularly like cranial-sacral technique. Works both for chronic pain as well as traumatic pain. With chronic pain, their results are usually not long-lasting because the structural issue is normally elsewhere (I will cover this in future posts). But they are the most help. 

They also help your body adjust to structural transition and structural improvement, like braces (see orthodontists below).

Very useful also for babies and children. Children and babies’ are more supple and can therefore be coached much better than adults’. Babies who get colic can really benefit from cranial-sacral treatment. It may also help babies and children grow into a better use of their bodies that can stay with them for life.

Chiropractors – the best at doing unaided diagnostic. Their tests are thorough and their answers are spot-on. Their treatments are effective on traumatic injuries. Not good for chronic pain, where their results last much less than osteopaths.

Accupuncture – great when there has been any trauma done to nerves. Pinching, tingling, etc.

Deep tissue massage / massage – helps when your muscles are tense beyond belief. If they are keeping you from getting to a better position and using your body better. Normally short-term again. Very useful if there is a lot of tension and stress in your life. Or if you just need some human touch. Important through structural transitions, like braces (see orthodontists section below).

Thai massage / acupressure – best leg-thigh-bump massage in the world. Got me out of my worst back crisis ever, where I couldn’t walk for a week. Awesome for sciatic. So is yoga btw. Helps lengthen your legs. You must keep coming back. But that’s ok.

Podiatrists – I do not usually recommend this. I wore special insoles, custom made and what not. I needed higher insoles every two months. I have recommended it once to a cousin in her 70s who had very painful bunions. That’s it! A friend uses one and swears by it. He uses it as a prop for a structural issue he is not attending to. He’s way too young for that.

Exercise – everybody preaches that. It’s so annoying! Great after traumatic injury, great for stress. But you didn’t get constant years and years of pain because you didn’t do sit-ups. Pilates is great! Yoga is more stretching than I need, being hiper-mobile, but useful for people who are very inflexible or people who do a lot of other exercuse that gives them stiff muscles. Running is a killer for most healthy skelettons so spare yourself. Swimming is great. It won’t cure you but the dynamic stretch sure helps.

Alexander technique – great for children and adoloscents. Should be taught at schools. It’s classes to teach you to use your body better. Great to have a few seasions. Learning to stand-up from a chair properly, or to use my body better while walking or lying down, and learning how to relax my muscles in a deeper way has thoroughly helped me in my day-to-day. Won’t cure structural problems. Not worth keeping classes up forever, I thought.

Reiki – I don’t know how it works but it helps. Scottish NHS recommends it for cancer patients so stop laughing 🙂 Helps you enter your mind and awaken your self-healing abilities, get your brain actively involved in dealing with your pain areas. Good for chronic pain but not so good for traumatic pain. Does not heal structural issues but helps you live with them.

Shamanic healers – like Reiki but way more powerful. Affects your emotional well-being as well.

Meditation – in times of stress, our brain has less space to look within and keep pain in check. Meditation gives it that space. It also helps you go within yourself to listen to what your body needs. And emotionally as well. Meditation has been scientifically proven to be helpful, like a very very old form of hypnosis. So free your mind and the rest will follow, Mr/Ms Sceptical. I have brought myself out of crises by meditating to this video.

Orthodontists / braces – can be a great help. Or your worst enemy.

Whatever your orthodontist is doing to you, make sure he follows the guideline of Symmetry! Make sure!

Do orthodontics to re-open the space of a tooth you lost and put an implant or bridge there. Or to give the shape of your upper and lower jaws a symmetrical curve that fits nicely vertically as well as horizontally. Do not bother with tooth prettification please – it will make your pain worse!

While using braces, make sure you help your body cope and adapt, with the help of osteopaths and massage. Without them, braces can do more harm than good to your body. Adults use their body a certain way for ions, braces interfere and can be like tying a mean naught on top of an already tied down system. Massage and osteopathy give your muscles and joints the suppleness to adapt. Meditation and reiki give your brain the space to monitor the changes you are making and to adapt your mental map of your body faster as the relative position of everything shifts a bit.

Dentists – the best of all for me so far. Topic for my next self-healing post. You may be thinking this is not for you. You are extremely likely to be wrong. And what wonder if you are, cos then you may have here a tool to affect your structural problems and to cure you like no other. So bare with me.

Important tip: if you love your current therapist but have not been improving in a while, try another and another and another. The human body is much too complex for one therapy to help you as much as possible on its own. Be patient. But never ever give up. You will find what you’re looking for, no matter what anyone says! Keep up the fight!

Chronic pain – check your environment first

Wrists, necks, lower or upper backs, our computer ridden jobs are filling us with unwanted new pesty guests. As a chronic pain sufferer for 15 years, and now pain-free at last!, I can give you some good tips on how to fix this.

First place to look is your every day habits. I do not believe in making yourself sit up straight, but you can create an environment where sitting up straight is natural.

Using your computer

I would have had to change careers ions ago if I hadn’t paid attention to this.

If you use a laptop, buy a screen. If your boss doesn’t want to get you a screen, say you’ll ask HR or H&S or the NHS. Your company can get into big trouble for ignoring your health needs. Not having a screen is probably the culprit for your neck and upper back pain. Level the top edge of the screen with your eyes. Use books under the screen if you have to.

If you find yourself leaning forwards to see the screen, bring the screen closer. Sounds obvious, eh? So why aren’t you doing it yet 🙂

Your forearms must rest on the table with ease. Change the height of your chair accordingly.

Now for the 90 degrees rule: your hip has to be in 90 degrees to your legs, your upper legs have to rest on the chair and be at 90 degrees to toe lower legs, your lower legs have to be at 90 degrees to your feet. Change the height of your chair until they are. If your feet aren’t touching the ground now, you should need to get a foot rest (or get your boss to get you one), it’s not that expensive and you’re worth it!

Now your chair. Two things to notice. Some seats are curved inwards, forcing your hip to be at an awkward position that hurts your lower back. You need a chair which seat is curved outwards or straight. This is vital! I was dislocating my L4 joint once a month until I discovered this! 

The second thing to notice is the chair’s back. Some modern chairs have a spring against your back so that they are always pushing you forwards. How stupid is that! Dump it!

An important addition to your life is a small of the back pillow. You wrap it around the back of your chair at hip height. It will do a world of difference keeping you using your body well at work.

Now for your mouse. My mouse has been responsible for shoulder pain, shoulder unlevelling, upper back pain, wrist pain, arm and finger pain, it’s a nasty bugger really. I’ve ditched mine and now just use my laptop’s, which seats directly in front of me and close to my body. In the past, I have used a vertical mouse which wonderful for my arm and fingers. It is important to check where you place it. Never ever ever beyond the keyboard! Keep it close to your body.

I do all these things and often get compliments about how elegant I look when working just cos I seat right. So no, it doesn’t look weird at all. More inportabtly, I manage to work for hours on end pain free!

Ah, go get water or tea or go to the loo once every 1.5 hours at least.

Driving

Now that’s tough. I do not drive a lot so my tips here may be inconplete. Happy to hear yours in the comments. I have a semi-automatic car and that helps. An automatic one would have been better. Most important top is keep your hands levelled with each other and close to your body, possible close to the lower part of the wheel. Never one hand on the gear or one on the window. Go for simmetry. 

Many car seats are nasty too, like bad office chairs. Get your own seat to put on it. Try it at the shop. Make sure it has support for the small of the back and let’s your hip get as far as it needs to go. May be useful to buy your car because of the seats, if you ask me.

Shoes

We all like pretty shoes, but I like myself lots more! Never ever wear completely flat shoes! Shoes must always be 1 cm higher in the back than the front if you must wear high-heals, make sure the heal is wide so that it is supportive. And please keep it to a minimum.

Bags and weight

Large one sided bags are a big no-no. Back packs that seat above your hip are great. But we end up packing them a lot. Lately I’ve been using a tiny side bag that I place in my front.

If I go to the supermarket, I take my backpack or my bike or one of those old lady’s wheeler. If I don’t, I put all the weight in one bag and I hug it in front of me. Never been looked at twice.

Sitting about

Great rest position is sitting cross legged. I never sit normal anymore. Nobody minds, trust me. Crouching is also a great rest position. Yoga teachers will tell you it allows putting your back/hip in neutral.

Getting up from a chair

One awesome trick this one! Before you get up, sit on the tip of the chair, put your bump back and your back straight, now get up diagonally to your bump. Your hip stays safe when you start walking. If your chair is too low, you can do this after getting up, just lean against any other surface. Trust me, it’s an awesome trick!

Getting up from bed

Inportant stuff. Any physio will tell you! Lie sideways, your your upper arm to push against the lower to get you up. That sit-up sort of way to get up is really bad for your lower back.
All this sounds like a lot. But once you incorporate it into your habits, it’s really easy to do. And you’ll feel so much better!

Maybe sadness is lighter

Apparently, our feelings too are the result of evolution. Sadness too. If it was all covered with snow outside, sad people found it easier to stay inside the cave through winter, which made them more likely to survive until child bearing years. Therefore more likely to pass their sad genes down to us.

Of course the whole world was not immersed in the Ice Age equally. My South East Asian friends gloat when telling me South East Asia cities already thrived 5000 years ago. It’s however much easier to leave the cave and have ideas when you do not live on an ice cap and we eventually did when the ice cap lifted a bit.

My South East Asian friends also tell me people in Asians are less likely to indulge in sadness and  depression or to listen to their own feelings in a tragic way. I would love to see some stats about this.

My hypothesis is no ice no evolutionary reward for sadness.

If sadness has developed to reward us for being in, then maybe that is all it is half the time.

I call this biological sadness. For example, yesterday I had a brilliant day. I was at Last’s End, in Cornwall, UK, a land of dramatic grass covered cliffs falling into the wave covered ocean. I took a long walk over the cliffs, lots of sun and laughter, birds and light. Then back at the hotel, about 11pm, I started getting very very sad. The main questions of my life started popping round my head in a merciless assault. Then a moment of inspiration: I’m not really sad, my body is just tired! 

Biological sadness is a driver for me on many occasions: when I’m hungry, when I’m ovulating, while PMSing, when I’m getting a little ill, for example coming down with the flue, and of course when I’m tired. In those moments, when I eventually get what’s happening (somehow it’s never obvious), I just know to ignore my thoughts, make no analyses of them, bother no one around me, find a bed and give myself however long my body needs to be up and running again.

Thing is, if your brain is tired, it starts ill processing things, putting back of the mind thoughts to the foreground, mishandling disease fighting or muscle coordinating or efforts to annul background noise or to cope with your child’s cry, etc. He has no eloquent way to tell your conscious self to go to sleep after you’ve refused to. But he has sadness. “You thought this was fun, I’ll just take away your drive”.

I was in a (now I see it) abusive relationship for 4.5 years. This guy would live every single winsical emotion of his, every single trace of biology, as if it were the centre of the world. And there we were, navigating rough oceans for no good reason at all. Such a waste of energy!

Bhudists know what I am talking about. They say our thoughts bring us up and down and around at random. Like a lake under changing weather: its essence is not the changing ripples on the water, its essence is what happens at its depths. Learning meditation is going from that surface of biology driven thoughts to a place where our core, our higher inner true selves, is prevalent. Waters there do not sway.

Not all passing thoughts and states define you in any way or are worth acting on. And distinguishing those that are from those that are not is one of the wisdoms of life.

So when does sadness mean your life needs acting on? Read my post “Decision Times” for that.