Friday, 25 February 2011

Beating Colds and Flus.... BEFORE They Get You!

The contents of this post are not to be considered as medical advice. Always consult a qualified health care professional before trying health maintenance methods that are new to you.

It's not over yet, and I just found out the hard way...

Cold and flu season... those nasty little devils that can sneak up on you and make your life miserable.  

While the season has been on for several months here in the northern hemisphere, we're at a particularly difficult time right now as the ambient temperature starts to fluctuate above and below the two critical numbers - the freezing point (0C/32F) and the "comfort point" (20C/68F).  

This happened here just last week - last Friday was a balmy, spring-like 10C and the next day the mercury fell 10 degrees below freezing.  That was when my wife's virus, the one she had had all week, decided I'd finally be an easier target.  You see, it's around these temperatures that the human immune system has the hardest time.

So here are some thoughts on prevention - yes, if you throw this heavy artillery against an oncoming virus in time, chances are you'll fight off the worst of it.

From Indian Ayurvedic medicine:

First, when you feel something coming on, do what animals do in the wild and stop eating!  Or at least eat much lighter.  This allows your body to devote more resources to killing the invaders.  

Then make yourself a thermo-nuclear beverage.  You can use chicken or vegetable soup stock and then add some ginger, some mushed garlic and as much cayenne pepper as you can stand.  Then drink it, wrap yourself up nice and warm and let yourself sweat it out.  

And finally, the following combination of herbs comes highly recommended - astragalus, reishi and golden seal.  

From Dr. Eddy Basch and Dr. Joseph Mercola:

Finally, here are a couple of videos to get you thinking some more about unique solutions that may help you.  You may or may not agree with all their advice (I'm currently testing some of it myself), but at least you may find something that works really well for you personally:



Enjoy them and stay healthy!!

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Five Keys to Building Your Emotional Intelligence - by Partho Choudhury


Emotional intelligence consists of four core abilities:

*       Self-awareness – The ability to recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior, know your strengths and weaknesses, and have self-confidence.
*       Self-management – The ability to control impulsive feelings and behaviors, manage your emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances.
*       Social awareness – The ability to understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people, pick up on emotional cues, feel comfortable socially, and recognize the power dynamics in a group or organization.
*       Relationship management – The ability to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team, and manage conflict.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) skill 1: Rapidly reduce stress

When we’re under high levels of stress, rational thinking and decision making go out the window. Runaway stress overwhelms the mind and body, getting in the way of our ability to accurately “read” a situation, hear what someone else is saying, be aware of our own feelings and needs, and communicate clearly.
The first key skill of emotional intelligence is the ability to quickly calm yourself down when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Being able to manage stress in the moment is the key to resilience. This emotional intelligence skill helps you stay balanced, focused, and in control–no matter what challenges you face.

Stress busting: functioning well in the heat of the moment

Develop your stress busting skills by working through the following three steps:

  • Realize when you’re stressed – The first step to reducing stress is recognizing what stress feels like. Many of us spend so much time in an unbalanced state that we’ve forgotten what it feels like to be calm and relaxed.
  • Identify your stress response – Everyone reacts differently to stress. Do you tend to space out and get depressed? Become angry and agitated? Freeze with anxiety? The best way to quickly calm yourself depends on your specific stress response.
  • Discover the stress busting techniques that work for you – The best way to reduce stress quickly is through the senses: through sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. But each person responds differently to sensory input, so you need to find things that are soothing to you.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) skill 2: Connect to your emotions

The second key skill of emotional intelligence is having a moment-to-moment awareness of your emotions and how they influence your thoughts and actions. Emotional awareness is the key to understanding yourself and others.
Many people are disconnected from their emotions–especially strong core emotions such as anger, sadness, fear, and joy. But although we can distort, deny, or numb our feelings, we can’t eliminate them. They’re still there, whether we’re aware of them or not. Unfortunately, without emotional awareness, we are unable to fully understand our own motivations and needs, or to communicate effectively with others.

What kind of a relationship do you have with your emotions?

  • Do you experience feelings that flow, encountering one emotion after another as your experiences change from moment to moment?
  • Are your emotions accompanied by physical sensations that you experience in places like your stomach or chest?
  • Do you experience discrete feelings and emotions, such as anger, sadness, fear, joy, each of which is evident in subtle facial expressions?
  • Can you experience intense feelings that are strong enough to capture both your attention and that of others?
  • Do you pay attention to your emotions? Do they factor into your decision making?
If any of these experiences are unfamiliar, your emotions may be turned down or turned off. In order to be emotionally healthy and emotionally intelligent, you must reconnect to your core emotions, accept them, and become comfortable with them.

Emotional intelligence skill (EQ) 3: Nonverbal communication

Being a good communicator requires more than just verbal skills. Oftentimes, what we say is less important than how we say it or the other nonverbal signals we send out. In order to hold the attention of others and build connection and trust, we need to be aware of and in control of our nonverbal cues. We also need to be able to accurately read and respond to the nonverbal cues that other people send us.
Nonverbal communication is the third skill of emotional intelligence. This wordless form of communication is emotionally driven. It asks the questions: “Are you listening?” and “Do you understand and care?” Answers to these questions are expressed in the way we listen, look, move, and react. Our nonverbal messages will produce a sense of interest, trust, excitement, and desire for connection–or they will generate fear, confusion, distrust, and disinterest.

Part of improving nonverbal communication involves paying attention to:

  • Eye contact
  • Facial expression
  • Tone of voice
  • Posture and gesture
  • Touch
  • Timing and pace

Emotional intelligence (EQ) skill 4: Use humor and play to deal with challenges

Humor, laughter, and play are natural antidotes to life’s difficulties. They lighten our burdens and help us keep things in perspective. A good hearty laugh reduces stress, elevates mood, and brings our nervous system back into balance.
The ability to deal with challenges using humor and play is the fourth skill of emotional intelligence. Playful communication broadens our emotional intelligence and helps us:

  • Take hardships in stride. By allowing us to view our frustrations and disappointments from new perspectives, laughter and play enable us to survive annoyances, hard times, and setbacks.  
  • Smooth over differences. Using gentle humor often helps us say things that might be otherwise difficult to express without creating a flap.
  • Simultaneously relax and energize ourselves. Playful communication relieves fatigue and relaxes our bodies, which allows us to recharge and accomplish more.
  • Become more creative. When we loosen up, we free ourselves of rigid ways of thinking and being, allowing us to get creative and see things in new ways.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) skill 5: Resolve conflict positively

Conflict and disagreements are inevitable in relationships. Two people can’t possibly have the same needs, opinions, and expectations at all times. However, that needn’t be a bad thing! Resolving conflict in healthy, constructive ways can strengthen trust between people. When conflict isn’t perceived as threatening or punishing, it fosters freedom, creativity, and safety in relationships.
The ability to manage conflicts in a positive, trust-building way is the fifth key skill of emotional intelligence. Successfully resolving differences is supported by the previous four skills of emotional intelligence. Once you know how to manage stress, stay emotionally present and aware, communicate nonverbally, and use humor and play, you’ll be better equipped to handle emotionally-charged situations and catch and defuse many issues before they escalate.

Tips for resolving conflict in a trust-building way:

  • Stay focused in the present. When we are not holding on to old hurts and resentments, we can recognize the reality of a current situation and view it as a new opportunity for resolving old feelings about conflicts.
  • Choose your arguments. Arguments take time and energy, especially if you want to resolve them in a positive way. Consider what is worth arguing about and what is not.
  • Forgive. If you continue to be hurt or mistreated, protect yourself. But someone else’s hurtful behavior is in the past, remember that conflict resolution involves giving up the urge to punish.
  • End conflicts that can't be resolved. It takes two people to keep an argument going. You can choose to disengage from a conflict, even if you still disagree.
 ~ Special Guest Post by Partho Choudhury

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Looking for a Top Notch Fitness Program?

If you are, then I'm tempted to say, "Look no further..."

Some of the best work in fitness programming today is being done by Scott Sonnon, a physical fitness professor and martial arts champion who currently travels the world teaching fitness to everyone from house wives to special forces personnel.  

Right now I'm in the middle of evaluating two of Scott's top programs, TACFIT Commando and TACFIT Mass Assault ("mass" here refers to building functional muscle mass), and I'm already quite impressed, for reasons I'll outline below.  

Nor is my interest just academic - in April I'll be taking part in a special forces training camp and have to get into top shape before I arrive.  After having kept an eye on Scott's work for several months, I decided to use his methods to help me do this and, so far, I'm very happy with that decision. 

Check out this video of one of his classes:

Just so you know, you don't need all this equipment to do Scott's programs.  Mass Assault, for example, uses nothing more than one set of dumbbells. 

My Evaluation

Again, this is a preliminary evaluation, but I'm guessing it won't change much. Here's what I really like about Scott's programs:

1. They're supported by video teaching and all the videos are online, as are the training calendars and manuals, so you've got the info with you no matter where you are.

2. You can get through your workout with minimal time investment (20-30 minutes every day you train is plenty).

3. The exercises are built on solid science, so you know you're in good hands.

4. Scott has included specific mandatory warm-up and cool-down segments to reduce the likelihood of injury - something that well-intentioned amateurs usually overlook in their training and pay for down the road. 

My only criticism so far is that the same exercise may have a different name on the calendar than it does in the video.  This isn't a show stopper since you'll figure it out pretty quickly, but it does put a bump in the road.  

All in all, if you've got a basic level of fitness (meaning you've seen your toes recently and could jog a hundred meters without collapsing) and you're looking for a serious and well-structured workout, checking out Scott Sonnon's programs would be a great idea.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Prayer, Healing and Resilience

When you hear the word "resilience" and especially terms like "personal resilience", you may get the idea that it's about being "tough".  And you would be right...

...although ancient traditions have a more comprehensive idea of being "tough" than we do.  

Some of the toughest people I've ever met were Orthodox Christian monks living in remote locations, such as on Mount Athos in Greece.  There I encountered men of prayer who, despite being twice my age, sure gave me a run for my money in the "tough" department - just following their daily routine would knock most professional athletes off their feet pretty quickly.  

You're about to see a short video about one such person.  For Orthodox (ancient) Christianity, as for any "authentic ancient tradition", the idea that you could become "resilient" without having a spiritual life, a life connecting you to the Absolute Reality, would be absurd.  

Today we're going to look at what ancient Christianity considered the single most important practice in human life - unceasing prayer of the mind in the heart, also called "noetic prayer".  

As you watch this all-too-short video, I'd encourage you to take very careful note of what Fr. Teofil, our special guest today, has to say:

"Praying for the Unity of Our Own Being"

That's a remarkable statement!  Most people think of prayer as a request for something outside of ourselves, and least of all do they think of it as a means to reunite their inner powers of their mind-body organism.

In fact, the practice of unceasing prayer is quite different from other understandings of prayer for a number of reasons:

  1. It's not the usual "give me, give me" approach to prayer (although making requests in prayer is perfectly legitimate)
  2. Neither is it the "please save my sorry ass" approach we lapse into when our own decisions come back to haunt us ;-)
  3. It's not so much an activity with a start and end point, but the search for an ongoing meditative state, where you remain immersed in and under the loving influence of the Absolute.
Of course, there are some presuppositions basic to this meditative prayer, the first of which is that God, the Absolute Reality, is "uncreated, personal existence".  That is, God is conscious of you personally and actually loves you personally.  God is not just the amorphous total of "all that is" nor some form of "divine electricity".  Like electricity, God has energy, but face it, electricity never loved anyone.  

The ancient tradition goes so far as to claim that this kind of prayer is the center of spiritual life, simply because it is the one activity that, more than any other, unites the human person to the Source of all life.  And, as Fr. Teofil suggests, it heals and creates wholeness within you while you're on the journey.

Without the knowledge that comes uniquely through noetic prayer, faith remains intellectual, our inner being remains unhealed and the likelihood we will have a genuine encounter with God in this life remains slim.  Unfortunately, though, the ancient teaching on noetic prayer was methodically suppressed in the West over this past millennium.  

As one holy man described the fruits of this kind of prayer:

"Compared to the Uncreated divine light, all the lights of this world, even the sun at high noon, are nothing but darkness.  It is a strange thing: when that true light comes, there takes place a union of the Infinite and Uncreated with the human person, who is created and finite.  By His energies the latter are truly transformed into gods and children of the Most High.  It is then and only then that a person can understand that he really is created in the image and likeness of God."  

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger :-)


Wednesday, 9 February 2011

This Film is Highly Recommended...

Every once in a while I come across a gem that really needs to be shared.  When this one appeared in my Christmas stocking (literally), I didn't pay much attention at first... just got around to watching it last week, in fact.

It's a documentary called The Living Matrix: A Film on the New Science of Healing.  At first I assumed it was probably a low budget take-off on What the Bleep Do We Know - and I could not have been more wrong!

This 85 minute documentary came out in 2009 and despite anything you may read comparing it to What the Bleep or worse, The Secret, it's much different than either of those.

Just have a look at the trailer:

What makes it so different?  First, unlike What the Bleep, it's a pure documentary with no competing story line to get in the way.  Moreover, The Living Matrix really sticks to the science of the matter and features many of the world's top authorities on the biology and physics behind the new medicine - people like Dr. Bruce Lipton (author of "The Biology of Belief"), Lynn McTaggart (author of "The Field"), Dr. Rupert Sheldrake (best known for his theory of morphic fields) and many others.  And at the same time it stays away from some of the more questionable new age crowd that like to spout theories without proof.  

And unlike The Secret, The Living Matrix is not a film about the Law of Attraction, even if some of the findings of the new medicine could be interpreted in that sense.  By sticking to the theme of healing, this film wins on every front - it's highly educational and entertaining at the same time.  

So if you're interested in what really makes you tick - physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually - you'll really enjoy this film.  

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger 

Monday, 7 February 2011

Corporate Culture: How Does YOUR Organization Rate?

It's the one thing we all love to hate, that 9-5 routine that we put ourselves through five days a week - our job!

Whether you work in the corporate world, for a non-governmental organization or inside a government bureaucracy, you've seen the good, the bad and the ugly of the corporate culture.  And the health or dysfunction of your workplace can seriously affect your own resilience - improving or damaging your own personal health and immunity.  

How Does Your Organization's Corporate Culture Rate?

If you'd like to find out how your organization's corporate culture rates, here's how you can find out - the link below will take you to an online assessment tool I've developed in conjunction with my forthcoming book, Resilience Culture, and I'd love to have your opinion of this tool:

Of course, this only applies to you if you're working in an organization of reasonable size.  While there's no upper limit on size, the lower threshold is probably about 30 people: an organization smaller than that won't have the same cultural dynamics.  

NOTE: When you use the tool, make sure you keep track of your responses so you can add them up later.  We'll send you the response key later this week so you can see how your company or organization fared.  The last question gives you a space to suggest any questions you feel should be on a survey like this. 

From the Ridiculous...

Here's a short, hilarious and all too true video about the collective insanity of the office and the mysterious language of corporate-speak:

To the Sublime...

However, we don't want to dump on the corporate world too much, because there are, in fact, visionary leaders who have built phenomenally successful and highly functional corporate cultures.  One such leader is the legendary Herb Kelleher, former CEO of Southwest Airlines:

There you have it.  The environment you subject yourself to on a daily basis can have a profound effect on every level of your being.  If it's a healthy environment, it will challenge you, help you grow, connect you with great people, give you pride in what you're doing and allow you to contribute meaningfully to the lives of others, while remunerating you fairly.  

On the other hand, if the environment is emotionally toxic, if it's plagued with the evils of political correctness, careerism, incompetent leadership and micro-management, then the opposite will happen: you'll feel stressed, disempowered, demoralized and perhaps even physically ill.  

So part of evaluating your own personal resilience is taking stock of the "cultural resilience" of your workplace, and then putting in place measures to protect yourself or to find yourself an environment in which you can thrive.

Thanks in advance for your help in refining the assessment tool!!!!


~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Want a More Resilient and Happier Life? Build Relationships!!

Time after time, studies into health, longevity and overall happiness come to the same conclusion - people with the most developed support networks in terms of friends and/or family rank at the very top and get the best results.  

And it's the very same thing in business and career - if you want to prosper, build personal relationships with other human beings and do what you can to contribute to their success.

Yes, these days we call it "networking", yet it's a practice as old as the human race.  The irony you and I face is that although we have more technological tools to stay connected with other people, we're often too overwhelmed to use them.  

My dear departed mom wrote to at least one of her sisters and to her best friend (by snail mail) every week for over half a century, yet most of us seem to have a really hard time staying in touch with the people closest to us even though it's easier and cheaper than ever.

Social media is helping to bridge the gap, for sure, but as any expert on the subject will tell you, nothing can replace the traditional face-to-face contact.  

Networking 101

In this short video, networking master Michael Hughes gives you some killer tips on how the pros do it.  Keep in mind that this isn't just for sales people or people in business; the overall dynamics and benefits of networking apply to everyone:

A Man Who Walks the Talk

As it happens, Michael is a friend of mine and I can tell you I've learned more about networking from watching him in person than from reading any number of books on the subject.

Just the other day I was at a workshop given by someone else and Michael was there.  It was the first time I'd seen him in several months.  I sat with him in a small group discussion for just ten minutes and in that time he had learned exactly where my business was at, volunteered to spend time with me to work on some of my challenges and had introduced me to someone else who could do the same.

And there you have a perfect illustration of one of the chief functions of networking - helping connect others with the resources they need.  

Let me share one final point with you: even though networking is a key element for building your personal resilience (and your business, if that applies to you), most people, even business people, don't do it well at all.  You  can be different.  

So if you want a challenge, here's one for you: make a list of people you know and devote just 30-60 minutes a week for four weeks to contact them for no other reason than to say hello and let them know you care.  

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger