Lotus Guide March 2013 column
Q: How do I talk to my teenage daughter about sex?
A: Lectures don’t work well but peer-experiences do. Talk about your own sex ed process as a teen and what you wish you’d known. Or, talk about a case study that illustrates the point you want to make such as condoms don’t prevent contracting herpes sores on exposed parts of the body. Make books available such as the chapter on sexuality in my The Teen Trip: The Complete Resource Guide based on teens’ experiences. Rutgers University has a sex ed website written by teens for teens (http://sexetc.org). Do the talk now before a romance interferes with rational thought.
Ask if she has any questions and offer to exchange questions and answers in writing if it’s too embarrassing to talk in person. When my son started asking about sex, I made a point of explaining how a clitoris is analogous to a penis and should not be ignored. He told his friends so some accurate information went out on the teen grapevine; know that you’re educating more than your daughter.
Q: My wife and I get into disagreements that leave me feeling exhausted and hopeless. How do we break the stalemate?
A: Discuss feelings as they come up. Don’t gunnysack resentments and irritations because when they explode it seems unreasonable. Share your feelings with this formula, “I’m feeling ___ because___ and a possible solution is ______.” Be flexible and open to negotiation. Check out your assumptions with something like “It sounds like you’re feeling_____ because______.” Often your partner will have an insightful clarification that you need to understand. Men are tempted to want to skip the sharing of feeling to get to a solution, but this is shortsighted as feelings can cloud logic and understanding if not acknowledged. Feeling heard and understood, even if not agreed with, goes a long way towards feeling good about each other.
Set aside time each week to listen to each other, just doing clarification and active listening, not inserting your reactions or defenses. Always include appreciations for each other. Give each other praise every day and do something fun together at least once a week to enhance the glue that holds you together. Check the Internet for suggestions on conflict resolution or email me for websites.
Q: My grandson goes back and forth to mom’s house, dad’s house. Both are remarried and both the stepparents are critical and short-tempered with my grandson. Any advice I can give him?
A: I’d give each couple helpful parenting books, such as Jim and Charles Fay’s Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood or Siegel and Bryson’s The Whole-Brain Child, but it’s unlikely you can change them. Focus on teaching your grandson coping techniques such as the visualizations in my CD for kids “Kids’ Mind Power.” Explain that it’s not about him, it’s about the stepparents’ own frustrations and that he’s learning to be a strong boy who can handle difficult challenges. It helps that he feels safe talking with you.
Q: My boyfriend likes his women friends. He’s faithful to me, but I still get jealous. How should I handle this?
A: Be appreciative that he likes women, as some men don’t because of unresolved mother issues. Use the bit of anxiety to be creative in adding romance and interest to your relationship. Also, cultivate and spend time with your own friends.
Q: I work at my desk in front of a computer all day. I’ve read that sitting so much harms your health, but what can I do? I need the money.
A: Many studies find that sitting too much is bad for our health and shortens life expectancy. Get up and stretch and change position at least every 30 minutes. Stand up and squeeze your bottom to realign the pelvis, slightly tighten and release the abdominal muscles, and roll your shoulders back with the thumbs pointing away from the body and then forward. Avoid slumping forward while sitting in front of the computer as forward rotation of the shoulder can result in damage to wrists and carpal tunnel problems. As you sit, keep your chin behind your chest bone. See a YouTube video by physical therapist Kelly Starrett (www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfg_e6YG37U).
A study of more than 6,000 adults found that those that exercised for about 10 minutes were as healthy as those who exercised for longer periods of time, as long as the short exercises added up to 150 minutes a week. [i]Use your work breaks to walk or use a resistance band, available online along with exercises. You might start a trend at work.
For your eye health, look away from the computer or book at various distances. Rub your palms together and rest them over your eyes, visualizing black velvet cloth for two or three minutes to relax your eyes. Gently push in and out in the notch in your eyebrows. Download a Tibetan eye exercise chart to strengthen your eye muscles.
Q: My brother won’t talk to me and my daughter-in-law and I aren’t close. I feel sad but what can I do?
A: Continue to be friendly, send your brother greeting cards, and tell your daughter-in-law what you appreciate about her, but put your energy into creating an intentional family with friends who want to spend time with you. Let go of your expectations of how family SHOULD behave. Wayne Dyer pointed out that, “Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than how you think it should be.”
Q: I can’t get over my divorce and my thoughts go round and round like a hamster in a wheel. How can I get some peace?
A: Talk with a trusted friend or therapist about your memories of rejections from your childhood to before the divorce. Clear some of the old unresolved hurt with an energy psychology like Tapas Acupressure Technique. Once you clear the old pain the divorce won’t seem so huge and you can gradually tackle releasing the divorce rejection. For more info on energy psychologies see my blog https://gaylekimball.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/energy-psychologies. Go out at least once a week where you can meet new people. Find something that occupies your time in the present like taking classes or volunteering. In the long run, we make transitions in and out of life by ourselves so we can’t be dependent on one person for our security. As the Buddha said, life is impermanent and suffering comes from attachment.
Q: I’m having a hernia surgery soon. How should I prepare for it psychologically?
A: Before an operation, ask the body to put anything toxic that it wants removed into what is being removed by the doctor. In your case, imagine a mesh of energetic support to strengthen and integrate the area under repair. Also, mentally prepare your body by showing that part a visualization of what will happen and how you’d like it to react and heal rapidly. Dr. John Upledger, DO, founder of cranio-sacral manipulation, successfully used this technique of instructing the body by visualizing the desired healthy process.
Q: I’ve graduated from university but I’m blocked in my job search. I choked, hard and repeatedly on homework given to me by a prospective employer. It’s brought me to tears; I understand what needs to be done, but then this blockage comes up and I’m completely unable to function.
A: The block probably comes from previous painful experiences on the job. Your unconscious is trying to protect you from suffering, but tell it that you’ve changed, you’re a college graduate, and more mature person with new skills to interact with colleagues. Try Emotional Freedom Technique. Email me for possible word choices as you tap on acupressure points. Set aside a reasonable amount of time each day for job searches and find a buddy you can call if you resist doing the work.
Q: I make progress in my life and then I lose it and don’t follow through with something good for me. How can I succeed?
A: When you feel like a vortex is pulling you down, imagine being in an outrigger canoe with strong rowers moving you forward over and away from the vortex. Protect yourself from other people’s jealousy or desire to control you using the visualizations described in the answer below. You made need to change your circle of friends if they are caught up in partying rather than achieving their goals and sidetrack you.
Q: As a sensitive guy, I feel strongly about the injustice I see in the world and people treating each other poorly. What can I do?
A: Think globally and act locally. Be proactive in your own personal sphere, modeling the kindness and justice you’d like. Don’t take on other people’s pain, as it doesn’t help them and weakens you. Imagine a protective field around you with catcher’s mitts absorbing other people’s negativity, then clear by visualizing firecrackers blowing up the mitts and put up new ones.
Q: My adult son behaves like an irresponsible self-centered teenager. How can I help?
A: Visualize him surrounded in the light of unconditional love and with clear access to his higher guidance. Use the same techniques as with a child, letting consequences speak louder than lectures. Visit an Al-Anon group or co-dependency group and see how others cope and to get permission to let go of feeling responsible. Don’t enable him with money or other support. If he’s caught up in rebellion to you, don’t give him any advice to resist. Some people need to hit bottom before they’re willing to change.
Q: I’ve been diagnosed as bi polar, but I’d like to get off heavy-duty anti-psychotic drugs that don’t allow me to drive or feel energized or be interested in sex.
A: Get a second opinion from another psychiatrist if you don’t believe you’re psychotic. Psychiatric fads come and go, previously hysteria, then in the 50s depression, and now bipolar. An MD, Allen Frances reports that, “Fads punctuate what has become a basic background of over-diagnosis. Normality is an endangered species. The NIMH estimates that, in any given year, 25% of the population (that’s almost sixty million people) has a diagnosable mental disorder.” Check out online resources created by the Icarus Project including one on reducing medications.
Q: Obviously what we put in our mouths is an important influence on health. What food should I eat?
A: Dr. Andrew Weil advises that we should avoid pulverized food like wheat and whole wheat bread is not a whole grain. Olive oil is the best fat. Avoid sweet drinks above all else. Agave syrup is 70% fructose; avoid it and other high fructose foods. The body needs fiber to deal with sugars so eat whole fruit rather than juice. The best diets are Japanese and Mediterranean and foods your ancestors would recognize, as Professor Michael Pollan suggests. See my fundraiser cookbook for quick healthy recipes.
Q: I feel guilty because my aging parents are across the country from me, even though I have brothers who live near my parents. Should I feel guilty?
A: You don’t have to be there in person to be nurturing. Talk frequently on Skype and on the phone, and send cards and little care packages of items you bake for them.